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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Sony Handycam HDR-CX220 review:

Cheap, but you get what you pay for

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The Good The Sony Handycam HDR-CX220 is cheap, small, and lightweight.

The Bad Poor video quality and a minimalist set of features disappoint.

The Bottom Line The only thing the Sony Handycam HDR-CX220 seems to have going for it is the low price, but "you get what you pay for" has never rung truer.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

5.8 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Image quality 5.0

I don't review as many camcorders as I used to, mostly because of limited bandwidth; cameras require a lot more of my time and there's more reader interest. Occasionally, though, readers express enough interest in a model to pop it onto my review radar. That's my rationale for looking at the Sony Handycam HDR-CX220, the replacement for the popular CX190. Popular for no reason I can fathom other than it offers a long lens at a cheap price of just under $200. With no features to speak of, a confusing interface and mediocre video quality, though, I recommend saving your money.

The CX220 is essentially the same model in terms of image quality as Sony's CX230 (8GB built-in memory), CX290 (8GB plus optical image stabilization and touch screen), and PJ230 (8GB plus built-in projector) -- they all have the same sensor and lens.

The design is typical of a traditional camcorder, and it's extremely lightweight -- one might even say flimsy-feeling. I was surprised that I managed to cram it into a loose jeans pocket when I needed an extra hand, though. It's got a built-in lens cover and a USB charging cable that tucks into the strap, which will work with any USB charger. (A shout-out to all you confused Amazon reviewers.) If you don't own a modern phone or tablet charger or have a computer to plug it into, Sony will ask you to fork over about $20 for its version or you can buy one for between $5 and $10. Rather than bundling a charger, Sony opts to include a Micro-HDMI cable for connection to a TV.

Sensor 1/5.8-inch Exmor R (BSI) CMOS
Gross pixel count 2.4 megapixels
Sufficient pixels for 1080p video Yes
Actual photo resolution 2.3 megapixels
Interpolated photo resolution for marketing purposes 8.9 megapixels
Highest quality video 1080/60p 28Mbps AVCHD
Default video quality 1440/60i 9Mbps AVCHD
Built-in memory None
Lens 29.8-953.6mm
f1.9 - f4
Image stabilization Electronic
Closest focus 0.4 inch
LCD 2.7-inch articulated
230,000 dot
Size 2.1x2.3x4.6 inches
Weight 7.7 ounces
Manufacturer price $199.99
Availability February 2013

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