camcorders

Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1010 Camcorder Review

here aren\'t too many ultra-compact camcorders capable of delivering full 1920 x 1080 HD video. Those that do, like the Sony HDR-TG1, are usually geared towards beginners or users looking for an easy-to-use travel item. Enter the Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1010 ($799 MSRP), an ultra-compact device packed with so many manual controls it almost sounds like a professional camcorder on paper. Surprisingly, the camcorder was also able to put up some incredible video performance results in our testing. The trouble is, regardless of how good the quality is or how many features the camcorder has, the Sanyo HD1010 is still a cheaply made device—with awkward handling, bad button layout, poor auto controls, and terrible menu structure. Nevertheless, with the ability to control aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure and image settings, combined with an external microphone output, 8 video record settings (including a 30P mode), and 9 photo qualities (including a 7fps photo sequence feature)—pound for pound, you\'re looking at one of the most versatile camcorders in the world.

November 05, 2008
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Conclusion & Comparisons

Conclusion

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While the Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1010 ($799 MSRP) has enough features to make manual control enthusiasts salivate, it also has plenty of confusing options and awkward handling issues. It is clear Sanyo didn't make a camcorder that is a good choice for beginners. The 'simple menu' mode tries to offer an easy way to use the camcorder, but it doesn't do anything to improve Sanyo's uncomfortable grip or poor button placement. Despite all this, the HD1010 did put forth a solid video performance in all kinds of light—even outshining the impressive Sony HDR-TG1 in many categories.

Going solely by video performance, the Sanyo HD1010 is a remarkable ultra-compact camcorder, producing the best images our lab has seen from a device of its size. The 30P video mode offered a good alternate to the 60i aesthetic, and it boosted the sharpness of the image an incredible amount. In the real world, however, you need to take controls into consideration. The Sanyo has an awful auto exposure, which drops the shutter speed to 1/30 of a second even in moderately low light conditions—resulting in undesirable motion effects far too often. The auto white balance also didn't win us over, making the blue sky appear neon and giving some images a strange cool tone. Autofocus usually worked well, but it sometimes produced an odd crackling noise that was often loud enough for the camcorder's internal microphone to pick up.

Using manual controls is clearly the way to go with the VPC-HD1010, and there sure are a lot of them. It's the way these controls are implemented that will drive some people crazy. Sanyo's terrible navigation joystick controls far too many features and provides little accuracy for making manual adjustments. Is it really worth having so many settings if controlling them is a nightmarish experience?

While the HD1010 feels like a toy, it is truly a powerful piece of technology. Its video performance is outstanding for an ultra-compact camcorder and its manual control options are very impressive. If Sanyo can take the interface back to the drawing board they may have a shot at the title next year.

**Comparisons

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{{article.attachments['Sony_HDR-TG1_Vanity120a.jpg']}} Sony HDR-TG1 The Sony HDR-TG1 is the direct competitor of the VPC-HD1010. They both have great video performances, although the Sanyo ruled in low light situations. The main difference here is features vs. design. Sony offers a sleek titanium body, with a rectangular shape that makes the camcorder quite easy to fit into a pocket (although it won't be all that comfortable). The Sanyo HD1010's large lens makes portability a bit more difficult and pocket transport is quite difficult.Sanyo holds the clear advantage when it comes to features and manual controls. The HDR-TG1 only offers exposure compensation, manual white balance, and manual focus. It doesn't have shutter speed, aperture, ISO, 30P mode or many of the fun features found on the Sanyo HD1010. Sony also uses a touchscreen to make all adjustments and for all menu navigations—a system that is only slightly less annoying than Sanyo's joystick.The choice here is a difficult one. If you want a well-built device that is easy to use, go with the Sony. If you desire manual controls the Sanyo will deliver what you want—along with plenty of annoyances.
   
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Canon HF100

Recording solely to SD/SDHC cards (just like the Sanyo VPC-HD1010), the Canon HF100 has no internal memory. While definitely not a match to the Sanyo when it comes to manual controls, the HF100 does have 30P and 24P frame rates (along with 60i). Also, Canon has the best video performance in the business. So, if you're looking for a relatively cheap HD camcorder with outstanding performance the HF100 is for you. If you want to have access to all those manual controls, however, you must look elsewhere.

   
Panasonic HDC-HS100 Panasonic is noted for having camcorders with many manual controls and the HDC-HS100 is no exception. It doesn't have quite as many options as the Sanyo HD1010, but it has all the important ones—gain, shutter, aperture, and white balance. Here's the rub, Panasonic offers a lens ring to make smooth adjustments to all these controls. The ring is a blessing compared to the deplorable joystick on the VPC-HD1010. If you don't need all the settings that Sanyo offers, and portability isn't a big concern, the HDC-HS100 is an excellent choice for manual control lovers.
   
{{article.attachments['sanyo_HD700_prov_vanity120.jpg']}} Sanyo VPC-HD700 The VPC-HD700 is another ultra-compact from Sanyo, but it's only capable of captruing 720p HD video. The camcorder is smaller, lighter, and comes with far less features than the HD1010. We haven't tested this model in our labs, but we can only assume it's constructed with the same cheap feel as the VPC-HD1010. If you like what you see from Sanyo, but want a smaller device, this could be the way to go. There's also the option for going with the VPC-E2, Sanyo's standard definition waterproof camcorder.

Who It’s For

Point-and-Shooters

Sanyo's 'simple menu' mode does make things easy for beginners—everything is automated and the complex menu transforms into a simple, three-option list. The problem is, most of the auto features don't work very well on the camcorder.

Budget Consumers

At $799 MSRP, the HD1010 isn't the cheapest thing out there, but you'd be hard pressed to find a lower-priced HD camcorder stuffed with the amount of features and options Sanyo packs into this one. Overall, you get an ultra-compact design and a ton of features for a reasonable price.

Still Photo / Video Camera Hybrid

Sanyo is clearly pushing the HD1010 as a hybrid. Its exposure menu mimics that of an SLR camera and it comes with a variety of still image settings and options (including a 7 frames per second photo sequence mode). If the shape and design of the camcorder body doesn't scare you away, you're looking at a decent hybrid device—filled with features many camcorders completely ignore (shutter speed, aperture, ISO)

Gadget Freaks

The unique look of the VPC-HD1010 could be described as both futuristic or toy-ish. It probably won't attract as many fans as the sophisticated Sony HDR-TG1, but it will definitely appeal to some. Also, the incredible amount of features and modes will impress gadget lovers who want an ultra-compact camcorder that can do anything.

Manual Control Freaks

This is your camcorder right here. As long as you can deal with the problematic joystick, the convoluted menu system, and the compact size isn't too small for you—this is a terrific camcorder for manual control gurus.

Pros / Serious Hobbyists

Even though Sanyo includes a microphone jack, cold shoe mount, and tons of controls, the VPC-HD1010 is not for pros.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Performance
  2. Format
  3. Auto / Manual Controls
  4. Still Features
  5. Handling and Use
  6. Audio / Playback / Connectivity
  7. Other Features
  8. Conclusion & Comparisons
  9. Photo Gallery
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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