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on 16 June 2012
We're soon to be taking a four week hiking trip in the USA and wanted to replace our suddenly broken Sony Handycam (HDR-HC7). I can't begin to praise this little camcorder enough and really recommend it highly for its price and abilities. Obviously you will need to purchase an SD card but that's standard with most photographic equipment these days. I would recommend a 32 GB card with at least a rating of 4 but go higher if you can afford to. The higher the rating, the faster data can be written to the card and this improves the HD recording speed. We bought one from Amazon for around £25 and a 32GB card will give you around 3 hours of recording on the highest HD setting available on the camera.

The camera is tiny and very light (around 400g) and has an impressive optical zoom that will easily show the tiny crators on the moon! There are smart wind noise reduction options when filming outside on a windy day and it has a decent 8.9MP still camera function. Not the highest rating, but good enough for the typical holiday shot if you're away from your 'proper' camera.

The picture quality is excellent - full HD and so easy to get off the camera and onto the PC for editing. No more having to wait for digital tapes to dump the image slowly onto the PC and it's in a format that can be edited easily by most editing packages. We use the Sony Vegas editing software which works well with HD editing and burn Blu-ray discs reliably as well...

With no moving parts, the silent moments on film really are more silent - I say this because I've been used to hearing the whirling noise of a tape on previous models. I'm also hoping that this will also make the camcorder more robust as their is less to go wrong (but this remains to be seen). Another advantage of the SD card used in this camcorder over tape is that humidy issues are reduced dramatically. Last year when we were in Florida, our old camcorder was constantly shutting down because the tape heads were getting wet with humidy.

I see this camcorder as a great tool for family functions and holiday videos, it's so small and light you'll hardly know you have it with you. For the price this really is a great buy!
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on 25 March 2012
I bought this camcorder as my wife is pregnant with our first child, and I wanted to have something to record all the amazing moments in life that are sure to come in the months and years ahead.

This camcorder, costing around £400, sits firmly in Sony's mid-range when it comes to comsumer camcorders, and it does have a lot of features which are excellent - the Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor (great in low light) the three inch touch screen LCD and built in USB cable only a few of the features on offer. It also boasts a 8.9 megapixel still camera, and it is easy to switch between movie and photo mode as there is a "mode" button on the top of the camcorder (you can also just press the "photo" button while in movie mode and you can take still photos.

I have had a few weeks to play around with this now, and the video quality, especially in sunlight, is very good. The default HQ setting (there are three higher settings than this) will record excellently in sunlight, and decently in low light. You can manually switch on a "low lux" setting then, which will help you take better movies and photos, although this does require some illumination - recording in pitch black is not possible with this camera, as there is no nightshot function. The photos, as you might expect on a camcorder lens, can be quite grainy (especially in low light), so if you like taking still photos and only use video occasionally you might be better off getting a camera instead, although it is fine for my needs.

The 'iAuto' function Sony has is fine, and seems to work fairly well. It has recognised when I am taking landscape/portrait movies and whether I am using a tripod, or just carrying it around (it is very light and so extremely portable). The smile shutter function (not available in 50p or FX modes) is great, as it will automatically detect smiles when recording and take photos for you - so if you know someone who always blinks when having a picture taken (*ahem* my wife *ahem*) it can be really convenient and useful. You can also manually take photos in the middle of recording, which works very well.

When you have shot your masterpieces, you can view them by accessing the "event view" option. You can either go through each movie/photo individually or watch an automatically generated 'highlights' video by clicking on the appropriate option. This is great fun, and really enjoyable to watch. Sony have also made it very easy to share them online - once you have watched it, the option to save and share will come up. If you choose to save it, it will be converted into SD for upload onto youtube etc. I am unsure if you can upload HD scenarios onto video sharing sites or not, but I think you have to have it converted into SD first.

There is also a micro-usb slot, hdmi slot and microphone slot, so it is easy to connect to your HD TV with the supplied mini HDMI cable. There is also an AV cable supplied if you do not have an HDMI slot on your TV.

So, everything looks positive in this review, why is a star knocked off? Well, the answer being I feel slightly short-changed by Sony, in that the US equivalent, the HDR-CX 260, not only has 16 GB of on board storage (the HDR-CX 250, this model, has none and you need an SD card/Pro Duo Memory Stick) but also has Geo Tagging, as well as all the features of this model. The price tag, when converted into pounds, is not too dissimilar to this one either.

But, overall, while I am slightly annoyed this camcorder is serving me well, does have a lot of features and it will capture the patter of little feet for several years to come!
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VINE VOICEon 22 June 2012
Colour: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I took this camcorder on a 2-week trip to Japan where I hoped to film some street scenes and the parades at Tokyo Disneyland. In the end, I used my Canon S95 to shoot the most videos, with far better results.

It's not a bad camcorder, but could be so much better.

Firstly the good:

Very simple to use. 6 physical buttons for stop/start, zoom, photo, mode (switch from video to photo and back), playback and power. The power is slightly redundant as it powers up when you flip the screen out and shuts down then you close it again. I found the position of the stop/start and zoom ok, but big hands will have to bend fingers too much to work comfortably.

Excellent zoom. If on a safari, you should get cracking close-ups. more reach than my S95

Lightweight. Easy to hold for extended periods without too much fatigue. Standard tripod screw is fitted.

Built-in USB. This is a brilliant idea as you can use it to sync and charge from a computer or a USB charger. There is an extension lead supplied but I found the connectors too lose. My Amazon Basics lead was of a much higher quality.

Image quality as fine in daylight, but at night I found it hunted to lock onto the parade floats and the signs in Shinjuku. There are some bad points too with the quality.

The bad:

Feels flimsy. While lightweight, the plastic does feel cheap and creaks when pressed lightly. I suspect a heavy knock will break it.

Image quality can let it down. Colours can look washed out ans when zoomed in, the focus can be slow, especially when there is poor contrast.

The ugly:

For me, there are what mean it gets only 3 stars.

Video files. The box proudly announces "works with iMovie. In reality it should read "barely works with iMovie". I found the importing painfully slow and any form of editing causes my MacBook Pro (i5 2.3ghz with 8gb or RAM) to go to 100% cpu and the fan to hit full speed. Secondly, you cannot import video onto an iPad as it's not recognised and won't appear. S95, imports no problem.

Battery (and this is the real kicker for me). Anyone who buys electronics these days will know how the manufacturers love to upsell accessories like spare batteries. Normally the manual comes with dire warnings of what can happen if you use anything than their own make. Users generally ignore this and buy 3rd-party batteries, saving ££££'s with no ill-effect. Seeing as I would be away from the hotel for hours at a time, I bought 2 spare batteries for £25 the pair (Sony own, £80 each). All charged up and fitted, I was ready to go. Turned camcorder on, pressed record and all was well. Well for 4 seconds. Then a message popped up on the screen announcing "For use with compatible battery only" and the camcorder shuts down. Change to original battery, no issues.

I understand that Sony want to sell their own batteries, but to force a shutdown because it's not their battery is, in my view, punitive and petty. Fine, pop a warning up that could say "For best results, use Sony original battery" but let you carry on. Not a way to win customers and something every prospective buyer should be aware of.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 13 June 2012
Colour: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I gave this as really good testing whilst on holiday in the Trossachs in and around Loch Lomond and have used it on a few occasions since to record both indoor and outdoor shots. It's the first camcorder I've used in a while because if I've needed to shoot video lately I've been really lazy and just used my DSLR in HD movie mode - doing that also gives me a few more lens options.

I had a couple of gripes with the camcorder. I may be a bit ham-fisted, but I found the position of some of the buttons difficult to manipulate and ended up using my free hand to get things going and make adjustments. Also, unless you're pretty flexible in the wrist department where the camera strap is placed tilts the camera down and to the left unless you can get your hand fully through the camera strap. However, the inclusion of a touch sensitive LCD screen is an extremely useful addition and the iAuto mode is great for the lazy (me) making this virtually a point and shoot.

Other than that, I can't fault the camcorder in what it produces. It has shot good video in different light conditions from bright outdoor to lowlight indoor and I've not noticed any real drop in colour saturation or quality. The addition of an integrated USB is a nice touch as it stops me from having to mooch about a drawer full of USB cables to locate the right one when I need it. The extended zoom was smooth with very little loss of image quality on full digital zoom when played back through a 46" full HDTV.

My final gripe is you can't use this straight out of the box unless you've a spare memory card hanging about. Why can't manufacturers include one? A cheap one of their own would be enough, however to get the best out of any camcorder you really need a 45mb/s class 10 card like the SanDisk 32GB 45MB/s Extreme HD Video SDHC Card which is what I've been using in this since I got it.

Quibbles over memory cards excluded, this is still a good mid-range camcorder and one I would recommend.
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on 24 September 2012
I'm very impressed with this camcorder and I'd recommend it. The picture is superb in HD, and it's so easy to use.

I have downloaded and had a play with the (free of charge) Playmemories Home software. It offers some basic editting facilities (eg combining clips, cropping clips), and it's really easy to use. What I particularly like is the ease with which you can burn a DVD from your HD footage. You can select either "DVD-Video" which converts the HD footage to Standard Definition, and burns onto a standard DVD, playable in any DVD player (complete with menus and titles) - in Standard DVD definition of course. Alternatively, you can burn onto a DVD disk in "AVCHD" mode - which is only playable in a Blu-Ray player (or a PS3) - but in superb high-def. And crucuially, you don't need a Blu-Ray recorder drive in youe PC - it's all done on a DVD ! My PC only just meets the minimum spec stated, and it copes well with all of this (XP system with Service Pack 3). You can also upload your footage to Facebook or Youtube, and the format conversion is done automatically - very easy.

As for the camcorder itself, I am amazed how light is (even with battery attached), the screen is large and clear (NB: no viewfinder !), the zoom is fantastic, the image stabiliser works very well - an excellent purchase.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 2 May 2012
Colour: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
REVISED 8 June 2012 and 6 Jan 13 in the light of further experience.

I've spent a lot of time comparing the CX250E with my Panasonic SD90. It seems worth making the comparison instead of commenting on the CX250E in isolation. They are both about the same price although the SD90, being last year's model, is becoming cheaper. I see the key benefits of the Sony as:

* Compact and very light - 200g or a little over vs. almost 250g (without batteries/cards)
* Built-in stubby USB cable for charging and PC transfer
* Long telephoto reach ##
* Better at picking out a small subject against a big background, for focus, e.g. a bird on a feeder
* Easier to focus manually (just touch the subject)
* More reliable auto white balance - the Panasonic usually gets it right but is fooled occasionally

But the Panasonic is better in other respects:

* Superior image stabilisation (although the Sony's is very good) ###
* Auto LCD brightness ####
* Wider wide-angle - 28mm vs. almost 30mm (35mm camera equivalent)
* Movie light and flash (but weak and of limited value)
* Accessory shoe (cold) plus microphone input #####
* Basic editing software supplied

## I struggled to find out what "extended zoom" was. It seems the sensor has more pixels than the 1920×1080 required for 1080p. Using the extra pixels, the camcorder can "zoom" in without loss of quality. I assume Panasonic's "intelligent zoom" works in the same way. This is much superior to digital zoom which simply magnifies the image, creating bigger pixels and losing sharpness.

### You only really see the difference in stabilisation with long shots, and they both show similar amounts of movement - the difference is that the Panasonic's tends to be "floaty" where the Sony's is more jerky.

#### The Sony's LCD is fine even in bright light as long as you set high brightness manually; the issue is that you then have to remember to reduce the brightness later or waste power when shooting in lower light.

##### The specs on the Sony website say the CX250E has an accessory shoe but that is incorrect. To attach an external mic, video light or whatever, you'll have to buy a bracket to fix to the tripod bush. The website specs are wrong in other respects too, so don't rely on them.

IMAGE QUALITY

I took countless comparison shots - bright light, poor light, macro, telephoto - and considered image noise, sharpness, colour accuracy, etc. Overall, I couldn't choose between them except that the Sony had a smoother zoom action.

Interestingly, when comparing footage shot at the different AVCHD settings on the Sony, I struggled to see much difference between them. Even 1080p was little better. Unless you can see differences I missed, I'd suggest defaulting to Standard HQ and saving storage space on both camcorder and PC.

LCD

The Panasonic's auto-brightness worked well. But its user interface obscured too much of the scene being recorded, at times. The Sony was more accurate in showing what would appear on the TV screen when played back but, when playing back a clip on the LCD, it didn't show the length of the clip or the position within it.

AUDIO

It was hard to separate them. Both were reasonably sensitive, picking up little operating noise, and gave acceptably clear sound when played back. They picked up similar amounts of wind noise. The Sony has an option to prioritise voices over other sounds but I didn't try it. The Panasonic has an accessory shoe and microphone input - using an external mic should make a big improvement. One thing to beware of with the Sony: maybe it's just me, but I found I rubbed my thumb against the plastic around the stop/start button when operating it and the mic picked that up clearly.

INTERFACE

They have very different user interfaces and I had no real preference. Physical controls are similar but both use the touch screen for most functions and the layouts are completely different. I was pleased to find that both came with paper manuals but the Panasonic's was the better of the two, with 155 pages vs. 95, better quality paper and printing with more detailed information. The Panasonic has useful on-screen help for each feature in its menus.

SOFTWARE

The supplied Pansonic AE Writer software fulfils basic editing requirements; the Sony Play Memories software doesn't. Panasonic's lets you split/trim/move/delete/combine clips, add transitions and titles, and more. Its capabilities don't get close to those of my Sony Vegas editor but it's easy to use and is likely to satisfy the needs of casual users.

OTHER

The Sony has a few interesting tricks, some more gimmicky than others. Among the potentially useful ones are automatic scene selection (macro, portrait, snow, etc.) which worked better than Panasonic's, and highlight playback (movie containing short extracts from a set of clips).

CONCLUSION

The Sony CX250E is an excellent camcorder, producing terrific footage for its size, weight and price.
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on 14 September 2012
Purchased this video for a friend to use at my daughters wedding which was 2 weeks ago. A professional quote was £600 to take a video of the wedding etc.
Video produced excellent results and loads of footage for the married couple to go through and edit to make a special reminder of their wonderful day. Yes it needs someone
who is not the Mother of the Bride and potentially better than me operating the camera for such a special occasion, but since I haven't touched a video camera for at least 20 years then for such a special event, make sure you practice beforehand and edit the footage so you can see your mistakes.
I would certainly recommend this video it is small and compact and as an added bonus it takes photos as well.
Very pleased with purchase and it means I now have the camera for future events, when I have time to learn to be as good at videoing as my friend is - I gather moving the camera very slowly is part of the trick, but as they say practice makes perfect!
I also bought a small amazon video bag, 2 large memory cards, a spare battery and the various leads can can also be kept together in the bag.
No need to buy a separate battery charger as this can be charged up through the camera with the lead provided.
When I get time I will label the various leads to make life easier until I get used to what I have been supplied.
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on 11 January 2013
I have had this for only a month but so far I am thrilled with it. I spent literally hours researching which camera to buy and was put off this by the reviewer who visited Japan and found the low light abilaty to be poor. I ahve found the opposite - it videoed our Chrismas beautifully. HD so bery sharp and clear pictures. haven't tried pitch black moonlit scenes but, really, who si going to video these? Much much better than my previous tape-based recorder.

Lens cover possibly flimsy but time will tell. Having a shutter-type cover that opens and closes though is better than fiddling with a separate plactic lens cover and it avoids those awaful vidoes when you forget to take the cover off (less likely anyway with cameras like these that don't have a separate viewfinder).

The camera is very small and light (about hand sixe), though I suspect you can buy even smaller (shorter) ones. Not worth paying an extra £50 for 8GB or 16GB internal memory as you will need to buy a memory card anyway. I got a 32GB card for £20 and have not run out of space on it doing little clips while on holiday, for example.

Built in USB very useful - save fiddling and searching around for cables.
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on 12 July 2012
After much searching and thinking, reading and testing, I decided on the HDR-CX250E. It was a correct decision, as it really is a first class item.
Connecting to computer was very straight forward. Using the item is a dream, for it is so compact but very usable. Yes, full marks for this product.
I must also say that the service given by Amazon was extreemly good, no problems with packaging or delivery, the price was also the best. Thankyou.
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on 12 January 2013
I collected this camera just before going on holiday and have viewed the video today on a 55 inch HD TV. Very impressed with the quality of picture. I am not a well practiced user, but this camera was very intuitive and has delivered good results. I just need to read the manual to get more from it's array of features.
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