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Sony Handycam HDR-CX200 review:

Sony Handycam HDR-CX200

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There's a short, captive USB cable that slides into the hand strap, and you can use it for charging, though the camcorder comes with a traditional AC adapter charger as well. Beneath the strap there's a covered recess with the SD card slot and an AV-out connector. The recess beneath the LCD panel contains Mini-HDMI and Mini-USB connectors, and there's a joystick and play button on the LCD bezel. Note that there's no power button. That gets really annoying; when the camcorder goes into sleep mode, you have to close and open the LCD in order to wake it up. It's doubly annoying when it goes to sleep while you've got it connected to a TV, since you have to remove the HDMI cable in order to close the panel and wake it up.

  Canon Vixia HF
Panasonic HC-
Sony Handycam HDR-
Sensor (effective video resolution) 2.07- 1.04 megapixel CMOS
(varies with IS)
1.3 - 1.1-megapixel CMOS
(varies with IS)
1.31 megapixels
1/4.85 inch 1/5.8 inch 1/5.8-inch
Lens 32x
38.5 - 1232mm
(varies with IS)
32.5 - 1205.7mm
36 - 900mm
Closest focus (inches) 0.4 n/a 0.4
Min illumination (lux) recommended: 100
standard: 5
low light: 0.4
standard: 1400
low light: 4
Color Night View: 1
recommended: n/a
standard: 11
low light: 3


None None None
LCD 3-inch 230,000 dots touch screen 2.7-inch 230,400 dots 2.7-inch 230,000 pixels/
2.7-inch 230,000-pixel touch screen/
2.7-inch 230,000-pixel touch screen
Primary media 1 x SDXC/
8GB, 1 x SDXC/
32GB; 1 x SDXC
1 x SDXC/
8GB internal, 1 x SDXC
1 x SDXC/
1 x SDXC/
8GB internal, 1 x SDXC
HD recording (best quality) AVCHD: 1080/60i/30PF @ 24Mbps AVCHD: 1080/60i @ 17Mbps
1080/60i @ 24Mbps
Manual shutter speed No No No
Manual iris No Yes No
Accessory shoe No No No
Audio 2 channels; mic, headphone jacks 2 channels 2 channels
Body dimensions (WHD, inches) 2.1 x 2.2 x 4.5 2.0 x 2.3 x 4.4 2.1 x 2.3 x 4.5
Operating weight (pounds) 9.9 (est) 6.4 (est) 7.4
Mfr. Price $349.99/
Ship date March 2012 April 2012 February 2012

Though it has some basic manual operation, like white balance and exposure compensation, the camcorder really is designed to be used in full auto. Getting to the manual settings means jumping into the menus, which are organized logically but still require some navigation that interrupts the actual shooting. Although I haven't used the touch screens on the slightly higher end models, historically 2.7-inch camcorder displays make for very cramped touch screens.

If you find this kind of video quality OK and you're really budget-minded, then I'd consider the Panasonic HDC-SD40 instead. It's an older model that delivers similarly lackluster video, but provides manual controls and you can find it for less than $200. If you've got your heart set on one of these Sonys, go with whichever you can find the cheapest. But if you want real HD-quality video, you still have to spend at least $500.



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