Compact and feature packed

These days, it seems the major camcorder manufacturers are competing to cram the most features into the smallest package. Sony joins this battle with a model almost small enough to fit into your back pocket.

Although feature-packed, comfort could be an issue - crucial in the quest for high quality video.

During testing, the camcorder sat uncomfortably in the hands of several people, all of different proportions, and we found the major problem to be the cumbersome hand strap. This strap also doubles as a wrist strap, freeing up the body of the camcorder for your whole hand to grip - but your fingers will still struggle to find any sweet spots. Also reducing ease of use is a manual switch for the built-in lens cover. Before recording, you must open the cover by flipping a small switch located next to the lens. More than once we found we'd forgotten to do this and missed the moment.

The PC108E is hard to beat on features, including the outstanding inclusion of a docking station. Once docked, all the major data connections (USB, FireWire/i-Link, S-Video and A/V) are available, and the battery is also recharged through the same interface.

A quality Carl Zeiss (10x Optical, 120x digital zoom) lens works alongside a 0.8Mp CCD to capture accurate, dynamic bright movies and 640x480 still images to the Memory Stick Duo option. White balance response was particularly impressive on outdoor shoots. The 2.5in LCD screen also doubles as a touch-sensitive input for the easy-to-use 3D menu system.

Overall, you get all the features you'd expect to find of a late-model camcorder, but make sure you test its handling before taking one home.

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Doug Griffiths

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