Pocket-Sized Flash-Memory Hi-Def Camcorder — NY Times Says It Works… Kind of

Last month I posted about Sanyo’s newly announced high-definition camcorder that records to flash-memory cards, instead of tape. I admit that the concept is very enticing, but that most attempts at a flash-memory consumer cam have been lackluster.

The Time’s David Pogue got his hands on one for one of the first reviews, and he finds that it’s not that bad, if not quite the revolution Sanyo would have you believe. It really does deliver high-definition 1280×720 (720p) video using MPEG-4, which I believe is superior to MPEG-2 for editing. (MPEG-2 is what’s used in satellite TV and DVDs, and was never meant to be edited. MPEG-4 is a much newer and more flexible codec).

However I’m not convinced yet that I should save up the 800 clams to rush out and buy one. It’s a small palm-sized cam, which means it’s easy to pocket, but also hard to hold steady. And Pogue observes that failure to hold it steady results in the picture breaking down. Further, its low light capabilities aren’t too hot either.

I’d still like to get my hands on one just to try out — maybe one will show up at a local electronics store so I can mess with it. But even if this particular first-gen model isn’t quite ready to be the Indymedia video activists’ favorite stealth-cam for protests, I think this is generally the direction the technology is moving in.

Panasonic has already debuted flash-memory recording in its professional HD camcorders, using its new P2 memory cards. But at about $1400 for 8 GB, they’re a bit more pricey than standard compact flash or secure digital.

Ah, but pricing always punishes the early adopters. Give it a year or two and flash-memory camcorders will be a more common and practical option for both amateurs and professionals. Until then, tape does still work fine.







2 responses to “Pocket-Sized Flash-Memory Hi-Def Camcorder — NY Times Says It Works… Kind of”

  1. […] None of these cams are as small and pocket-sized as the Sanyo Xacti XD1, and they do use tape. But they also generate higher-quality audio and video using a proven platform, and so both these Sonys would be a good choice for any indy videographer looking to jump up to HD right now.   […]

  2. […] Although the idea is promising, it looks like Sanyo’s experiment in a palm-size HD camcorder that records to SD memory cards doesn’t work out. While the NY Times gave the Xacti a mediocre review, the second major review I’ve read–from Akihabara News–pans it completely: …the HD and SD videos are a complete DISASTER! … The videos shot in HD are nowhere near the ones taken with the Sony HDR-HC1 (the camera Akihabara News uses for their HD videos) for example. To put it bluntly, you can really see the pixels in HD mode. These videos are not re-worked by any video editing software, this is raw footage, straight out of the HD1. We’re not video professionals, but it looks like us that the HD videos are “enlarged” SD videos in 1280×720, which would explain the pixels on the screen. […]

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