The Xacti has plenty to commend it in theory, but previous models have been let down by their performance. This is clearly not a device aimed at the expert in either of its two areas, and it doesn’t win any prizes in either. As a camcorder, the HD1000 does better than its predecessors. With plenty of lighting, the video quality is reasonable, although colours tend to be a little over saturated. The optical zoom is quite slow, if you’re used to Sony’s extremely rapid response. The autofocus is also a tad sluggish.
Rapid changes in scenery cause obvious pixilation, as 12Mbits/sec is rather a low data rate for Full HD, even using MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression. There’s also a lot of grain visible in low light. Overall, the Xacti’s video quality is well behind what the big camcorder brands can muster with their HD models – particularly HDV ones. But at least it’s better than previous Xactis, which exhibited nasty smearing and artefacts in fast motion. Still images are also a little less sharp than we would have wanted, although here the HD1000 will be quite acceptable for most everyday users. Its digital photography is better than what most similar camcorders are capable of.
The camcorder itself has no connectivity options whatsoever. Instead, a small docking station is included with connections for HDMI, a combined plug for analog component, S-video and composite, plus USB. A button on the front of the docking station turns on the camcorder when it’s docked, as the power switch is hidden beneath the LCD when it’s shut.
The Sanyo records its video as MP4 files. Unfortunately, not every application supports editing MP4s natively. And we couldn’t find a third party player which could handle the files reliably. Ulead VideoStudio 11 can load and edit them, but extremely sluggishly. Sanyo supplies Ulead’s DVD MovieFactory 5 SE, which can import the MP4 files, encode them and burn to disc, but not Blu-ray.
Sanyo is to be commended for another bold attempt to unify the differing needs of camcorder and digital camera users. However, it still doesn’t quite pull it off. The VPC-HD1000 is an impressive device and you’re sure to evoke admiring glances when you whip it out in public. But the video quality is below that of HD camcorders from the big brands, and a sub-£200 pocket camera from the likes of Canon or Panasonic will beat its still images. So, yet again, the Xacti is a reasonable jack of two trades, but not quite master enough of either.
Score in detail
Image Quality 6