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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cool Gear: Palm-Sized HD Video

Sanyo’s Xacti VPC-HD1 is a glimpse into the future of Hi-Def video capture for consumers

Cool Gear: Palm Sized HD Video

With high-definition television finding its way into more and more living rooms, it's natural that consumer-level video cameras are beginning to follow suit. Consumer HD camcorders, though still somewhat rare at this point, aren't exactly new, but they tend to be pricey.

That alone makes Sanyo's Xacti VPC-HD1 interesting. Priced at around $799, it's the first HD consumer camera to break the $1,000 barrier. But there's more to this camera than just an attractive price point.

We hear the buzzword "convergence" a lot in our industry (check out Mike Stensvold's article "Digital Convergence" on page 40 in this issue for more on this trend). Cameras that shoot video and camcorders that take still pictures are common these days, but usually there's a trade-off. Camcorders tend to deliver lackluster specs for their still captures, with lower resolutions than we're used to from our digital still cameras. Conversely, still cameras that do video, with a few recent exceptions, have tended to be very limiting in terms of the quality and length of the video that can be captured. More often than not, when technologies "converge," features and specs fall short of what you'd get if you bought dedicated devices.

From that perspective, the Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1 gets more interesting. In addition to HD video, it has 5-megapixel still capability, more than enough resolution to make it a capable camera for most typical use. Perhaps the best feature of this hybrid camera, though, is its size. It's tiny enough to tuck away into a coat pocket.

So why don't the major networks junk their gazillion-dollar professional HD cams and give their staffs these palm-sized recorders? For one, it's important to understand what high definition really means before comparing apples to oranges.




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