Review: Sony HDR-PJ10 Handycam

By Paolo Toledo

Ever had those moments when you found yourself coming up with a cool gadget idea that combines two or more things?

Enter the ultra-cool Sony HDR-PJ10 Handycam. It’s a compact HD camcorder with its own built-in projector. It is ergonomically sound, making it a comfortable fit in your hand in terms of its design and weight, with all buttons and straps well-placed for an overall sleek exterior. Our once wild dreams are now real enough to touch.

Having your own projector fitted into your recording device is as useful and as fun to use as it sounds. The HDR-PJ10 allows you not only to record all your memories in 1920×1080/60p Full HD video, but it also lets you playback all your movies and images on any surface via a high-contrast projector, neatly snuggled to the LCD flip-panel. I had fun recording videos with friends and family, and playing them back on various surfaces (i.e. walls, ceilings, backs of other people) for all to enjoy in an instant.

The projected image itself is surprisingly stunning, crisp and sharp. The projector can flash up to as much as a 60-inch diagonal screen, so all you have to do is find a surface to project on and—coupled with advanced Clear Phase stereo speakers—you have an instant mobile theater on hand to amaze any audience.

Boasting resolutions at 1920×1080 and full HD 60p, picture quality is brilliant as any HD camcorder out there. Its wide angle G lens delivers quality optical performance, color reproduction, and amazingly detailed images—all with an enhanced framing area that eliminates cropping out images on the fringe. Also equipped with 29.8mm focal length, you get a broad enough view for wide-angle shooting, and combined with Sony’s trademark Optical SteadyShot, you can still get clean video shots, especially during active outdoor situations.

My slight gripe with the PJ-10’s imaging capabilities is that still photos are only captured in 3-megapixels. It would have been a delight to also get high-quality photos at the same time to make this device the perfect all-around recording (and playback) gadget but of course, something always has to give.

But one thing I really appreciated was the embedded 16GB flash memory. This addressed my worry about HD video storage since it really will take up huge amounts of space. But with this internal memory size, you can actually record up to 6-hours of HD video footage without even using the memory card slot. The device also has a nice add-on in the form of a built-in USB cable that connects directly to your PC, and is nicely inserted into the hand strap to avoid getting in the way.

In terms of display, the 3.0-inch touchscreeen Clear Photo LCD also delivers the same sharp and clear images onscreen, although I did find response time with a bit of a lag when selecting options, and sometimes the interface of the features menu was rather tedious to go through. This was especially a bother when navigating while on projector mode since you had to toggle the zoom button a number of times just to get to one option, choose another video, or even to clear the display.

The HDR-PJ10 also offers a wide range of shooting modes that stem from the Intelligent Auto mode, as it analyzes your shot and selects settings from 10 different scenes: Landscape, Backlight, Twilight, Spotlight, Low Light, Macro, Portrait, Baby, Walk and Tripod—making you end up with as many as 90 possible setting combinations. Added to this are the slow-motion capture features of Smooth Slow Record, and the Golf Shot that captures a few seconds of motion as a sequence of up to 22 still images (stop-motion style).

In conclusion, the Sony HDR-PJ10 is just one exciting and high-performance gadget because not only does it shoot brilliant HD video, but it also has a high-contrast projector built into the device itself.

TYPE: Digital Video Camera Recorder (1920 x 1080; Full HD 60p) with Projector
DIMENSIONS: 58.5mm x 64.5mm x128mm
WEIGHT: 12.9 oz (w/battery)
STABILIZATION: Optical SteadyShot Image stabilization w/Active mode
ZOOM: 30x (optical)/350x (digital)/42x (extended)
IMAGING SENSOR: 4.5mm Back-illuminated “Exmor R” CMOS
BATTERY LIFE: Approx. 1.5 hours
DISPLAY: 3.0” Touch-Screen Clear Photo LCD PLUS (230K)
FLASH: Built-in Flash
HD OUTPUT : HDMI Out (mini)/Component Video Out (Component A/V cable)
PROJECTOR RESOLUTION: 640 x 360 (10” – 60” screen)
EXTERNAL MEMORY: Memory Stick PRO Duo (Mark 2); Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo; SD/ SDHC/ SDXC Memory Card (Class 4 or Higher)

What’s Hot:
• Built-in high-contrast projector
• Captures 1920 x 1080 Full HD 60p video
• 16GB internal memory (up to 6 hours video)
• Built-in USB cable
• Sleek and efficient design

What’s Not:
• Only captures 3-megapixel photos
• Menu gets tedious to work (in projector mode)
• No viewfinder

The Sony HDR-PJ10 with built-in projector is an incredible all-in-one high-performance recording and projection system that delivers stunning HD videos and images, packed with features, and very easy to handle. It’s at top of its class in terms of feature and design at this price point.

Buy Meter: 9.0

[This review originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Gadgets Magazine]