Sony may have declared ahead of camera show PMA 2009 that it wouldn't be launching a new SLR, but it didn't mention that it'd be launching just about everything else. The big camera news is the launch of the Cyber-shot DSC-HX1, a 20x superzoom with a flashy-sounding new take on the panoramic photograph.

The HX1 sports a 28-560mm lens, equivalent to a 35mm camera. That's a whopping great 20x zoom lens and a decent wide angle. It's also the first camera to use the extra-thin Exmor CMOS sensor, which packs 9 megapixels. It shoots up to 10 frames per second in burst mode thanks to a mechanical shutter, rather than an electronic shutter, and has all the whistles and bells such as face detection and smile shutter.

It also shoots high-definition 1080p video at 30 frames per second. You get an HDMI connection to kick it out to your TV. What we're most impressed by on the video front is that the microphone is stereo and not mono.

The most interesting feature is the panorama function. On most cameras, you take a picture, move the camera, take another picture, and repeat. The camera stitches them together, and if you're lucky shows an onscreen guide to line each picture up. But Sony has come up with the novel method of pressing the shutter and sweeping the camera across the scene, giving 224-degree panoramic shots or 154-degree vertical shots in one motion. Just press, and sweep. Press, and sweep. Simple.

Click through for another angle on the Sony HX1.

Here's the HX1's 76mm (3-inch) screen. It's available in April, but prices are yet to be confirmed.
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