With its relatively small sensor, the CX105E is unlikely to vie with the company's premium models such as the HDR-XR520 for image quality. But it still does better than would be expected for a 1/5in CMOS sensor. This sits in between Panasonic's latest budget HD models, such as the HDC-SD20 with its 1/6in CMOS, and Canon's LEGRIA HF20, which sports a larger 1/4in unit.
However, Sony's Exmor technology has clearly managed to work its magic once more, producing superior low light performance than usual for a sensor this size. The image is brighter than the Panasonic and Canon competition, and also an improvement over JVC's Everio GZ-HD300. That said, there is considerable noise which obscures detail, so it's far from a perfect image. Nevertheless, for a camcorder this size the CX105E provides the video quality necessary in that all-important environment: poorly lit rooms.
In brighter conditions, the quality is even less distinguishable from higher-end models. Close inspection will reveal slightly less fine detail than the top models, as the CMOS only uses 1.4-megapixels of its 2.3-megapixels when shooting video, which isn't quite enough for the 2.07-megapixels required for Full HD. But the image is still very sharp, and colours have Sony's characteristic saturation. So they're faithful, but with the emphasis on vibrancy more than absolute accuracy.
The Sony HDR-CX105E doesn't have the gobsmacking excitement of the HDR-TG3. It's not quite so small and although light, its form factor will mean it doesn't slip so easily into the pocket, unless you're wearing Barbour. But it does offer even better image quality, and will hardly be a pain to pop in your bag.
The icing on the cake is that, unlike many of the camcorders we've seen this year, this one doesn't arrive at a noticeably higher price than previous models. In fact, for under £440, it's good value even by 2008 standards. It may not have many or any features for the enthusiast, but if all you're after is an easily portable camcorder that shoots high quality HD video, the CX105E fits the bill very nicely indeed.