Sony has been showing off its soon-to-launch £649 Handycam HDR-TG3E – a flash memory-based digital camcorder it claims is the smallest in the world to offer 1,080i high-definition video capture.

The Sony Style Handycam HDR-TG3E is described as “the perfect partner for nights out or weekends away” (what on earth could they mean?) and, according to Sony’s product manager who gave us an exclusive demonstration last week, is aimed at the under 35s who like to party with friends and want a classy-looking, cachet camcorder on which to record their hijinks.

A solid-feeling Handycam, the HDR-TG3E is titanium-coated, making it scratchproof. It is slim enough to slip obtrusively into a pocket (or, more likely, to be produced on the sly for that classic embarrassing moment with which to taunt your mates forever more) but is a relatively hefty camcorder.

A 2.7in touchscreen LCD is used to preview what’s in shot and the Handycam can be powered on instantaneously. Sony’s Bionz processing engine enables users to shoot both digital still photos and take video footage simultaneously. This can be done at 2.3Mp photo resolution while still capturing footage in HD quality. In the separate stills mode, photos can be taken at up to 4Mp.

Uniquely, Sony Style believes, the HDR-TG3E is able to detect and track faces while filming – a feature found on digital cameras thus far, but not yet on camcorders.

In our hands-on demonstration, we were able to track faces the Handycam had automatically zeroed in on and, says Sony, the possibilities also extend to voice-tracking. The Handycam’s microphone detects where the main chatter is coming from and directs its recording efforts in the main subject’s direction, automatically cutting out background noise including that of the camcorder’s own zoom.

Up to eight faces can be recognised at once.

The optical zoom operates at up to 120x when used with the digital zoom function and the camcorder comes with seven scene presets including twilight and black and white, but there is no specific night shooting option. There is, however, an auto white exposure feature.

The Sony Handycam HDR-TG3E takes up to 16GB Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, Secure Digital and CompactFlash memory cards. Sony says up to an hour and 25 minutes of high-definition footage can be captured to a card of this capacity.

The Sony Handycam HDR-TG3E goes onsale from the end of April at the Sony Style online store, with a full retail rollout from early May. It is expected to cost in the region of £649.

Sony Handycam HDR-TG3E AVCHD camcorder

Sony Handycam HDR-TG3E AVCHD camcorder

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