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This time last year, Sony impressed us greatly with the unfeasibly tiny HDR-TG3, and it still stands up as a classic piece of design. There have been smaller camcorders since it arrived which claim to shoot HD, but the TG3 remains the real deal - a true HD camcorder in a slim format you could easily fit in a pocket. But technology marches forward ceaselessly, and now Sony has launched another unfeasibly dinky HD camcorder. The HDR-CX105E has a more conventional form factor, but is still impressively dimensioned.
The CX105E is bigger than the TG3. Although it's only 40g heavier, the chassis is almost twice as thick. Nevertheless, the sub-300g weight could hardly be described as portly, and it remains one of the smallest 'Full HD' (interpolated) models on the market. You just won't be able to slip it into a jacket pocket without making your chest look lumpy.
Like the TG3, the CX105E relies on a 1/5in CMOS sensor, but this time it uses Sony's Exmor sensor technology rather than ClearVid. Exmor places the wiring behind the photo diodes, theoretically providing more usable area and greater sensitivity. Our first experience of this in a consumer camcorder, the HDR-XR520, impressed us considerably. That model uses a larger sensor, but Exmor has even more potential for less well endowed units, where low light performance needs all the help it can get.
The CX105E also incorporates 8GB of flash memory. However, this is really only enough to get you started, as it will store a mere hour of footage at the top AVCHD data rate of 16Mbits/sec. Sony also provides a slot for expansion, but naturally this is the company's proprietary MemoryStick format, which in this case is of the Pro Duo variety. This is a little more expensive than SDHC, but not heinously so. An extra 8GB in this format will set you back about £25.