So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Sanyo Xacti VPC-CS1 Full HD pocket camcorder
Sanyo's stylish and ultra-portable HD pocket camcorder
- Stylish and ultra-compact design, good outdoors video performance, 10x optical zoom
- Picture quality suffers in dim lighting, controls are a bit fiddly for people with big hands
Despite a poor low-light performance, the Sanyo Xacti VPC-CS1 remains a decent little camcorder. It looks great, comes with some nice features and takes attractive video in optimum lighting.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
The Sanyo Xacti VPC-CS1 is a Full HD pocket camcorder that records MPEG-4 video to SDHC flash memory cards. With its ultra-compact size and sleek good looks, the VPC-CS1 will make an ideal companion for bloggers and casual shooters. On the downside, image quality is less than superb — especially in dim lighting — but for the asking price and size, we think it does a pretty good job.
[Compare the Sanyo Xacti VPC-CS1 to other Full HD camcorder reviews on PC World.]
The chief selling point of the Sanyo Xacti VPC-CS1 is its stylish design. Measuring a mere 62x27x123mm and weighing 159g, it's one of the slimmest high-definition camcorders on the market. It's also easily one of the best looking. The version we tested came in a pink-and-silver finish that wouldn't look out of place in a designer handbag (a plain silver version is offered for the blokes). It sports a similar shape to previous Sanyo camcorders, such as the HD1010 and VPC-CA8 (EXBK), although the famous Xacti ‘pistol-grip’ is a lot less pronounced here.
If we have an issue with the Sanyo Xacti VPC-CS1's design, it's that the lens lacks a protective cover — a fault it shares with the Panasonic HM-TA1. This means you need to be extra careful about smudging or cracking the lens while the camera is not in use. The buttons are also on the small side, which may hamper large-handed users. Nonetheless, we were quite happy with the way the Sanyo Xacti VPC-CS1 handled. Provided you can get used to the lack of a hand strap, it will deliver a smooth performance during shoots.
Unlike some pocket camcorders, the Sanyo VPC-CS1 manages to cram a fold-out 2.7in LCD inside its body. This is handy for previewing footage and making menu selections, with plenty of real estate on the screen. Some of the menu options on offer include face detection (up to 12 faces simultaneously), manual focus and white balance, seven scene selections (Sports, Snow & Beach, etc.), red eye correction and a handful of digital filters.
As mentioned, the Sanyo Xacti VPC-CS1 relies on removable flash memory for video recordings. In addition to SD/SDHC cards, the camcorder is also compatible with SDXC — a new high-capacity format with a potential storage capacity of 2TB. An 8GB card will net you around an hour of Full HD video, or 4.5 hours at the lowest quality setting.
To assess the Sanyo VPC-CS1's video performance, we shot footage in a variety of lighting conditions before playing it back on a Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A plasma TV . Results were average for a HD pocket camcorder, with image quality largely dependent on the level of brightness in a shot. Even in moderate lighting, the VPC-CS1's 1/5in CMOS sensor seemed to struggle with noise, although colour accuracy remained quite good throughout testing.
Results were significantly better in optimum lighting, with sharp, vibrant images awash with fine detail. The Sanyo Xacti VPC-CS1 offers a multitude of recording modes, including standard-definition (640x480), 720p, an ‘iFrame’ mode (960×540) and the synonymous Full HD. All in all, we were satisfied with the Sanyo VPC-CS1's output in sunny conditions.
Sanyo is marketing the Xacti VPC-CS1 as a ‘dual camera’ due to its ability to take 8-megapixel digital photos (via interpolation). To be honest, we weren’t very impressed with its stills output: we’ve seen better results from camcorders that don’t tout their photographic abilities. Noise is simply too problematic to make attractive photos — especially in moderate-to-dim lighting. As such, you’re relegated to brightly lit environments.
The Sanyo Xacti VPC-CS1 comes with a 10x optical zoom, which is quite powerful for a HD pocket camcorder. Predictably, there is no mic input on this camera, but the inbuilt stereo microphone acquits itself well.
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