Every new Xacti camera from Sanyo shows significant improvements over the last, and the HD1000 follow suit. The HD1000, which records exclusively to SDHC cards, is hands-down the best device in the line. The very light, relatively affordable cam still features the characteristic pistol-grip design and compact control setup as the previous model but now also shoots some of the best video and still images in its class.
Shooting with the Sanyo Xacti HD 1000
At 9.1 ounces, the cam is extremely light, and while that's great from a pocket perspective, it does make the camcorder difficult to keep steady. You might have to work a little harder than usual when shooting at full zoom, but it's worth it, as the optical zoom is very sharp at its full 10X range. However, we'd like slightly better visual stabilization to counteract the light physical weight; a stronger auto-focus would be nice, too. While the HD1000 does lock in sharply, it took slightly longer and waffled more in low light (typically when zoomed in) than other HD camcorders we've reviewed.
Xacti HD1000 Design
The physical design doesn't leave much room for an electronically controlled lens cap, but we'd love one to cover the big piece of glass at the front of the HD1000. Otherwise the design is wonderful. Controls are nicely clustered all within thumb range, the most important menu and shooting buttons are clearly labeled, and Sanyo's on-screen menu layout remains tremendously easy to use. One gripe: Default settings have a blue ring of light around the photo and video shutter buttons that pulses while shooting. Why? We have no idea; it's very irritating, especially while shooting at night.
Full HD Mode
What you'll get when shooting in Full HD mode is proper 1080i footage with accurate and lifelike colors. Details were crisp without feeling overly sharp, and exposure and contrast were properly handled over a wide array of lighting conditions. While noise was very evident in low-light conditions, the footage wasn't distractingly marred by the speckling. We did see some very occasional tearing when watching video (primarily with the docked camera connected via HDMI to our display), which was the most notable downside to the camera's images.
Audio was also very good, with ambient sounds present but not overpowering, and a broad spectrum captured with clarity. Sanyo rates battery life at up to 2 hours; regular video usage with the zoom functions brought that down to 90 minutes of real-world use.
Even with a skimpy software package that includes Nero 7 Essentials and Ulead MovieFactory 5.0 SE, the HD1000 is an excellent buy. We love the portability and video quality, and even the option to shoot stills while recording video. (The cam's 4-MP stills are as good as the video.) We've been patient with Sanyo's flash camera efforts in high-def, and the wait has paid off.