As always, the Sony stand is one of the largest at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This year it's ingeniously designed to funnel visitors into various product showcase wombs and crush them slowly together in a kind of geek mosh-pit.
Wedged against the Handycam showcase, Crave checked out the new hi-def camcorder range from Sony. These use the AVCHD system to record video using CMOS sensors and the top models also offer optical image stablisation. We were particularly interested in the new HDR-UX7 (DVD, pictured) and HDC-HC7 (tape) camcorders, which record 1080i video and take 6-megapixel still photographs.
The HDR-UX7 and HDC-HC7 models are so new that when we questioned Sony representatives on availability, they could only guess. One kept consulting little folded photocopied spec sheets to glean information -- these were stuffed endearingly into his pockets like a schoolboy's ragged handkerchiefs. Clearly not everything on this stand is high-tech.
Sony says that the Super SteadyShot image-stabilisation system delivers "virtually blur-free results". For hi-def camcorders of this size, some kind of stabilisation is essential. While you might get away with a small amount of camera shake on a standard-definition camcorder, hi-def is less forgiving. Both new models use an optical image-stabilisation system -- this should be superior to the more common software stabilisation used by camcorders lower in the range. Impressively, both new camcorders include a feature called 'ClearVid' which allows a high frame rate of 240fps for slow-motion video.
It's too early to offer any judgement on the image clarity of these camcorders, but demo footage on the stand looked very sweet indeed. We're talking to Sony about taking these two new hatchlings out into the Nevada desert and testing them for you -- check back for more information later in the week. -CS