Sony's First Flash-Based Camcorders

Sony has been one of the busiest companies at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with 15 new announcements in the camcorder category alone. Among the new home-video offerings are the company's first forays into flash-memory camcorders, with five new models that incorporate solid-state drives. Four of the five camcorders capture standard-definition only.

Sony Handycam HDR-CX100 camcorder

The only flash-based high-definition camcorder is the 8GB Sony Handycam HDR-CX100 (pictured above), which captures more than 3 hours of 1920-by-1080 HD video, shoots 4-megapixel stills, and offers point-and-shoot-camera-style features such as Smile Shutter (which automatically captures a still image when a selected subject in the video footage smiles) and face recognition (which optimizes focus and other settings when a face is detected in the frame). The CX100, which also has a 10X optical Carl Zeiss zoom lens, will be available in March for $600.

On the standard-definition horizon (available in March) are the Sony Handycam DCR-SX60 (16GB flash drive, $400), DCR-SX41 (8GB flash drive, $330), and DCR-SX40 (4GB flash drive, $300), all of which have an impressive 60X optical Carl Zeiss zoom lens. In addition, the three new SX-series cameras each offer expandable storage by way of a Memory Stick slot, as well as a 2.7-inch touch-screen LCD.

The DCR-SX60 holds up to 10 hours of standard-definition video in LP mode, the DCR-SX41 holds up to 5 hours, and the DCR-SX40 holds up to 2.5 hours. However, while the DCR-SX60 offers Super SteadyShot optical image stabilization, the DCR-SX41 and DCR-SX40 do not--something to think about, given the whopping 60X optical-zoom range.

Also in Sony's arsenal of flash-storage camcorders for 2009 is the Handycam DCR-DVD850 ($430, available in February), a standard-definition "hybrid" camcorder that records to three different storage media: mini-DVD, Memory Stick, and a 16GB flash drive, which stores about 10 hours of video in LP mode. The DCR-DVD850 also features a 60X optical Carl Zeiss zoom lens, plus Super SteadyShot optical stabilization and a 2.7-inch-diagonal touch-screen LCD.

For more product news, see our complete coverage of CES 2009.

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