Sony's First Flash-Based Camcorders

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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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