Imaginative new designs are the order of the day for camcorder manufacturers to always keep that competitive edge. Sony has tried it with projectors on theirs with lukewarm response, or Canon with the Legria mini for the sporting pedigree, and the plethora of rugged action cameras led by GoPro in recent years. Panasonic is trying something radical this time – Twin lenses!

Announced at this year’s CES, the Panasonic HC-W850, which is the flagship model in the 2014 range, comes with an additional camera lens mounted on the flip cover. Called Twin Camera for good measure, this new camcorder is able to capture simultaneous videos and display them picture-in-picture on screen. Trying to frame and take a good video with one lens is already a challenge. Doing it well with two might be too daunting for some. So it remains to be seen whether this will catch on.

Panasonic HC-W850

The twin lens setup has many advantages of course. The second lens sits on the edge of the flip-out LCD. It can be rotated to point in a completely different direction to the main lens. Taking a video of your son’s soccer game with the main lens while aiming the other lens to capture your facial expressions when he scores a goal will make an interesting watch. That calls for really steady hands and a good feel of your surroundings.

Videos can be recorded in either AVCHD 2.0 or iFrame / MP4 format. The AVCHD 2.0 options range up to 1080/50p at 28Mbits per second, while MP4 max out at the same resolution and frame rate of 50Mbits per second.

Wi-Fi is built in and it also comes with NFC which allows you to wirelessly transmit your video from your camcorder to the internet. With the “Panasonic Image App” you can control your camcorder from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. New WiFi features like Home Monitoring allows you to monitor your soundly sleeping baby from another location.

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