On paper, then, the Xacti VPC-HD2000 looks like a pretty corking camcorder. However, previous Sanyos haven't been able to keep up with the big names for image quality. The HD2000 does appear to be a step forward, although choosing between the many modes depends on what you're shooting. For mostly static subjects, the Full HD 60i mode provides the most artefact-free footage, but motion reveals interlacing. Here the 60p mode comes into its own. But this only smoothes motion. Actual image quality is no better than the 30p mode.
In all three cases, colour fidelity is excellent in good lighting, and detail clear and sharp. The autofocus took a little more time to settle down than, say, Canon's Instant AF. Overall, results were well beyond the cheap-and-cheerful image quality of most previous Sanyo offerings. However, the HD2000 still isn't a low-light supremo. It is an improvement over its predecessors, but there is significant discolouration and grain visible in the poorest illumination.
When it comes to editing and viewing your video, the Sanyo offers the usual options. The HD2000 doesn't have any data or AV connectivity on the camcorder body itself. Instead, a docking station is provided with micro USB, HDMI, and a proprietary connection for component, S-video and composite, all with stereo RCA audio.
As with previous Sanyo Xacti HD models, although MPEG-4 AVC H.264 is used for recording, this isn't the now ubiquitous AVCHD. Instead, MP4 files are produced. We found these not universally compatible. Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 couldn't import the 60p files, although the 60i ones and other formats were fine. Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 imported all formats, but the 60p files were extremely sluggish on the timeline. CyberLink PowerDirector 7 had no problems with any of the Sanyo's files. A copy of Nero 8 Essentials is included in the box, although this doesn't offer particularly elaborate editing capabilities.
With each new model, Sanyo gets that little bit closer to producing a camcorder to compete with the best available. The Xacti VPC-HD2000 is another step in the right direction. We still don't like the fact that no 50fps version more suited to European standards is available, and image quality hasn't quite entered the top league just yet. But the price is likely to drop below £500 fairly soon, if previous models are anything to go by. With very good video quality and photographic abilities, this may not be the master of both areas, but it's good enough to be one of the few crossover devices to be worth having for either purpose.