When we reviewed Sanyo's Xacti VPC-C1 back in our Nov 04 issue, we were quite enamoured with the hybrid digital camera and mini-camcorder approach. We were less impressed by the lack of features.

The VPC-C5 suffers from some of the same problems - but a great overhaul of styling, specifications and features without touching the price makes this worth a Gold award.

The VPC-C5 houses a 5.26Mp (megapixel) CCD (charge-coupled device) with a 5x optical zoom and comes bundled with a generous 1GB SD storage card. This will save 302 high-res images and 42 minutes of Mpeg4 video at 640x480 and 30fps (frames per second).

There's a tiny rechargeable lithium battery and the bundle includes a remote control, a nice little case and a docking station with good software support in the shape of Motion Director SE 1.1, Ulead DVD Movie factory 3.5 SE and Photo Explorer 8.0 SE Basic.

At not even an inch thick, the VPC-C5 has been on a diet, and it's far more stylish than its predecessor. It's ergonomically satisfying and can be used comfortably by lefties and righties. The simple button layout won't scare off the uninitiated and, despite its svelte dimensions, the Xacti is surprisingly robust.

Shots are composed via the magnificent tilt and swivel 2in LCD, which copes well with all lighting conditions. This is the first time we've seen a camera offering audio recording to match camcorders - we made a recording, and you can't hear the mechanics whirr or the wind whistle. Impressive.

It's also extremely quick to operate, and you can snap while you're filming so you don't miss a shot. Image quality is sharp, but not exceptional from a 5.26Mp CCD.

Xacti VPC-C5: Specs

  • 5.26Mp CCD, max res 2,592x1,944
  • 1GB SD card
  • 1x rechargeable lithium battery
  • Mpeg4 video capture at 640x480 and 30fps
  • stereo Mpeg4 audio capture, 2in LCD
  • 5x optical zoom, min photos on 1GB=302
  • max photos on 1GB=7856, 68x23x108mm
  • 145g
  • 1-year warranty
  • 5.26Mp CCD, max res 2,592x1,944
  • 1GB SD card
  • 1x rechargeable lithium battery
  • Mpeg4 video capture at 640x480 and 30fps
  • stereo Mpeg4 audio capture, 2in LCD
  • 5x optical zoom, min photos on 1GB=302
  • max photos on 1GB=7856, 68x23x108mm
  • 145g
  • 1-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

The Xacti VPC-C5 is miles better than Sanyo's previous efforts and we won't be surprised when other manufacturers emulate the camera/camcorder hybrid formula. But remember, if you want a straightforward digicam for your £500, you'll find better elsewhere.

Find the best price