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Video Cameras

Sony Handycam HDR-UX7

In replacing the HDR-UX1, the HDR-UX7's big news is the higher megapixel count and AU$200 price cut.

Sony has launched two DVD high definition handheld camcorders, the HDR-UX7 and HDR-UX5, to replace last year's HDR-UX1. Click here to read about the other high-def and standard-def cameras that Sony have launched or are about to launch.

Upside
The AU$2,099 HDR-UX7, which features a 10x Carl Zeiss T* zoom lens, replaces the HDR-UX1 and does so for AU$200 less. The HDR-UX1's design has been updated with relocated controls and an exterior furnished with ribbed metal on the lens barrel, and a mix of black and silver plastic elsewhere. It feels nice and substantial in the hand, with the major controls being easily operated by one's thumb and index finger.

On the spec sheet the biggest changes are the rise in the CMOS sensor's pixel count from 4- to 6.1-megapixels and the introduction of new longer-life batteries. Carried over are optical image stabilisation, dual recording, 5.1 channel surround sound recording and smooth slow record. With dual recording you can take 4.6-megapixel stills (up from 2.3-megapixel stills) while taping video, although the buffer only holds three stills per recording session. In smooth slow record mode, up to three seconds of action can be slowed down to a quarter the normal speed, which is perfect for analysing your golf swing or perfecting your Baywatch-style beach run.

Downside
As with the rest of Sony's Handycam range, minor and manual controls are accessed via touch-screen menus on the flip-out 3.5-inch LCD screen. While a neat solution to the problem button overload, the LCD gets smudged and dirty quick smart -- a problem we encountered even during our brief hands-on preview.

Transferring or viewing your cinematic works should be easy with the supplied USB, i.Link, HDMI and component connections. If you've got a Blu-ray player, you can also pop your DVD discs straight into the player to view on the big screen. As with all removable media camcorders, though, be prepared to stock up on media. Those with itchy trigger fingers might want to check out Sony's hard-disk high-def camcorder, the HDR-SR1. There's also a MemoryStick DUO slot for storing photos, which is inconvenient for those of us who don't have an all Sony household.

Outlook
The improvements, it seems, with the HDR-UX7 are incremental with the big news being a price chop of AU$200. If you're in the market for a DVD high-def camera but can't stretch to AU$2,099, Sony offers an alternative at AU$1,799 with the HDR-UX5. You'll have to make do with a smaller LCD screen and live without optical image stabilisation, the assignable dial, and headphone and microphone jacks, though.

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