We're all for choice here at Crave, but Sony has taken the right to choose to new extremes at CES. Hold on to your hats for a raft of camcorders so big that if was an actual raft it would technically qualify as a bridge. They are -- deep breath -- the hi-def SR10, SR11, SR12, UX10, UX20 and HC9; the standard-def SR45, SR65, SR85, SR220, DVD610, DVD710, DVD810 and DVD910; and the DCR-HC62 and DCR-HC52 Handycams.
Features such as face detection -- a first in the camcorder market -- and touchscreens appear on all the models. Hi-def, hard disk drive (HDD), hybrid and Handycam models make up a total of no fewer than 16 new camcorders.
If your head hasn't exploded yet, click though the links for some pictures and more details on the debutantes. -Richard Trenholm
Update: Read our full Sony Handycam HDR-SR11 review.
One of the hottest topics in Vegas this week was high-definition video. Sony weighed in with a bunch of hi-def models, each recording at 1,920x1,080 pixels in the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video codec. We kick off with the HDD-based HDR-SR10, HDR-SR11 and HDR-SR12 (pictured).
The SR10 boasts 40GB of onboard memory, the SR11 60GB, and the SR12 a whopping -- and pretty much unique -- 120GB. Sony claims the SR12 will handle 14 hours of 1080i footage. Not bad at all.
The HDR-SR10, SR11 (pictured) and SR12 are all hybrid models. Footage can be transferred from hard drive to removable memory. Sadly, it's Sony's proprietary and thus none-too-cheap Memory Stick Pro Duo format. Still, at least Sony has introduced a 16GB version at CES, which is quite a lot of carrot in one Memory Stick.
All three of these camcorders pack ClearVid CMOS sensors. Sony claims 10.2-megapixel still capture, but naughty naughty Sony, because that's interpolated from a 5.7-megapixel sensor.
The SR12 will set our colonial cousins back $1,399. That doesn't sound much at a direct conversion of about 700 of Her Majesty's English pounds, but Crave can't see us getting much change from a grand when the SR12 crosses the Atlantic.
The SR11 will cost about $1,200 (£600) and the SR10 (pictured) will cost $1,000 (£500). All three will be available in March.
Hybrids are pretty hot right now, and most of the models in this tranche record to at least two memory formats. The UX10 and UX20 models capture to Memory Stick ProDuo and 80mm DVD. A 2-megapixel ClearVid CMOS sensor captures stills and full 1,920x1,080 AVCHD hi-def video.
Sam Peckinpah-style slow motion is another big thing at CES 2008, and this pair manage 240 frames per second. The UX10 and UX20 will cost $800 (£400) and $1,000 (£500) respectively, also in March.
Moving on, we find the HDR-HC9, packing a 3.2-megapixel ClearVid CMOS sensor. Simultaneous dual-record mode gives you movie and 4.6-megapixel stills, or more John Woo-style 240fps slo-mo with audio. This hi-def model empoys multi-mode down conversion to 1080i and lower.
The HC9 will be one of the first to arrive, hitting shops in February for about $1,100 (£550).
Of course, we can't forget good old standard definition just yet. First into the SD breach is the 60GB hard drive SR220, which delivers continuous recording in long-play mode of up to 41 hours. It sports a 15x zoom and Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar optics, interpolated 4-megapixel digital still capture, and a 2.3-megapixel ClearVid CMOS sensor.
The SR220 will arrive in March for $850 (£425).
Next, Sony coughs up the 120GB DCR-SR85, 60GB DCR-SR65 and 40GB DCR-SR45 hard drive hybrid models. That's a fair amount of footage to capture to hard drive or Memory Stick, with Sony claiming 41 hours of long play footage. Which, ironically, is roughly the amount of time it took to write this story.
The SR85 and SR65 boast 25x zooms and 1-megapixel sensors, while the lower-end SR45 wields 40x and a VGA sensor.
The SR85 will cost $700 (£350), the SR65 $600 (£300) and the SR45 $500 (£250).
Next to the plate are the DCR-DVD910, DCR-DVD710 and DVD610. These are also hybrids that record to 80mm DVD and Memory Stick. They will cost $650 (£325) for the DVD910, $400 (£200) for the DVD710, and $350 (£175) for the DVD610.
The DCR-DVD810 is a hybrid that records to three different media: Memory Stick, 80mm DVD and 8GB internal memory. A tribrid, if you will, complete with 1-megapixel CCD sensor and 25x zoom for $480 (£240).
Finally, we have a brace of MiniDV Handycam models, the DCR-HC62 and the DCR-HC52.
These will be available for $300 (£150) and $250 (£125) from February. The HC62 boasts a 69mm touchscreen and 16:9 viewfinder with 25x zoom. The cheaper HC52 includes a bigger 40x zoom but a smaller VGA resolution sensor and 64mm touchscreen.