Toshiba Gigashot A100F full review

In our group test of high-definition digital camcorders (May 2008), we noted a couple of things. Not only were the devices getting smaller and lighter as footage is increasingly stored via integral hard disk, they were also utilising a new compression format – AVCHD – an MPEG-4 code that allows playback on Blu-ray devices including Sony’s PlayStation 3. Toshiba uses AVCHD in its new Gigashot A100F. This means that Mac users will need iMovie ‘08 along with an Intel-based machine.

The A100F boasts 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution, allowing it to claim ‘full HD’ status – good news if you own an HDTV. The A100F also features a mighty 100GB capacity, or ‘solid state’ removable memory card. This lets you commit roughly 12 hours of HD video or 23 hours of standard video to its built-in drive – arguably more than most of us would ever need – plus there’s a card slot for an SDHC card for storing 2-megapixel stills.

Toshiba’s A100F is more conventionally designed than some HD camcorders, like Sony’s diminutive HDR-TG3. However, smaller size usually means fewer features, and the TG3 lacks the 100GB storage straight out of the box that the A100F offers. Higher capacity is a compromise and you’ll have to stretch your fingers when holding the A100F in your palm. It also feels decidedly plastic and lightweight.

Start up is almost instant. Slide your fingers under the hand strap, flip open the 3in widescreen LCD and you’re ready to shoot – with an impressive 60fps frame rate and Dolby digital stereo audio. However, there’s no alternative viewfinder to fall back on if screen visibility suffers in bright light and the HDMI cable costs extra.

The A100F has a fairly standard 10x optical zoom, but it boasts one of the smoothest, quietest actions we’ve had the pleasure to use. It literally glides. On-screen menus are accessed and features selected via a mode wheel to the left-hand side of the screen and a teeny joystick just below, meaning operation is fairly intuitive and the A100F is fast to respond to choices.

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