Sanyo VPC-HD2 Xacti full review

You may be forgiven for shooting extreme close-ups of your bristly bits, such is the similarity of the Sanyo VPC-HD2 Xacti’s design to that of a single-headed Philishave. That said, its pistol-grip styling feels much better than that of familiar, side-handed digital camcorder grips.

Shooting feels more like wielding a gun and captured footage is rendered in high-definition MPEG-4. This is a highly compressed video format, necessitated by the Xacti’s storage medium. It uses flash memory in the shape of SD memory cards.

While flash storage is faster to access, and more robust than, MiniDV tape and recordable DVD, you pay a premium in that per MegaByte, flash storage is much more expensive than its competitors. Then again, flash capacity-per-pound is becoming more reasonable by the month and it’s much slicker to work with multiple high-capacity cards than with tape, optical or even HD storage.

Both lefties and right-handed folk will be at home with the Xacti’s control system, although criticism should be levelled at the multi-function ‘joy’ button at the rear.

While it offers quick access to numerous on-camera controls, of which there are many, right down to ISO sensitivity, it’s a toughie to operate. There’s a central detente to Set, but it’s very easy to mess up with a central click – the usual scenario is that it’ll dab you onto the next setting, misinterpreting a downward, upward or sideways click as a menu change.

Otherwise, in the field, the Xacti is quick and easy to use – a point-and-shoot affair. There’s no accessory shoe, but it does have a socket for an external mic (ever an important feature) if you don’t fancy on-body audio capture via the stereo mic built into the flip-out LCD.

There is even a flip-up flash for 7-megapixel stills work, which is an impressive spec for a camcorder.

Connection to the Mac is via a USB-equipped docking station and the MPEG-4 footage imports to iMovie in a trice, albeit that everything captured is a single file.

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