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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sony produces a winner!
Who needs HD?! The video quality on this camcorder is the best I have ever seen! Colours are accurate and the image is very crisp, with the surround-sound adding that extra depth to the audio aspect. Still images - which I use quite a lot - are also surprisingly good. In complex lighting the exposure can get caught out, but the easy to use touch-screen menu allows you...
Published on 22 April 2007 by Richard Burn

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Excellent camera but only in daylight
When I read the review by Phil Latham below I couldn't believe the coincidence, I am also replacing an old Sony TRV65 which has served me well for 10 years.

I bought the Sony DCR-SR290 camcorder based on the specifications and the other reviews here but I am sorry to say that after owning it for less than 24 hours I have sent it back, due to absolutely dreadful...
Published on 7 Oct 2007 by G. Rayner


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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sony produces a winner!, 22 April 2007
By 
Richard Burn (St Albans, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony DCR-SR290 Hard Disc Drive Camcorder With 2.7'' LCD Screen (Electronics)
Who needs HD?! The video quality on this camcorder is the best I have ever seen! Colours are accurate and the image is very crisp, with the surround-sound adding that extra depth to the audio aspect. Still images - which I use quite a lot - are also surprisingly good. In complex lighting the exposure can get caught out, but the easy to use touch-screen menu allows you to set manual exposure easily. The flash, although effective, lacks the power of the built-in flash on my old PC330.

Low light filming is very good, with low lux levels presenting no problems. It's a shame the still function seems not to be blessed with the same capability!

As a piece of kit, it's very easy to use. It fits comfortably in the hand and is nicely balanced, with the recording button on the back in a convenient location. One minus point is that the zoom lever on the camera body is too close to the photo button - it can be easy to get them confused. I like the idea of the second set of zoom controls at the side of the screen, as well as the "home" button for popping up the on-screen menus. These are very easy to use, thanks in no small part to the exceptional clarity of the screen itself.

One other minor criticism is that the camera takes a few seconds to start up, so if you want to film action you're probably best leaving the 'corder in standby mode. The supplied battery lasts for ages!

All in all, despite a few minor niggles, this is a brilliant piece of equipment. If you are looking for first class video and sound quality, look no further!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sony have produced another brilliant product!, 31 July 2007
By 
Mr. N. Georgopoulos (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony DCR-SR290 Hard Disc Drive Camcorder With 2.7'' LCD Screen (Electronics)
Last month I decided to buy a camcorder and in order to make my life easier I went for an HDD model to avoid the need of using tapes/discs. I do have to admit here that I am a big Sony fan! :-) Hence, I didn't have to spend too much time before I narrowed down my choices to 3-4 models. Important criteria for me included: 1) disk space, 2) good image quality and stabilisation and 3) functionality.

Finally, it was down to the DCR-SR190 and DCR-SR290 models. One major difference between them was the type of image stabiliser (digital for the 190 and optical for the 290). And because the optical image stabiliser is better than the digital one (according to the experts!) meant that in the end I opted to invest a bit more money and go for the DCR-SR290.

What a great decision I made! All the previous reviews on this camera posted on the site are spot-on when it comes to the positive points. Personally, I cannot see anything wrong with the camcorder at all! So easy to use, small, light, fantastic LCD screen with great touch-screen menus, plenty of intuitive menus and choices of formats and shooting modes etc. The videos are of excellent clarity and quality, even indoors and under low light conditions, and the night shot is really good, too. The image stabilisation is great and that is so useful when you zoom in a lot.

As for the sound... now that is as amazing as the image quality! Surround sound you're promised, surround sound you get! The microphone is really good and sensitive. When you play your videos with your home cinema speakers on you can appreciate how good it is! The battery seems to last for a good length of time - as promised by the manufacturer. I also bought a case, my suggestions is don't go for the recommended case, it looks too big and my guess is one would end up carrying a big case for a small camera! I bought the LSC-VAC Compact Camcorder Soft Carrying Case and it fits nicely, I would definitely recommend it.

Finally, the only fear I had before I bought the camera was whether the software that came with it would be good or not, one of the (few admittedly!) Sony weaknesses sometimes. The software is actually quite good, easy to edit videos and burn them to DVD (you can create menus, thumbnails etc and make some nice compilations...). The camera connected to my laptop (Windows XP) very easily, down-loading the videos is straight forward - I didn't bother spending too much time reading the manual on this, it's really easy to do. And speaking of the manual, the full pdf version is 132 pages, but don't let that scare you! You really don't need to read much of it, you get the hang of using the camera really quickly.

Overall impression, just three words: well done Sony!!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great camcorder...Great picture & sound...Great software...!!!, 16 Jan 2008
By 
S. Mackenzie "stevie boy" (London, england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sony DCR-SR290 Hard Disc Drive Camcorder With 2.7'' LCD Screen (Electronics)
Bought this sony camcorder 2 weeks ago now for an up and coming longhaul holiday to the sun.....and so far the footage ive shot both indoors and outdoors has been very impressive, cant wait to use it abroad!!! On playback, through the tv, the colours and picture quality(camcorder set on SP whilst recording) are very good, giving me some 875 mins of filming on the 40GB hard-disc-drive. But when you burn the same filming onto dvd (either by the easy 1-touch disc burn OR through your pc/laptop with the software provided), and play it back through your 5.1 surround sound system, the sound is truly exellent!, was very impressed with this feature and was one of the main reasons why i bought this particular model. Go for the 290e if you can as apposed to the 190e because the 290 has the optical super-steadyshot, than the 190's digital. I tried both before i bought, and the 290 was a tad better plus you wont use the 80x digital zoom on the 190 really as things start to get quite blurred when zooming in. The zoom on the 290 is good, just 10x optical/20x digital which is ok. I do agree with the other reviewers comment on the auto-focusing, that when filming indoors, in not great light, the 290 does struggle a little to auto adjust quickly, which is a little annoying, but is not too bad!

The other superb feature which is cool is the night shot facility, which, when used in the dark, gives the appearence of something you would see on tv's programme "most-haunted", that light-green tinge and the negative look from your subjects eyes is really very good, a must if you like filming in or around pitch-black places. The pic quality too on nighshot is impressive. Back to the software, just 1 cd-rom does the lot, i found it very easy to use. Just pop it in the discdrive, download the manual/ picture motion browser etc, in a few moments. I use window vista home premium, no probs at all. Its all in ready for you to download your filming onto the pc hardrive, and then you can get creative whilst making your personalised dvds!! Easy!

The hybrid touch screen (2.7"), playback sound, battery life (comes supplied with np-fh60) and all the other picture setting features, 6.1 megapixel photo, cmos, camcorder station, all your leads, remote control etc, make this camcorder a good investment and a great bit of kit. The only letdown really is that it does not come with its own carrycase (recommend the lsc-vac), or small charger (recommend bc-trp), if like me, you want to take it away on hols with you. The only other way you can charge the battery is by placing the camera onto the camcorder station, and thats a precise bit of kit, not worthy of taking away with you. The camcorder sits snuggly on the station when you transfer film/photos or charge the battery up, just make sure it is connected properly and sitting flat! I paid £470 for it, (see offeroftheday) as a guide, there are deals to be had so if you want this camcorder at the right price, a bit of haggling would'nt go a miss! There are plenty of spares available too for the 290, with lots of traders selling parts at competitive prices, which wont break the bank!!

To sum up, you get a lot of kit for the price you pay, and , as this model is sony's TOTR, it is great way to get started if your looking for a good selection of features. This is the 1st camcorder ive ever had, and its fab. I wish i had bought sooner!!!

Hope this small review has helped!! Thanks for reading.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sony 290 is more or less a winner, 15 Jun 2007
By 
Phil Latham (Cuddington, Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sony DCR-SR290 Hard Disc Drive Camcorder With 2.7'' LCD Screen (Electronics)
Just bought the SR290 after having a Sony CCD-TRV 65E (analogue, Hi-8) camcorder for the last 9 years. It was erroring with a code and I just knew it would cost a fortune to fix it, so...

The choice these days seems to be between camcorders using tapes (MiniDV), ones recording on DVD and those on hard disk drives used in PCs. The 290 uses the hard disk drive (HDD) and I went for this format because (a) tapes are expensive; (b) they run out!; and (c) the transfer of files on a hard disk (onto a PC for editing) is far easier than the playing of tapes/DVDs with the other formats. I also think cameras are smaller and lighter using HDD technology (no tape to be stored in the camera) and in fact the 290 is about 2/3 the size (and 1/2 the weight) of my old TRV 65 (see Google images for both if really interested). There is also a DVD burn button which (apparently) burns files on the hard drive to a DVD burner. I've never used this as I edit files on my PC (using Pinnacle v9 - don't buy v10!) but it seems a useful thing to have.

The image quality is digital on the 290 and is about 15-20% better than my analogue TRV 65. Colour are very clear and the low-level lighting seems better than my analogue one. Both the old and new one have nightshot, which turns everything a shade of green like war correspondents in Iraq. If you think being green is rubbish, Nightshot is very good for birthdays when kids blow out the candles and it all goes black! The 290 also offers a choice of normal 4:3 images or widescreen and the widescreen is NOT just a 4:3 image stretched; the widescreen actually offers more image space at the sides (as it should). The 290 does NOT offer a viewfinder - only an LCD screen - but I don't think this is an issue, even though my analogue one had both ;-)

The 290 uses menus, shown on the fold out LCD screen, which are accessible via the touch sensitive screen. It's a little fiddy at first but you soon get used to it. However, dirty fingers or wearing gloves on a cold day might complicate this!

Apart from this, the buttons (nightshot, zoom, on/off, fold out screen etc) are much the same as my analogue one, albeit smaller and slightly more fiddly to use.

The zoom is only x20 which doesn't seem much (and in fact is less than my analogue one which went up to x72) but you can buy a x2 tele-converter if you want more zooming power. Plus the 290 has anti-wobble technology built in which is good on zooms.

Apart from these minor points the camera is a joy to use and the battery seems good for about 2 hours shooting. It can be recharged whilst using the camera which is handy, because my analogue one didn't do this. The 290 comes with a USB lead.

There are also high definition (HD) videocameras out now but until the Blu-ray vs the world HD scrap (a la Betamax vs VHS in the 1980s) is resolved I would give these a wide berth (unless you particularly want to be locked-in to a certain technology).

Overall I would recommend this camera and certainly any camcorder which uses the HDD technology, as I got bored shelling out a tenner for each new tape when I used my old one. It loses one star because it turns up with the camera but no travel bag (a bit stingy when you are paying £500) and the zoom is only x20.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Excellent camera but only in daylight, 7 Oct 2007
By 
G. Rayner - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony DCR-SR290 Hard Disc Drive Camcorder With 2.7'' LCD Screen (Electronics)
When I read the review by Phil Latham below I couldn't believe the coincidence, I am also replacing an old Sony TRV65 which has served me well for 10 years.

I bought the Sony DCR-SR290 camcorder based on the specifications and the other reviews here but I am sorry to say that after owning it for less than 24 hours I have sent it back, due to absolutely dreadful performance in artificial light e.g. in the house with all the lights on, I am not referring just to low light. The only way to get a focussed picture is to leave the camcorder completely still pointing at something that isn't moving. If you point at a moving target e.g. a person walking across the frame, or pan the camcorder horizontally or vertically at anything more than a snail's pace there is just so much jitter and picture instability I could not believe my eyes.

The problem isn't noticeable on the LCD screen, it's only when you plug the camcorder into a TV to monitor the shots live or to play-back a recording that it becomes obvious (my Grundig CRT TV is not at fault - I plugged-in my old Hi-8 TRV65 and the images from this in the same room and light levels are perfect - it's no contest).

Outside in natural light the SR290 is truly outstanding and the auto focus is very quick indeed. Thinking that there must be some sort of fault with it I got a demo of another identical unit in a Sony Centre shop, only to discover that this had the same problem. The salesman was also very surprised.

In addition to the picture problem there is an issue with connecting to the PC via USB2. With the enclosed software installed, my PC will recognise the camcorder as a USB mass storage device, and I can browse the SR290's internal drive and copy short video files across or use the Sony application software to do the same. But the camcorder does not recognise that it has successfully connected to the PC and will time-out and disconnect after a few minutes, meaning that it would not be possible to copy larger video files across which take more time. My PC is not at fault here, I experienced the same when trying it with my laptop.

You must also not touch (or even breathe near) the camcorder when it is on the docking station as the gravity-reliant connection between the two items is very 'slight'. If you touch the camcorder even lightly this will interrupt the connection, this could possibly corrupt the drive if a file is transferring at the time.

I am so disappointed as there is no other camcorder on the market with similar specifications at this price. If you only intend to use it in daylight then I would recommend it for it's picture quality, image stabiliser, comfortable weight, handling and ease of use, though the docking station and USB issues could prove very frustrating.

Try again Sony....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sony DCR-SR290 Hard Disc Drive Camcorder with 2.7" LCD SCreen, 6 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Sony DCR-SR290 Hard Disc Drive Camcorder With 2.7'' LCD Screen (Electronics)
Brilliant, easy to use - touch screen is not at all fiddly. Pictures very very clear. Have taken it to all sorts of places and pleased I did. Nice size, fits easily into my hand.
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