World smallest camcorders = world's most-limited camcorders

Thursday morning gadget roundup.

By Farhad Manjoo

Published April 10, 2008 3:21PM (EDT)

  • The New York Times' David Pogue looks at the Sony HDR-TG1, the Panasonic HDC-SD9, and the Sanyo Xacti 1000, each of which claims to be the world's smallest hi-definition camcorder.

    The New York Times

    Sony's HDT-TG1

    The $900 Sony, Pogue says, is in fact the smallest, but that doesn't mean it's best: its "picture is distinctly soft, with none of the razor clarity you'd associate with hi-def," he says. The $700 Sanyo's picture is better, but not by much, and the Panasonic, $700, takes fantastic images outdoors, but struggles indoors.

    If you're willing to sacrifice on size, you can forget all these machines, says Pogue:

    Just remember that for about the same price, you could buy a camcorder like the Canon HV30. It's bigger but still fits a coat pocket. It has all the right jacks, like microphone and headphone. It records onto commonly available MiniDV tapes, so you'll never run out of storage halfway through your vacation. More important, it shoots high-definition video the way it was born to be: stunningly crisp, with incredible presence and nearly perfect color.

    In short, it appears that no matter how many companies claim the title "world's smallest hi-def camcorder," what they mean is "world's most compromised."

  • Also in the Times, a fun story on calibrating your HDTV, a necessary task. Manufacturers usually crank up the colors to make TVs stand out in the shop, but you don't want that look at home. To get a more compatible look, you can order up Best Buy's home-calibration service -- $300! -- or just buy a calibration DVD and do it yourself, which the article says usually works well enough.
  • The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg offers his annual PC-buying guide, going over the various specs to consider when buying a new computer. This guide focuses on laptops. Among Mossberg's tips: "Don't pay a penny extra for faster processor speed." Amen.

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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