The Good Excellent video quality; 120GB hard drive; attractive, understated design; eye-level viewfinder.
The Bad Wind filter not as dependable as previous Canon models; manual focus pretty useless.
The Bottom Line Like its cousin, the flash-based HF11, Canon's Vixia HG21 delivers excellent HD video quality and performance albeit in a slightly larger, heavier package. However, you do get more storage space and a lower price.
Canon Vixia HG2x
The Canon Vixia HG21 is an excellent HD camcorder that's reasonably easy to operate out of the box and looks good, too. It's almost identical to the company's Vixia HF11, but rather than recording mainly to internal flash memory, it records to a hard drive. As for performance, it's as good if not better than the Sony Handycam HDR-SR11. So in the end, it comes down to a preference for flash memory or a hard-disk drive as your storage medium of choice. And if it's for flash, your willingness to pay extra for it.
In addition to the price differential--which varies quite a bit on the Web, so it pays to shop around--there are only a few spec variations between the flash-based HF11 and the HG21. The obvious is the HG21's 120GB hard drive versus the HF11's 32GB internal memory. In recording time, it's 11 hours and 5 minutes to 2 hours and 55 minutes at 24Mbps (and both can be supplemented with SDHC cards). The HG21 also offers an eye-level viewfinder, which is more and more of a rarity.
Aside from capacity, it's really just a matter of size and weight separating the HG21 and HF11; the HF11 is smaller and lighter at 2.9 inches wide by 2.5 inches high by 5.1 inches deep and 15.1 ounces to the HG21's dimensions of 3.1 inches wide by 3 inches high by 5.4 inches deep and 17.6 ounces. Positions for controls and I/O jacks are slightly altered between the two as well. Most notably, the dial to switch from video/still record to video/still playback is on the back for the HG21, and is on the side for the HF11. However, regardless of the model, the controls are large and easy to operate.