Full HD point and shoot perfection?
Review The HDR-TG7VE could be seen as Sony's answer to cheap and cheerful camcorders like the Flip Mino HD. However, whereas the latter could be viewed as a bit of a toy, the TG7 is more of a proper camcorder - both when it comes to features and price.
Swift shooter: Sony's HDR-TG7VE
The TG7 is the successor to the TG3, which received an overall rating of 85 per cent when we looked at it last year. It keeps many of the features, such as the pistol grip design and 1080i HD resolution, but adds in some extras too, such as 16GB of internal memory and built in GPS. It also utilises a 1/5in Exmor CMOS sensor.
Sony has kept the titanium casing of the TG3, so it's very hard wearing, and slimmed it down by a millimetre or two in each dimension so it now measures 30 x 62 x 117mm and weighs in at 280g including battery.
The controls have also been simplified, so you'll only find two physical buttons on the TG7 - a large one up the top to start or stop recording and a smaller one to the left over the screen hinge to take photos. The only other control you'll find is a jog dial ring around the record button for zooming.
There isn't even a power switch - just flip up the LCD screen to switch it on and fold it away again when you've finished filming to shut it down. It's pretty quick to power up - you can start recording within four to five seconds of flipping out the screen.
Minimal controls simplify operation and styling
All other controls and operations are conducted via the 2.7in touchscreen display. Given the small size of the screen, there's not much room for onscreen buttons, but the interface largely compensates for this, so making selections isn't overly difficult.
"The raw .MTS files from your MemoryStick Micro/Pro can be copied directly to a DVD, renamed as .M2TS, and played at full resolution directly in your PS3"
But can this DVD be played on anything else other than a PS3/Sony device? Still fiddly: as have to rename the file.
"your PS3"..."your MemoryStick Micro/Pro":
Agree with @handle: too much proprietary lock-in Sony here, not enough versatile inter-operability between different products. Sounds like what I would hear at the local Sony Centre shop. Fine if you want to stick with all-Sony though.
Fact still remains: No complete simple chain of solution. Such a thing needs 1) the camera to record in 1080p at 24p in H.264 2) a standalone Blu-ray recorder to directly accept this from a memory card straight onto a standard Blu-ray recordable. Panasonic come close to this but use proprietary AVCHD like Sony do. Quite expensive too.
For the rest of us who want quick archiving from memory card to reasonably permanent robust Blu-ray rather than remaining on the more delicate, wipeable memory card (which we want to re-use anyway) there is the plethora of dreaded PC-based (or Mac or Linux) solutions. Fine if you are working on a masterpiece with editing tools at disposal but not if too busy to want to bother and need a quick simple archive solution. Fine if you want to wait for the tedious boot ceremony of a PC (etc.). Fine if its you that's doing it; not fine if it's your dear old technology challenged relatives that want to, unless you want all your free time consumed being their technical support. So they rushed this camera out without thinking of the whole picture - pardon the pun, just like many other manufacturers have. Some poor souls will buy it then face the burden of managing their precious recordings.
@Aaron10: thanks for explaining 1080i: So for 1080i at 60Hz this would mean field 1 is all the odd 540 lines displayed at once (1,3,5...1079), spaced out/interleaved by black blank lines where the evens would be (2,4,6...1080). Then frame 2 is all even lines displayed at once (2,4,6...1080) spaced out/interleaved with black blank lines where the odds would be (1,3,5...1079).
As with all interlaced standards, there will be a comb effect seen where there is motion, i.e. edges of moving objects will have a comb-like pattern due to the interleaving. This may or may not be noticeable depending on the scene, the recording equipment, the display, the distance of the view from the display, their vision.
As for 1080i "Should this standard die? Yes and no" Yes because it is clearly inferior to 1080p and incompatible with Blu-ray and no because we need to support legacy for a while yet perhaps.
@Aaron10: "your PS3"
Yep - more proprietary lock-in from Sony, just like the memory cards. And I'm another who won't buy anything Sony for that reason.
@Rob & James & author
1080i was created as a higher-resolution standard that older CRT-based HDTVs could display over component video cables. (1080p's bandwidth is too high for component video.) Should this standard die? Yes and no. Like James said, 1080i takes 1/2 the bandwidth of 1080p. However, calling it 540p is inaccurate -- 540p is 960x540. Each FIELD of video in 1080i is 1920x540, or double horizontally what 540p is.
Why isn't there a 720i standard? Because it's not in the HDTV broadcast standard.
The raw .MTS files from your MemoryStick Micro/Pro can be copied directly to a DVD, renamed as .M2TS, and played at full resolution directly in your PS3, or if your PS3 has a memory card reader (or you connect one), the PS3 will play the video files directly from the card. There are also free/shareware programs to burn Blu-ray ready discs onto DVDs at full HD resolutions.