I recently e-mailed them a clip (image at right) of the 9 a.m. ringing that I'd recorded using Panasonic's SV-AV10, a digital A/V recorder ($450) that's also a music player, voice recorder, and camera with a fold-out LCD viewscreen. Weighing a mere 41/2 ounces, this is a multipurpose recorder/ player that I don't have to think twice about tossing in my shoulder bag. Alternatively, you can flaunt it on its reflective neck strap, coddle it in its felt pouch, or - since it's smaller than a pack of cigarettes - slip it into any pocket.
There's also the "Wow!" factor. Smaller than many cameras, the 31/2 x 2 x 11/8-inch AV10 (shown considerably larger than life size above) does so much more. Able to fit in the palm of my hand, it is designed with a minimum of buttons and ports and a maximum of curves and shiny surfaces. Pointed to shoot, the AV10 sports a 1/4-inch image sensor, a microphone, and a flash. On the back are just three buttons: power/menu, mode/volume, and a small jog lever that moves up and down. On top is a recording start/stop button and a card slot, and on the bottom are an earphone jack and a DC socket. There's no speaker, but earphones are included. The 2-inch viewscreen opens out and rotates up to 270° so you can position it for the best view.
Since the AV10 has no internal storage, it stores everything on a removable SD flash-memory card, which is about the size of two Scrabble tiles or one of those new film mints. An extra 64-megabyte (MB) card from Panasonic is $70. The company expected to have two higher-capacity cards available this spring - 256 MB for $280 and 512 MB for $550. There are also 16-, 32-, and 128-MB versions.