We're looking for stand-out revolutionary features of Sony's new HD camcorders, but really what we're seeing is an apparently decent-looking replacement for last year's HDR-CX12E flash-based HD cam, which we gave an excellent 8 out of 10.
There are two new models, the CX520VE and the CX505VE, though the only difference is that the former has 64GB of internal memory, the latter 32GB. Other features, such as improved image stabilisation over the previous model, 12x G-series zoom lens and GPS geotagging of clips and photos, rear their heads on both models. Both record at a maximum quality of 1,920x1,080 pixels (1080i, not p) at a 16Mbps bit rate.
Inside the higher capacity CX520VE, Sony expects you'll be able to store just over 24 hours of 1080i video. Though that's at a reduced quality (5Mbps), and highest-quality capturing time will be less. Exactly how much by will be something we test in our full review.
Two other new features warrant mention. First, 'Face Touch'. Remember that touch-what-you-want-to-be-focused-on feature of the new iPhone 3GS's camera? Yeah, it's like that. Only with faces. You'll be able to touch whichever is your "favourite face" (yes, that's a Sony quote) on-screen, and the camera will adjust image settings and focus accordingly.
The other feature is involves upconversion. When you connect the camera to an HDTV over HDMI, it'll convert its 1080i (interlaced, and not as good) signal to a 1080p (progressive, and much better) signal. The result should be a smoother image on-screen, but that's making the hefty assumption that the camera doesn't suck at upconversion. Tests? Yes, we'll be doing them.
Both models have expandable memory with Sony Memory Sticks, and go on sale in August for currently unknown prices. Though in the US they'll cost $1,099 (£680) and $1,299 (£880), so expect UK prices to be around a grand after we're ripped off during price conversion. Click 'continue' for more pics, including a cool 'how it works' x-ray.
Here you see the side of the camera. It's like the front, only from the side.
Having a play with fingers and screens here. This is one of the camera's menus.