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Following last month's exclusive preview of the new Panasonic NV-S20 we've had a chance to fully evaluate this interesting newcomer



As luck would have it just days after we concluded out preview of the S20, which was based upon an early pre-production sample, the real thing turned up, so now we can bring you fully up to date on this most welcome addition to the VHS-C market.


Externally the production version is unchanged from the model we saw, though possibly  because of its newness we did note one potential irritant. The manual focus ring makes a fairly Loud scuffing noise as its turned and, because of its proximity to the microphone, is heard loudly and clearly on the soundtrack; we're hopeful this will disappear with use.


Now that we've had the opportunity to live with this machine for a while a couple of other little things have come to out attention. The combined on/off/record switch that we commended in the preview can be a mixed blessing. The flip-switch arrangement is quite vulnerable to accidental operation, particular if the machine is being carried on its shoulder strap, and is allowed to swing free, the switch can sometimes catch on the users clothing. The microphone is a tad too close to the zoom rocker for our liking and several users found  that the little finger on their right hand could easily brush against the grille, leading to some rather strange sound effects.


We're a little concerned about the cassette loading mechanism, and would warn again pressing the eject button whilst the machine is being held by the hand grip/tape door. When this happens the machine splits apart quite violently, with the full weight of the deck being taken on the door hinges. They look fairly sturdy but who knows how much of this kind of punishment they can take? Lastly, there's no RF converter in the accessory pack, anyone who doesn't own a VHS VCR or has an older style TV, without an AV socket take note...



We did detect a small change in performance, which we're happy to say was for the better, and our sample managed to exceed the quoted specification by comfortably resolving 240-lines.Colour stability and white balance accuracy were both very good, even under artificial light, and picture noise levers were very low.


The S20's audio performance is nothing to write home about, though, and the soundtrack was a bit lifeless,  even for the mono VHS-C. There was also a distinct buzzing noise, coming from the deck motors, which could be plainly heard in the background in quiet surroundings. Plugging in an external microphone helped.



Our overall opinion of this machine is unchanged, if anything the improvement in the resolution figures makes it even more attractive, so we can but repeat what we said last month -- recommended!



Make/model                   Panasonic NV-S20

Recording format           VHS-C

Guide price                     600



Lens                               f1.4, 5-40mm

Zoom                              8X

Filter diameter               49mm  

Pick-up device                 0.3in CCD

Min. illum. (lux)              1 (gain up mode)



Tape speed (mm/sec)       23.39(SP), 11.70(LP)

Max rec. time                   90mins (LP mode)

Remote control                 5-pin RMC edit terminal

Main facilities                   auto/manual focus, auto-exposure and  white  balance, fader, 3-mode program auto  exposure, wide-angle zoom, time/date recording,


Viewfinder                        0.6in monochrome

Viewfinder info                 deck mode and status, low battery, fader, AE mode, focus mode, white balance, tape count, time/date, fader




System                        mono               

Microphone                        unidirectional electret


Sockets              AV output (phono), external mic,               

Size (mm)           129 x 121 x 247

Weight               1.1kg (inc. battery and tape)


Batteries (nicad and lithium), straps, AC charger/power supply, cassette adaptor, AV cable


Resolution                  240-lines

Colour fidelity             good

Picture stability           very good

Colour bleed                negligible

White balance              good

Exposure                     good

Autofocus                    good

Audio performance      fair

Insert edit                    N/A (manual inserts poor)

Playback thru adaptor  good



Value for money         9

Ease of use                 9

Performance               9

Features                     8



(c) R Maybury 1993 2203



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