Sanyo Taking Another Shot at Handheld Hi-Def Cams. Is It a Case of Utility More Than Quality?

I continue to be intrigued by these little “Hi-Def” camcorders (scare quotes intentional) by Sanyo, even if not enough to acquire one. I haven’t been able to get my hands on one because I don’t know anyone who has one and no local stores carry them.

When they first came out last year reviewers gave them so-so marks for not being not quite as hot as advertised. Yet, they seem to have garnered a decent following amongst video bloggers and other indie video producers, which tells me that they must be worth something, even if they aren’t a threat to a Sony or Panasonic HDV camcorder.

A gushing hands-on preview of the newest Sanyo HD mini-cams by Akihabara News has been making the rounds. It’s not terribly informative, though they say picture quality has improved over the previous generation.

The Xacti XD-HD700 and HD1000 record to H.264 MPEG-4, rather than using the newer, but hard to edit AVCHD format used in hard-drive, DVD and flash memory cams from Panasonic and Sony. Indeed, I think that’s really where the rubber hits the road. H.264 has been supported by Apple Quicktime for a couple of years now. As a result it’s pretty easy to import directly into iMovie, Quicktime Pro or Final Cut Pro for editing without a lot of transcoding slowing things down. You make some sacrifice in overall hi-def quality for speed.

That’s where I can see the value for a video blogger or anyone producing short pieces for the web. Instead of having to mess with capturing miniDV tape in real time you get close to the same quality with all the convenience of recording to flash memory, which copies right to your hard drive.

I have to get my head out of the big claims of being HD and think more about good utility at reasonable and usable quality. Heck, I’ve even used a cheap (as in $35) little handheld Aiptek DV “camcorder” to shoot some footage to Windows Media MPEG-4 simply because it was easier than digging out the comparatively bigger miniDV cam and dealing with tape. And while the Aiptek’s video can’t hold a candle to any miniDV camcorder, in good light it’s not bad at all — certainly better than a webcam — and it’s size, price and convenience make it the right tool for some jobs.

Please don’t tape my tepidly enthusiastic reconsideration of these flash memory cams as an indication that I’ve given up on my criticisms and concerns. Rather, I’m willing to see these things in a new light if indeed their utility as tools. Maybe one will turn up in a local electronics store so I can give it a whirl.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *