DemystifyingDigital: HD and DVD camcorders for cheap

DemystifyingDigital is a feature written by Dan Havlik, editor of

There’s no doubt about it, HD and DVD camcorders are the bomb but unless you know which ones are a breeze to use, you could be stuck with an expensive paper weight. (The last time our dad pulled his camcorder out of the closet was during the “exciting” analog days of Hi8.) We took a look at some of the latest high-definition and DVD camcorders and picked out our top three in terms of quality and ease of use. What’s the use of a great bell or whistle if you have no idea how to play it?

Sanyo Xacti HD1000
The Sanyo Xacti HD1000 is a fabulous little camcorder that lets you shoot in High Definition while recording to easy-to-find SD flash memory cards. The biggest upgrade about this new version is that it gives you full 1080i HD capability (as opposed to the lower-res 720p of the Sanyo VPC-HD2), which is kind of unbelievable for a camcorder that fits in your pocket and weighs less than 10 ounces. Thanks to a compressed HD format, you can squeeze up to an hour and 25 minutes of full 1080i HD onto an 8 GB SDHC card. An HDMI port on the HD1000 lets you connect the camcorder directly to a high-def television for immediate playback.

Sony DCR-DVD408
Sony’s DVD camcorders are so easy to use they don’t even need buttons! Yes, that’s right, thanks to the 2.7-inch touch screen on the Sony DCR-DVD408 Handycam, you can access the menu, play back footage and select scenes just by touching the huge screen. Best of all, the DCR-DVD408 is a two-in-one device with a built-in digital camera that lets you capture 4-megapixel digital photos along with video. In “Smooth Slow” mode you can record a three-second slow motion video clip which is perfect for working on your golf swing!

Check us out discussing this camcorder on CBS

Panasonic VDR-D310
Want a DVD camcorder that produces professional-quality video at an affordable price? The Panasonic VDR-D310, which uses a pro-level 3CCD imaging chip to produce incredible color, will have you filming your next cinematic masterpiece in no time. Along with its excellent imaging sensor, the VDR-D310 also has built-in optical image stabilization for capturing rock-steady movies even when using the camcorder’s full 10x zoom lens.

Check us out discussing this camcorder on CBS