Air New Zealand debuts entirely redesigned 777

This morning Gadling is on the ground at King County International Airport (Boeing Field) as Boeing officially delivers Air New Zealand’s newest pride & joy, the completely redesigned 777-300ER.

Air New Zealand has been hard at work for nearly 4 years in an effort to reinvent their long-haul experience. Working with multiple design firms and a series of focus groups, the airline developed two entirely new styles of seats for their Economy and Premium Economy classes in addition to an array of brand-new features never before seen on a 777.

Economy class on the new craft features a design dubbed as the ‘Skycouch‘ (also known as Cuddle Class), with footrests that transform three-across seats into a lie-flat area for couples or families traveling with children.

The new Premium Economy features two types of hard shell designs; inboard seats geared towards couples and those looking to socialize, and outboard seats for individual passengers who prefer to have privacy. Every single seat on the plane has a standard power outlet, USB port, and an S-Video connector to display your personal media on the seat back’s touchscreen.


The airplane’s galleys are equipped with induction ovens; which will hopefully change the age-old notion of “airplane food” by cooking up steak, burgers, pizza, and proper Kiwi breakfasts on-demand via Panasonic’s custom In Flight Entertainment system.

Air New Zealand has also created in-flight experiences such as a children’s story-time in the rear galley, and a social galley in the front of the plane that will host wine tasting sessions with an Inflight Concierge.

In a time when most carriers are cutting corners and looking for ways to nickel and dime the passenger, it’s incredibly refreshing to see such forward-thinking features in every class of the cabin. And it’s already paying off for Air New Zealand; more than 30 airlines have expressed interest in licensing the new seat designs after an 18 month period of exclusivity for ANZ.

Check back for updates and full impressions as Gadling joins the inaugural flight of ZK-OKM to LAX and on to Auckland!

Daily Pampering: Panasonic’s new 3D camcorder

Oh, this is a sexy little piece of technology!

Panasonic recently unveiled its newest HD camcorder, the HDC-SDT750. Now, you can turn your boring old vacation videos into an experience even your friends will love (well, they’ll love it more than the old-school slides you used to show).

Endgadget recently reported on the debut it’s quite stunning. Thanks to a 3D conversion lens that is snapped onto the camcorder, you can unleash your inner-James Cameron on your next outing. When your filming is complete, view the 3D coverage on the camera or hook the 3D stills up to an SD card and play them off of AVCHD-compatible Blu-ray players. Note: 3D glasses not included.

The SDT750 will be available in October for a cool $1,399.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Panasonic Lumix GF1 Micro Four Thirds camera review

In this review, we’ll introduce the fourth Micro Four Thirds camera to earn some coverage here on Gadling. As a quick reminder – Micro Four Thirds digital cameras offer the same image sensor quality found on large(r) digital SLR cameras, but in a much smaller body. This size and weight reduction obviously makes these cameras perfect for travel, especially if you want to lighten your load, without sacrificing image quality or features.

The basics inside the Panasonic Lumix GF1 are what you’d expect from a camera in this (price) range. 12.1 megapixels, 1280 x 720 HD video, live view and a built in flash.
In the version being reviewed here today, we used the GF1 with the Panasonic H-H020 20mm F1.7 pancake lens. The design of the GF1 is very much in line with all other Panasonic cameras – and I’ve been a longtime fan of their Lumix lineup, so I was instantly attracted to the GF1. Controls are fairly basic – the usual mode selector dial is on top, along with a very handy shoot mode switch (for single, continuous and timed photos). Many other cameras hide those options under the menu, so quick access like this is quite welcome.

On the rear is the D-Pad menu/option selector, buttons for the display, delete, play, Autofocus lock, quick menu and a fast auto/manual focus selector.

Startup time of the camera is very quick – in part because of a “real” power slider switch. From power on till first photo can be just under 2 seconds making the camera perfect for those spur of the moment things you’d like to photograph.

Because this is a Micro Four Thirds camera, the GF1 can be used with some other Micro Four Thirds lenses, though Panasonic did inform me that not all lenses will work – in some cases, the lens may not auto focus. In my test, I used the 14-42 lens from an Olympus E-P1 which worked perfectly – in fact, it performed better on the GF1 than on the E-P1, mainly because the E-P1 has a notoriously slow focus, something the GF1 does not suffer from.

The GF1 features a built in pop-up flash. The flash is manually operated (so no auto pop-up). Think of this flash as handy to have around, just don’t expect it to light up a large room as it is pretty weak. Still, it beats having to carry around a separate flash. Of course, there is a flash shoe on top of the camera.

The flash shoe can also be used for an optional ($155) viewfinder, which uses a small connector port just under the shoe.

Image quality from the GF1 is very, very good – the camera is fast, and the 20mm lens was much more fun to work with than I had expected. There are a few things lacking though – there is no in-camera image stabilization, and movies are recorded in mono.

On the side of the camera is a miniHDMI port (for HD video and images), a dual USB/AV port and a remote control jack. The camera can not be charged over USB, so you’ll need to carry the included charger along with you. Battery life is quite excellent – rated for up to 380 photos per charge.

All in all, I found the GF1 to be a worthy competitor to the Olympus E-P1 and E-P2. The pop-up flash is a handy feature to have, and the auto focus performance is certainly better. But the lack of image stabilization and stereo audio puts it a few steps behind.

PROS: Fast focus, easy to use menu structure, good battery life, excellent photo quality
CONS: No image stabilization, mono video audio

As reviewed, the Panasonic Lumix GF1 retails for $899 – with the 20mm lens. This is exactly the same price as the Olympus E-P2 with a similar pancake lens (the E-P2 lacks a pop-up flash).

Gadling gear review – Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 waterproof digital camera

In this Gadling gear review, I’ll introduce you to one of the newest cameras in the Panasonic Lumix lineup. The DMS-TS1 is the first shock and waterproof from Panasonic. The basic specifications are very respectable – 12 megapixel photos, a 4.6x wide angle optical zoom with image stabilization and HD movies recorded in “AVCHD lite”.

Of course, what sets the DMC-TS1 apart from most other digital cameras is its ability to go swimming with you.

The waterproof rating allows you to take the camera in up to 10 feet of water for up to one hour – this is a real underwater rating, not just splashes. In addition to this, it’ll also survive falls up to 5 feet and the design also makes it dust proof.

The design of the camera is awesome – not only do you get a camera that is built to survive the elements, it also looks like it was designed to survive them. A rugged metal frame, and big buttons give it the perfect balance of style and ruggedness.

On the back of the camera are buttons for maneuvering through the menu, switching to playback or video mode and a selector dial for picking the photo mode you want to shoot in.

On the bottom is the battery compartment and memory card slot. These are both behind a waterproof door, protected by a seal. The lock/unlock slider shows a clear red warning when it is not closed correctly.

Photo performance

Photos and video made with the DMS-TS1 look good. For some reason, I did notice that the glass lens picks up more grime than most other cameras, and because it does not feature a (built in) lens cover, I’d recommend bringing a lens wipe with you.

Videos look good – the AVCHD Lite format makes very acceptable 720p HD videos. The audio does leave a little to be desired, as the camera picks up a lot of background noise.

You can transfer files to your PC, or watch them on your HDTV using an HDMI cable. No HD cable is included, so you will have to invest in a MiniHDMI > HDMI cable (about $10 from or the Panasonic Component digital cable.

The DMC-TS1 does come with a standard (non-HD) cable and a USB transfer cable. Sadly, the USB cable is a proprietary Panasonic design, so be sure not to lose it.

For most people, the Panasonic Intelligent mode will be more than sufficient – this setting has all the gimmicks you need to make good photos. In scene mode, you can select from 24 different settings. The camera features a dedicated underwater mode, as well as a couple of neat effect modes.

Day to day operation

The DMC-TS1 is fairly snappy, and does not suffer from the slow performance I’ve found on some other Panasonic cameras. Startup time is about 2 seconds, and once on, you can take photos right away. The menu system is very easy to use, and all the features can be accessed very quickly.

My only minor gripe with the operation of the DMC-TS1 is with the zoom slider button. Because it too had to be made waterproof, it is quite hard to operate, and requires a lot of pressure to slide. After a lot of zoom work, your fingers will actually hurt.

Final thoughts

I’m impressed with the DMC-TS1 – it takes all the things I like about the Panasonic Lumix line of cameras, and adds enough protection to turn it into a very travel friendly camera that will be at home on a sightseeing trip, or a day at the beach.

Obviously, the fact that it does not take regular AA or AAA batteries means you’ll need to invest in a second (or third) battery. One word of warning about batteries – the Lumix DMC-TS1 will only work with original Panasonic batteries.

One issue I do want to point out is the warranty – in reading some of the consumer reviews of the DMC-TS1, it would appear that some extra attention is warranted in keeping the camera protected. One of the things that keeps popping up is the recommendation to replace the seals once a year. This is a $140 job. Also, even though the camera is sold as being shock & waterproof, if you do drop it, Panasonic recommends replacing the seals in order to keep it waterproof. This is one of those products that may deserve the extra investment in an extended warranty.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 is available in orange, green and silver. Its retail price is $379.99, but many retailers are selling it for just over $300. You’ll find the Panasonic DMC-TS1 are your favorite camera retailer or

Gadling gear review – Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1

Last year, we picked the Panasonic DMS-TZ5 as one of our top 25 travel technology products of 2008. That camera featured a 10x optical zoom and took photos in 9 megapixels. Today, I’ll introduce you to the successor of that camera – the Lumix DMC-ZS1.

The DMC-ZS1 builds on the excellent features of the TZ5 by increasing its zoom to 12x, and making photos in 10 megapixels. Sadly, it does lose its HD video ability, but with an online retail price of under $240, it is one of the cheapest compact ultra-zoom cameras on the market. A slightly beefier version of the DMC-ZS1 is available as the DMC-ZS3 which adds a larger screen and HD video capability. It retails for $399 ($320 street price).

To give you a bit of an idea what a 12x optical zoom can pull off, check out the 2 photos posted above. They were shot from the same spot. I’ve included high resolution versions of these photos in a gallery below.

Videos are shot in WVGA or VGA, which is a step down from the HD clips shot with the DMC-TZ5. The interface is a pleasure to use, and it keeps its buttons to a minimum. I did find the selector dial on the top to be a bit too easy to control, and often when taking it out of a carrying bag, the dial had changed to a different setting.

The camera is very “pocketable”, and despite a bit of a bulge around the lens (when retracted), it is still small enough to carry around all day. Startup time is almost 3 seconds and the time between shots (flash off) is about 2 seconds, which may be a little on the slow side for people looking to make action photos. The slow startup speed is most likely due to the speed at which the lens extends.

The quality of photos made with the camera are slightly above with what you’d expect from a camera in this price range. The camera has an optical image stabilizer which actually works quite well. Its intelligent mode is perfect for people (like me) who get confused by terms like ISO. The camera also offers a whole host of intelligent shooting modes, which take the guessing work out of changing the settings.

Final thoughts

All in all, I found the DMC-ZS1 to be a worthy successor to the DMC-TZ5. The loss of HD video is more than made up thanks to its impressive zoom lens and boost in megapixels. Operation is a breeze, which means even the most amateur photographers won’t have a problem controlling the camera, and making the most of its various features. The scene selections are: Candle, Beach, Snow, High sensitivity, Starry sky, Soft skin, Baby, Portrait mode, Aerial photo, Hi-speed burst, Clipboard, Film grain, Pin hole, Party/indoor, Night portrait, Self-portrait, Pet, Scenery, Food, Fireworks, Panorama assist, Night scene, Underwater, Sports mode, Sunset.

For amateur photographers who travel, the Panasonic DMC-ZS1 is quite simply perfect – a great wide angle 12x optical zoom, built in flash and surprisingly decent battery life make for a great camera. The camera stores photos in its internal memory (45MB) and SD(HC) memory cards. With memory card prices at an all time low, adding 4GB or even 8GB won’t break the bank.

The camera comes with a Lithium-Ion battery pack, charger, USB and video cable as well as a CD with some basic editing software.

PRO’S: Fantastic wide angle ultra-zoom, good quality photos, amazing price.

CON’S: Slow startup, no HD video.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 is available from most online camera retailers and select camera stores.