In 2006 Panasonic unveiled its first high definition consumer camcorders. As it turned out, Panasonic not only switched to a new video recording format, but also changed the battery packs used in the cameras.
The changes were both in packaging and in electronics. Physically, the older CGA-DU12/CGA-DU14 battery packs could not be installed in the new AVCHD camcorders because of slightly different grooves and hooks, while the newer VW-VBG130 batteries could be installed in older camcorders such as PV-GS500 or PV-GS320. But more importantly, Panasonic added a security chip in each battery pack to verify that the battery is original.
This was a major blow for owners of newer Panasonic camcorders. Cheap third-party batteries would not work anymore, and the original Panasonic batteries were priced incredibly high. For example, in 2007-2008 the VW-VBG130 was going for as much as $120. With time price has lowered, and the current street price of this battery is $60, which is still quite expensive for a battery that lasts less then an hour in the power-hungry first generation 3CCD camcorders.
For more than three years the secret battery handshake protocol could not be broken, and resellers gouged the prices. Interim and ugly solutions included batteries without security chip connected to DC socket of a camcorder, to make the camcorder think that it was powered from a power adapter. But now there is a better way, because fully decoded and compatible batteries has hit the street!
Presently, one can find a fully decoded battery compatible with the VW-VBG130 for $30 or less on eBay and in other online stores. There are different sellers and apparently different manufacturers. The battery presented in this video is rated at 7.4V, which makes it compatible with older CGA-DU14 battery pack. On the other hand, the battery works fine in modern camcorders that have been designed for 7.2V batteries.
Of course, some corners must have been cut to ensure low price. In particular, the time reporting feature is not as linear as on the original batteries, and the battery is too optimistic about the remaining time. A newly charged battery promises 10-15% longer recording time, but in reality the recording time is about the same as with the original battery. But at 50% of the original price this is just a small niggle.
The battery shown in this video has been tested and found to work successfully in the HDC-SD1 (2006), HDC-HS300 (2009) and HDC-TM700 (2010) camcorders.
The battery has the same capacity as the original Panasonic VW-VBG130 battery and reports remaining charge time. The battery can be charged with the original Panasonic charger, and the process takes exactly the same time as with the original battery. In short, this third party battery is no different in use than an original battery.
So far so good.
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