Guest review by Thaed, a tech enthusiast from Cleveland, Ohio.
Can a video camera be the greatest piece of technology available today? I can tell you this is the type of wonder that this device instills in me. It’s almost like I bought something from the future. It seems that sophisticated. The button on the right starts recording in HD (720p) and the button on the left takes 5 megapixel pictures. The switch in the middle zooms in and out. The zooming mechanism is the only moving part. The camera writes its data to an SD card. I bought a two GB version. The viewfinder is the clearest I’ve ever seen and the camera is light and fits perfectly in my hands. The combination of ease of use and portability make it easily the best video camera and digital camera I have. It is a first in so many categories. It’s the first digital video recorder that got the still camera part right. It’s the first HD camera I’ve ever used. It’s the first tapeless video camera I’ve had. It does things like allowing you to make panoramic pictures by sweeping the video or extracting decent stills from video. It has a long battery life and it will use the new four GB SD cards.
So you’re thinking by now that I have stock in Sanyo or something. No I don’t and in fact, I remember when Sanyo built really low-end cheap stuff and when Sony was the big innovator. And this device is not without some issues. Remember that one moving part? The manual says that you can hear the noise of those gears in your videotapes. It’s almost like Sanyo is saying: “Hey we made this thing incredibly tiny and flexible to do all things for all people for 800 bucks, what do you want from us? It’s not perfect.”
Actually, I got mine for about $600 at Broadway Photo. If you shop around on the Internet, you can get real savings.
The state of the art aspect of the camera can work against you too. The HD mpeg4 files are not for low-end computers. You need a 3GHz Pentium or a 1.6 GHz G5 to play the things. Actually, I beg to differ on the G5 rating. My 1.8 GHz G5 iMac chokes on them. For the first time in my life, I don’t have a computer that’s powerful enough to do something I want to do that’s not a game. Of course this gives me and excuse to build another, more powerful computer! Another problem is that while you can do some primitive file cutting and joining with the camera itself, I haven’t found software to edit the mpeg4 files themselves. You can string together the files and burn them as a movie to a DVD, but I haven’t figured out how to edit the clips. I’ve just been shooting them like completed clips.
Getting them off the camera is easy. The computer recognizes the camera in its base as a drive. So you just copy the files over to the computer. Easy. You need to use the base though, because the camera uses a special formatting on the SD card.
I’ve uploaded some sample video on Youtube. Youtube has dumbed it down, but you get the idea. This is definitely not a low light camera. You’re going to need plenty of light. I’ve also got some flickr links so you can see a couple of pics. It shoots at 10 megapixels too, but I believe that’s an extrapolation. I have links to the video and the pictures. Here are videos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6. Here are picture links 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6.
I’ve saved my one real disappointment for last. The camera has no inputs. You aren’t going to be using it to digitize material from other devices. I had hoped that I could do that. I wanted to take some old minidvs and record them in HD format (even though I know I would not have any better resolution). The camera base plays on regular tvs and has component outputs. Since I don’t have an HD TV, I have yet to see the true HD performance beyond what’s on the viewfinder.
All in all, I feel like I’ve bought an everyday video and digital camera from five years in the future. It has the button placement and ease of use of a device that’s been through many versions. I’m very impressed with it and I would highly recommend it.