Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Sanyo Xacti HD1000
- Sleek and eye-catching design, user-friendly interface, above average stills capabilities
- Outperformed by other HD units on the market
Despite the presence of superior alternatives on the market, the HD1000 remains an impressive and affordable HD option. As a sweet bonus, it also happens to be one of the coolest looking gadgets you'll ever own.
Price$ 1,299.00 (AUD)
What makes a camcorder perfect? Ideally, a model should come equipped with a host of useful additional features; including impressive still image capabilities and extensive manual adjustments. It should look sleek and attractive, be easy to handle, and preferably have a snappy sounding name. It should also combine all these elements into a cost-effective package that won't break your bank account.
Against all expectations, the Sanyo Xacti HD1000 has managed to tick all of the above boxes, and a few more besides. It looks great, doubles as a stills camera and comes with a price tag that most people can afford. So why hasn't it scored a lot higher, then? Well, there's something we neglected to mention in our little wish-list rundown; and it happens to be the most important factor of all -- image quality. Despite being capable of recording video at a maximum resolution of 1920x1080, the HD1000 fails to match the lofty standards set by its high-definition rivals. It exhibited less-than-exceptional video across the majority of our tests, with noise issues cropping up in a variety of lighting conditions. Images often appeared over-saturated, and lacked the true-to-life colour we have come to expect from the likes of Canon and Sony. It also suffered from a sluggish 10x optical zoom and erratic auto focus.
It's a shame really, because otherwise the HD1000 is perilously close to perfect. Despite the above flaws, it remains a solid piece of hardware that crams a lot of enticing features into its diminutive frame, including an external microphone jack. While it won't please everybody, the casual crowd will be more than satisfied with this sleek looking product.
In fact, 'sleek' doesn't begin to cover the overall design of this camera. Without a shadow of a doubt, it sports one of the funkiest aesthetics we've ever seen, and is bound to make strangers stop and make excited cooing noises in a manner usually reserved for babies. Measuring just 90x112.6x54.5mm and weighing only 268g, it will easily fit into most jacket pockets. Similar in shape to an electric razor, it can be operated with one hand, with the majority of controls within easy reach of the thumb. Interestingly, the menu layout has more in common with a stills camera than a camcorder; a conscious decision on Sanyo's part to compliment its hybrid nature. At 4-megapixels, its output cannot compete with a dedicated stills camera, yet it will nevertheless prove worthy of making medium-sized prints.
Following in the footsteps of the Panasonic HDC-SD5 and Sony HDR-SR7E, the HD1000 records data directly to SD/SDHC memory cards, which currently reach a maximum capacity of 16GB. In the past, we have been somewhat critical of SD/SDHC camcorders due to the format's memory limitations, but it would appear this problem has largely diminished (indeed, several companies have announced 32GB SDHC cards, which rivals most hard disk-based camcorders).
However, we remain somewhat sceptical about the current RRP of this format. Unlike MiniDV tape or DVD discs, SD media is not a cheap, disposable solution. An 8GB card can cost upwards to $300 -- a far cry from the pocket money price of digital tapes and the like. We found it especially galling that Sanyo failed to include an SD card in the sales package. (Most other SD/SDHC camcorders we've looked at have thrown in a 4GB card free of charge).
Once you have exhausted your SD card's capacity you have two options: put in another SD card, or transfer your video to a PC. Thankfully, the unit's docking station makes data transfer very easy, with an included HDMI port for high-def playback.
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