Digital video has seen a huge boost thanks to the success of YouTube and the availability of inexpensive flash storage. Even the high-definition footage you shoot can now be stored on a memory card. PC Advisor tests some modestly priced HD camcorders.
The video revolution has finally hit the UK, with flat-panel TVs, games consoles and TV broadcasts all offering high-definition (HD).
Laptops and PCs are going HD too, with many manufacturers now offering Blu-ray as an option. Indeed, this led to the emergence of two new chassis sizes in 2008 - the 16in and 18.4in laptops launched first by Acer and then by Samsung, Toshiba, HP and others were specifically designed for HD entertainment, with screen sizes that match its 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio.
Video-editing capabilities on the latest PCs are easily able to cope with HD content too, with inexpensive software from Adobe, Roxio and Nero geared up to help you make the most of your video footage.
It's no secret that shooting HD video requires vast amounts of storage space - you'll soon eat up tens if not hundreds of gigabytes on your hard drive. A great reason to archive your raw footage to a Blu-ray disc is that it can store 25GB or 50GB if you've got a dual-layer drive.
And it's just as important that the camcorder itself is able to store considerable amounts of HD footage. Unlike the MiniDV and DVD-based camcorders that you may well have used before, the digital camcorders we review here can store many gigabytes of footage.
The AVCHD (advanced video codec high-definition) format not only supports HD, it's available in convenient media too: AVCHD flash memory cards and Blu-ray versions can be read directly by your PC - a refreshing change from importing video stored on a MiniDV tape using a FireWire connection.
However, it's important to note that most AVCHD camcorders produce 1,920x1,080 interlaced video footage. As any home cinema enthusiast will tell you, this isn't up to the same level of picture quality as the 1,080p (progressive) standard featured in many modern TVs.
While you won't need a FireWire connection to transfer footage, since it favours USB 2.0 instead, you should check that your laptop or PC is up to the task of editing AVCHD footage.
We also reviewed the JVC Everio GZ-HD6, which records HD-quality video but to the standard Mpeg4 format rather than AVCHD.
If you can go HD, we thoroughly recommend it. HD camcorders deliver a radical upgrade in picture and sound resolution - ideal for those of us who use camcorders for capturing special events such as family gatherings and holidays.
HD camcorders finally offer the type of quality that can live up to our memories.
NEXT PAGE: HD camcorders - conclusions