It may not come with full-fat 1080p high-definition capabilities, but the supremely portable Sanyo Xacti VPC-TH1 camcorder is likely to appeal to anyone looking to make HD home movies without paying through the nose. It has simple point-and-shoot appeal and can be picked up online for around £250. Canny shoppers may be able to find it for less than £200.
Anyone familiar with previous models in the Xacti range will note that the VPC-TH1 has a rather sober-looking design compared to the distinctive ray-gun stylings once favoured by Sanyo's design team. This model has a much more similar look and feel to its competitors in the market at large. It's not dissimilar in size and shape to Panasonic's compact HDC-SD9 -- if anything, it's slightly smaller and lighter.
The inclusion of an HDMI port, face 'chasing' -- that is, recognition -- technology and a lengthy 30x optical zoom are definite bonuses. Size and price aside though, simplicity is probably the VPC-TH1's biggest selling point.
There's a grand total of seven buttons on the unit, including the on/off switch. Most of the device's features are accessible via a straightforward on-screen menu and even this can be switched to idiot mode if you just want to get on with the task at hand with the minimum of fuss. All of this would be fine if the VPC-TH1's automatic functions were up to speed. Unfortunately, they aren't.