02.Colour & Noise Performance
03.Motion & Sharpness Performance
04.Low Light Performance
05.Compression & Media
08.Handling & Use
09.Playback & Connectivity
Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG10
Handling & Use Summary
• 'Simple Menu' that hides 95% of the camcorder's options; convoluted 'Normal Menu'
• Comfortable and stable to hold (in either left or right hand)
• Imprecise, cheap joystick is the only way to operate manual controls or navigate menus
• Small, light, and highly portable, except for the frustrating battery design
Ease of Use (4.50)
The Sanyo VPC-CG10 may have a lot more functionality than ultra compact camcorders like the Flip UltraHD, but that functionality comes at a price. The CG10 is decidedly more complicated to use than its simple point-and-shoot counterparts. Most of this is a result of the convoluted menu system, which makes it difficult to navigate through the numerous options you might want to consider when shooting video.
To provide beginning users with an easier interface, Sanyo has included a 'Simple Menu' setting, which omits about 95% of the menus. Strangely, this option is difficult to find, buried as it is in the lower-left corner of the main menus. This tiny S/N option is easy to miss, especially if you don't know to look for it. Those users that might really appreciate a simple menu seem unlikely to ever find the simple menu. However, this view does make the user interface considerably easier to use. Only three options appear in the simple menu design: Video and Photo Size, Focus Mode, and Flash Mode. Even those three options are considerably trimmed down; there are only two video/photos sizes: 'HDTV size' and 'web size.'
What's frustrating is that the Simple Menu interface is so hard to find and removes all functionality from the camcorder. A true Easy Mode offers tool tips, shooting advice, and access to more automatic recording options. The CG10 has none of this.
With the VPC-CG10, Sanyo perseveres with its unique pistol-grip style. For those accustomed to a traditional horizontal camcorder, the upright design can be a bit unsettling. However, the under-£300 price range includes very few traditional camcorders. The CG10's real competition comes from models like the Pure Digital Flip series, the RCA Small Wonder, and the Kodak Zi6. These camcorders all have an upright, cellphone-like design.
|The Sanyo VPC-CG10 is small in the hand.|
Compared to these ultra compact designs, the CG10 is incredibly comfortable and stable. You can wrap your hand around the grip and use your thumb to operate all the controls. Plus, it's smaller and lighter than the Sanyo MHS-PM1, so the lack of a hand strap isn't likely to impact handling. Camcorders like the Flip MinoHD give you nothing to grasp but the broad, flat front of the camcorder—and sometimes the surface is slippery and it's easy to mistakenly cover the microphone or lens with a stray finger. Not so on the Sanyo VPC-CG10, which offers a clear, comfortable handhold. It's even easy to use whether you're left-handed or right-handed.
|The joystick is easy to reach and the handle is comfortable.|
The one drawback to the CG10's handling is its poorly designed joystick, which makes item selection trickier than necessary. The joystick isn't precise enough for quick, responsive control over manual image adjustment or menu navigation. Clicking the joystick in and pushing it in a particular direction feel much the same and there is no clear distinction between the four cardinal directions and the areas between. Old camcorders might have worse joysticks, but very few camcorders today use joysticks at all. We think that if you're going to persist with joystick control, you should have a perfectly designed joystick.
The Sanyo VPC-CG10 has digital image stabilisation, but the camcorder didn't show any stabilisation improvement when the setting was engaged. In fact, the CG10 actually produced a shakier image with its DIS turned on than it did with its DIS turned off. This isn't that big of surprise, considering the Sanyo VPC-HD2000 also showed no improvement when its digital stabilisation system was used. (More on how we test stabilisation.)
The Sanyo VPC-CG10 is certainly a small and highly portable device by camcorder standards. Though the small bulk of the lens barrel would stick out, you can slip the CG10 into your back pocket without a problem. Plus, the LCD is protected by folding into the body of the camcorder—unlike the exposed LCDs of most ultra compact camcorders.
The recording media is another plus: SDHC memory cards are tiny and portable. They can be easily swapped in and out if the cards fill up. Of course, since they are so small, you're a little more likely to lose them—a trouble you won't encounter with internal memory. If you want to clear space off those cards or watch footage on TV, you need to tote along the USB and/or AV cables. Gratefully, the CG10 does not require a docking station in order to make use of these ports; all of the AV and data outputs on the HD2000 were located on a separate dock.
The one frustration you will find in the CG10's portability has to do with battery life. You cannot charge the battery and use it at the same time. The camcorder simply doesn't have a power input on the body, so you have to remove the battery and charge it separately. (See below.)
|Weight & Size|
|Weight||188g (6.63 oz.)|
|Size||38 x 112.8 x 72mm
(1.5 x 4.44 x 2.83 inches)
Battery Life (4.00)
The battery life of the Sanyo VPC-CG10 is only a mere 1hr...., 20m, 18s (about 80 minutes). This is a shorter battery life than many of the competing camcorders, which typically last over one hundred minutes. (More on how we test battery life.)
|Battery Life Comparisons|
An 80-minute battery life may seem adequate, but we wish it had been better to accommodate the horrendous design that prevents you from charging the battery and operating the camcorder at the same time. We had this trouble with the Panasonic camcorder, which bury the power input in the battery cavity to much the same effect. With the Panasonics, however, you can at least plug the camcorder in and operate it that way. The CG10 operates only on battery power. So, if you run out of juice, you'll need to use a spare battery (not included) or wait until yours charges up again.
The vast majority of camcorders do not have this problem. Many ultra compacts run on removable AA batteries (which can be easily swapped in and out) or internal batteries, which allow you to plug the camcorder in, even while recording. Some competing models (like the Flip MinoHD and Creative Vado) have batteries that are typically charged via USB, so they have similar limitations. For a more traditional camcorder, the CG10 doesn't really have any excuse for this abysmal design. Plus, an enclosed battery compartment means that you're stuck with this small battery and cannot upgrade to a larger. Buying a spare seems like a good—if frustratingly necessary—investment.
|The battery is in an enclosed compartment and can only be recharged
by removing the battery and plugging it into the wall charger.
LCD & Viewfinder (8.58)
The Sanyo VPC-CG10 has a 3-inch 230,000-pixel LCD. The screen is mounted on a panel that flips out from the body of the camcorder and can be rotated up to 285 degrees. That makes for easy self-recording, which is not a convenience offered by the Flip UltraHD and many comparable models. The Sanyo Webbie MHS-PM1 does allow self recording with its swivelling lens. The large LCD is an excellent tool for lining up your shots. If the menus aren't easy to navigate, at least they are easy to see: three inches is a good amount of real estate. There are seven brightness settings for the LCD.
|The 3.0-inch LCD provides plenty of real estate.||The panel holds no physical or touch screen controls.|
The CG10 does not include any kind of viewfinder. You'll have to rely on the LCD to get the job done.
The menus are a clear weak point in the design of the VPC-CG10. If you want to have access to all of the camcorder's features, you'll need to use the 'Normal' menu scheme, which is quite convoluted and not pretty to look at. Options are placed haphazardly in one of six tabs: there is some sense to the three Record tabs and the three Settings tabs, but even some of those assignments are seemingly arbitrary. With any device that has this many options, randomly organized menus are an absolute curse. Even after a week's use, you're likely to have to hunt through tabs to find the option you want.
|The full menu can be a bit daunting.||The simple menu has hardly anything at all.|
If the Normal menu is too convoluted, users can opt for the 'Simple Menu,' which is, as advertised, simple. The problem with the Simple menu is that there is barely anything there. Sanyo has taken away too much, including some options that would be very straightforward for even the greenest videographers. In record mode, the Simple menu consists only of video/photo size, focus method, and flash settings. In playback, it's just slide show, playback volume, and delete.
Focus method seems an especially odd choice, since most beginners would rather have easy access to something like scene modes. What's nice about the Simple menus is that they utilize large, friendly icons and have clear descriptions explaining each of the features. It is a shame we only get such treatment on six functions in the whole camcorder. Beginners would love a little extra guidance on using the camcorder's plethora of manual controls.
|There is a different, equally convoluted playback menu.||And a simple version of that as well|
If you do feel yourself ready for the larger menu structure, you'll just need to spend time searching for everything you need. Even with the most thorough searching, users may miss some of the more stealthily buried features: exposure compensation, auto focus lock, and auto exposure lock are only accessible through joystick shortcuts, which can be custom-configured through the Settings menu.
Menus can be set to one of thirteen different languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, and a number of Asian languages.
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