It's a big step up from the VHS camcorders but not as good as the newer digital ones. This will not play hi 8 or 8 mm tapes but it will record on a hi 8 which can be played back on the machine. Performance Is has reasonably good quality if you practice with it for a while. Learning how to zoom and pan are critical to making a watchable video. Since it uses digital tape as opposed to a disc or hard drive, it can have issues or problems like any other tape based camcorder Battery Life The battery is rated for two hrs but actually it lasts about one hour and 15 minutes on average. Durability I think it's durable as I've had mine five years now and it still works great. Ease of Use This is not the easiest camcorder I've ever used. I would recommend reading the manual and learning where all of the functions, buttons are before trying to make a video. It is quite complex and not user friendly unless you're an expert in video. Design This is a great design for it's time. Flip out viewfinder which moves in many directions. It is a bulky camera and weighs much more than the newer ones on the market. It will record on hi 8 tapes which is nice as they cost less than digital and there is not much difference in video quality. Loading and unloading the tape is a bit strange as well. Transferring to a computer to edit is a nightmare with the software that came with it.