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Sony gives hard-disk HD camcorders a boost

Higher resolutions, bigger hard disks and true HD support differentiate this year's generation of AVCHD models.

Sony Handycam HDR-SR12
Sony Handycam HDR-SR12 Sony Electronics

It seems like Sony's saved the zing in its camcorder announcements for its AVCHD products, which generally offer significant enhancements over last year's. For one, all the models (like their DVD equivalents) finally support true 1,920x1,080 recording, albeit at the same bit rates as the previous 1,440x1,080 capture. They also mark the addition of Memory Stick Duo support for video--a feature of lesser importance for the hard-disk models than others--which Sony dubs "Hybrid" recording.

The two top-of-the-line models, the SR11 and SR12, both incorporate Sony's highest-resolution 1/3.15-inch 5-megapixel ClearVid CMOS sensor and the Face Detection capabilities which debut in the 2008 camcorders. Other specs include a 12X zoom lens and 3.2-inch LCD. The two models differ only by hard disk size: 60GB for the $1,199 SR11 and 120GB for the $1,399 SR12. Both are slated to ship in March.

Sony Handycam HDR-SR10
Sony Handycam HDR-SR10 Sony Electronics

Replacing the SR5 at the $999 price point, the SR10 keeps the same 2-megapixel CMOS sensor and 2.7-inch LCD of its predecessor, but ups the zoom to 15x. It too should ship in March.

Unfortunately, though the hardware's making some advances, as far as I can tell, the software still remains behind the times.