Good-Bye, VHS; Hello, DVD

At a Glance
  • Hitachi DZ-MV350A DVD-CAM Camcorder (Hitachi-DZMV350A)

  • Sony DCR-TRV70 MiniDV Handy Camcorder (Sony-DCRTRV70)

  • Canon ELURA 50 Mini DV Camcorder (Canon-8713A001)

  • Sharp VL-Z7U Mini DV Camcorder (Sharp-VLZ7U)

  • Samsung SCD33 MiniDV Camcorder (Samsung-SCD33)

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Sony DCR-TRV70

Sony DCR-TRV70
Photograph: Marc Simon
With one of the highest-resolution CCDs of any consumer camcorder, the Sony DCR-TRV70 takes wonderful-looking video footage. It's one of the most advanced consumer models we've seen, with an extremely effective image stabilizer and a very quick response to changing lighting conditions. The camera also offers several methods for shooting in low light, including a Super NightShot mode that lets you shoot in total darkness thanks to an infrared emitter. And the DCR-TRV70 focuses quickly, no matter what the lighting conditions.

The 2.5-inch LCD display is bright and easy on the eye, but accessing the controls is awkward: You use a stylus on the touch-sensitive LCD display, making navigation slower and much more laborious than if you were using buttons and/or dials on the body. The dial for switching among modes is set too close to the record button, so I often inadvertently started recording when I wanted to turn the camcorder off. And the zoom control is way too small: It's the size of a Tic-Tac. The moderate-sized body is heavy--just over a pound and a half with the battery--yet it fit my hand comfortably. It's also differently proportioned than the others, at 6.9 inches long but only 2.9 inches wide and 3.5 deep.

The 2-megapixel stills that the camera captures look adequate, but they're not even close to the quality of pictures taken with a digital still camera. You can e-mail stills and MPEG-1 movies from a Memory Stick and use the LCD screen as an Internet browser, but to do so you must purchase a $100 USB modem. This is also the first camcorder we've seen where you can transfer recorded video over a USB 1.1 connection, although the resulting video was jerky and pixelated.

Upshot: You'll admire the DCR-TRV70's image quality and sophisticated features but be vexed by its inane menu system.

--Alan Stafford

Sony DCR-TRV70


Price when reviewed: $1299
Current prices (if available)
Paul Heltzel and Chris Manners are freelance writers. Richard Baguley and Andrew Brandt are senior associate editors, Andrew Eisner is executive producer, and Alan Stafford is a senior editor for PC World.

This story, "Good-Bye, VHS; Hello, DVD" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • Hitachi DZ-MV350A DVD-CAM Camcorder (Hitachi-DZMV350A)

  • Sony DCR-TRV70 MiniDV Handy Camcorder (Sony-DCRTRV70)

  • Canon ELURA 50 Mini DV Camcorder (Canon-8713A001)

  • Sharp VL-Z7U Mini DV Camcorder (Sharp-VLZ7U)

  • Samsung SCD33 MiniDV Camcorder (Samsung-SCD33)

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