DVD camcorders have a reputation for being sluggish starters - something Hitachi is tackling with its DZ-GX3300E and the promise of just a one-second start-up from sleep mode before recording.
Improvements like these are making these devices a more useful proposition - more camera, less toy. So let's consider what the DZ-GX3300E offers in the image stakes.
For starters there's the 3.3 megapixel CCD - that's a 1/3 inch interlaced chip with 2.1 megapixels available for moving images and 1.6 reserved for stills (stored on SD card or DVD-RAM, but we'll get to that in a moment).
There's a digital zoom, but for quality's sake it's the 10 x optical zoom that's of more interest. The camera also has a built-in flash and an electronic image stabiliser - alas advanced users tend to prefer the optical variety for preservation of image quality.
The ideal consumer camera is one that handles a broad range of recording situations without the operators seeking manual controls (although some will, anyway). This reviewer found the autofocus struggled more in low light than some cameras, which prompted a search for manual focus.
On the upside, the necessary buttons are more accessible that those with on-screen menus, but less comfortable and you must push for a few seconds as the camera is not immediately responsive for this sort of fine-tuning.