Sony, Sanyo, Panasonic battle for compact camcorder crown

While the mini-laptop wars heat up in another department, the world's gadget producers are fighting it out over another device: the compact hi-def camcorder.In today's New York Times, David Pogue explains how Sony, Sanyo and Panasonic keep trying to beat each other to the punch in making their handheld cams harder, better, faster, stronger.

Panasonic HDC-SD9While the mini-laptop wars heat up in another department, the world's gadget producers are fighting it out over another device: the compact hi-def camcorder.

In today's New York Times, David Pogue explains how Sony, Sanyo and Panasonic keep trying to beat each other to the punch in making their handheld cams harder, better, faster, stronger. As it turns out, the miniaturization of these devices (well, sort of -- they don't quite fit into the pants pocket just yet) hasn't sacrificed overall quality-- just features like wide-angle shots and image quality under low light.

Ho-hum. Well, it's better than a cell phone, that's for sure.

Oh, and the crown, by the way? Of a field of the Sony HDR-TG1, Sanyo Xacti 1000 and Panasonic HDC-SD9, Pogue awards it to the Panasonic for overall quality and handling comfort. But, much like our own review, Pogue is clearly doing so begrudgingly:

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.”

What do you think, readers? Are these cams worth the roughly $900 price tag? Tell us in TalkBack.