In the realm of HD camcorders, Sanyo's HD1010 feels like an old friend. From the HD1 to the HD1000 we've seen its lineage through thick and thin and, so far, it’s improved with every step.

The competition's been hotting up, though, with Sony's titanium clad HDR-TG3 and Samsung's surprisingly able HMX20. So what's Sanyo done to improve on the trusty, four-star rated 1000?

Well, as the 1010 moniker suggests, the changes are more of a tweak than an overhaul, but it has slotted in a 1080 progressive mode, and added a few other goodies besides.

Golden boy

There's not much new to see from the outside. The 1010 retains the same black sturdy plastic pistol grip and rear thumb control layout but switches the silver detailing for seriously-retro gold adornment.

The lens thread for wideangle and telephoto add-ons, mic input for upgrading the audio and hot-shoe for adding stadium-style lighting all remain, making the HD1010 the most versatile mini-shooter around.

Impressive innards

Inside, the optics and sensor are identical, which is to say very good for such a pocket-performer.

Last time round we preferred the Sanyo's 720p footage to its 1080i ability. The addition of a progressive 1080 mode gives another string to the camera's already harp-like bow. It's only 30fps - so half as smooth as your console's 1080p footage - but it's super sharp.

The lower frame rate also makes it extremely good in dim situations as it gives the sensor extra time to gather light. In fact, it's about the best low-light performance in a small cam we've seen.

There’s been some work done on the colour, which shines through even in gloomy conditions, but can take on an unnatural look. The auto exposure struggles a bit too, but once again Sanyo’s packed in the manual controls so you can tweak it to get the best picture.

It’s also added a comedy 300fps mode for super-slow motion shooting. It’ll turn ten seconds of action into 50 seconds of epic drama – but only at a strictly-for-YouTube 448x336 resolution and with no sound. The frame rate also makes it terrible in low light.

Gripes of wrath

One major gripe we had previously was Sanyo’s poor software bundle. That’s now been fixed with the inclusion of the more user-friendly Nero Essentials 8.

Annoyingly, the camera still doesn't have a PAL-friendly recording mode, but unless you’re playing back from the camera on an older CRT telly you shouldn’t experience the annoying flicker that can result. Also still missing is any optical image stabilisation and the electronic substitute Sanyo’s uses just doesn’t cut it.

The HD1010 isn’t the total update we had hoped for, but it’s enough to leave us seriously tempted.


Stuff says... 

Sanyo HD1010 review

Sports an impressive new progressive mode, but more of an update than a sequel