- Great video in all light
- Packed with fun features
- Impressive stills quality
- Awkward menu system
- No standard audio input
- 2.7-inch display too small
With great video quality and fun features, it's easy to see past the XR350's three big flaws.
Generally speaking, HD camcorders come in three varieties: camcorders with no storage, camcorders with flash memory and camcorders with hard disk drives. Each has an advantage over the other. HDD camcorders usually offer enough storage for days of footage, but they are bulkier and more expensive than their flash or no-memory counterparts.
In the past, I’ve preferred flash memory to an HDD because HDDs have moving parts that get hot and make noise. Also, drop the camera, break the HDD, and you lose all the footage stored on it. The technology has improved in recent years so heat and noise are almost non-existent, and many cameras have features like Sony’s ?HDD Smart Protection” to prevent any data loss should the HDD fail. Still, I like flash camcorders with their compact size and lower price.
It is with that caveat that I tested out the Sony HDR-XR350V Handycam, a midrange high-definition camcorder sporting a whopping 160GB hard disk drive. I figure if any manufacturer can change my mind about HDD camcorders it’s Sony since I’ve lauded them in the past for their slick Handycam and bloggie devices. Let’s see how well they do to incorporate a cumbersome HDD. And of course I didn’t forget to test the video quality, performance and features too.