Sony Handycam HDR-XR100 review:

Sony Handycam HDR-XR100

 Key comparative specs Sony Handycam HDR-XR100 Canon Vixia HG20
Sensor 2.4-megapixel Exmor ClearVid CMOS 3.3-megapixel CMOS
1/5 inch 1/3.2 inch
Lens 10x f1.8-2.2 42 - 497mm (16:9) 12x f1.8-3.0 42.9 - 514.8mm (16:9)


No No
LCD 2.7-inch touch screen 2.7-inch
Media 80GB hard disk, Memory Stick Pro Duo 60GB hard disk, SDHC
Maximum bit rate 16Mbps 24Mbps
Manual shutter speed and iris No Yes
Accessory shoe No Yes
Mic/headphone jacks No Yes
Audio 5.1 channels 2 channels
Body dimensions (WHD, inches) 2.8 x 2.8 x 5.1 2.9 x 2.5 x 5.4
Operating weight (ounces) 14.5 17.6
Mfr. Price $749.99 $899.99

It seems like the autofocus system has more trouble than usual distinguishing subject from background, which slows it down a tad. And the LCD simply isn't very sharp; it's nearly impossible to tell if something's in focus or not. Furthermore, the battery doesn't last very long; it's rated for less than an hour under typical usage, which jibes with my experience. On the other hand, the XR100 starts up surprisingly quickly for a hard-disk-based unit.

Despite using the same sensor and lens as the CX100, I find the video quality less impressive. Overall, it's slightly soft, even when not scaled up on a large TV; as you'd expect, even more so in dim light and less so in closeups. Outdoor shots look a bit low contrast with blown-out highlights, though most colors--except for some blues, which is not uncommon--are relatively accurate. Video in living-room level light is acceptable if somewhat desaturated. On the upside, the XR100 doesn't have the CX100's lens flare problems, but it does frequently display fringing on high-contrast edges. The 4-megapixel interpolated stills look somewhat overprocessed, as you'd expect, and the native-resolution shots have edge artifacts like fringing and halos.

If you're looking to spend $600 on an HD camcorder, there are a lot of decent alternatives you might want to consider before shelling out for the just-OK Sony Handycam HDR-XR100.

What you'll pay

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