The Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2 is the high-definition model in the company's line of "digital media cameras" all of which record video and photos to an SD (secure digital) card.

Like the other models in the line, the 230g Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2 is significantly smaller and lighter than a typical camcorder, which must accommodate a built-in hard disk drive or DVD drive. The Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2 slips easily into a jacket pocket.

The Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2's high-definition video capture didn't quite live up to our expectations. The VPC-HD2 records video at 720p, not 1080i. The Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2's video suffered from fuzzy details and dull-looking colours; in low-light footage, shadow areas lacked subtle gradations. As a result the VPC-HD2 earned mediocre scores for video quality in standard light, video quality in low light, and audio quality.

Its shortcomings were particularly apparent when we compared the Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2's video to test footage from the far more expensive Panasonic HDC-SD1 (review here) on a 50in Pioneer Elite plasma TV, connected via HDMI (high definition multimedia interface). Video from the HDC-SD1 looked much sharper, colours looked more vibrant, and greater detail appeared in low-light footage.

Like the Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2, the Panasonic camcorder records video to an SDHC Card, but it's considerably larger and weighs more than twice as much.

The Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2 did a better job as a digital still camera. It earned the highest overall score for still-photo quality among the four high-def camcorders, and it earned the highest score for colour accuracy, sharpness and lack of distortion. Its battery performed adequately, lasting for 85 minutes in our test.

The Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2 comes with a docking station for charging the battery and for hooking up the camcorder to a PC or TV; the dock supplies USB, AV, component and HDMI outputs.

Also included are a soft-shell case and a basic remote control for initiating playback - and for performing basic editing, such as deleting footage and combining files. Because the remote is so small - about the size of a USB key - manipulating its four-way control button is a little cumbersome.

Operating the Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2 itself is straightforward, especially because it has relatively few controls. On the back you'll find a joystick, a menu button, a record/play switch, a zoom lever, and buttons for selecting video or photo recording mode.

A panel situated beneath the place where the Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2's LCD folds against the body holds the power button, a button for selecting high-definition or standard-definition video recording, and a high-sensitivity button for shooting in low light. Unfortunately, video shot in high-sensitivity mode looked quite pixelated.

Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2 : Specs

  • Webcam capability
  • focus adjustment: automatic, manual
  • focal length: 6.3-63mm
  • 10x optical zoom: effective sensor resolution: still 7Mp
  • shooting modes: digital photo mode, frame movie mode
  • SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card supported
  • lens aperture: F/3.5
  • electronic image stabiliser
  • pop-up camera flash
  • 100x digital zoom
  • 1 x Li-ion rechargeable battery - 1200mAh (included)
  • 36x79x119mm
  • 230g
  • red-eye reduction
  • LCD display - TFT active matrix - 2.2in - colour
  • widescreen video capture
  • built-in stereo microphone
  • 7.2Mp sensor
  • Webcam capability
  • focus adjustment: automatic, manual
  • focal length: 6.3-63mm
  • 10x optical zoom: effective sensor resolution: still 7Mp
  • shooting modes: digital photo mode, frame movie mode
  • SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card supported
  • lens aperture: F/3.5
  • electronic image stabiliser
  • pop-up camera flash
  • 100x digital zoom
  • 1 x Li-ion rechargeable battery - 1200mAh (included)
  • 36x79x119mm
  • 230g
  • red-eye reduction
  • LCD display - TFT active matrix - 2.2in - colour
  • widescreen video capture
  • built-in stereo microphone
  • 7.2Mp sensor

OUR VERDICT

Considering this Sony Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2's marginal video quality, you might do just as well to spend a lot less less on the similarly pocketable Xacti VPC-CG65 (review here), which records video in standard definition.

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