Published on February 28th,2006 at 1:21 AM
By >Daimaou - G.G-B

Sanyo DMX-HD1, everything except for HD, the disappointment

Akihabara News had the chance of being invited to Sanyo’s press conference where the first pocket HD camcorder was presented… and here were are, a few weeks later, with the device in our hands, to provide you with a quick review of the product. Before attacking this review that might not be that positive overall, here’s a little overview of the kit.

Specifications

The HD1 is the very first pocketable HD camcorder and also the first HD camcorder from Sanyo. We can say that it’s the C6′s big brother with its 5.1MP sensor and the possibility to record videos in HD quality (1280×720 at 30fps and 9Mbps). The device has a 10x optical zoom, an image stabilizer for pictures and video and a 2.2″ OLED control screen. When shooting videos, you can choose between the SD and HD modes (Standard Definition et Hi-Definition) by simply pressing a button. It offers all the usual functions and features that photo and video lovers will like to fiddle around with. An example of such a feature is the manual control of the exposure for videos and photos.

A guided tour

The HD1 is bulkier than the C4 (used in our photoshoot) and the C6, but that’s the price to pay for having HD, and making these HD devices slimmer will take some time. Aside from the form factor, it’s nice to hold in the hand (thanks to Kimura San for giving us a hand with these shots). You can also connect an external microphone on this HD1 and the line-in is situated next to the flash. This time, the flash is situated at the top of the Xacti and it’s activated very easily by pressing the appropriate button.

Our HD video (WMV9HD 720p) is available in Torrent here :

AKIBA_HD1_HDTV_720p.wmv.torrent

Sanyo Xacti DMX-HD1 720p HDTV
(Progessive Download HTTP “right click and save as”)

Sanyo Xacti DMX-HD1 720p HDTV
(Streaming Windows Media, Requires at least 6MBits/s)







The SD slot is not situated in the same location as the battery (just like on the C5/6), and in my opion, this is much more practical, and the opening system has even been reviewed.

The HD1′s battery is also different from the one used in the C-series Xacti’s. As HD video recording is very demanding on the ressources (CPU), it eats up a lot of battery life.

To give you an idea on the dimensions of the device, here are 2 photos to compare the C4 to the HD1.


Overall we can say that the HD1 is a success when it comes to ease-of-use and handling, and it’s clear that Sanyo worked hard to get this aspect right. The HD1 is the result of a long line of pocket camcorders in which the problems have been resolved step by step… so congratulations to Sanyo for their efforts.

Photo quality

No big surprises here… the pictures taken with the HD1 are as good as the ones taken with the C5/6. Here are two examples (click on the image to see the full size ones).


Video quality

And this is the HD1′s big problem… the HD and SD videos are a complete DISASTER! We already saw some videos shootage taken by the Japanese press, and though that the mediocre quality was due to the test device, and we were hoping that the final firmware version would be better. We got a final model, ready for the Japanese marker, in our hands this morning, and we were shocked to notice that the videos in SD quality were clearly less beautiful than the ones shot with the C6 for example. 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.

Another big deception is the image/video stabilizer… it stabilizes everything… except for the video. You can see the result in our 2 (HD) videos, which shows the difference between the operation by hand and on a tripod (the Sony VCT-1170RM, also used for our HD videos). Without the tripod, the HD1 cannot be used at all. You have to understand that in HD, the slightest mistake is visible immedately, so you really need a tripod to shoot videos with a small camcoder.

The HD videos are shot in HD SHQ mode, the maximum quality setting for the videos.

Video without tripod

http://images.akihabaranews.com/review_pics/62/SANY0003.MP4

Video with tripod

http://images.akihabaranews.com/review_pics/62/SANY0004.MP4

Maximum (optical) zoom, and then without zoom
http://images.akihabaranews.com/review_pics/62/SANY0008.MP4

Pros:
Well designed
Good build quality

Cons:
DISASTROUS video quality
Inefficient image stabilizer

Conclusion:
So what can we say? The HD1 is a mix of good news bad news. The handling and design have been tremendously improved, and functions have been reviewed too, like for example the manual exposure when taking pictures. Nothing but good news… until you start shooting videos, the video quality is an absolute disaster, and nothing like HD video. The same goes for the image stabilizer, that is totally inefficient.

The HD1 is a real disappointment, and we really hope that Sanyo will review this product asap and release a product that lives up to their announcement and our expectations.

Category Review
              
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  • karlknox

    When I hook the camera directly up to my computer, the camera cannot be used by any program outside of Ulead, the program that came with the camera, and in that program, the picture comes in upside down and backwards. Is there anything you know to do to fix these problems?

 

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