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Sony's tiny HD camcorder geotags, for a price

Sony replaces the pricey HDR-TG1 with the similarly pricey HDR-TG5, a practically identical model with added geotagging support.

About a year ago Sony introduced the Handycam HDR-TG1, a painfully pricey pistol-grip camcorder with relatively decent specs for its tiny, titanium, travel-sized body: 1920x1080 AVCHD video, 2.7-inch touch-screen LCD, 10X zoom optically stabilized lens and a 2.4-megapixel ClearVid Exmor CMOS sensor. Now Sony's replacing it with the HDR-TG5, still overly expensive with almost identical insides and outsides, but updated with 16GB built-in memory and geotagging support with Navteq maps. The company's tweaked the menu interface and added its Smile Shutter technology as well.

On one hand, I'm a fan of geotagging and it's naturally suited for compact, travel-friendly devices. However, as I said of the first rollout in the HDR-XR520V, video isn't quite ready for geotagging; unlike photos, there's no metadata standard for storing the information with the file. As a result, Sony has to store it in a sidecar file with data that most applications won't know how to parse. And then you're stuck using Sony's Picture Motion Browser software.

So the real question becomes is it worth paying $1,000 for geotagging, especially given how primitive (or more accurately, absent) support is for metadata on video files? And I must be missing some key piece of market research indicating that people want to spend that much on an everyday camcorder to keep in their pockets, since JVC jumped in to the pool recently, too, with its Everio X. I'll leave you to ponder those questions. However, for those of you who think they're worth it, the HDR-TG5 will be available in May. It'll use the same accessories as the TG1, including the kit with an extra battery, travel charger and pouch and $100 Sony VCL-HGE07TB wide-angle conversion lens.