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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.

5.8 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6
  • Image quality 5

Review Sections

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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