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CES 2013: Sony Unveils Lineup of New Handycam Camcorders
by Grant Hatchimonji -  1/7/2013

Sony unveiled its Handycam Camcorder lineup as CES kicked off today, with 11 new models making their way into the company's 2013 collection.

Though there are varying levels of quality among the new models, many of them share similar features, like the ability to now shoot in both AVCHD and MP4, HDMI ports, and multi terminals (among others). Also, all of the new Handycams will be HD devices, as Sony will not be releasing any new standard definition models in 2013.

Sony Handycam CX220Entry Level

At the bottom of the ladder are four new entry-level models: the CX220, CX230, CX 290, and PJ230. Benefitting from a bump up in sensor quality from last year's entry-level model, the CX190, all four of the new models are equipped with an 8.9M/2.3M Exmor R sensor, a 29.8mm wide CZ lens, HDMI out, and 60p recording.

The CX220 is the base model, with a 32/27x zoom, digital SteadyShot (image stabilization), a 2.7-inch LCD screen, and no onboard storage. The CX230 is a step up, with the exact same specs as the CX220 plus 8 GB of storage, while the CX 290 tacks on a more powerful 50/27x zoom, optical SteadyShot, and a 2.7-inch touchscreen display. The PJ230 is simply the CX230 with a built-in projector.

For all of its 2013 projector models, Sony has implemented a new external input function, allowing users to plug external devices into their camcorder via HDMI and use the built-in projector to display media from their smartphones, tablets, etc. While the camcorders, which have full-sized HDMI ports, do come supplied with a full-sized HDMI cable, most of the external devices that users would want to plug in -- mobile ones, anyway -- have micro HDMI ports. As such, users will need to purchase a female (full-sized) HDMI-to-male micro HDMI adapter in order to connect their device to their Handycam.

Sony Handycam PJ380"Step-Up" Models

Next up is the CX380 and its projector variant, the PJ380, which have been dubbed the new "Step-Up" Handycams in the lineup. Carrying over many specs from its predecessor, the PJ260V, the CX380 has an 8.9M/2.2M Exmor R sensor, a 55/30x zoom, optical SteadyShot, a 3-inch LCD display, 16 GB of onboard storage, a mic/HP jack, and is capable of shooting 60p video.

Some of its new features include a 26.8mm Wide G Lens, an HDMI port, and a multi terminal, though like last year's model, it still does not have any sort of GPS or map feature for geotagging. The PJ380 tacks on, of course, 13lm projector along with the new projector input, as well as a multi-interface shoe, a new type of hot shoe from Sony that works with a number of different accessory types.

Sony Handycam CX430Mid-HD Models

The next-level models, the CX430 and the PJ430V, are also modest updates that have many of the same features as last year's mid-HD model, the PJ580V. Some of these specs include an 8.9M/2.2M Exmor R sensor, 55/30x zoom, 26.8mm Wide G Lens, a 3-inch LCD display, and the ability to shoot 60p video. Other features that carried over is the GPS/map functionality, an HQ 5.1 channel microphone, 24p/cinematone shooting, and a mic/HP jack. Unfortunately, the built-in speaker has been downgraded from stereo to mono and the onboard storage is down to 16 GB from 32 GB.

So what's new? For one, its optical SteadyShot has been upgraded to Balanced Optical SteadyShot (B.O.SS), in which the entire lens unit is controlled and steadied by small motors (as opposed to just controlling the lens inside the unit). While B.O.SS was introduced last year, it's new to this level of camcorder. Other updates include a multi interface shoe and a projector input for the PJ430V.

Both models also include Sony's new advanced sound system, which boasts the ability to pick up a wider range of sounds, with a supposed two times wider dynamic range. Louder sounds can now be picked up without any cracking sounds, while quieter audio can be picked up with less white noise.

Sony Handycam PJ650V"Enthusiast" Model

The next step up is the "enthusiast" model, the PJ650V. Many of the basics remain the same as its predecessor, the PJ580V, including its 20.4M/5.0M Exmor R sensor, 20/12x zoom, 26.88 Wide G Lens, and its 3-inch LCD display. Other aspects like its HQ 5.1 microphone, stereo speaker, GPS/Map features, 32 GB of onboard storage, and its ability to shoot in 24p/Cinematone remain as well.

That's not to say that there aren't plenty of upgrades here, however. The PJ650V is also a beneficiary of the new B.O.SS, as well as an electric viewfinder, and multi interface shoe. In addition to the new projector input feature, the camcorder's projector has also seen a brightness upgrade to 20lm (from 13lm). The advanced sound system is also present here, along with new audio recording levels and a new manual control dial.

Sony Handycam PJ790VThe Flagship Handycam

Of course, there's a new big daddy flagship model in town too: the PJ790V. A projector model taking the place of last year's PJ760V, the PJ790V has a number of upgrades, including a new 5.1 channel microphone, a brighter 30lm projector (and input capabilities), the new advanced sound system, and a multi interface shoe. It's also compatible with XLR boxes now.

Many of last year's features carried over to this model, including the 24.1M/6.1M Exmor R sensor, 26.0mm Wide CZ Lens, 17/10x zoom, 3-inch LCD display, 96 GB of onboard storage, and B.O.SS, among others.

Sony Handycam TD30VThe 3D Model

And finally there's the new 3D model, the TD30V. Taking the place of last year's TD20V, the TD30V actually sports almost identical specs, with a couple of exceptions: there is no longer any internal memory on the device (the TD20V had 64 GB of onboard storage) and there is no manual control dial.

This may seem like a downgrade, but both modifications were done in the name of getting the unit's sale price to the $1,000 mark, which Sony succeeded in doing. While the TD20V was priced at $1,499, the TD30V will retail for $999.

Sony Handycam Wi-Fi AdapterAccessories

Sony unveiled a couple of accessories to go with its new line of camcorders, including a Wi-Fi adapter that is compatible with all of the models that use the new multi interface shoe. The adapter, which will go for $74.99, can be used to transfer files to users' PCs and mobile devices, while mobile devices can engage it by remotely starting and stopping the camcorder's recording (via the PlayMemories app).

Also announced was an HDMI adapter for both the iPhone 4S (30-pin port) and the iPhone 5 (Lightning port). With the adapter, users can plug their iPhones into their projector camcorders via HDMI to project their phones' media on any surface.