Sony Handycam HDR-PJ10 review: Sony Handycam HDR-PJ10

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Sony Handycam HDR-PJ10

(Part #: HDRPJ10) Released: Apr 15, 2011
See all prices
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Sony Handycam HDR-PJ10's built-in projector and stereo speakers are very convenient for sharing home movies. Plus, the HD camcorder has the same wide-angle lens, built-in USB cable, and good automated performance as its projector-free siblings.

The Bad If you don't plan to use the projector, the rest of the camcorder's performance and feature set are a bit underpowered for the money.

The Bottom Line You're paying a couple hundred extra for the projector in the otherwise frills-free Sony Handycam HDR-PJ10 over its identical twin, the CX160. But if you regularly show off your vacation videos in the homes of friends and family then it's worth it.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0
  • Image quality 7.0

When I first saw Sony's PJ series of camcorders, with their built-in projectors, I flashed back to all the times I sat waiting for certain friends of mine to hook up their various devices to the TV in order to share their vacation videos. They eventually just left the necessary cables hanging off the TV, but for a lot of people, that's a suboptimal solution. The small projector in the Sony Handycam HDR-PJ10 is a far more elegant option.

Essentially the same camcorder as the Sony Handycam CX160, the HDR-PJ10 gets its usefulness quotient increased quite a bit by a pico projector. (Much of this review is based on that of the CX130/CX160.) In part because the just-OK video quality matters a lot less when you're viewing it via the projector, and I'm assuming that if you bought this model it's because you're going to be projecting rather than connecting to a TV.

In sunlight, with the subject filling the frame, the camcorder produces good-looking video that passes for full HD. But in many other circumstances, especially when there's a lot of background detail and motion such as grass or trees waving in the breeze, the low-resolution (in this case, less than the native 2.07 megapixels required for HD) sensor simply isn't up to the task of resolving all that and you'll start to see artifacts from the interpolation and video compression, despite the relatively high bit rates.

As with the CX130/CX160, the colors look pleasing and sufficiently saturated, if a bit coolly white-balanced, and while bright highlights get blown out, that's an acceptable trade-off for the price that most people probably won't mind. Moderately low-light video looks decent, albeit a bit soft and noisy, and in very dim living-room light, the camcorder trades off color for visibility and sharpness, producing usable video with a not-unpleasant graininess reminiscent of black-and-white.

While the still photos are serviceable, you probably don't want to count on the camcorder as a camera. Photos are bright and colorful, but have that smeary, processed look of a cheap digital camera because they're scaled up from the native resolution of 1.67MP to 1.9MP.


  Sony Handycam HDR-CX130/ CX160/ XR160 Sony Handycam HDR-PJ10 Sony Handycam HDR-CX360V Sony Handycam HDR-PJ30V/ PJ50V Sony Handycam HDR-CX560V
Sensor (effective video resolution) 1.49 megapixels 1.49 megapixels 2.65 megapixels 2.65 megapixels 6.1 megapixels
1/4-inch 1/4-inch 1/4-inch 1/4-inch 1/2.88
Lens 30x
f1.8-3.4
29.8-894mm
30x
f1.8-3.4
29.8-894mm
12x
f1.8-3.4
29.8-357.6mm
12x
f1.8-3.4
29.8-357.6mm
10x
f1.8-3.4
26.3-263mm
Closest focus (inches) 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4
Min illumination (lux) recommended: n/a
standard: 11
low light: 3
recommended: n/a
standard: 11
low light: 3
recommended: n/a
standard: 11
low light: 3
recommended: n/a
standard: 11
low light: 3
recommended: n/a
standard: 11
low light: 3

EVF

None None None None None
LCD 3-inch 230,000 pixels 3-inch 230,000 pixels 3-inch 230,000 pixels 3-inch 230,000 pixels 3-inch 921,000 pixels
Primary media 0GB/16GB internal/160GB hard drive; 1 x SDXC 16GB internal; 1 x SDXC 32GB internal; 1 x SDXC 32GB internal/220GB; 1 x SDXC 64GB internal; 1 x SDXC
HD recording AVCHD: 1,080/60p @ 28Mbps; 1,080/60i @ 24, 17Mbps; 1,440x1,080/60i @ 9, 5Mbps AVCHD: 1,080/60p @ 28Mbps; 1,080/60i @ 24,17Mbps; 1,440x1,080/60i @ 9, 5Mbps
AVCHD: 1,080/60p @ 28Mbps; 1,080/60i/24p @ 24,17Mbps; 1,440x1,080/60i @ 9, 5Mbps AVCHD: 1,080/60p @ 28Mbps; 1,080/60i/24p @ 24,17Mbps; 1,440x1,080/60i @ 9, 5Mbps AVCHD: 1,080/60p @ 28Mbps; 1,080/60i/24p @ 24,17Mbps; 1,440x1,080/60i @ 9, 5Mbps
Manual shutter speed No No No No Yes
Manual iris No No No No Yes
Accessory shoe No No Yes Yes Yes
Audio 2 channels/2 channels/5.1 channels, mic and headphone jacks 5.1 channels; mic and headphone jacks 5.1 channels; mic and headphone jacks 5.1 channels; mic and headphone jacks 5.1 channels; mic and headphone jacks
Body dimensions (WHD, inches) 2.1x2.3x4.9/ 2.1x2.3x4.9/ 2.4x2.6x5.1 2.4x2.6x5.1 2.4x2.6x5.1 2.4x2.6x5.1/ 2.4x2.6x5.1 2.5x2.8x5.4
Operating weight (pounds) 10.5/10.5/14.1 (est) 12.9 (est) 13.1 (est) 13.9/15.9 (est) 15 (est)
Mfr. price $449.99/$499.99/$599.99 $699.99 $699.99 $849.99/$899.99 $999.99
Ship date March 2011/April 2011 March 2011 March 2011 April 2011 March 2011

The camcorder autofocuses quickly and accurately, even in dim light, though like all camcorders it occasionally chooses the wrong subject or jumps into face-detection mode when you don't want it to. Its metering and exposure decisions are mostly correct. You can always turn IA off and use touch focus or touch exposure to force it, though I rarely found the need to. If you find yourself working out in the last 90 percent of the zoom range or tend to hold the camcorder with outstretched arms, you probably want to keep the camcorder set on Active Steady Shot all the time, but overall the standard image stabilization seems to work pretty well.

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