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Sony's new camcorders get steadier, and standard-def models are dead

Sony's new camcorders get steadier; some are able to be used as a pass-through projections for HDMI connected devices.

In the past year, Sony has been at the top of its game in terms of innovative cameras: the Cyber-shot RX100 is the best pocket camera we've ever tested, its Alpha NEX lineup of mirrorless cameras is getting stronger and Wi-Fi-enabled, and the company has been putting full-frame sensors in everything from pocketable cameras to interchangeable-lens camcorders.

This year's Cyber-shot CES announcements are focused on the much lower end, but according to the company, one of the new cameras offers some of the company's latest in-camera improvements.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX80 is an 8X-optical-zoom (25mm to 200mm) with Wi-Fi sharing capabilities, and the company claims it's the first model in the 2013 lineup to improve a number of hardware and software enhancements: very fast autofocus, an improved optical stabilization system, and real-time previews for creative modes such as single-color isolation.

The more-interesting imaging announcements from Sony Monday came in the realm of camcorders, as the very trippy Balanced Optical SteadyShot system, which uses a floating lens housing to correct severe hand shake, will be offered in many more of the company's camcorders this year.

Sony also unveiled its latest 3D camcorder, which is much smaller and more affordable than previous years' models. The Handycam TD30V lacks the manual parallax controls and internal memory of previous 3D Handycam models, and it will sell for $1000 in March of this year.

The higher end of the Handycam lineup also has a new "Multi-Interface" accessory shoe, which can be used with a separately sold Wi-Fi accessory to transfer video to phones and tablets and control the camcorder from a mobile device.

Sony has also enhanced its lineup of projector-equipped Handycam camcorders this year, as several new models can be used as a pass-through projector for phones, tablets, laptops, or other HDMI-connected devices. Previous Sony camcorders in the PJ series could be used to project video from the camcorder itself, but the ability to use external sources is a new feature for the PJ lineup.

It is a bit surprising that the company didn't announce its first UltraHD/4K camcorder for consumers at the show, given that its first Sony UltraHD set was announced earlier this year. At the Sony booth, the company did have a prototype 4K consumer camcorder on display, but it's more along the size of a professional-level TV camera than today's ever-shrinking camcorders.

On the other end of the resolution spectrum, please give a moment of silence for Sony's standard-definition camcorders. The company isn't introducing any standard-definition camcorders or models from here on in, and camcorders that offer hard-drive-based storage (instead of flash memory or card slots) are also being phased out.


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