Camcorder manufacturers have well and truly caught up with the guys churning out the HD-ready TVs that are whizzing off shelves and internet sites at the moment. There's now an exciting selection of high definition camcorders to peruse, and there are models to consider from all of the leading electronics people: Sony,Panasonic, Canon and JVC.
But why should you consider buying or upgrading to a high-def camcorder? You might think your existing cam is alright. Well, you're wrong. To be convinced, all you need to do is see and hear the image and audio quality on offer; either on Sony's HDR-HC3 or HC7, Canon's HV20, Panasonic's HDC-SD1 or JVC's GZ-HD7, to name just a few knockout models.
Colours are more realistic, more vibrant and more convincingly reproduced than on any home video footage you've ever seen. Audio is almost as jaw-dropping, and many camcorders offer the option of recording in Dolby surround sound.
Nothing is straightforward in consumer electronics (just look at the hoopla surrounding Blu-ray and HD DVD), and high definition camcorders do come in a variety of flavours and formats. HDV, which stands for High Definition Video, sees images recorded to miniDV tape. AVCHD is a format, introduced by Sony and Panasonic, which uses MPEG4 compression to squeeze the extra information of high-definition images onto hard drive or flash memory ( SD cards or Memory Stick-type devices).
Hitachi is introducing two Blu-ray camcorders in October, while Sony and JVC are continuing to work on making even more compact models, such as the Sony HDR-CX6 and JVC GZ-HD3, and these devices will record onto larger capacity hard drives or smaller-size flash memory cards.
So, you should be getting a sense that HD camcorders are the future of home moviemaking. If you still need to be convinced, then just look at features such as playlist creation, in-camera editing and random access to clips.
Flash memory and hard disk based HD camcorders enable you to create playlists of your favourite clips. Search the footage on your camcorder and select the clips you want to add to the playlist. Press play and enjoy your selection. You won't affect the original video clip in any way by adding it to a playlist. You can go on to create as many playlists as you like.
With tape-free high-def camcorders you can also say goodbye to the tedious job of fast-forwarding and rewinding to get to the video clips you want to watch. Random access means you'll see a thumbnail image of the first scene in a video clip, and can therefore whizz through all your videos in next to no time, only stopping at the thumbnail image of the clip you want to view. You don't even have to fast-forward to find blank space to capture new footage; with tape-free models you just press record and let the camcorder find the space for you.
With the analogue switch-off imminent and the take-up of HD ready TVs underlining HD's popularity, having an HD camcorder in many ways becomes an inevitability - especially if you want to make the most of that HD-ready TV. The quality of HD camcorders is simply captivating, and at a time when citizen journalism - TV companies after your pictures and videos for free - is turning us all into producers, why shouldn't your videos be better than all the pixellated digital camera and mobile phone footage that gets sent in?