The biggest problem with high-definition DVD camcorders is that the small discs barely hold enough footage to capture your child's walk-on part in a ballet recital. Sony is trying to remedy the situation this year by including 8 GB of internal flash memory on the two AVCHD DVD models in their line. That means that even if you don't have a disc in the camcorder, you can record almost one hour of highest-quality, high-definition video to the internal memory and then transfer that footage to DVDs in the camcorder or offload it directly to your computer. Sony's calling this new feature Hybrid Plus, to differentiate it from the Hybrid recording feature found in some of its other camcorders, which lets you record video to MemorySticks in addition to the native media format of that camcorder.
The pricier of the two new AVCHD DVD camcorders is the $1,000 HDR-UX20, which is the one that includes the Hybrid Plus feature. Other than that, it is exactly the same as the $800 HDR-UX10. Both of those camcorders include 1/5-inch 2.3MP CMOS sensors with Exmor on-chip noise reduction, Bionz processors, and D-Range dynamic range optimizers in an attempt to widen the range of tones in your video. They also use 1920x1080-pixels when capturing footage in high-definition mode and actually produce 1920x1080 recordings. That's a step up from the 1440x1080-pixel recordings previous models have produced, even when capturing video at the higher pixel count. Of course, Sony wasn't the only one to do that, but it's nice to see that that has changed. However, as we've noticed in the past, editing can be tricky when recording in the AVCHD format.
The new models also include support for Sony's x.v.Color color space, can produce 4MP still images (interpolated up from the 2.3MP sensor), 15X optical T* zoom lenses with Super SteadyShot optical image stabilization, 5.1-channel audio recording, 2.7-inch widescreen LCDs, Smooth Slow slow-motion recording, and dual layer DVD support. They also have a face detection feature that can find up to eight faces in your frame and use them to set exposure, white balance, and focus, as well as set flash out put when capturing still images. Both camcorders are expected to be available in February.