The Sony Handycam DCR-SX30E is a small and light camcorder that shoots standard-definition video. It can be picked up for around £180 online, which isn't much more expensive than high-definition models like the Flip Video UltraHD. But the DCR-SX30E attempts to make up for its lack of pixels with its excellent 60x optical zoom and added configurability.
Small, light and cute
The DCR-SX30E is very small and light, which is perhaps no surprise, given that it shoots straight to memory rather than relying on bulky tapes or discs. You can pick it up in three colours: blue, red or silver. We had the blue model. Combined with the stylish chrome trim, this bold colour made for a rather cute package.
Most of the settings menus are configured using the touchscreen LCD, but Sony has provided physical buttons for the shooting controls. The record button is positioned so that it's within easy reach of your thumb when you're holding the camcorder in your palm. There's also a comfortable, top-mounted zoom rocker that sits next to the photo button for shooting stills. You flip open the integrated lens cover via a slider control on the front of the camcorder.
The DCR-SX30E has 4GB of on-board memory, so you can start shooting immediately, without having to add any additional storage. This gives you enough space for just under 1 hour of recording time at the highest quality setting. You can also add extra memory if you want to extend the shooting time. As this is a Sony device, it uses Memory Stick Pro Duo cards, which are more expensive than the plain old SD cards used by most competing models.