- Small and attractive design, 30GB hard drive, very user-friendly, 40x optical zoom.
- Only 0.68 megapixels, camera is too light, poor stills mode.
If you are willing to forgive the sub par visuals, the DCR-SR42E is a pretty decent camera; especially for inexperienced users. However, there are plenty of similarly priced non-HDD cameras on the market that will give you a superior performance.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
The Sony DCR-SR42E is an affordably priced hard disk-based handycam, offering 30GB of video storage for under $1000. Although budget shoppers are sure to appreciate the user-friendly HDD technology, the camera's image quality leaves a lot to be desired. Simply put, it falls below the high standards we've come to expect from Sony and the unit is noticeably short on additional features too. Nevertheless, it remains a reasonable option for those who want an entry-level HDD camera that will do the basics.
One of the most striking features of the DCR-SR42E is its miniature size. Anyone that prefers their gadgets to be small and cute will fall in love with the ultra-compact design, which manages to house a 2.5in touch-screen display within its 73mm x 72mm x 109 mm frame. Unfortunately, this also proves to be one of the camera's main drawbacks - at less than half a kilogram, the unit is incredibly hard to keep steady whilst shooting, especially at higher zoom magnifications. This renders the powerful 40x optical zoom practically useless without a tripod or similar apparatus to keep the unit steady. On the other hand, it does make the camera a lot easier to carry around, and your arms are unlikely to tire during lengthy shoots. Bear in mind however, that your footage will probably look a little shaky and amateurish until you get used to its flimsy design.
We should also point out that there is no viewfinder on this camera; the only way to monitor your footage while shooting is via the touch screen display. This can occasionally prove frustrating, for example in sunny conditions when the screen is difficult to see, or when running low on battery life (LCD screens drain power a lot quicker than using a viewfinder.) Another notable omission is an external microphone jack, which leaves you stuck with the camera's modestly sized front-mounted microphone. Although it does a fairly good job of capturing clear audio, we experienced some wind interference during outdoor testing.
The DCR-SR42E's 30GB hard drive is capable of capturing between 7hrs 20min and 20 hrs 50 min of MPEG-2 video, depending on the quality selected. However, even at its highest setting of 9MB per second, the results remain average at best. With a resolution of just 680,000 pixels, it is ill-equipped to compete with other handycam formats in this price range which tend to exceed one million (the Canon DC22, for example, has a resolution of 2.0 MP). In our test footage, images weren't particularly crisp and suffered from dull, unsaturated colours. We were even less enthused by the obligatory stills mode. Although camcorders are rarely strong in this department, the DCR-SR42E is especially poor, producing grainy, undefined pictures that fail to impress even on the tiny display. Frankly, the stills mode on this camera is best ignored entirely; your mobile phone is likely to produce better results.
In most other areas, the DCR-SR42E offers a solid experience comparable to the pricier models in Sony's HDD range. The touch screen controls are responsive and user-friendly, allowing first-time users to confidentially cycle through different modes and functions without needing to consult the manual. The inclusion of a prominently marked 'easy' button is especially handy for technically inexperienced people, as you don't need to search through menus to select it. This makes the camera a good choice for children, the elderly, and anyone who prefers to just point and shoot with minimum hassle. More tech savvy people however will appreciate the inclusion of the usual array of handycam features, such as manual focus (via the touch screen), four white balance settings (indoor, outdoor, auto and one push), night mode, 2000x digital zoom and a handful of effects and transitions. While the majority of these features do their job well, we found the night mode to be something of a disappointment, producing flat, monochrome images that are grainy and unevenly lit.
Similar to Sony's other hard disk-based handycams, the DCR-SR42E comes packaged with a docking station which doubles as a battery charger and data transferring device; allowing you to transport your files to a TV or computer for viewing and editing purposes. Making DVDs of your video footage is a simple procedure thanks to the one-touch DVD burning software, which again, had been tailor-made for novice users.
When it comes down to it, the DCR-SR42E is best suited to casual users who are determined to own a hard disk-based handycam despite having a limited budget. Everyone else should either stick to mini DV, or be willing to spend a few hundred dollars more.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 HTC U11 phone: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Gigabyte Aero 15 corporate gaming laptop review
- 3 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 4 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 5 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft's Beam becomes Mixer, adds four person split-screen streaming to battle Twitch
- Microsoft's Story Remix uses machine learning and mixed reality to make your movies awesome
- New IoT malware targets 100,000 IP cameras via known flaw
- Twitter will stream video news from Bloomberg all day, every day
- Facebook launches tool for capturing 360 video inside VR
PCW Evaluation Team
The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.
Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
- MSI GL62M 7RDX gaming laptop review
- Alcatel A3 XL phone: Full, in-depth review
- Sony X9300E 2017 TV: Full, in-depth review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTUX UI DesignerACT
- CCSenior Automation Test AnalystVIC
- FTOffice & Operations AdministratorNSW
- FTDesktop EngineerOther
- CCTechnical Product ManagerQLD
- TPProcurement Specialist - ITQLD
- CCJunior Resource AnalystNSW
- FTBusiness Analyst - RetailOther
- FTSolution Architect - SecurityVIC
- FTPresales Solution Architect - NetworksVIC
- CCSystems Specialist - Linux / Windows / Network l Port MacquarieNSW
- FTSenior Systems EngineerOther
- PTPart-time Cisco EngineerWA
- FTSenior PHP Developer/Team LeaderNSW
- FTLead Android DeveloperOther
- FTSenior Business Analyst - MAXIMO Asset ManagementOther
- FTFront End Developer (Mid-Level)Other
- FTProject Implementation ManagerOther
- FTTest ManagerACT
- TP.Net Developer - Australian Government ICT ContractorACT
- FTSenior Business Analyst - Siebel - Canberra / MelbourneOther
- TPDigital Business Analyst - AgileQLD
- FTSales Client Services Manager (Mid-market)QLD
- CCPMO AdministratorVIC
- FTSenior Program AnalystOther