Over the last few years helmet cameras have really taken hold, the traditional camcorder falling out of fashion with bike enthusiasts. But the HX-WA2 is a fresh-looking waterproof device from Panasonic, and if you aren't just looking to record POV footage from your ride it might be well worth considering.
The first thing that grabbed our attention was the HX's metallic orange finish (it's also available in deep blue) and pistol-like shape. The ergonomics of the camera also impressed us immediately – most buttons are easily within thumb's reach, and a textured section on the right side of the camera body provides useful grip.
With a claimed waterproofing depth of 3m, the HX should be a backpack companion on even the soggiest of rides. It's capable of full HD recordings but can be used at various lower quality settings – 1080/60i, 1080/30p, 720/60p, 720/30p, iFrame (960x540)/30p and VGA/30p modes.
Usefully, the HX is equally at home capturing stills of up to 14MP. Features available for images include 360 or 180 degree panorama shooting, burst action and a seemingly intelligent Auto mode that choses the correct shooting mode.
The WA2 spec lists a 5x optical zoom. This is extendable to 15x with Panasonic's Intelligent Zoom technology, but by default the camera's maximum zoom is 7.5x, a figure that drops to 6x with image stabilisation enabled.
A flip-out 2.6in screen sits flush with the camera body and automatically powers up the device once opened. This screen is also rotateable through 285 degrees, flipping the image so that self-shot videos and stills aren't a blind procedure.
The HX-WA2 camcorder is designed to be held in a pistol-style grip
All menus are easily navigated via a thumb-operated joystick, while image/video capture is controlled by two opposing buttons – stills on the left and video footage on the right.
Construction feels solid but this is certainly not a rubberised, shock-proof device. Built-in memory is limited to emergency use only, with two short video clips and five stills filling the device's internal memory. Otherwise, content is recorded onto a standard SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card.
The HX WA-2 retails at £239.99 / US$279.99. We'll be putting it through its paces over the Christmas break so stay tuned to BikeRadar for a follow-up review. In the meantime, see the Panasonic website for more information.