Buying a camcorder? Don’t get a Panasonic

I bought a video camera just before Baby Bigmouth turned up – a Panasonic VDR-D250. I wasn’t greatly bothered about specs, so I quickly checked that it was Mac compatible before buying it.

It turns out that it *was* Mac compatible, sort of, on the day I bought it. A few weeks later Leopard came out, and my camera was no longer Mac-compatible.

Unlike many cameras (including most other Panasonics), my camera is only Mac compatible via Panasonic’s bundled software, which doesn’t work with Leopard and which hasn’t been updated since before Leopard shipped. That means it’s only able to communicate with OS X if you finalise the discs (in the case of DVD-RWs) and get it to act like an external DVD player, and even then iMovie chokes on the files. If you’re using DVD-R things are worse still, because OS X doesn’t like the .vro file format unless you shell out extra cash on the Quicktime MPEG Component – a prerequisite not just for QuickTime, but for other OS X video programs such as MPEG Streamclip.

Luckily for me I’ve got a copy of Toast, the all-singing, all-dancing OS X video software, and that can convert pretty much anything to pretty much anything. Otherwise I’d be scunnered.

I’m serious about not buying Panasonic, though. This is a camera that only came out in late Spring 2006, and which cost around £500 at launch. If a firm can’t be arsed ensuring that fairly pricey hardware stays current for 18 months, it doesn’t deserve your money.