Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG9
Cheap as chips.
- High quality stills mode, pistol-grip design has its fans
- Poor low-light performance, sub-par video, buttons are too small
The Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG9 is a cute standard-def offering that comes with some interesting modes and features. Unfortunately, its poor video performance and annoying control scheme are kind of hard to overlook.
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
Anyone who remembers those ‘Monsters in my Pocket’ toys from the late 1980s will be instantly familiar with the Xacti VPC-CG9 — not only is it similarly pocket-sized, it’s also pretty monstrous! [You’re fired — Ed.] Kidding aside, this is a fairly lacklustre effort from Sanyo that suffers from poor video quality and an unwieldy control scheme. Its main claim to fame is probably its 9.1-megapixel stills mode, which does a pretty good job of capturing photos. Plus with a retail price of just $349 it’s one of the few camcorders on the market that practically anyone can afford.
The Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG9 is a standard-definition camcorder that records MPEG-4 video to either SD/SDHC memory cards or its 44MB of internal memory. The tiny inbuilt memory is mainly there for show; it will net you around one minute of top-quality video (count it!) or 10 images at the highest resolution. You’ll therefore need to buy some SD/SDHC media to go along with your purchase (8GB cards currently cost around $100). Depending on the card’s capacity, this will boost recording times by up to 114 hours.
Like the rest of Sanyo’s Xacti range, the VPS-CG9 sports an unusual pistol-grip body that bears little resemblance to a traditional camcorder. Similar in shape to an electric razor, it has been tailored for one-handed operation, with the user’s thumb manning the controls (it’s the same basic design as the Xacti VPC-C1, which hit stores way back in 1995). Personally, we’ve never been big fans of the Xacti look, though it would appear consumers are quite taken with the concept (why else would Sony rip it off with the recent HDR-TG1?)
If you can get used to the lack of a hand strap, the shooting process becomes fairly intuitive after a while. Or at least it would do if it wasn’t for the ridiculously tiny controls. In an attempt to aid one-handed operation, Sanyo has crammed nearly every button onto the upper-rear of the device. Not only does this make for a cluttered interface, it also forces you to use your big fat thumb. As you can imagine, it’s not an ideal combo. Subsequently, unless you’re a child or pygmy, you’re going to find the control scheme highly cumbersome. On the plus side, the CG9’s menu is intelligently laid out, with the assorted modes and functions residing where you’d expect to find them. It is also reminiscent of a digital camera menu screen, which fits in well the unit’s hybrid functionality.
The 9.1-megapixel stills image mode is a welcome addition to the VPS-CG9, and probably its saving grace. In optimum lighting, we were quite pleased with the quality of our output, which remained colourful and highly detailed. The camera also comes equipped with advanced photography features (including face detection and red-eye correction), a 12-megapixel mode (via interpolation) and a built-in flash. When you consider that most decent compact cameras cost around the same price as the CG9, its value for money can’t be denied. Unfortunately, the control issues that plague the video side of things also crop up here. The shutter button is both undersized and erratic, producing occasionally blurry results.
If you’ve read up to this point, you’re probably thinking that the Xacti VPS-CG9 seems like a pretty decent purchase — particularly if you’re blessed with petite and nimble hands. Unfortunately, when we tested the CG9’s video performance, things took a decided turn for the worse.
In its adverts, Sanyo has been touting the CG9’s "high-sensitivity techmology", which apparently "enables shooting in dark locations". We’re not sure what high-sensitivity "techmology" is, but we’d suggest it go out and find a real job. Frankly, the VPS-CG9 exhibited one of the worst low-light performances we’ve seen. Noise levels were ruinously high, with image details smothered in a snowstorm of grain.
Naturally, the unit fared a lot better in bright, outdoor environments, but we’d still class its output as adequate at best. Tellingly, the camera includes a ‘Web/Blog’ mode as one of the main shooting options, which gives an indication of its poor resolution. (This also puts it in the inglorious company of the Creative Vado, Firebox Flip Digital Video Camera and Sony NSC-GC1 Net-Sharing Cam.)
To end on a positive note, the VPS-CG9 comes bundled with a comprehensive instruction manual that puts most other camcorder booklets to shame. If you’re new to video and would prefer to be guided through each and every step, this manual will be a big help.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 2 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 3 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 4 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 5 Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft's Story Remix uses machine learning and mixed reality to make your movies awesome
- New IoT malware targets 100,000 IP cameras via known flaw
- Facebook launches tool for capturing 360 video inside VR
- Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro finally adds 4K video support for local files
- HBO brought its best shows to life at SXSW with an awesome escape room
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- MSI GE72 7RE Apache Pro gaming laptop review
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- TPAndroid DeveloperNSW
- FTEnterprise Security ArchitectQLD
- FTSAP ISU Billing Consultant - FunctionalVIC
- FTWintel Engineer - Website hostingNSW
- FTBPM DeveloperNSW
- TPBusiness Analyst - ImprovementQLD
- CCSoftware DeveloperVIC
- CCIT Security Risk AnalystVIC
- FTSQL BI Report DeveloperQLD
- CCMaster Data Officer - SAPNSW
- FTSystem Engineer - VMWare, UCS, NetAppVIC
- FTSenior Business Analyst, Wealth ProductsNSW
- TPArcGIS DeveloperVIC
- FTTest Analyst (Datawarehouse)SA
- FTSenior Business Analyst - GROUP LIFE INSURANCENSW
- FTSales Client Services Manager (Mid-market)QLD
- FTDeployment Analyst / Customer Service - Minchinbury NSWNSW
- FTFrontend DeveloperNSW
- FTApplication AnalystSA
- CCICT Project CoordinatorNSW
- FTSenior SharePoint Administrator. Location -ACTACT
- CCSenior Systems Engineer - WintelVIC
- FTSolution Architect - NetworksNSW
- FTSenior iOS DeveloperNSW