As the little sibling of Hitachi's DZ-GX3300A and DZ-GX3200A, the DZ-GX3100A serves up an almost identical feature set, as well as pleasing performance and better than average image quality when shooting in low light. The main difference between the three camcorders is CCD sensors: the 3300A has a 3-megapixel sensor, the 3200A has a 2-megapixel sensor, and the 3100A sports a 1-megapixel sensor.
This difference in sensors ends up affecting still images more noticeably than video. Since it can capture only 1-megapixel stills, prints from the 3100A won't be as sharp as those from the DZ-3200A or the DZ-3300A, even at standard 4x6-inch snapshot size. In fact, you shouldn't really plan on making prints from the DZ-GX3100A, though they may be acceptable for e-mail. Video is only slightly less sharp than that produced by the 3200A and is noticeably softer than footage from the 3300A, though still very pleasing.
Like the others in this line, the DZ-3100A carries over the design of last year's DZ-GX20A. The downside to that is the handful of touch-sensitive buttons hidden behind the 2.7-inch wide-screen LCD. Since they're mounted flush on the camera's body, the buttons are hard to tell apart by touch alone and difficult to use while shooting. Most other controls are well placed, and the menus are intuitive and easy to navigate.
The Hitachi DZ-GX3200A accepts four varieties of 3-inch DVD discs: write-once DVD-R and rewriteable DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM. It records video in MPEG-2 compression to allow 18 to 60 minutes of footage per side, depending on what quality level you choose. The camcorder packs a 1/5-inch 1.3-megapixel CCD sensor. Though it uses 1.1 megapixels to capture stills, it uses only 690,000 pixels for video.