Pogue's back from vacation, and this week, he's taking a look at high def hard drive camcorders (or, HDHD camcorders), marveling at the gadgets that giving your boring home videos the same picture pizazz as professional HD content. In his words, the picture is "sharp enough to slice a tomato." And your goofy dad will never tape over old content ever again because he accidentally hit rewind bfore hitting record.
He tests the recently announced HDR-SR7 and the JVC Everio GZ-HD7, ultimately preferring the Sony's more stabilized shot, better battery life, and more grainy but detailed low light picture. The Everio's 3 chips, one for red, green, and blue, didn't do a damn thing for visual quality.
What's cool is that both cameras can get HD content onto standard def DVDs (even though you can't play them back in most DVD players). The Sony solution works on Sony Blu-ray players and the PS3. JVC has a proprietary burner that only plays back the JVC discs in HD, for $400. Sounds like a pain in the ass.
Pogue also has a list of his favorite gadgets posted on his blog. Worth a read.
Video review of the cameras, post jump.
UPDATE: Most cameras like this require you to use their own editing software, or, if compatible, Ulead's AVCHD editing software. The Sony has a plugin that will let you use it with iMovie. Unfortunately, like we've seen before, Pogue confirms that the transformation from the camera's format to the iMovie compatible one takes about 5x the length of each clip to process. Bollocks!
The cameras are both 1080i, although Pogue let's us know that the important thing differences between two are bitrate video is recorded at, and the format. The Sony cam packs data down to half the size of the JVC, but uses a better codec, so it is actually better than half the quality.
A confusing space, indeed, for the average consumer.
Your Life, in a Movie of Top Quality [NYTimes]