The HDC-TM900 (MSRP $1099) is a great camcorder, that much is clear. It captured excellent video in a variety of record modes, and its performance recording 1080/60p HD video was as good as it gets. It has a ton of controls, a solid body design, and its 3D recording option (with the purchase of an optional conversion lens) makes it a cutting-edge product.
Despite all this, we are still disappointed with the TM900. Other than adding the 3D capability and increasing the size of the LCD, Panasonic didn’t do much to improve on last year’s HDC-TM700—which was a fantastic camcorder in its own right. It’s this laziness and lack of innovation that bugs us. Panasonic had the chance to make a great product even better, but, instead, it chose to play it safe and maintain the status quo.
Unless you have a strong urge to record 3D video, there’s not much of a reason to buy the HDC-TM900 over last year’s HDC-TM700. The extra 1/2 inch of LCD real estate doesn’t intrigue us enough, nor does the redesigned menu system. We were also particularly disappointed by the fact that Panasonic’s new processor in the HDC-TM900 didn’t show us any improvements in our testing, despite the fact that Panasonic claimed this new processor would reduce noise up to 45%. To top it all off, the HDC-TM900 retails for around $100 – $200 more than the TM700 depending where you shop.
Don’t get us wrong, we like the HDC-TM900 and we think it is one of the better camcorders we’ve used. At this poin in 2011, however, we’ve been more impressed with Canon’s new HF G10, and we’re excited to get the new flagships from Sony and JVC into our labs soon. Panasonic is up for some stiff competition this year, and hopefully it will encourage Panasonic to innovate more in 2012.