Sony's new HDR-TG5V takes the palm-held digital camcorder category to the pinnacle of the technology. The device is heralded as both the world's smallest and lightest in its class. Undoubtedly, it's a fabulous camcorder, but it comes at a fabulously high cost.
For $1,200 you get a very tiny device (just 32 x 63 x 119 millimeters) with an optically-stabilized Zeiss lens at 10x zoom and a 2.7-inch LCD screen. It records in full 1080i high-definition resolution video onto its built-in 16GB memory—that's about 2 hours of high-definition footage. There's also the usual range of digital still camera tricks like smile detection for 5-megapixel still imagery. Plus it features built-in GPS capability for live geotagging of your data. As an added bonus, there's built-in map data for North America, Europe, Oceania, and Japan—though the device doesn't actually offer "proper" turn by turn GPS navigation it does at least allow you to situate yourself, which may make this device incredibly useful for outdoorsy-types. Just don't think about using it while skiing, as it's not weatherproof as some other cameras are, like Sanyo's similarly-shaped Xacti range.
Impressive camera, to say the least, but has Sony created this expensively small gadget for the wrong reasons and at the wrong time when people are cutting back on spending? For its $1,200 price you can certainly find other high-definition palmcorders. And with the launch of Canon's T1i, the newest entry-level DSLR last week, you can get a fully capable digital still camera system with proper interchangeable lenses and 1080p video recording for only $900. Add in an extra hundred or so and you can get one of those portable GPS geotagging solutions, and still come in $200 less than the TG5V. All you're sacrificing is the convenience of the smallest palmcorder in the world.
Note: While this camera's labeled the TG5V for Japan, it may have a different label overseas—TG7VE in Europe, for example. It would be nice if Sony kept its labeling in order!