Though it's not quite a year since Sony announced the HDR-CX12 flash-memory-based AVCHD camcorder, it looks like it's time for a replacement. With a six month lag behind their hard-drive based siblings, the HDR-XR500V and HDR-XR520V, the HDR-CX500V, and the HDR-CX520V promise some much-needed enhancements over their solid-but-flawed brothers.
The two models, which differ only by built-in memory--the 500V has 32GB while the 520V includes 64GB--use the same Exmor-R back-illuminated sensor and G-series 12X zoom lens as the XR versions, so we expect them to deliver the same high-quality video, and both retain the novelty geotagging capability for video and new Active SteadyShot image stabilization for use while walking. For the newer models, Sony has made some much-needed improvements to the user interface, as well as added another axis (roll) of electronic image stabilization. The CX500V/CX520V retain a manual control dial, although it's in the back of the unit rather than on the lens barrel. Other enhancements: Face Touch for face detection, the capability to upconvert to 60p playback when connected to a TV via HDMI and in-camcorder downconverting to MPEG-2 (for direct-to-DVD transfers).
While these flash models retain most of the capabilities of the hard drive versions, Sony did jettison the EVF. Grrr. Their main competitors, the Canon Vixia HF S10 and HF S100, don't have EVFs either, but that doesn't mean we have to like them. The HDR-CX500V and HDR-CX520V are slated to ship in September for $1,099 and $1,299, respectively.