By >Akihabara News Team
[Review] Sanyo Xacti VPC-PD2
I was given the opportunity to test out Sanyo’s Xacti VPC-PD2 camera, their “Dual Camera” with optical zoom and full HD recording.
The PD2 is the second iteration of its series, standing apart from its more iconic gun-handled brethren with a simpler, monolith-like shape. A first glance quickly reveals its 3x optical zoom topped with quite a large flash for its size, along with a simple, speckled black body with the Xacti name emblazoned across the bottom. Its shoulders are adorned with majestic speaker grills – which give you pause when you realize only four craters at the top of those grills are actually open holes, which house the dual microphones. Flip it over and you’ll first notice the 2.0-inch 4:3 aspect ratio screen, and you’ll think, Wait a minute – 4:3?
Turning it On
The power button at the bottom of the back panel requires a two-or-so-second push for the power to actually turn on – probably a failsafe against accidental presses while toting in bags, since the optical zoom comes shooting out the other end with its godawfully-strong motor and the buttons have no ‘Lock’ function; although I don’t see how this protects against long accidental presses in bags.
The 4:3 screen actually doesn’t take away from the HD experience. The screen does have black bars running along the top and bottom when in 16:9-aspect-ratio-video-recording mode, but cleverly camouflages these (well, the top one, anyway) with status icons that trick the eyes into seeing a status bar reminiscent of most modern smartphone OSs.
The small screen is, though, a bit of an annoyance as a viewfinder. Squeezing that large an image onto that small a screen just creates a really distorted image so that you can’t really tell if the image is in focus correctly or not, which lends to the overall feeling that the “HD” in the camera description is not that true.
Actually taking videos is dirt easy – after all, this is a point-and-shoot video camera. All it takes is pushing the record button and pointing at your subject. The monolith shape takes a little bit of getting used to, but it’s very similar to smartphones and other mobile phones (in that the camera is on the back and shouldn’t be obstructed, and the screen is on the front) that it didn’t really take me long to get it. The mics, however, pick up everything – button presses, finger movements, the zoom motor… which makes for some uncomfortableness in the ear. Additionally, audio quality isn’t that amazing, either – this makes for a good audiovisual memo, and is probably perfect for voice, but was mediocre for violin; it sounded tinny and the higher frequencies squeaked something fierce.
The video quality is.. so-so. It truly is HD, in the sense that it has the requisite number of horizontal and vertical pixels, but it’s really bad at motion, resulting in a dim blur if things are moving fast (or the camera is moving fast); videos outdoors tend to be washed out and/or oddly colored; and the autofocus seems to have problems at times, even in non-dark environments.
I would give this camera maybe a 5 or 6 out of 10. Being the first HD-rated video camera I’ve touched (outside of my DSLR), it is quite a good entry-level recorder that’s easy to whip out at a moment’s notice to capture some spur-of-the-moment event to later upload to YouTube; one wouldn’t use this for concerts, or business presentations, or higher-level-than-”I’ve-never-touched-an-HD-vidcam-before” amateur filmmaking. Be prepared to be mildly uncomfortable with long periods of usage, though – the body isn’t that comfortable to hold, it heats up with long usage, and you need to watch out for the side-facing mics whenever you want to zoom or push the buttons or, you know, breathe.