JVC may have pioneered hard disk-based camcorders for consumers, but Sony is now competing at full strength, with an even more substantial range of alternatives for both standard and high definition. The DCR-SR72E sits in the middle of the five standard definition hard disk-based camcorders Sony currently has available in the UK. Despite being really quite small, it still packs a 60GB hard disk on board, so has plenty of potential for the holiday-bound videomaker. But how does it fare against other HDD-based camcorders, and other formats?
The SR72E is top of a trio of similar models, with the SR32E and SR52E beneath it, both of which only offer 30GB hard disks. The CMOS-based SR190E and 290E are aimed at a more premium market, with many more features. But before we delve deeper into the specifications the SR72E has in common with its lesser siblings, let's pause to consider the primary feature which sets it apart - that 60GB hard disk. With AVCHD, this capacity would have been merely adequate, but for a camcorder recording MPEG-2 in standard definition (SD), it's very capacious indeed.
Even at the top HQ quality setting, you can record 880 minutes of video before having to clear out old clips. That's 14 hours and 40 minutes of footage - more than most people will shoot even on quite a long holiday. Choose the lowest quality setting and the duration burgeons to over 41 hours. So if you need to record an entire Le Mans 24-hour endurance race non-stop with space to spare, the SR72E is the camcorder to choose.
In other respects, though, the SR72E is very much an entry-level device, and shares a lot with the cheaper SR52E. The CCD has the same 1.07 megapixel resolution (the SR32E's is 800 kilopixel), and it's only a 1/6in unit, which is about as tiny as they come in camcorders. A smaller sensor has a detrimental effect on low light performance, as its pixels are physically smaller so won't pick up the same intensity. With just a single megapixel, the SR72E's maximum still image size is only 1,152 x 864, too, which is far away from even budget digital cameras these days.