Camcorder manufacturers are jumping head over heals to produce small camcorders, aiming for the Holy Grail of the device you can keep always about your person, ready to capture any occasion. Sony claims the HDR-TG3 is the smallest, lightest Full HD camcorder in the world.
Thanks to its use of flash memory, the TG3 is just 119mm tall, 63mm deep, and a mere 32mm thick. It's still a little heavy for a trouser pocket, at 240g plus battery, but with Sony's usual solid build, regular jacket residence wouldn't be out of the question.
Most of Sony's high definition camcorders use a CMOS sensor of around 1/3in in size. But to enable its miniature proportions, the TG3 relies on a smaller 1/5in sensor, with 2.36-megapixels. This ClearVid CMOS sensor is assisted by Sony's BIONZ image processor, about which very little information is available. Sony claims the TG3 captures Full HD, and its top AVCHD quality mode records at 1,920 x 1,080.
However, only 1.43-megapixels of the CMOS sensor are actually used to capture video, which means the recording resolution is interpolated to be 1,920 x 1,080. Sony adds a small amount of interpolation for digital photography, too. The TG3 offers 2,304 x 1,296 pixel stills in 16 x 9 mode, and 2,304 x 1,728 pixel stills in 4 x 3, which is good enough for the occasional snap.
A plethora of recording modes are available. The top 1,920 x 1,080 FH quality mode uses a healthy 16Mbits/sec data rate, almost as much as Canon's HF10 and Panasonic's HDC-SD9. The other HD modes only record at 1,440 x 1,080, with 9Mbits/sec, 7Mbits/sec and 5Mbits/sec data rates available. It's also possible to record in SD resolution (720 x 576) at 3, 6 or 9Mbits/sec. The TG3 captures to Memory Stick Pro Duo, with a 4GB piece of media supplied in the box. But that's only enough for half an hour of footage in FH mode. One thing the TG3 doesn't offer is progressive video. Even the Full HD setting uses interlacing.