Sony Handycam HDR-PJ260

This projector-enabled camcorder from Sony offers plenty of useful features, including a touchscreen, but is priced out of the reach of many casual videographers.


6.5
CNET Rating

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The Sony HDR-PJ260 is an impressive, reliable camcorder that fulfils all of the roles that one looks for in a handheld recording device. However, Sony has been far too ambitious in pricing its latest camera, listing it at AU$899 — expensive for a consumer-level camcorder. At this point, it would be worth considering moving into DSLR cameras, which would out-perform the HDR-PJ260 for a slightly higher cost.

Design and features

This Sony camera's design is ordinary, with nothing special to distinguish it from other cameras in its range. One mistake that Sony made aesthetically was branding the selling points of the camera all over the surface of the device, which actually cheapens the body of the product, when it could have instead been given a sleek, minimalistic design. Explaining buttons is all very well, but endlessly listing its features on the exterior plastic is over the top.

On a positive note, the touchscreen is extremely simple to use, something that Sony has perfected over time across all of their cameras, and is a highly effective system for controlling the device.

Like many Sony cameras, the HDR-PJ260 has hybrid storage, meaning that it has 16GB of in-camera flash memory, as well as taking an external SD card. This combination of storage options is a trend of Sony's, which we find to be very valuable. If, like us, you're forgetful or in a rush most of the time, you will often forget to re-attach your SD card. The in-built memory space acts as a safeguard, so you can film onto the camera itself — saving us from embarrassment on more than one occasion.

Let's turn now to the main selling point that Sony is pushing in this camera: the projector. Initially, we were doubtful about this idea, believing it to be a gimmick or a fad that we would tire of quickly, but we were pleasantly surprised by this particular feature. It's interesting to watch footage back on an external surface for more people to see. This is ideal for family viewings, as all can see, although finding a dark enough space to project in might be more trouble than it's worth. Ultimately, this projector is ideal for those who are actively looking for one, but, for the rest of us, it could have been removed from the camera to lower the price.

Sony's second big selling point is the built-in GPS, which detects where the camera is located when filming. If you are travelling or holidaying, then this feature might appeal strongly to you, as you will be able to remember where you were when you shot certain footage. It is also displayed on a large map, which is a really nice way of cataloguing your geographic movements. If you're not on holiday, however, you may, like this reviewer, find this feature a tad invasive. This is another feature that could have been removed to lower the price, as it would probably be used quite rarely.

Video and image quality

Overall, the video quality is very good, which is to be expected of a Sony camera, as these cameras have been providing good video quality for many years.

The colour is quite true to life, with satisfactory image sharpness and brightness. Ultimately, it comes across as your average Sony video in terms of quality. One might wonder why you're paying so much for image quality that a cheaper device could achieve — even a cheaper Sony model that doesn't have the more expensive extra features.

One of the biggest problems with the quality of the video is the blurring, which makes the footage almost un-watchable when zooming in, especially over longer distances. While there is nothing about this camera's video and image quality that blew our mind, it does perform well, as expected.

Image samples

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

If you're keen on the idea of a projector, then this is the camcorder for you. But if you're not going to use this feature, then it would be better to look for another camcorder in a lower price range. Both the projector and the GPS features would make this unit ideal for travelling; however, if you're looking for a simple, good-quality point-and-shoot camcorder, it would a mistake to commit to this camcorder, given its price.



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