I don't review as many camcorders as I used to, mostly because of limited bandwidth; cameras require a lot more of my time and there's more reader interest. Occasionally, though, readers express enough interest in a model to pop it onto my review radar. That's my rationale for looking at the Sony Handycam HDR-CX220, the replacement for the popular. Popular for no reason I can fathom other than it offers a long lens at a cheap price of just under $200. With no features to speak of, a confusing interface and mediocre video quality, though, I recommend saving your money.
The CX220 is essentially the same model in terms of image quality as Sony's CX230 (8GB built-in memory), CX290 (8GB plus optical image stabilization and touch screen), and PJ230 (8GB plus built-in projector) -- they all have the same sensor and lens.
The design is typical of a traditional camcorder, and it's extremely lightweight -- one might even say flimsy-feeling. I was surprised that I managed to cram it into a loose jeans pocket when I needed an extra hand, though. It's got a built-in lens cover and a USB charging cable that tucks into the strap, which will work with any USB charger. (A shout-out to all you confused Amazon reviewers.) If you don't own a modern phone or tablet charger or have a computer to plug it into, Sony will ask you to fork over about $20 for its version or you can buy one for between $5 and $10. Rather than bundling a charger, Sony opts to include a Micro-HDMI cable for connection to a TV.
|Sensor||1/5.8-inch Exmor R (BSI) CMOS|
|Gross pixel count||2.4 megapixels|
|Sufficient pixels for 1080p video||Yes|
|Actual photo resolution||2.3 megapixels|
|Interpolated photo resolution for marketing purposes||8.9 megapixels|
|Highest quality video||1080/60p 28Mbps AVCHD|
|Default video quality||1440/60i 9Mbps AVCHD|
f1.9 - f4
|Closest focus||0.4 inch|
The LCD is small and low-resolution, and the colors it displays bear no relation to the colors as rendered in the videos. There's a joystick on the LCD bezel for awkwardly navigating the menus through a poorly designed interface. I lost an afternoon's testing because I thought I'd switched the video settings, but the camcorder makes you jump through so many confusing screens -- do I click OK? Next? "X"? -- that it turns out I hadn't actually successfully changed them.