With its 'dual camera' Xacti range, Sanyo has identified something that many people have been crying out for -- the combination of a high-resolution digital stills camera and high-definition camcorder in one tidy package. At around £220, the small, 10-megapixel Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG10 promises it all for a very reasonable price.
The VPC-CG10 seems adequately equipped, with a large image sensor that's capable of high-resolution, 10-megapixel still photos (or 12-megapixel photos with interpolation) and 1,280x720-pixel resolution HD video, at 30 frames per second.
Not only that, but the VPC-CG10 is small and light, coming in at less than 190g, including the battery pack. The creamy, retro ray-gun design might not be everyone's cup of tea, but the device is certainly easy to hold and operate. Flip open the surprisingly large 76mm (3-inch) LCD screen and you're pretty much ready to go.
An uncomplicated menu system is made even easier to navigate when the device is set to 'simple' mode, although this denies you access to some of the unit's more advanced manual settings. With the 'auto' setting selected, the VPC-CG10 offers the ultimate in 'point and shoot' -- press the big camcorder button to start shooting video or the equally large camera button to take a snap.
It's also possible to take photos while filming video, although resolution will be significantly lower than 10 megapixels. Still photos aren't bad either, although we've seen better from dedicated digital cameras.
There's a small amount of internal memory to store recordings on, but 40MB won't get you very far. An SDHC-compatible memory card slot allows for further high-capacity storage. You'll need to invest in an SD card separately, but 8GB will store around 2 hours of HD video at the highest quality setting.
It's tempting to assume the words 'high definition' mean that you're automatically going to get a high-quality video image. Unfortunately, as with the recently reviewed Xacti VPC-TH1, the VPC-CG10's movie mode suffers from a selection of minor limitations that, when added together, make for a somewhat disappointing overall experience. The VPC-CG10 can't shoot 'Full HD' 1080p video, although this fact alone shouldn't necessarily be a deal-breaker.
Worse is the fact that the VPC-CG10 simply doesn't handle motion well, thanks to a poor electronic image stabiliser and a tendency to introduce blockiness into the image with even relatively slow camera movement.
Secondly, again like its sister model, the VPC-CG10's automatic functions -- autofocus, exposure and so on -- are frustratingly slow to react to their surroundings, meaning that, if you pan to something brighter and further away, the camcorder takes an achingly long time to adjust its settings, and you're left with several seconds of ugly bleached-out blur.
Colours, too, appear to be slightly off -- reds seem orangey and greens have a slightly yellowish tinge, even when the white balance has been set manually. On top of that, connections are limited -- there's no HDMI, no component video out and no microphone or headphone sockets. And the 5x optical zoom, while generous for a stills camera, is right at the lower end of what you'd expect from a camcorder.
The 'dual camera' angle is a tough one to live up to and the Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG10 comes across as something of a compromise on both counts. Its HD video performance, in particular, is disappointing. In its favour, though, the VPC-CG10 is relatively inexpensive, very pocket-friendly and extremely easy to use.
Edited by Charles Kloet