Sanyo VPC-HD1 to do HD Video for $800

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Sanyo has updated its line of small camcorders to include the VPC-HD1, which is the first camcorder available to record high-definition video to SD (Secure Digital) flash media cards. According to Sanyo, the VPC-HD1 can easily record both 720p HD video, 5.1 megapixel still images, and standard definition video (640 by 480 at 30 fps progressive), and will be available in the U.S. this March for $799.99.

The VPC-HD1 weighs just 8.3 ounces (235g) and measures 3.1 by 4.7 by 1.4 inches (7.9 by 11.9 by 3.6 cm) and features a 5.3 Gross Megapixel CCD, a 2.2-inch flip-out OLED display with 210,000 total pixels, as well as a 10x optical zoom, and a docking station with a USB 2.0 port for transferring video to a computer.

Videographers might wonder how Sanyo plans to get an small HD video camera to market a roughly half the price of its competitors: part of the answer is that the VPC-HD1 records in MPEG-4 format where other cameras use MPEG-2. The VPC-HD1 can record 21 minutes of HD video to a 1 GB SD card (42 minutes to a 2 GB card), but MPEG-4 is typically much lower quality in camcorders than MPEG-2, although Sanyo (of course) claims their sophisticated image processing provides high-quality images. And the VPC-HD1 does offer a number of useful features, including manual focus, aperture, exposure, white balance, and shutter speed, and an ND toggle filter, as well as consumer-friendly features like anti-shake technology, taking navigation for first-time users, red-eye reduction, and 2- and 10-second self-timers.