Sony HDR-XR200 high-definition handycam
A Full HD Sony camcorder with a 120GB hard drive and built-in GPS
- Stunning Full HD picture quality, 120GB hard drive, inbuilt GPS and geo-tagging, plenty of modes and features
- No 3.5mm microphone jack, too expensive
The Sony HDR-XR200 is a gadget-laden show-stopper of a camcorder. It provides more functionality than any entry-level HD camcorder on the market — but it's also a bit more expensive.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
The Sony HDR-XR200 is the entry-level model in the company’s new star line-up of GPS-equipped handycams. In addition to built-in GPS and geo-tagging, it has all the trimmings you’d expect from a flagship Sony camcorder, including (deep breath) Full HD (1920x1080) recording, a 120GB hard drive, a 15x optical zoom lens, a Memory Stick slot for additional storage, 5.1-channel surround sound, an LCD touch screen, a 4-megapixel still image mode and optical image stabilisation. It also comes with more manual options than you can shake a clapperboard at, along with plenty of consumer-friendly features. In terms of performance, it’s on par with last year’s excellent Sony HDR-SR10, which offered similar specifications.
The Sony HDR-XR200 can be viewed as a replacement model for the HDR-SR10, which explains their marked similarity. Both models share the same 1/5in ClearVid CMOS sensor and effective pixel count of 1490k. What separates this AVCHD camcorder from its predecessor is the afore-mentioned GPS functionality, along with an additional 80GB of memory (the new hard drive will net you around 15 hours of video at the highest quality setting, compared to 4.8 hours with the Sony HDR-SR10).
Some pre-existing features have also been refined by Sony, including smile shutter, face detection and optical image stabilisation. To be honest, we never had any issues with the previous iteration of this technology, so any purported improvements are difficult to gauge. While the Sony HDR-XR200 might not represent a revolutionary step forward, it’s unquestionably a better product than the HDR-SR10 — which was pretty darn good to begin with. Our only reservations have to do with the asking price and the lack of external audio, which we'll get to in a moment.
The HDR-XR200’s main claim to fame is its inbuilt Navteq GPS map. This is a brand new feature that all of Sony’s high-def handycams are now sporting (with other vendors bound to follow suit). It’s essentially a 2D map that shows your current location, along with options to zoom in and out. You can’t use it for voice-guided navigation or anything, but if you’re lost in the bush it could come in handy. Rather coolly, it will also geo-tag your footage based on the location it was shot at, which makes browsing and playback a lot easier. It’s possible that future software updates will incorporate proper GPS navigation, which could be added via the camcorder’s Memory Stick slot. Only time will tell.
The Sony HDR-XR200 sticks to the same design template as the company's previous generation of HD camcorders. Its traditional oblong shape and glossy black finish are virtually indistinguishable from the Sony HDR-SR12, Sony HDR-SR11 and Sony HDR-SR9. This is not a criticism, however — Sony’s handycam range is among the best-looking on the market, so why fix what isn’t broken? (For what it’s worth, you do get a dinky 'GPS' logo this time around.)
In terms of handling, the HDR-XR200 acquits itself well, although we would have liked to see a cam-control dial for manual adjustments — this is something Sony refuses to bring to its lower-end units, despite sharing most of the same modes and features. It also lacks a 3.5mm external microphone jack, which is a bit rubbish for a $1999 camera.
The Sony HDR-XR200’s video performance exhibited no noticeable improvements over its SR10 predecessor. Luckily, the past year has done nothing to dull that camcorder’s rock-solid performance — it still produces some of the best video around and the XR200 offers the same benefits. We were particularly impressed by its low-light performance. (Sony’s obligatory infrared Night Shot mode is also present, allowing you to shoot in complete darkness). All in all, the Sony HDR-XR200 will give the average videographer no qualms when it comes to imaging performance.
The only thing we can fault the Sony HDRXR-200 for is its over-inflated price tag. At $1999, it is substantially more expensive than the average entry-level HD camcorder. (Indeed, you could buy two Sanyo Xacti HD1010s for the same price, and still have money left over for a bag of crisps.) It also costs $600 more than the Sony HDR-SR11 — which, ironically, we thought was too expensive last year. If you’re not a prodigious shooter and aren’t particularly interested in GPS functionality, we’d advise plumping for the Sony HDR-SR11. Otherwise, this is one of the best camcorders on the market.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony 75-inch UHD TV (X9400C) review: Sony and Android are a winning duo
- 2 LG 55EG960T OLED UHD TV
- 3 Panasonic Viera UHD TV review: good hardware, fragmented software
- 4 Ford Focus ST (2015) review: Absolutely mental styling, engine, handling
- 5 LG 65-inch UHD TV (65UF950T) review
Deals on Good Gear Guide
- Networking, Wireless & VoIP
Deals on Good Gear Guide
Latest News Articles
- U2 tours with all-flash array to rock latest video effects
- Presto finds an unlikely ally in Quickflix
- Olympus targets movie makers with OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera
- Foxtel bands with Seven Network ahead of Neftlix's upcoming launch
- SanDisk eyes 4K video market with high-speed 512GB SD card
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
- FTDatabase Marketing ManagerNSW
- FTBusiness Development & Account ManagementNSW
- FTSales SpecialistNSW
- FTSenior Account Manager - PR AgencyNSW
- FTAndroid DeveloperNSW
- FTLinux Administrator with AWS & DevopsNSW
- FTManual Test Engineer | Financial Institution | Web testingNSW
- CCE-Commerce - Senior Web Application DeveloperNSW
- FTField EngineerNSW
- CCMilitary simulation programmer with C# and Unity - 3 monthsNSW
- FTLevel 2 IT Support TechnicianVIC
- FTAccount Manager | Music IndustryNSW
- FTMid level IT consultant | Systems Integration & Managed ServicesNSW
- FTSystems Administrator - Managed ServicesNSW
- FT1st & 2nd level IT support all-rounder in beautiful rural BathurstNSW
- FTDigital ManagerNSW
- FTSenior Consultant | Project work | National Systems IntegratorVIC
- FTSystems Administrator | National commercial law firm | MS, AWS & eDiscoveryNSW
- FTAccount Manager | Client Side - Previous Agency Experience Welcome!!NSW
- FTProduct Marketing ManagerNSW