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Sanyo Xacti HD1000: My Experience

March 6, 2008

I recently purchased the Sanyo Xacti HD1000 Video Camera. It a high definition handheld camera that will fit in your pocket and record standards compliant MPEG4 video to and SD card.

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Here are a few thoughts after owning this video camera for about a month:

The good:

  • This camera can usually fit in a pants pocket– always in a jacket pocket.
  • An hour’s worth of video can be transferred to my computer in about 10 minutes. All the files transferred are of the date the video was taken. Very convenient for dating videos.
  • The 720p high definition video (I have not tried 1080i) is a nice improvement over old 480i video I shot with my Sony TRV-18.
  • The menus are well designed and make it easy to use some nice features and settings.
  • Consistent with my expectations from CES, the camera is very easy to hold. Even for my wife.
  • I can get about 80 minutes of 720p video on an 8GB SD card (which I purchased for about $100).

The bad:

  • I have mostly shot in high definition and when focused, the quality seems just fine. However, this camera seems somewhat worse in low light than the old Sony TRV-18 that we had in that people are likely to drift out of focus when my hand shakes or they move. I may experiment and do some research to see if this might be addressed by changing some settings.
  • Even in good light, the anti-shake system seems worse the my old Sony TVR-18.

Stills:

  • The Xacti takes decent stills. As with the video camera, the more light the better, but decent flash pictures are certainly possible, even if not a sure thing.

Adventures in Transcoding:

  • Because I have recorded 720p video that I will be playing back on Xbox 360 Media Center Extenders, I have to transcode the video to either MPEG2 or WMV format. I have tried many consumer video transcoding applications in the past (priced less than $50) and none has been more robust that Vegas Video 5.0 (which I have used with Batch Render Pro– a user written plugin that doesn’t seem to be available anymore). A three minute 720p video is transcoded to MPEG2 in about six minutes with my Intel Core2 Duo 6600 processor. The size of the video file goes from 250MB to 381MB. Not too bad. This is better than the time it took to transcode 480i avi files to DVD quality MPEG2 with my old video camera.
  • I have tried some transcoding to WMV using Vegas 5.0’s interface to the Windows Media 9 Video Encoder, but it is absurdly stopping every 60 frames for more than a few seconds. When encoding 60 fps video, these delays really add up! There may well be better settings for Windows Media Encoder, but with such good results from Vegas’s Mainconcept MPEG encoder, I don’t yet have a good reason to spend a lot of time experimenting with Windows Media encoding.
  • Hopefully in 2008 there will be an update to the Xbox 360’s media center extender software that allows it to play MPEG4 files natively!
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