Sony Handycam DCR-DVD405
Varying sensors and LCD sizes make a world of difference between the Sony DCR-DVD405 and its uptown sibling, the DCR-DVD505, beyond just the $200 price gap. The top-of-the-line DVD505 uses Sony's new 2-megapixel ClearVid CMOS imager and provides a large 3.5-inch LCD, while the DVD405 makes due with an old-hat 3-megapixel Advanced HAD CCD and an undersize 2.7-inch display. Those two differences are enough for the DVD405 to produce visibly inferior video--though still better than average for a DVD camcorder--and to bump a merely tolerable user interface over the line to annoying. In fact, most of the key aspects of the DVD405 are the same as its predecessor's, last year's
Though it has basically the same design as the DVD505, the 1.5-pound DCR-DVD405 has a smaller LCD that allows Sony to shave a fraction of an inch off its length. It's very comfortable to hold and operate, as long as you don't change any settings. At that point, you have to dive into a touch-screen-based menu system--or, I should say, menu systems. There seem to be two: one straightforward tap-on-the-button type and a 3D-rotating wheel that you ping-pong between in a seemingly random fashion. They're both well organized, but unless you have needlelike fingertips and a lot of patience, you'll get quite frustrated. Don't even attempt to focus manually, also via the touch screen. If you're familiar with and actually like Sony's touch-screen camcorder interface, then go ahead and mentally bump the rating up a couple of decimal points.