Sony Handycam HDR-SR10 review: Sony Handycam HDR-SR10

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MSRP: $899.99

The Good Excellent quality video. Facial recognition works very well. Decent shooting capacity. Can shoot to HDD or Memory Stick.

The Bad Average microphone. Tilted design a little wearing on the hands.

The Bottom Line The SR10 offers a good balance between value and quality in the emerging consumer HD video space.

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8.4 Overall

The HDR-SR10 sits at the entry-level position in Sony's frankly bewildering array of high-definition camcorders. If ever there was a case to argue that a company is not just having a bet both ways, but is in fact covering every base simultaneously, then Sony's HD camcorder play is it. You can get HD tape camcorders. Or HD DVD camcorders. Or camcorders that record to hard drive -- and the HDR-SR10 is of this latter category. It's undeniably a bit confusing for the poor consumer, stuck with trying to work out what to buy when a single vendor is seemingly backing so many horses. No doubt, Sony's marketing department would, at this point, be using the phrase "consumer choice" somewhere. (We've conveniently compared each of the models, spec for spec, in our round-up of Sony's '08 camcorder line.)

Anyway, the little entry-level SR10 is a nicely proportioned camera, and the way that most people will hold it, it essentially feels like it comes in three parts. There's the handgrip, which also incorporates basic camera controls. That sits aside the main lens, which is much larger and can give the camera a lean in smaller hands, although that's fairly easily adjusted for in most cases. Finally, the battery slots in prominently on the back. A flip out 2.7-inch LCD touchscreen can be used for further playback and recording tweaks, while further controls hide in on the left-hand side of the camera body.

Aside from the camera, Sony ships in requisite connectivity cables, a tiny remote control and a full camera dock with the SR10. It's from this dock that you recharge the SR10, as well as connect up to external outputs and USB for PC/Mac-based editing.

The SR10 is a high definition, 1080i-capable camcorder with an integrated 40GB hard disk drive. That's good for around 290 minutes of recording time at full 1920x1080 resolution, according to Sony's own figures, although there's a slight catch here. The supplied battery, you see, is only rated for around 100 minutes of recording time, although larger extended batteries are available. Taking things all the way down to the other end of the spectrum, a 3Mbps 720x576 recording rate will give you a whopping 1660 minutes of recording capability -- well, as long as you're willing to carry 17 spare batteries along with you, anyway. It's also possible to bump up the recording time by recording to Memory Stick if Flash memory excites you.

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