The video camcorder market is in transition. With digital cameras, smartphones, and action/POV camcorders now having the capability of high-definition 1080p video recording, the traditional handheld camcorder segment is in a bit of a standstill. But there’s still room for dedicated camcorders, especially for users who need to record videos longer than what digital cameras can handle. Sony owns this space with their Handycam lineup, and the company reminds us of that with a whopping 11 new models at CES.
Unlike other camcorders unveiled here in Las Vegas, Sony’s models have some unique features. The Handycam models with built-in video projectors let you shoot a bright image onto a wall from the LCD panel. We were quite impressed by the image quality when we received an early demo last December, and with models that have an micro HDMI input (an adapter is provided to connect to standard HDMI) you can project stills and videos from a smartphone (including Apple devices), tablet, or PC through the camcorder – a big advantage over having to lug around a regular projector. To activate, just connect the device and push the “projector” button.
All new camcorders can now record HD video in AVCHD or MP4 formats. AVCHD will give you the highest quality, suitable for viewing on your HDTV at home, while MP4 is suitable for uploading to the Web or sharing. For the first time in a Handycam model, Sony will sell an optional Wi-Fi adapter ($75) to cut the cord when transferring content to a computer or smartphone or tablet, as well as allowing remote control of the camcorder from a smartphone or tablet.
Another unique in some models is the Multi-Interface Shoe. In the past different accessories weren’t all compatible with the hot shoe. This new Multi-Interface Shoe solves that problem by accommodating a wide variety of accessories.
In some models Sony is incorporating the Balanced Optical SteadyShot stabilization system. With Sony’s current SteadyShot, stabilization is achieved by controlling a lens within the camcorder. With BOSS, motors control the entire lens unit itself for enhanced stabilization. Sony is also improving sound quality with a new sound system that offers wider dynamic range (from soft to loud in any scene), audio level control, auto wind noise reduction, and closer voice capture.
Each new Sony Handycam features Sony’s Exmor R CMOS sensor. It’s a back-illuminated sensor designed for better low-light performance. There’s also GPS tagging with NAVTEQ maps support. Among the new releases for 2013, there will be no models supporting SD or HDD storage.
Sony is scheduling a February and March release time frame. Here’s a quick look at the specs and estimated prices provided by Sony for each new model:
- HDR-CX220: Full HD 60p, 8.9-megapixels, Exmor R CMOS sensor, SteadyShot image stabilization, 29.8mm wide angle Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar Lens with 32x Extended Digital Zoom, AVCHD/MP4 recording, and 2.7” LCD display – about $249 (in black, blue, red and silver)
- HDR-CX230: With 8GB flash memory – about $279
- HDR-PJ230: With built-in projector (13lm) – about $399
- HDR-CX290: With 50x Extended Digital Zoom and Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization – about $349
Check out our review of the Sony HDR-PJ380V camcorder.
- HDR-CX380V: 16GB flash memory, 55x Extended Zoom, 3.0” wide touch screen Clear Photo LCD display (230K), wide angle 26.8mm Sony G Lens, mic/headphone jack, Closer Voice, Auto Wind Noise Reduction – about $449
- HDR-PJ380V: With built-in projector (13lm), HDMI external device input, and Tracking Focus – about $599 (in black, red and white)
- HDR-CX430V: Full HD 24p/60p, Balanced Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, 32GB flash memory, 5.1 surround sound mic, multi-interface shoe allowing optional Wi-Fi accessory, Cinema Tone presets, and audio REC level adjust – about $699
- HDR-PJ430V: With built-in projector, external device input, and advanced sound processor (13lm) – about $849
High End HD
- HDR-PJ650V: 20.4-megapixels, manual control (iris/shutter/exposure/white balance), wide angle 26.8mm Sony G Lens with hood, advanced controls with expanded focus, zebra, and peaking, touch screen 3.0” Xtra Fine LCD (921K), color Electronic Viewfinder (0.27” 201K), and built-in projector (20lm) with external device input – about $1099
- HDR-PJ790V: With 24.1-megapixels, top-mounted 5.1 ch surround sound mic, 96GB flash memory, multi-interface shoe allowing optional Wi-Fi and XLR box compatibility, wide angle 26mm Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar Sonar Lens with hood, and built-in projector (35lm) with external device input – about $1599
Double Full HD 3D
- HDR-TD30V: Two of each key component – double Sony Wide Angle G Lenses, double Exmor R CMOS image sensors, and double BIONZ image processors, 20.4-megapixels, 3D viewing directly on 3.5″ LCD (no need for 3D glasses), with 3D/2D video capture – about $999
- ADP-WL1M: Wi-Fi adapter for wireless connectivity – about $75
- RDP-CA2: portable speaker for 2013 projector camcorders allowing 360-degree “Circle Sound Technology” – about $70
- HVL-LEIR1: battery-powered video light that doubles as an infrared sourcefor Multi-Interface shoe camcorders – about $150