Cigar Aficionado

D-Snap SV-AV50

With all the advancements in technology over the last 15 years, it's difficult not to be amazed. Take video cameras for instance. A high-end camcorder in the 1980s meant a bulky, burdensome piece of equipment that recorded footage onto VHS tapes. Since then, video cameras have made mind-blowing strides. They now boast portability, functionality and compatibility with other devices. The D-Snap SV-AV50 from Panasonic is the latest camera taking digital video to a new level.

No bigger than a cell phone, the D-Snap captures digital quality footage and is the smallest of its kind with such capabilities. Yet, to cast the D-Snap as simply a video camera, albeit a pretty darn cool one, is shortsighted. The D-Snap is a multimedia tool. Along with being a digital video camera, it also captures still photos, plays MP3 files and records sound bytes.

The key is the D-Snap's SD Memory Card, which allows for both its sleek, portable design and technical abilities. No bigger than a postage stamp, the SD card is similar to memory cards found in standard digital still cameras and has 8 megabytes' worth of memory. While this memory is quickly eaten up with your choice of a handful of MP3 files, 20 photos, 10 minutes of video or 25 minutes of audio, it is still a convenient way to capture a day's outing at the beach or the ballpark. And you can always swap a fresh memory card for one that's full. The card's high transfer speed also makes it easy to move data to your home computer or exchange it with other SD-enabled devices such as "smart phones," cameras and portable digital assistants.

The D-Snap features a foldout viewing screen and a 2.5x digital zoom lens, and the buttons used to record and navigate existing files are easy to manage. The still camera has a built-in flash and 1.95 megapixels of resolution, while the video camera records at 30 frames a second. Priced at $399.95, the D-Snap comes with a battery pack, AC adaptor and A/V cable. You also get a USB cradle, a cable for downloading to your PC, software for transferring data and headphones.