As it inevitably had to do, Sony today announced the flash-memory version of its HDR-SR11 hard-disk-based HD camcorder, replacing the older CX7. A tad smaller than the CX7 by one or two tenths of an inch in every dimension, it uses the same 12x zoom lens and 5.6-megapixel ClearVid CMOS sensor that drives the SR11 (and its line mates, the SR10 and SR12). Since it's smaller than the SR models, it uses the same 2.7-inch LCD as its predecessor.
Going head-to-head with Canon's HF10, the HF10 still looks like a slightly better deal based on specs alone. It's very similar--both are SD-based models which produce 1920x1080 AVCHD video from approximately 1/3-inch sensors, though the HF10's is lower 3.3-megapixel resolution, and sport 12x zoom lenses. But for the same $900 Sony plans to charge for the CX12, Canon includes 16GB built-in memory for the HF10 while Sony plans to bundle a smaller 4GB Memory Stick Duo Pro Mark2. The actual street price may be cheaper, of course.
According to Sony, the CX12 will be able to record 25 minutes of highest-quality HD video (16 megabits per second) on the 4GB card. Unfortunately, it will still come with the inadequate (and horribly named) Picture Motion Browser software rather than a real video-editing application, like Sony's own Vegas Video Movie Studio. You can have a party trying to find your own real editing application for the AVCHD files.
Though it doesn't sound like there's much new in its video capabilities, Sony has added its Smile Shutter technology, which pauses shooting until it detects the appropriate rictus, and child- and adult-prioritization from its Cyber-shot models, to the camcorder's still photo features.
Sony expects to start preorders on June 20 and to ship the camcorder in the beginning of August for $900.