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The Sanyo VPC-CS1 did a good job on our color accuracy test, putting up a color error of just 3.76 combined with a saturation level of 104.1%. These numbers are better than what we usually see from ultracompact camcorders, which probably has something to do with the fact that the CS1 has a manual white balance option (many cheap camcorders have difficulty white balancing properly, which results in poor color accuracy at times). More on how we test color.

From the Color Error Map above you can see the VPC-CS1 did have a problem rendering red and pink tones accurately in our color test. The camcorder had little difficulty with green and yellow colors, however, as well as most blue tones. Unlike most budget camcorders, the Sanyo VPC-CS1 does actually come with a few color modes, examples of which we have shown below. These are the same color modes that are available on most Sanyo models, including the VPC-CG10.

The differences between the color modes on the CS1 aren't drastic, so don't expect the 'vivid' mode to really pump up saturation levels by all that much (same goes with the 'soft' and the 'soft and vivid' mode). Below, you can see how the VPC-CS1's bright light image stacked up against the competition. Both the Sony MHS-CM5 and the Flip UltraHD produced more saturated images than the two Sanyo camcorders, but their color accuracies were not very good.

The VPC-CS1 continued its strong color accuracy performance in our low light testing. The camcorder registered a color error of 3.98 in low light, which is just a tad higher than its color error in bright light. The saturation level, however, came in at 72.14%, which is a lot lower than the 104.1% performance the CS1 had in our bright light color test. More on how we test low light color.

In addition to its regular 60i recording mode, the VPC-CS1 also has a 30p frame rate that can be used to capture 1920 x 1080 video (there's also some 720p and standard definition recording options on the camcorder as well). The 30p mode did not improve color accuracy in low light, however, it did manage a slightly higher saturation level.

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While the VPC-CS1 managed decent numbers in our low light test, its image in low light also had some major problems. The video image from the CS1 showed lots of blur, discoloration, and interference in low light, some of which you can see in the comparison table below. The cropped images from our low light noise test do an even better job showing what we're talking about.

The VPC-CS1 put up another solid performance in our noise test. The camcorder averaged 0.5325% noise in this test, which is a a good score, although it isn't all that much better than the competition (all of which did quite well in this test). More on how we test noise.

Looking at the crops above, you can get a good idea of the amount of sharpness and detail each of the camcorders is capable of capturing during video recording. All of the models shown above can capture HD video, but only the Sanyo VPC-CS1 and Sony MHS-CM1 can capture Full HD (1920 x 1080). The other two models top out with a 1280 x 720 resolution for video recording.

The CS1 had a decently sharp image in our testing, but we noticed a huge amount of blur on the left side of our recorded images. We discuss this issue more in the Sharpness section of this review, which is on the next page.

The Sanyo VPC-CS1 required 32 Lux of light to reach 50 IRE on our waveform monitor. This is not a good performance for the camcorder, but we're also not really surprised considering the lens on the CS1 doesn't have a very wide aperture (f/2.8) and the camcorder's sensor is also quite small at 1/5 of an inch. Those two specs are probably the most important in determining the low light sensitivity of a camcorder. More on how we test low light sensitivity.

The Sanyo VPC-CS1 does not have an auto slow shutter feature that can be turned on and off, but it does have manual shutter speed control (and a shutter-priority mode), so you can lock the shutter speed to whatever value you want. We did our testing with the shutter set to 1/60 of a second, but allowing the camcorder to use a 1/30 of a second shutter speed gave it a low light sensitivity of 15 lux, which is a whole lot better. Of course, shooting with a slow shutter of 1/30 produces some ill effects like trailing and choppiness, so we recommend using a 1/60 of a second shutter speed or higher when possible.

The VPC-CS1 averaged 0.9625% noise in this test, which is a strong score. The rest of the camcorders in this testing set put up similar numbers, however, so the CS1's score doesn't stand out from the crowd in any particular manner. One thing to note is that the camcorder does have a noise reduction feature, which is on by default, so we used it during our noise testing. With this feature turned off, the camcorder measured a much higher noise level of 1.7325%. More on how we test low light noise.

As you can see from the crops above, the VPC-CS1's low light image really looks like garbage at times. There so much artifacting, discoloration, and blur that the image is rendered with very little detail—even compared to the other ultracompacts on the market. None of these ultracompact camcorders are stellar models in low light, and each of them has significant problems when it comes to video performance, but the Sanyo VPC-CS1 was definitely at the bottom of the pack in terms of capturing a clear, detailed image in low light.

The VPC-CS1 continued its strong color accuracy performance in our low light testing. The camcorder registered a color error of 3.98 in low light, which is just a tad higher than its color error in bright light. The saturation level, however, came in at 72.14%, which is a lot lower than the 104.1% performance the CS1 had in our bright light color test. More on how we test low light color.

In addition to its regular 60i recording mode, the VPC-CS1 also has a 30p frame rate that can be used to capture 1920 x 1080 video (there's also some 720p and standard definition recording options on the camcorder as well). The 30p mode did not improve color accuracy in low light, however, it did manage a slightly higher saturation level.

While the VPC-CS1 managed decent numbers in our low light test, its image in low light also had some major problems. The video image from the CS1 showed lots of blur, discoloration, and interference in low light, some of which you can see in the comparison table below. The cropped images from our low light noise test do an even better job showing what we're talking about.

The VPC-CS1 can record Full HD video with two different frame rates: 60i or 30p. The 60i frame rate produced smooth video without much trailing in our test, while the 30p mode had choppier video for the most part. Both modes had quite a bit of artifacting and there was lots of pixelation and blockiness throughout our motion test. We chalk this up to poor compression and processing on Sanyo's part, as we saw similar problems with the VPC-CG10. More on how we test motion.

The VPC-CS1 measured a horizontal sharpness of 600 lw/ph and a vertical sharpness of 500 lw/ph in our video testing. While these numbers aren't that bad, we were very disappointed by the fact that the camcorder never appeared to produce a fully focused image when we recorded video. This problem may stem from the lens or a poorly-constructed image sensor, but either way it prevents the CS1 from capturing as sharp an image as it should be capable of.

The VPC-CS1 can capture a Full HD image at a 1920 x 1080 resolution, which is better than many ultracompact camcorders are capable of. Still, the Sanyo VPC-CG10 managed to record nearly as sharp of an image as the CS1, despite the fact that the CG10 tops out with a 1280 x 720 recording resolution. And, the Flip UltraHD, which also records at a max resolution of 1280 x 270, captured a sharper image than the VPC-CS1. These results don't speak well for the quality of Sanyo's image sensor and lens components on the VPC-CS1. More on how we test video sharpness.

The VPC-CS1 is definitely not as easy or as simple to use as the other ultracompact camcorders on the market. Part of this is a result of Sanyo's cheap construction and shoddy design, as the VPC-CS1 simply doesn't feel comfortable to hold and its buttons aren't large enough to offer precise control. Throw in the fact that the lens never seems to focus properly and you're looking at one very frustrating camcorder—no matter how much shooting experience you have.

The Sanyo VPC-CS1 does have a dedicated auto mode, but it is anything but easy to find. Instead of having a large button labeled 'easy' or 'auto,' Sanyo hides its auto mode in the menu system and calls it 'simple menu' mode. We must admit, however, if you do put the camcorder into simple menu mode it is rather easy to use. The camcorder's menu is whittled down to three options: photo/video size, focus mode, and LED light. Also to make things simpler, you can't use manual controls (other than zoom) in simple menu mode either.

The regular menu on the CS1 is far more extensive than the simple menu. What we didn't like about the regular menu is that it was terribly difficult to navigate due to the small d-pad buttons on the LCD panel. We also didn't like how many times we had to go back into the menu to activate certain controls that would 'disappear' after we started recording or zoomed with the camcorder. In addition to its messy interface, the VPC-CS1 doesn't have the best instruction manual. It is too large, too poorly worded, and too confusing for beginners to digest in one sitting.

The camcorder does have a basic customizable menu system called Shortcuts, but we found the setup to be downright awful. The Shortcut menu allows you to program the four d-pad buttons with certain menu options so you can quickly access features without having to go into the menu system. The problem is the d-pad buttons are so tiny and the Shortcut programming system is so confusing that it actually makes things more frustrating without saving you any time.

There is a dedicated auto mode on the VPC-CS1, but you won't find any big or flashy button that is used to activate it. Instead, you must switch the camcorder over to 'simple menu' mode in order to put the CS1 into fully-automated settings. In this mode you cannot adjust manual controls and the camcorder's extensive menu is reduced to three options: photo/video size, focus mode (normal or macro), and LED light on/off.

The VPC-CS1 did have a major problem with autofocus in our testing of the camcorder. No matter what the shooting conditions were, the camcorder always had trouble focusing the left portion of the frame properly even though the right side of the image would be crisp and clear. We don't know if this is bad lens design, poor focus system, or some other poorly-constructed component, but the problem was always there.

Auto exposure on the camcorder occasionally worked well, but we also noticed very bright portions of the frame were often blown-out (so bright that they appear white) in proportion to the rest of the image. You can choose between center, spot, or multi-point auto exposure measurement, however, so that can help depending on your lighting situation.

There's also two tracking features on the camcorder. One is called 'face chaser,' and it is essentially a face detection tracker. The other is called 'target a color' and it attempts to track a subject by following its 'color' as it moves around the frame. We weren't impressed by either of the tracking features, as both of them lost the subjects we were trying to track fairly easily and neither of them exposed the tracked subjects very well either.

To be frank, the VPC-CS1 offered us one of the worst handling experiences we've ever had. The camcorder is full of design flaws, its construction feels cheap, and the controls can be very frustrating to use. The rounded bottom on the camcorder is also not a good feature, as it means it is very difficult to get the camcorder to stand on its own. We have no clue why Sanyo would choose to design its camcorder in this fashion.

Our number one problem with the VPC-CS1 was an issue with the camcorder's lens. No matter what focus system we used, the CS1 always had trouble bringing the entire image into focus. We're not sure if this is shoddy design or just the fact that Sanyo uses cheap components, but it resulted in a downright awful shooting experience. When using autofocus, we found the camcorder would produce a very sharp image on the right portion of the frame, while the left side would be fuzzy and blurred. You can correct this a bit using manual focus, but we were never able to make the entire image look completely focused and crisp.

Handling Photo 1

The VPC-CS1 is so small, you can almost conceal the whole thing in your hand (other than the LCD)

The only positive design aspect of the VPC-CS1 is the camcorder's ultra-thin construction. Unfortunately, this forces the camcorder to utilize tiny buttons for the zoom toggle, shutter button, and start/stop record button. These buttons aren't only difficult to press, but they aren't very responsive either. We particularly hate how the photo shutter button has a momentary delay while the camcorder switches to photo view mode when you press it down half way. Why not just have a dedicated photo mode switch instead?

Handling Photo 2

The d-pad buttons, which are used to adjust controls, are small and don't work very well.

The power button inside the LCD cavity is also unresponsive at times. We found ourselves pushing it three to four times on occasion before the camcorder actually decided to wake up or turn on. Then there's the menu and directional-pad buttons, located on the left side of the LCD panel. These buttons—particularly the d-pad ones—are far too small for the average-sized human thumb. A joystick would have been much better suited here, but that would have likely detracted from the VPC-CS1's ultra-thin design.

Handling Photo 3

The VPC-CS1 has a strange build, but it does slip in and out of a pocket with ease.

The menu setup on the VPC-CS1 is easy to understand, and we do applaud Sanyo for including the simple menu option that is great for beginners, but we found it frustrating to use the tiny d-pad buttons to navigate the menu. We also didn't like the fact that the camcorder doesn't let you adjust manual controls while video recording is taking place, and that you have to go back into the menu system every time you want to select a manual option for adjustment.

Overall, we'd be shocked if anyone felt extremely comfortable using the VPC-CS1, particularly if you are planning on using the camcorder as anything other than a point-and-shoot device. The buttons are far too small, the construction is far too flimsy, and the manual controls are frustrating to adjust. Yes, the camcorder has some impressive specs and features, but if you can't stand using the darn thing then what's the point?

Handling Photo 4

The VPC-CS1 becomes much wider with the LCD panel extended.

The Sanyo VPC-CS1 isn't the lightest camcorder we've ever reviewed, as that would probably be the Flip MinoHD (which weighs a bit less than 100g). But, it is definitely the smallest camcorder we've seen that has a rotatable LCD, an optical zoom lens, and records Full HD video. The camcorder is a good 30g lighter than its cousin model, the Sanyo VPC-CG10, and it is also a whole lot thinner.

Coming in at just under one inch thick (with the LCD panel closed, of course), the VPC-CS1 is alarmingly slim. This makes it a perfect camcorder to slip into your pocket, although it is quite a bit taller than the competition. The lens on the VPC-CS1 is exposed, but the camcorder does ship with a tiny lens cover that stays on quite well—if you remember to put it on in the first place, that is.

The VPC-CS1 put on an absolutely abysmal performance in our battery life test. The camcorder lasted for just 54 minutes of video recording with its fully-charged battery pack—an amount of time that is nearly 40 minutes less than the Flip UltraHD and close to half as long as the Sony MHS-CM5 lasted. The Sanyo VPC-CG10 also did poorly on this test, but even it went for 26 minutes longer than the VPC-CS1. More on how we test battery life.

Making things worse is the fact that, unless you purchase an optional AC adapter for $50, there is no way to run the VPC-CS1 on anything but its provided battery pack. So, even after less than an hour of recording you're going to have to turn the camcorder off and recharge the battery if you want to record some more. One unusual thing, however, is that the camcorder's battery didn't appear to be fully depleted at the end of our test. We could still turn the camcorder on and access the menus, but when we'd try to record video a message would pop up saying 'battery depleted' and recording would not begin.

Battery Photo

The battery is rechargeable, but you must remove it from the camcorder to do so.

The VPC-CS1 has a pretty standard 2.7-inch LCD with a resolution of 230,00 pixels. While this is an average-sized LCD for a consumer camcorder, it is actually a bit larger than the screens we usually see on ultracompact or budget camcorders (the Sanyo VPC-CG10's is slightly larger, however). Also, many ultracompact models, particularly ones designed similarly to the Flip, have stationary LCDs instead of screens that flip out and rotate. The fact that the CS1 has a rotatable screen that is larger than what you get on most of the competition is one of the camcorder's best assets. The LCD on the VPC-CS1 also has seven steps of brightness adjustment. There is no viewfinder on the VPC-CS1, but that shouldn't come as a big surprise. We've yet to see an ultracompact model that includes one. The table below lists the LCD specs for the CS1 and its three comparison models. The VPC-CS1 has a digital stabilization system, but it didn't help reduce the shakiness of the recorded image in our testing. This is a common problem with cheap, ultracompact camcorders that offer stabilization systems—they either don't work effectively, or they don't work at all. Consider the VPC-CS1's stabilization as part of the latter. [More on how we test stabilization.](/content/How-We-Test-Camcorders-36180.htm#stabilization) In our test, we saw no statistical change in the shakiness of the image whether the video stabilization was turned on or off. At least the stabilization system didn't make things even shakier, which is something we do see on occasion. The VPC-CS1 does have a photo stabilization feature in addition to its video stabilization setting, but we did not test this feature. The video below shows the image stabilization system on the CS1 in action. Many ultracompact camcorders don't offer any kind of video stabilization (like the Flip camcorders), but both the Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 and the Sanyo VPC-CG10 do have digital stabilization systems. Neither of those camcorders did very well in the stabilization department, however, and the VPC-CG10 was just as ineffective at stabilizing its image as the VPC-CS1. #### Autofocus and Auto Exposure Lock Located in the shortcuts menu only, you can activate these features in order to lock the focus or exposure at a certain level (the camcorder will cease to automatically adjust these settings once the lock is turned on). #### Image Settings You can choose preset color modes to use in both photo and video modes. Options include: Normal, Vivid, Soft, and Soft & Vivid. We didn't see too much of a difference when switching from Normal to one of the other modes, but there were some slight changes in saturation levels and sharpness. #### Video Noise Reduction Under the noise reduction option in the menu system is a feature called Video NR. Turning this on (which is the default setting) reduces the noise in the recorded image. There's also a Photo NR option here, as well as an oddly placed wind noise reduction feature. Does Sanyo know that auditory noise and visual noise are two different things? Like most ultracompact and budget camcorders, the VPC-CS1 is very limited when it comes to audio features. The camcorder has no external mic input, but its built-in microphone does record stereo audio (which is more than you can say for many other ultracompact camcorders). Unfortunately, the built-in mic is also strangely located on the back of the LCD panel. This location is odd because most people won't realize the mic is there (it is only represented by two small dots), and some users may accidentally rub their fingers up against the mic during recording for without realizing it. The one audio feature found on the camcorder is a wind noise reduction option that is located under the noise section of the menu. Under this section, Sanyo groups 'wind noise reduction' with video and photo noise reduction, which we find amusing. The Sanyo VPC-CS1 comes with a variety of software developed by ArcSoft, the most comprehensive of which is called TotalMedia Extreme for Sanyo. Also bundled in the software disc is a program called Xacti Screen Capture 1.1, Adobe Reader 9, and instruction manuals. The Screen Capture program comes loaded on the camcorder's internal memory as well. For an overview of the software that ships with this and other camcorders, see our article: [Video Editing Software For Your Camcorder](https://www.reviewed.com/camcorders/content/Video-Editing-Software-For-Your-Camcorder-37563/)-Included-Software.htm. The Sanyo VPC-CS1 uses the MPEG-4 codec to compress video, but its compression system is not AVCHD compliant. This means you can immediately drag-and-drop video clips right from a memory card to your computer and play them with a regular media player, but you may have to render the clips when you bring them into a non-linear editing program. The camcorder has lots of recording options, which is probably its biggest perk. Mac users may be particularly excited about the iFrame format, which is designed for easy transfer to iMovie and swift uploading to internet sites like YouTube. The iFrame format does not record HD video, but it uses a very high bitrate and captures video at a very large standard definition resolution (960 x 540). [Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of various high definition compression types.](/d/Reviews&level_b=Camcorder&level_c=HD.htm#format) There's a tiny bit of internal memory on the VPC-CS1, but it's only around 50MB, which isn't enough to store more than a few seconds of HD video (or a handful of photos). The real way to store your video footage is by using removable memory cards. The camcorder works with SD, SDHC, and even new SDXC memory cards that currently have capacities up to 64GB. SDXC cards are theoretically capable of storing up to 2TB of media, but there are no cards even close to that capacity that are currently available (and they are sure to be very expensive when they are first released). [Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of various media types.](/Buying-Guides/Media-Types.htm)
Media Photo

The camcorder has little in the way of internal memory (50MB), but it can record to SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards.

The VPC-CS1 doesn't really have a separate mode for taking still images, but when you press down on the photo shutter button halfway the screen changes to a photo view mode (the aspect ratio will also change to 4:3 if you have the camcorder set to take photos in). We don't like this system because it makes framing your shots a challenge when it could be so simple if the camcorder just had a dedicated photo mode.

The CS1 has a bunch of photo resolution options for capturing still images, but keep in mind that the camcorder's effective pixel count is just 3 megapixels. This means the 8-megapixel capability boasted by Sanyo is interpolated (the photos are simply larger in size and don't have more detail). So, the camcorder's two 3-megapixel settings, the 2048 x 1536 and the 2288 x 1288, resolution options are really the largest native images that can be captured by the CS1. There are also a number of lower-resolution still image options going all the way down to a 640 x 480 resolution.

The camcorder has a few special still image controls, including a manual ISO function that can also be used as gain control when shooting video. There's a sequential shot mode that allows you to take 6 photos a second (up to 20 shots), and there is a self-timer on the camcorder as well. You cannot take photos during recording on the VPC-CS1, which is a usually allowed on consumer camcorders.

At best, the still color error on the VPC-CS1's still images measured at 3.67 with a saturation level of 85.93%. These are strong numbers when compared to the competition, and the CS1 put up very similar color accuracy results in our video testing (although the saturation level was a bit higher in its videos).

One of the big advantages Sanyo's camcorders have over other ultracompact models is the fact that they include manual white balance options. This helps ensure that you're recording accurate colors with the camcorder—just look at the comparison images below with the Sony MHS-CM5 if you don't trust us. The Sanyo VPC-CG10 also has a manual white balance feature, which is why it managed a solid performance on this test as well.

The camcorder measured 0.71% noise in its still images, which gives it a better score than most of the models we test in this category. The Sanyo VPC-CG10 did have less noise, however, but that makes sense, as it has a larger sensor and takes higher-resolution photos than the CS1. We did this testing with the VPC-CS1's photo noise reduction feature turned on.

Arguably the most important of our still image tests, the VPC-CS1 didn't do incredibly well with still sharpness. The camcorder managed a horizontal sharpness of 1070 lw/ph with 12.6% oversharpening and a vertical sharpness of 1051 lw/ph with 21.5% oversharpening. While these sharpness values aren't bad—particularly for such a compact camcorder—it is the oversharpening percentages that are worrisome and end up lowering the camcorders score in this test. The Sanyo VPC-CG10, which takes native 10-megapixel still images, did a whole lot better in this test.

Lens Photo

The tiny lens has a 9x optical zoom and a 10x advanced zoom.

The lens on the VPC-CS1 has some impressive specs—9x optical zoom (10x advanced zoom), removable lens cover, fairly wide angle—but the camcorder also had a disturbing focus issue that may be related to poor lens construction. During our video testing, the VPC-CS1 had consistent difficulty in producing a crisp, focus image on the left side of the frame. We've seen this problem before from fixed focus camcorders, but never from a model that had an optical zoom lens like the CS1. Even when we attempted to use manual focus with the camcorder it still had difficulty producing a completely focused image on both the left and right sides of the frame. It is possible that this problem is a sensor or processing issue, but it seems like poor lens construction to us.

The VPC-CS1 has a pretty standard 2.7-inch LCD with a resolution of 230,00 pixels. While this is an average-sized LCD for a consumer camcorder, it is actually a bit larger than the screens we usually see on ultracompact or budget camcorders (the Sanyo VPC-CG10's is slightly larger, however). Also, many ultracompact models, particularly ones designed similarly to the Flip, have stationary LCDs instead of screens that flip out and rotate. The fact that the CS1 has a rotatable screen that is larger than what you get on most of the competition is one of the camcorder's best assets. The LCD on the VPC-CS1 also has seven steps of brightness adjustment.

There is no viewfinder on the VPC-CS1, but that shouldn't come as a big surprise. We've yet to see an ultracompact model that includes one. The table below lists the LCD specs for the CS1 and its three comparison models.

The VPC-CS1 doesn't have much in the way of connectivity options, but that's what we've come to accept from ultracompact budget camcorders. All of the ports on the CS1 are located behind a very flimsy port cover that is just under the camcorder's lens. The cover is tethered to the camcorder via a small plastic line and the cover itself is somewhat difficult to open and close.

There are two ports located in this area: an HDMI terminal and a multi-use Mini USB port that also works with the provided AV cable. Having the HDMI terminal is definitely a plus, but that port has become nearly universal on all HD camcorders—even ultracompact ones like the VPC-CS1. The Mini USB port is a bit annoying, however, because it uses an 8-pin design, which is far rarer than the 5-pin Mini USB ports you usually see on consumer camcorders.

The VPC-CS1 does have a DC-input, but the camcorder does not ship with an AC adapter. You must purchase this power adapter separately (model name VAR-G9U) for $50 if you want to run the camcorder off of wall power rather than the battery pack. The DC-input is also very hard to find on the CS1, as it is hidden behind a small gray tab on the bottom of the camcorder. This tab is unlabeled and there is very little mention of the DC-input in the instruction manual. What this all boils down to is basically bad news for users. Unless you pony up the extra $50 for the AC adapter, you have no way of using the VPC-CS1 once the battery becomes depleted (you must remove the battery pack and recharge it in order to use the camcorder again).You cannot charge the VPC-CS1's battery using the USB cable.

Making things worse is the fact that, unless you purchase an optional AC adapter for $50, there is no way to run the VPC-CS1 on anything but its provided battery pack. So, even after less than an hour of recording you're going to have to turn the camcorder off and recharge the battery if you want to record some more. One unusual thing, however, is that the camcorder's battery didn't appear to be fully depleted at the end of our test. We could still turn the camcorder on and access the menus, but when we'd try to record video a message would pop up saying 'battery depleted' and recording would not begin. Find out how the performed in our battery life test./r:link_to_content

Battery Photo

The battery is rechargeable, but you must remove it from the camcorder to do so.

There's a tiny bit of internal memory on the VPC-CS1, but it's only around 50MB, which isn't enough to store more than a few seconds of HD video (or a handful of photos). The real way to store your video footage is by using removable memory cards. The camcorder works with SD, SDHC, and even new SDXC memory cards that currently have capacities up to 64GB. SDXC cards are theoretically capable of storing up to 2TB of media, but there are no cards even close to that capacity that are currently available (and they are sure to be very expensive when they are first released). Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of various media types.

Media Photo

The camcorder has little in the way of internal memory (50MB), but it can record to SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards.

The VPC-CS1 doesn't really have a separate mode for taking still images, but when you press down on the photo shutter button halfway the screen changes to a photo view mode (the aspect ratio will also change to 4:3 if you have the camcorder set to take photos in). We don't like this system because it makes framing your shots a challenge when it could be so simple if the camcorder just had a dedicated photo mode.

The CS1 has a bunch of photo resolution options for capturing still images, but keep in mind that the camcorder's effective pixel count is just 3 megapixels. This means the 8-megapixel capability boasted by Sanyo is interpolated (the photos are simply larger in size and don't have more detail). So, the camcorder's two 3-megapixel settings, the 2048 x 1536 and the 2288 x 1288, resolution options are really the largest native images that can be captured by the CS1. There are also a number of lower-resolution still image options going all the way down to a 640 x 480 resolution.

The camcorder has a few special still image controls, including a manual ISO function that can also be used as gain control when shooting video. There's a sequential shot mode that allows you to take 6 photos a second (up to 20 shots), and there is a self-timer on the camcorder as well. You cannot take photos during recording on the VPC-CS1, which is a usually allowed on consumer camcorders.

At best, the still color error on the VPC-CS1's still images measured at 3.67 with a saturation level of 85.93%. These are strong numbers when compared to the competition, and the CS1 put up very similar color accuracy results in our video testing (although the saturation level was a bit higher in its videos).

One of the big advantages Sanyo's camcorders have over other ultracompact models is the fact that they include manual white balance options. This helps ensure that you're recording accurate colors with the camcorder—just look at the comparison images below with the Sony MHS-CM5 if you don't trust us. The Sanyo VPC-CG10 also has a manual white balance feature, which is why it managed a solid performance on this test as well.

The camcorder measured 0.71% noise in its still images, which gives it a better score than most of the models we test in this category. The Sanyo VPC-CG10 did have less noise, however, but that makes sense, as it has a larger sensor and takes higher-resolution photos than the CS1. We did this testing with the VPC-CS1's photo noise reduction feature turned on.

Arguably the most important of our still image tests, the VPC-CS1 didn't do incredibly well with still sharpness. The camcorder managed a horizontal sharpness of 1070 lw/ph with 12.6% oversharpening and a vertical sharpness of 1051 lw/ph with 21.5% oversharpening. While these sharpness values aren't bad—particularly for such a compact camcorder—it is the oversharpening percentages that are worrisome and end up lowering the camcorders score in this test. The Sanyo VPC-CG10, which takes native 10-megapixel still images, did a whole lot better in this test.

Filters

Three image filters can be set on the camcorder: Cosmetic, Monochrome, and Sepia. It should be obvious what Monochrome (black and white) and Sepia (orange/brown tint) do to the image, but the Cosmetic function is a bit more subtle. It attempts to smooth out skin tones (like a smooth skin setting), although we barely noticed a difference with the filter turned on.

LED Light

The VPC-CS1 has a small LED light located above the lens that can be turned on and off from the camcorder's menu system. The light has a slight upward angle, which means it doesn't always shine right on your subject. The light also doesn't turn on until after you start recording video (even if you turn on the light in the menu). Still, it is fairly unusual to see a built-in light on an ultracompact camcorder, so we shouldn't really complain.

Neither the Sanyo VPC-CS1 nor the Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 would be on the top of our list of best ultracompact camcorders. They do both have their benefits, however, as they are two of the few camcorders in this class to feature rotatable LCDs, optical zoom lenses, and Full HD video recording. As far as performance goes, the Sanyo VPC-CS1 bested the Sony in most categories, although the Sony had better overall performance in low light and sharpness.

If you want access to lots of manual controls, then the Sanyo VPC-CS1 is obviously the better choice here. Sanyo is the only manufacturer of ultracompact camcorders to really offer a full set of manual controls on its products. The Sony MHS-CM5 does have more features than, say, a Flip camcorder, but it doesn't have nearly the amount of options as the VPC-CS1.

What really bothers us about these two camcorders is their cheap design. The Sanyo gave us one of the worst handling experience we've seen from a consumer camcorder, and the MHS-CM5 wasn't that much better. It has cheap construction, its LCD is tiny, and the menu interface isn't very slick. Still, the Sony was much easier to use overall and it comes with a significantly cheaper price tag than the Sanyo—and those are probably the two most important aspects of an ultracompact budget camcorder.


/r:render

The VPC-CG10 is a much better camcorder than the VPC-CS1, despite the fact that it is slightly thicker and doesn't have Full HD recording capability (the CG10 tops out with a 1280 x 720 resolution). What we like about the CG10, however, is that it is cheaper than the CS1 (by $100), has a more durable construction, and it features a larger LCD. It also didn't have any of the strange focus issues that plagued the VPC-CS1 to the point of it being nearly unusable for certain shooting situations.

Even though the Sanyo VPC-CG10 can't record 1920 x 1080 video, it did as well or better than the VPC-CS1 on nearly all of our performance tests. The fact that it has a larger image sensor and better lens is probably the reason for this discrepancy. Unless you require Full HD recording, we think the VPC-CG10 should satisfy your video needs (and it should produce a better video image than the CS1).


/r:render

Flip has been the leader in ultracompact budget camcorders since they launched their first model a few years ago. And with good reason. The Flip UltraHD is one of the larger Flip camcorders, but it also has 8GB of internal memory, a decent battery life, and the best controls and grip of the Flip models. The Flip UltraHD is $100 cheaper than the Sanyo VPC-CS1, but it only records video at a 1280 x 720 resolution (not Full HD like the CS1).

Of course, the Flip UltraHD does have lots of limitations. Its lens is fixed and has no optical zoom, the camcorder has no still image features, and there are no manual controls to speak of. This makes for a much simpler (and different) user experience as compared to the Sanyo VPC-CS1, but we think it is the perfect setup for someone who just wants to point, shoot, and upload video to the internet.

So, the choice with these two camcorders should be made very clear by your priorities. If you want an easy, seamless video experience, then go with the Flip UltraHD. If you like having lots of confusing manual controls at your disposal, then the Sanyo VPC-CS1 is the better option. We just don't think the VPC-CS1 handled all that well, nor did we find its video performance to be all that superior to the Flip UltraHD (despite it's more impressive specs on paper). The CS1 might have more options available, but if you're looking for options, the CG10 is a better choice.


/r:render

The thin, compact design of the Sanyo VPC-CS1 definitely gives the camcorder a unique look, and its impressive specs make it all the more intriguing. Once you take a good look beyond its hot pink paint job, however, you'll find the CS1 to be a very disappointing camcorder.

The VPC-CS1 wasn't a total failure in terms of video performance. In fact, that was an area where the camcorder often exceeded our expectations (particularly in bright light shooting). Where the VPC-CS1 exposed its numerous flaws was with its cheap design, terrible handling, and confusing controls. The camcorder also produced lots of artifacting in our tests and its low light image was full of blocky pixelations and blurred imagery.

The most glaring issue we ran into was a problem with the camcorder being unable to produce a completely focused image no matter what the shooting situation. Usually this problem affected the left side of the frame, while the right was in focus, but you could attempt to even things out using the camcorder's manual focus feature. Even with manual focus, however, portions of the image produced by the VPC-CS1 always appeared blurred.

In addition to this focus issue, the VPC-CS1 also has very poorly-constructed buttons, managed an abysmal battery life in our testing, and has one of the worst control interfaces we've ever seen. The buttons are all too small on the camcorder (due its thin design), and this is never more of a problem than it is with the d-pad buttons that are used for navigating menus and adjusting all manual controls on the camcorder (except zoom).

Overall, we cannot recommend the VPC-CS1, no matter how good its specs look on paper. The camcorder has plenty of flaws that make for a frustrating user experience. If you like the fact that the camcorder is loaded with manual controls, we suggest going with the cheaper Sanyo VPC-CG10, which does have some handling issues, but none are as extreme as the problems we had with the VPC-CS1. Whatever you do, don't settle for the VPC-CS1 if you're looking for a simple, easy shooting experience—you will be thoroughly disappointed if you do.

Meet the tester

Jeremy Stamas

Jeremy Stamas

Managing Editor, Video

@nematode9

Jeremy is the video expert of our imaging team and Reviewed.com's head of video production. Originally from Pennsylvania and upstate NY, he graduated from Bard college with a degree in film and electronic media. He has been living and working in New England since 2005.

See all of Jeremy Stamas's reviews

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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