The VPC-HD2's biggest draw is its ability to record high-def MPEG-4 footage at 1,280 x 720 pixel resolution and 30 frames per second, but it keeps a few other tricks up its sleeve. While shooting video, the camcorder also can take 7-megapixel still pictures. Most camcorders with still photo capabilities can't shoot at the same time. The screen blanks out and the camcorder freezes for about six seconds when you shoot photos while recording video, but it's still better than nothing and you don't lose any video as it's happening.
Because it records high-def video, users need an HDTV or some other high-definition display to get the most out of the VPC-HD2. Its included dock supports both component and HDMI cables, so piping video to your television is a snap. The camcorder also comes with a remote control, so you can shoot and play back videos and images without fiddling with the docked camera.
Though still quite usable, the VPC-HD2's actual footage and performance disappointed us. The camcorder takes a long time to get a focus lock, especially in low light. When it finally focused and shot, the camcorder's video came out soft and washed out. Even when viewed on an HDTV over an HDMI cable, fine details are obscured and colors appear bland and undersaturated. The footage is still high definition and will appear as such on any HDTV, but it doesn't look nearly as crisp as footage from higher-end high-def camcorders. Like their standard definition cousins, HD camcorders, such as the higher end Canon HV20 and the extremely higher end (and much, much more expensive) Panasonic AG-HVX200, can offer wildly varying video quality. Price certainly plays a factor, but even the less expensive camera-turned-HD-camcorder Canon PowerShot TX1 offers clearer HD video than the VPC-HD2. The VPC-HD2 produces decent footage and won't ruin your home movies with poor quality, but you can find better video elsewhere.