The stylish, petite Sony HDR-TG3 is an HD camcorder that ships with a generous 4GB memory card, enough for about half an hour of footage recorded at full high-definition quality.

Sony is promoting the HDR-TG3 as: "the world's smallest and lightest high definition camcorder". Measuring a scant 63x32x132mm and weighing in at just 240g, the dinky Sony HDR-TG3 lives up to that claim.

The Sony HDR-TG3 achieves its diminutive stature by eschewing the more traditional MiniDV tape for a miniscule Memory Stick Pro DUO card. Solid state as a storage medium has really come into its own in recent months and the Sony HDR-TG3 acts as a showcase for the advantages solid-state has to offer.

The Sony HDR-TG3 ships with a generous 4GB memory card, enough for about half an hour of footage recorded at full high-definition quality.

It's not just small; the Sony HDR-TG3 is good looking too. The vertical form factor is made out of scratch-resistent titanium in a gun-metal styling and sports a flip out 2.7in LCD touchscreen. This takes care of most of the menu options leaving the body of the camera free relatively clutter-free, sporting just a record button and zoom ring.

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Although it keeps controls to a minimum, the Sony HDR-TG3 houses plenty of sockets tucked away under various flaps: USB, audio out, S-Video out, Component video out; it even has a built-in HDMI output socket so you can hook it up directly to a high-defintion television. A dock is also provided so you can easily hook it up to your computer.

The Sony HDR-TG3 records 1920x1080 full HD video (also know as 1080p). It also acts as a 4Mp stills camera, and is capable of taking 2.3Mp stills while you are recording video footage.

The optical system is a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar with a 1.8-2.3 F and 10x optical zoom.

Although the small form factor ensures that the recorded footage is no match for a larger, more professional model (such as the Sony HDR-FX1) we have to admit to being impressed by the quality of the Sony HDR-TG3. This is all the more remarkable because no other upright camcorder has truly impressed us in terms of image quality before.

NEXT PAGE: image quality, and our expert verdict > >

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The stylish, petite Sony HDR-TG3 is an HD camcorder that ships with a generous 4GB memory card, enough for about half an hour of footage recorded at full high-definition quality.

The Sony HDR-TG3 also sports an impressive face detection system that is far from the gimmick it comes across as in the press release. The IFD (Intelligent Face Detection) system recognises up to eight faces in a scene (you can tell Sony's not bluffing because it places little white squares around human faces). It automatically adjusts focus, exposure, colour balance and skin tone.

This may sound gimmicky but the Sony HDR-TG3 has lightning-fast reactions and it even managed to stay perfectly in focus when we tracked several people running around a room.

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Recording to a memory card also throws up an unexpected bonus, the Sony HDR-TG3 is ready to start recording as soon as you flip open the screen. The time delay that tape recording devices possess has been the frustration of many a camcorder owner, who had to watch a great moment pass as the tape system gears up for recording.

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Sony HDR-TG3: Specs

  • 1920x1080, 1080p HD camcorder
  • 1/2-1/800 shutter speed
  • Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar with a 1.8-2.3 F and 10x optical zoom
  • 1/5.0 ClearVid CMOS Sensor
  • USB, audio out, S-Video out, Component video out, HDMI out
  • Dolby Digital 5.1ch
  • 3ch, zoom microphone
  • built-in speaker
  • 2.3Mp stills camera
  • 2.7in LCD touchscreen
  • 63x32x132mm
  • 240g
  • 1920x1080, 1080p HD camcorder
  • 1/2-1/800 shutter speed
  • Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar with a 1.8-2.3 F and 10x optical zoom
  • 1/5.0 ClearVid CMOS Sensor
  • USB, audio out, S-Video out, Component video out, HDMI out
  • Dolby Digital 5.1ch
  • 3ch, zoom microphone
  • built-in speaker
  • 2.3Mp stills camera
  • 2.7in LCD touchscreen
  • 63x32x132mm
  • 240g

OUR VERDICT

We were truly and genuinely impressed by Sony's HDR-TG3 camcorder. Small upright camcorders all too often sacrifice video quality and provide gimmicky features, but the Sony HDR-TG3 is a triumph of automated functionality and good quality in a small form factor. Highly recommended.

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