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CES 2012: Sony offers new cameras and projection camcorders

Consumer Reports News: January 09, 2012 08:23 PM

After battling delays in various camera product launches in 2011 due to flooding in Asia, Sony unveiled today more than a dozen new camcorder models for 2012. None will be standard definition (although two SD models--the Handycam SX85 and SX45--will remain in the 2012 lineup). Sony’s camera division announced three new point-and-shoot cameras, all basic budget models: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W610 ($110), DSC-W620 ($120) and DSC-W650 ($140).

The new HD camcorders range in price from roughly $300 to $1600. By and large, the models store video and still shots in flash memory (usually a combination of internal memory and an external card). Although Sony has tweaked essential features, such as by improving the quality of zoom or enhancing image stabilization, they've also added some nice extras to various models, including built-in projection plus GPS for geotagging your video and still shots. They've even added practical features, such as letting you also charge the camcorder via a USB connection to a computer.

Here are some of the more intriguing models:

Last year, Sony included three models with built-in projectors, which let you view your photos or video on virtually any flat surface. This year, they've expanded the line to five models, but offered them at more diverse price points. They've also made the projection brighter, claiming that you can project an image as large as 100 inches, measured diagonally. The models with this feature include the Handycam HDR-PJ760V ($1600), HDR- PJ710V ($1300), HDR- PJ580V ($900), HDR- PJ260V ($650) and the HDR- PJ200V ($440).

The Handycam HDR-TD20V, $1500, will be available in March and is the second 3D full-sized camcorder from Sony. It's about a third smaller than last year’s model, captures full HD-resolution video (at 60p), has 64GB of flash memory for up to 25 hours (2D HD video) and can shoot 20-megapixel photos. Like its predecessor, it can display video and stills in 3D on its 3.5-inch LCD.

Sony also unveiled two new pocket camcorders: The Sony MHS-TS55 Bloggie Live HD pocket camcorder, $250, is a unique model that lets you live stream video between your camcorder and computer. It also has a 3-inch touch screen display, 8GB of internal memory and an LED light for shooting in low light. It's available now in stores and online. The Sony MHS-TS22 Bloggie Sport HD pocket camcorder, $180, is a rugged version that Sony says is waterproof to a depth of 16 feet and that has a 2.7-inch touchscreen display. It will be available in February.

Besides these new models, Sony is introducing a multi-platform imaging service called PlayMemories that will let consumers more easily access images and video. Part of the system will be cloud based and is supposed to link together smart phones, computers, HDTVs, Play Station 3 gaming consoles and photo frames. Sony plans to roll out this service between January and March. It will be offered as both a free and paid service.

Terry Sullivan

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