New Camcorders with direct broadcasting to Ustream, a highlight of 2013 NAB Show!

Panasonic HC-X920 HD Digital CamcorderThis week over 90,000 media and entertainment professionals from over 150 countries flocked to Las Vegas for the 2103 National Association of Broadcasters Show.

The big hardware news for many Ustreamers out of the NAB Show is the number of camcorder lines now sporting direct to Ustream broadcast capabilities using built-in WiFi.

Panasonic showed off three new HD Camcorders and we think they include the best direct to Ustream support we seen yet despite the initial setup being a bit cumbersome. We also think they have much better image quality and low light performance over their similarly priced JVC counterparts. All had hybrid optical/digital image stabilization and a level shot function to reduce camera shake and help keep the video steady and level. This worked pretty well. They also connect to a powerful companion app for full remote wireless control and monitoring with an iPhone or iPad or Android phone or tablet. We think they're all really nice camcorders for the money and think you'll be really impressed by their sharpness and low light performance.

Panasonic HC-V520 HD Digital CamcorderThe Panasonic HC-V520 HD Digital Camcorder (pictured left) is Panasonic's entry level model with Ustream support. It features 50x Optical/80x digital zoom, a f/1.8 28mm wide lens with Optical Image Stabilization and 3" touch screen. If you're looking to for a HD camcorder with direct to Ustream broadcasting capabilities, this model is a great choice for the budget conscious or those who wouldn't miss the lack of a mic input, filter ring mount, and accessory shoe.

Panasonic HC-V720 HD Digital CamcorderThe Panasonic HC-V720 HD Digital Camcorder (pictured right) is the mid-range model and features a high sensitivity sensor, 21x Optical/50x digital zoom, a f/1.8 28mm wide lens with Optical Image Stabilization, It has a 3" touch screen and adds an accessory shoe, a filter ring mount, and mic input jack. For most streaming and general video recording applications this is the model we'd suggest. It'll give you the most flexibility, with great image quality and low light performance. There's a heck of a lot of bang for your buck here.

Panasonic HC-X920 HD Digital CamcorderThe Panasonic HC-X920 HD Digital Camcorder (pictured left) is fully loaded. It features a high sensitivity 3MOS Full-HD sensor, 12x Optical/25x digital zoom, a Leica Dicomar f/1.5 29.8mm wide lens with Optical Image Stabilization and Nano Surface Coating, similar to whats found on high end professional DSLR lenses. It adds a generous 3.5" touch screen, electronic viewfinder, manual ring, and level gauge. It also has an accessory shoe, filter ring mount, mic input jack and also a headphone jack. It's low light performance, sharpness, and image quality was outstanding, the best of the bunch, making it well worth the extra dough if you can afford it.

JVC released four new models with similar features and options but they didn't fair as well in our tests. Color accuracy and noise reduction weren't as solid as Panasonic's. The low light performance was also pretty disappointing in comparison to Panasonic's. JVC is offering a unique wireless motorized panning head unit that can be panned left or right wirelessly using an iPhone or iPad or Android phone or tablet and that might be a strong selling point for some despite a glaring omission. Please see an important update at the bottom of this post regarding these JVC models.

JVC GZ-EX310 Full HD Everio CamcorderThe JVC GZ-EX310 Full HD Everio Camcorder (pictured right) is JVC's entry level model with Ustream support and features a 1/5.8" CMOS Sensor, f/1.8 Konica Minolta 40x Optical zoom/60x digital zoom lens, and a 3" Touch Panel LCD. We didn't like the image quality as much as Panasonic's entry level model but its low price is a compelling selling point for anyone on a really tight budget and would still work well in many applications. It is also available at most local Costco warehouses with $50 instant savings this month.

The JVC GZ-EX355BUS HD Everio Camcorder (not pictured) sports a 1/5.8" CMOS Sensor, f/1.8 Konica Minolta 40x Optical zoom/60x digital zoom lens, and a 3" Touch Panel LCD. We couldn't find a large enough difference between the GZ-EX310 to justify this model's higher price tag, so we'd suggest ignoring this model in order to make your selection less confusing. Why does JVC have so many, similar models anyway? All this does is confuse consumers! We found it really funny that even JVC seemed to be confused as their own web site's compare feature seemed to misstate some of the specs at the time of this round up's publication.

JVC GZ-EX555BUS HD Everio Camcorder The JVC GZ-EX555BUS HD Everio Camcorder (pictured left) has a 1/5.8" CMOS Sensor, f/1.8 Konica Minolta 38x Optical zoom/65x digital zoom lens, and a 3" Touch Panel LCD. A LED Video light and accessory shoe are included. It also has a filter ring mount, mic input jack and headphone jack. It's our favorite from JVC in this roundup but it didn't match up to the Panasonic HC-X920. The HC-X920 easily beat it with better image quality, sharpness, low light perforce and color accuracy.

The JVC GZ-VX815BUS HD Everio Camcorder (not pictured) has a 1/2.3" CMOS Sensor, f/1.2 Konica Minolta 10x Optical zoom/21x digital zoom lens, and a 3" Touch Panel LCD. It's big selling point is its compact design and aluminum body. It definitely feels nicer but maybe too small for some hands. We'd only recommend it if you don't mind sacrificing features and quality for styling, it's sharp looks, and durability. It's definitely the nicest looking and probably is the most durable of the bunch.

JVC CU-PC1 Pan Cradle for All Wi-Fi Equipped 2013 Everio CamcordersThe JVC CU-PC1 Pan Cradle for All Wi-Fi Equipped 2013 Everio Camcorders (pictured right) responds to commands from your iPhone or iPad or Android phone or tablet via Wi-Fi to pan left/right using its motor for 180° operation. The 40° up/down tilting adjustment is completely manual -- meaning you'll need to walk over to it and manually move it up and down yourself. The unit is powered by AA batteries or a supplied AC adapter and is tripod mountable.

It's worth repeating and emphasizing that the JVC CU-PC1 Pan Cradle head cannot tilt up or down remotely. It can only pan from left to right. We found that this omission really limits its usefulness in many applications and should be carefully considered as it may not be useful in the area you plan to stream, record and/or monitor.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

  • Apr 30, 2013 02:09PM EDT (UTC-4): There's some confusion over the features the JVC models ended up shipping with. Some of these seem to be missing direct Ustream support in camera and may require installation/use of included LoiLoFit for Everio software (for Windows only) to actually stream to Ustream. Because of this, and the other drawbacks we mentioned, we feel JVC's models should be avoided for the time being. We're attempting to gather more information and will let you know the specifics as soon as we know something.