LAS VEGAS--If the company's CES announcements are anything to go by, Sony doesn't seem to have gotten the message that camcorders are dying. While Canon has cut back its consumer and midrange line to about four products, Sony has introduced 10 models at the show ranging from its $250 entry-level model to a $1,500 everything-but-the-kitchen-sink model. Sony's also expanded its projector-camcorder lineup to six models from five last year, and the 3D model has gotten cheaper, but with only one (and a half) feature exception I don't see anything here that merits waiting for a 2013 model. That exception: several of the projector models now support pass-through HDMI so that they can double as generic pico projectors. Nice.
Sony is also rolling out an improved audio system to a few models, which should benefit you if you don't use an external mic -- though if you're doing any serious work you should use one -- and a couple more models get the Balanced Optical SteadyShot system that debuted last year. Sony now has a universal accessory shoe mount.
The new Advanced Sound System uses a new processor that the company claims delivers wider dynamic range and provides level controls.
Out of the new models, as usual only a few merit consideration. First is the cheapest, the $249 CX220, just because it's a good price for people who simply want a zoom lens and a quality upgrade from a phone. I'd probably skip the cheapest projector model, the $399 PJ230, simply because it's the only one that doesn't allow HDMI pass-through, and jump to the $599 PJ380 (the differences in price will be smaller once the products have shipped).
This year, all the models $700 and up include a projector; the $1,499 PJ790V gets it all, including a manual control dial, new onboard mic with advanced audio, and the brightest projector (up to 35 lumens) with pass-through.
Finally, the 3D model, the TD30V, drops to $999; Sony jettisoned the manual control dial and internal memory in order to make it more mass-market-friendly.
All the camcorders are slated to ship at various points in the first quarter of 2013.