Measuring just 47x103x80mm and weighing 370g, Sony's DCRIP7E is a seriously small camcorder. It uses brand-new MicroMV tapes, 70 per cent smaller than conventional MiniDV but with the same cost and 60-minute capacity. MicroMV tapes use the more efficient MPEG-2 video compression system also used by DVD, but MicroMV uses a higher bit rate, with the potential to look better.
The IP7E features a fold-out 2.5in LCD, 10X optical zoom lens, analog AV inputs and outputs, and an iLink FireWire port. Sony supplies editing software for Windows but your PC will need FireWire ports, such as an Adaptec FireConnect 4300 card. Captured video occupies about 5.4GB an hour - half that of MiniDV.
The IP7E can also capture still images. The resolution is only 640x480, but this means 120 can be stored on the supplied 8MB Memory Stick. You can also use still images for special video effects.
The most surprising aspect is the built-in e-mail and Web software, which accesses the Internet via a Bluetooth connection. When we e-mailed photos using the IP7E and a Bluetooth mobile phone, each 100KB picture took two minutes to send. The browser may be basic and preparing e-mails is laborious, but the facilities really do work.
It's hard not to be impressed by the IP7E - it's tiny, and has great quality, amazing features and connectivity. Only Sony would think of putting Bluetooth in a camcorder. The future of digital camcorders starts here.
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