One of the strangest devices that we've seen in a long time, the Xacti VPC-C6E looks more like a Dictaphone that's been cross-bred with a camcorder than a digital camera. Love it or loathe it, Sanyo deserves credit for the brave design of the C6E – but it could put off more people than it attracts.
For all the camcorder pretences, it's no better at recording video than most cameras at this price point, with highest-quality Mpeg4s topping out at VGA (640x480) resolution and a shade under 30fps (frames per second) with stereo sound.
More appealingly, the C6E's video clips are limited in length only by the capacity of the SD (secure digital) card installed – some cameras can muster only 30-second bursts.
The Sanyo gets another one over on most of the competition by allowing the 5x optical zoom to be used while filming, but the handiness of this is rather cancelled out by the pedestrian zoom speed – and touching it while filming was almost guaranteed to make the picture blurry.
The C6E has a 6Mp (megapixel) CCD (charge-coupled device), and the reasonable-quality images featured bright, punchy colours. Unfortunately, finer detail lacked crispness, while noise was a concern on higher ISOs. Turning the camera on its side for portrait shots felt unnatural and awkward, and since it tends to topple over easily, it is not suited to resting on a table ledge for self portraits, either.
There's little manual input for control freaks to get excited about, but the Sanyo did perform admirably in tricky conditions. However, the lack of a red-eye reduction on the flash will annoy many, and the C6E tended to get a bit warm around the battery/SD card area when filming for longer periods – but not alarmingly so.