So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- High quality video, compact size
- Fuzzy still images
A lightweight camera that's got the goods.
Price$ 1,299.00 (AUD)
Although the Sony DCRHC42 is a lightweight in both price and heft, it's far from lightweight in quality. The DCRHC42 produced great-looking video in our tests, with smooth movement. It also captured strong, accurate colours, even under difficult lighting conditions such as indoors under fluorescent lights.
The still images the camera took were disappointing: very fuzzy, with bland colours. The camcorder can record still images to a Memory Stick Duo or Memory Stick PRO Duo card at a maximum resolution of 1152 x 864 (about one megapixel). Although having the option to take still images is nice, the results really aren't good for anything except showing on a TV. The camera can also record low-resolution video to the Memory Stick.
The DCRHC42 fits well in the hand and, at 410g sans battery, it is light enough to be carried around all day. At 54.7mm thick and 111mm long, this camcorder should just squeeze into a large pocket. While the controls sit comfortably under the fingers, we found that the 12X optical zoom control lacked resistance--anything more than slight pressure set off zooming in or out very quickly, and it took a deft touch to slow it down.
The 2.7" wide-aspect LCD looked great in all but direct sunlight. Most camcorders, when shooting in 16:9 mode, display the video with black bars at the top and bottom, resulting in a smaller image. However, the Sony's wide-aspect LCD lets the DCRHC42 use the whole screen, which means you can see the image much better.
For recharging and linking to the PC, the camcorder docks in the included Handycam Station. The Station also has the USB 2.0 and FireWire ports to connect to the PC. This design means that you don't have to unplug everything when you take the camera with you, but it also means that you can't connect the camcorder to your PC (for transferring video or images) without that unit. Another problem is that the camera also fits rather loosely into the docking station, and can be easily jolted out during a video transfer, halting the process.
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