Sanyo claims its Xacti VPC-HD2 is the smallest high-def camcorder on the market. While I can't quite confirm the superlative, it certainly is a very small, light camcorder that can fit almost an hour of 720p footage into a single 4GB SD memory card. The VPC-HD2 shares the same slender, vaguely gun-shaped design as Sanyo's other Xacti camcorders. The 10x, 38mm- to 380mm-equivalent lens sits on the top of the camcorder, with the bulk of the device's controls right behind it. Below the lens, the camcorder's slim, rectangular body houses the battery, SD card slot, and flip-out 2.2-inch LCD screen, while offering a comfortable grip. The VPC-HD2 sat comfortably even in my large hand, though I still recommend using a wrist strap.
Despite its comfortable design, The VPC-HD2's control scheme suffers from a persistent, irritating flaw. Users can navigate the camcorder's menus and settings with a small, wiggly joystick just under the zoom switch. Besides tilting horizontally and vertically, the joystick presses straight down to act as a confirmation button. Unfortunately, the camcorder often mistakes the joystick's button functions and tilt functions, making menu navigation a frustrating exercise in precision.
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.