- Relatively high video quality, high optical zoom
- Sound capture less than reliable at mid-long range, interface can be difficult and confusing
Sony's DCR-DVD708 is an impressive camera. Despite its clunky interface and shortcomings in sound capture, it delivers great video quality and a fantastic 25x zoom for its price.
Price$ 879.00 (AUD)
Sony's latest mini-DVD camcorder is a respectable offering, and one which does justice to the mini-DVD format. Impressive video quality is supported by a comfortable and lightweight design, as well as the ability to very quickly film, finalise, and have a DVD ready for playback. Let down only by its somewhat disjointed and unresponsive interface, the DCR-DVD708 is nevertheless a great product.
We found the video quality on the DVD708 to be above average, with fairly accurate colour representation and low noise levels for a single CCD camera. As with most cameras, it suffers in low light settings, where colours can often look washed out or faded, but performance under fluorescent lighting or in bright sunlight is strong. Sony has included a feature to help reduce this, but quality is still best in bright light. The 25x optical zoom is quite useful, and gives the camera a great range. Digital zoom can take this level up to 2000x, although stabilisation and video quality suffer noticeably at levels that high, to the point where it's almost useless.
Sound quality isn't fantastic, but Sony has included support for 5.1 surround sound, allowing users to record disks which can then be played back on compatible systems. Still, the inbuilt microphone's range was less than impressive, with voices and noises recorded more than about four or five metres away being almost inaudible on the camera, even at maximum volume. Fortunately, support for wireless microphones has been included, and this is definitely a welcome and very useful addition for those willing to pay the extra price for them.
The camera itself is well designed, if a little unoriginal. After years of camcorder development, however, there's nothing wrong with sticking to what works. Buttons are well laid out and easy to reach as the camera sits comfortably in the right hand. The only downside with the design is the 2.7in LCD screen, which controls the menu system through a clunky and somewhat unresponsive touch screen interface. The addition of a few simple buttons below the screen to control the interface would have been an improvement.
Nevertheless, all the necessary controls are there. While editing on the camera isn't possible, disks can be finalised and watched on DVD players in a matter of minutes, or transferred to a computer to be edited.
Despite a slightly irritating interface and the need for a microphone for reliable sound capture at mid-long distance, the DCR-DVD708 is an impressive camcorder, delivering relatively high quality video and the ability to quickly film and play movies.
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For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
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