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Sony HDR-UX1E and HDR-SR1E: Camcorder delights

It's high summer, and with the gentle lulling breeze and soft kiss of sunlight on your tanned cheek come Sony's latest high-def camcorder chickens

All hail Sony. The electronics giant seems to be almost single-handedly leading the high-def charge in all fields of the consumer market. Here are two new camcorder offerings from the lords of lots of pixels: the Sony HDR-UX1E (DVD based) and the Sony HDR-SR1E (hard disk based).

These video cameras use a new kind of HD compression, called AVCHD. This uses MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) video compression coupled with Dolby 5.1 audio. It's an interesting move, but raises questions about how easy it's going to be to edit this new format.

As well as using the new compression standard, both new models use a ClearVid CMOS Sensor, can capture 4-megapixel still images, and sport a 89mm (3.5-inch) LCD. There's also an assignable ring feature that lets you assign essential functions such as focus, exposure, AE shift or white balance shift to the focal ring.

As with previous models, you can capture footage in high definition or standard definition modes. Video is captured at 12 Megabits per seconde (Mbps) -- an on-paper improvement over Sony's excellent HDR-FX1.

The HDR-UX1E can record one hour of HD video in 5Mbps mode and 27 minutes of video in 12Mbps mode using dual-layer DVD+Rs. The Sony HDR-SR1E, on the other hand, has a 30GB built-in hard disk that lets you record 1080i HD footage resolution. Expect to see these on sale over here later in the year -- UK pricing is yet to be announced. -CS