Frustrated with the video quality coming out of my old Canon Optura camcorder and from our point-and shoot digital camera, I wanted to move to a HD Video option.
I did some research which told me that the Hard-drive or memory card based AVCHD camcorders would be ideal fr me since they don't require slow video import processes. Unfortunately, they are all 800+ dollars and out of my pricerange.
I saw a posting on Fatwallet that the Canon HV10 was on sale for 499$ (refurbished), and I decided to go for it. This is effectively just a 300$ upgrade since it can replace my canon Optura which still commands almost 200$ on ebay. If I got a HD or Card-based camera I would have to keep the optura indefinitely.
So, the video quality is really good. Note that HD is so detailed that camera shake has a more damaging effect on the video quality, so good results really do require a careful steady hand.
Unfortunately, the PC experience is a miserable mess even on Vista. Windows Movie Maker can import the video, but it comes in as one big block and it is saved with the odd ".dvr-ms" extension. (More commonly used for Recorded TV in Media Center) I expected it to come through as yet another codec wrapped in the .avi extension.
I eventually found the HDVsplit
app that woilll correctly split the video into clips during inport. It instead uses the apparently industry standard ".m2t" extension that the rest of windows ignores. As such, the files are happily stored on the PC, but Photo Gallery, Media Center and Media Player ignore then.
EDIT: I have found that simply changing the extension from .m2t to .mpg will cause the videos to appear in Media Center and Photo Gallery. I don't like this hack and I don't know how to add searched extensions to WMP/Photo Gallery.