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92 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Ultra-Portable Camcorder
This is a great little camcorder. It feels sturdy, is lightweight, and I can hold it in one hand securely. The video is also quite excellent.
I was debating whether to buy this or one of the Canon ZRs. Even though I was not sure if I would be shooting a lot indoors or not, I like knowing that I can, especially with the Sony's infrared light. The reduced zoom...
Published on May 1, 2004 by Bobby Kwan

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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There is a serious battery drain problem with entire line!
I've had my HC20 camcorder for a little over 6 months (just past the extended warranty from my Visa card! Darn it!). Just the other day, I noticed that my camera was dead even though I charged the battery completely just 2 days earlier. So I charged it again last night and it was fully charged and fine. This morning, I turn it on and it has only 8 minutes of recording...
Published on December 4, 2004 by Disappointed Sony customer


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92 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Ultra-Portable Camcorder, May 1, 2004
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony DCRHC20 MiniDV Digital Handycam Camcorder w/10x Optical Zoom (Electronics)
This is a great little camcorder. It feels sturdy, is lightweight, and I can hold it in one hand securely. The video is also quite excellent.
I was debating whether to buy this or one of the Canon ZRs. Even though I was not sure if I would be shooting a lot indoors or not, I like knowing that I can, especially with the Sony's infrared light. The reduced zoom compared to the Canons was a minor issue for me, but I thought that the improved low-light quality of the Sony compensated for it.
The touch screen only functionality of this cam took some getting used to, but as this was my first camcorder, I was not used to any other system. It does not appear that LCD-only buttons is a major drawback, and in fact, I got used to it quite quickly. Also, I can appreciate that there are fewer buttons on the body itself to add to a cluttered appearance.
The built-in lens cover is quite nice as there is no losing it, and also, I think, could be useful for quick manual transitions when shooting.
The camera itself is very compact, and slim. About 2" thick, I can slip this baby into my pocket and go, albiet, large pocket, but it's still amazingly small.
The zoom is very rapid, and the rocker allows variable-speed zooms.
The photo function is nice to have, but I wish that the 7-second audio with each picture was variable, or could be turned off altogether, but as with all camcorders, the photo function is just a nicety, and serious photos should be taken with a real camera, not a video camcorder.
All in all, this is a great miniDV camcorder. I have no basis for reference as this is my first, but I love it, and have no regrets in spending $460 of my limited college-student budget =) on this. I recall three years ago my friend and I were making a film for science class with his hi-8 camcorder, especially the pain of having to manually control a VCR to tranfer the film onto a regular VHS tape. But no more, with miniDV, I can edit and output a film in just a few minutes. WIth the help of a firewire cord (sold separately), on the first day I was able to import the film onto my computer and make a short film clip using Windows Movie Maker. It worked beautifully, so I didn't bother installing the software that came with the cam, since I've heard that it is useless.
PROS:
Lightweight and compact
Excellent film quality
Infrared Lamp
Bright, functional LCD
MINOR CONS:
Constrained still-photo function
Relatively short zoom
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Camera for size, quality and price, December 9, 2004
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony DCRHC20 MiniDV Digital Handycam Camcorder w/10x Optical Zoom (Electronics)
In my pursuit of the perfect camera, at the right price, I spent way too long pouring over online reviews, Consumer Reports articles and digital camera magazines. After a couple of weeks of labor (which included actually going out to the local stores and getting a "feel" for each camera -- a practice I highly recommend before purchase) the Sony DCR-HC20 came out on top of the rest by a full head.

Forget any of the complaints you might have read about the 7 sec delay on still shots: camcorders shouldn't be used for real photos anyway and any half-decent editing software comes with the ability to save still images straight from your footage. Also forget any complaints you might have heard about the bundled editing software: yes, it's nearly useless but again the basic software your home computer likely shipped with is all you will need to start putting together beautiful home-movies yourself (just don't forget you'll need to buy a fire-wire seperately).

The bottom line is this camera is about as light, sleek and easy to use as they come and the manufacturer was able to pack a heck of a camera into the small unit because they didn't waste time on unecessary extras like high resolution still photo shooting and the like. If you're looking for the highest quality and most user friendly camera you can find under $500, then this is the camera for you. Period. I know this sounds like a sales pitch but the truth is I'd just like to save any of you like-minded consumers out there a little bit of time and let you know the camera that perfectly fit my bill: home-movies, amateur film shorts and family documents all on an extremely doable budget.

Enjoy!

(p.s. -- in case you don't want to take my word for it: the HC20 is, by far and away, the highest rated camcorder under $500 and the ONLY recommended buy of the current Mini-DV line...)
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DCRHC20, A great camcorder, and a great value, May 22, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Sony DCRHC20 MiniDV Digital Handycam Camcorder w/10x Optical Zoom (Electronics)
I received my Sony DCRHC20 Handycam a couple of days ago, and it is everything if not more than I expected. I needed a relatively inexpensive, compact, digital camcorder. The HC20 is one of the smallest Mini DV format camcorders to hit the market this year. It also comes with a price tag comperable to other Mini DV camcorders that are considerably larger at $499. Here are the pros and cons:
Pros:
-Small size
-Built in lens cap so you never again pick up the sound of the lens cap hitting the side of the camera.
-Record Button on the LCD screen is a nice touch
-Touch Screen LCD provides a sleeker, less cluttered look to the camcorder, and as a PDA user, I got used to the screen very very quickly.
-Remote Control is great! I use it to review tape in playback mode. It could also be great for taking group shots at a family reunion or something where you want to be in the photo.
-One thing I never saw online while shopping for camcorders is that this model comes with two really unique modes. One allows the camcorder to take time lapse video and the other takes 6 frames of video every time you press record allowing you to do stop motion animation (The type of animation used to do claymation like Gumby or Wallace and Grommit).
Cons:
-No anchors for a shoulder strap. If you want to carry it around a theme park or something you need a case. However this ins't a major problem due to it's small size.
-It doesn't come with a firewire cable. This also isn't a major deal because you can just use the supplied USB. I have seen ALOT of reviewers say you have to have a firewire etc. YOU DO NOT NEED A FIREWIRE TO IMPORT TO A PC. YOU CAN DO IT WITH THE USB. I do not reccomend using the hideous software provided by Sony, but I hooked up the USB, installed the drivers and I was importing into Adobe Premiere within 10 minutes.
As for a case to keep it all in. I bought a Lowepro EX 120 camcorder case, and it fits the camcorder, remote, 2 tapes, and charger unit perfectly. It could hold a spare battery too. Just in case anybody is looking for a good case for their purchace, it was about $20.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There is a serious battery drain problem with entire line!, December 4, 2004
This review is from: Sony DCRHC20 MiniDV Digital Handycam Camcorder w/10x Optical Zoom (Electronics)
I've had my HC20 camcorder for a little over 6 months (just past the extended warranty from my Visa card! Darn it!). Just the other day, I noticed that my camera was dead even though I charged the battery completely just 2 days earlier. So I charged it again last night and it was fully charged and fine. This morning, I turn it on and it has only 8 minutes of recording time left! And I noticed the Camera lamplight is flashing green, which I never noticed before. I asked Sony about it and they don't know what I'm talking about. But from reading other discussion groups, it appears the flashing light is slowly draining my battery life. (See [...])

Sony claims they have no record of this problem and suggests I pay the $216 to get it sent and "factory reset" by sending it their technicians. I was surprised they have never heard of this problem despite what I've read in forums about the HC40 and HC20 with this problem. How can they expect us to pay almost 50% of the price of the camera for a problem that seems to be inherent in their technology.

This is ridiculous. I have a Sony PDA and digital camera as well. But these will be my last Sony products I buy!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my new best friend, May 27, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Sony DCRHC20 MiniDV Digital Handycam Camcorder w/10x Optical Zoom (Electronics)
i picked up one of these 2 days after they hit the stores and i'm really happy with it. my intention was to buy an older floor model--i didn't realize these were even out yet-- but the second i picked this one up it blew the competition away. it's very intuitive, which is great for lazy people like me who can't be bothered to read manuals.
when i bought it i was really worried about lighting indoors and motor noise which are often reported problem with so many video cameras. since i bought the camera to record acting monologues this could have been a deal breaker but all i need is an adequately lit room, i haven't heard any motor noise. it's also been a trooper at graduations and other more usual camcorder duties. if you buy one you're gonna get a lot of envious stares and more than a few questions so be prepared.
i can't imagine there's a better deal unless something earth shattering has been released since february. i'm happy with the battery life, it feels solidly made. the only cons are that 1) the still photos aren't that great but they're good enough in a pinch and 2) the zoom is sensitive and takes some getting used to. i'd but another one in a second, it was worth every cent.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Like the Camera, but not SONY. Beware of Battery Drain, December 28, 2004
This review is from: Sony DCRHC20 MiniDV Digital Handycam Camcorder w/10x Optical Zoom (Electronics)
I purchased the HC-40 about 4 months ago. It is a very nice compact camera, great quality pics/videos. However, I too have battery drain problems. Camera won't charge batteries, and the ones I charge in the optional charger I bought are dead within a day (when left in the camera and the camera is turned off). Sony refuses to acknowledge that they are aware of the problem and they say I have to pay $216 for labor since I am past the 3 month labor warranty. Again a nice camera, too bad it is made by a company who won't stand behind their product. Either buy the extended warranty, or sock away an extra $216 for repair, or just save yourself the headache and BUY ANOTHER CAMERA.

UPDATE. Sony has waived the $216 repair costs. Still you may wish to consider buying the extended warranty when your buy this camera.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for a beginner, May 24, 2004
By 
"marcuselmore" (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sony DCRHC20 MiniDV Digital Handycam Camcorder w/10x Optical Zoom (Electronics)
I bought this camera for my sister -- she had no camcorder experience. This camera is designed with that customer in mind, although it also has features that appeal to the amateur cinematographer. Perhaps the best feature is the hybrid touch-screen LCD. Instead of clustering a hopelessly confusing array of buttons next to the LCD (where you can't see them) Sony made the LCD viewscreen touch-sensitive. Depending on what you're doing (play/record) there are different options on the screen to touch. This is not only good for beginners, but also extremely convenient for people who are experienced. Additionally, Sony made the camcorder super-easy to turn on and record- press the "on" button once for record, twice for play. Other manufacturers have an assortment of little icons on a miniature wheel you have to turn to select functions. This makes it difficult (especially at night) to see what you're selecting. No such problem. In fact, there are only 6 buttons on the whole camcorder. And if this elegantly simple design isn't enough for grandma to use the camcorder, Sony thoughtfully included an "Easy" button. This button enlarges all the text on the screen ("Play", "Battery life", etc.) so that people who have poor eyesite can use the device with ease. In making it easy to operate, Sony didn't nix all the features that amateurs moviemakers want, though. The camera still has a Program AE mode, full manual focus control (via touchscreen buttons) and NightShot Plus for filming in complete darkness. It also has a built in lens cover- a nice feature, as many other camcorders have a snap off cover, resulting in a clicking noise as it slaps against the side of the unit while you record Little League games. Picture quality is good, and the camera does a good job adjusting between lighting and motion situations. Color is particularly well saturated for a camera in this price range. Overall I would say this product is extremely well designed, easy to use, and provides satisfactory picture quality (above average for the pricepoint). I would recommend it to any family as a good choice for family movies.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Received this camcorder yesterday., February 26, 2004
By 
Leonard (New York, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sony DCRHC20 MiniDV Digital Handycam Camcorder w/10x Optical Zoom (Electronics)
This camcorder is very small, light and cute. I tested it in my apartment in regular light. The picture was a little bit grainy, but not too much. Would llke to read comments of other people that have used this camcorder about low-light performance. The other issue I see is that you can make still pictures on the Mini-DV tape. However, the camera then records a 7-second sound byte, and there's no way to turn off that 7-second delay. That does not make any sense. Also, the balck-and-white viewfinder is not very good. If you want to be really happy, pay $100 extra and buy DCR-HC30. However, in terms of battery life and weight, this one comes out on top and is probably sufficient for most users. I assume that most people want to have more control over still images anyway and would buy a digital camera in order to make good digital photos.
Overall, this is a very nice product, as you'd expect from Sony.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely little camcorder!, April 19, 2004
By 
James Colborn (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony DCRHC20 MiniDV Digital Handycam Camcorder w/10x Optical Zoom (Electronics)
I was looking at the new $899 upright sony camcorder (can't remember the part number) as it looked the smallest, however, on my visit to the store I found that this is much smaller. No need to worry about photos as that is quite frankly a complete waste of time as it just records movies (as you'd expect from a camcorder!)
Luckily I am a Mac user and as such have a software program called iMovie. Using the Firewire cable (iLink) the camera performs exceptionally and I'm able to control the camera via the on screen interface. No need to concern myself with the windows software, which by all accounts is pretty bad.
All in all for anyone interested in just a camcorder this is perfect. Great indoors and out.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little camcorder but the software sucks, April 26, 2004
By 
This review is from: Sony DCRHC20 MiniDV Digital Handycam Camcorder w/10x Optical Zoom (Electronics)
I purchased the Sony DCRHC20 camcorder over the weekend and am very happy with it so far except for the bundled software. I consider myself a very tech oriented person and I got so frustrated trying to copy the video from tape to pc that I called Sony's tech support line. Surprisingly, the tech told me that there was no way to copy the video from the camera to the pc using their software without using the special effects tool. He had me use Windows Movie Maker to get the task done. It was an easy solution, but you would think that such a basic function would be built into the software. Another thing that I thought was odd, was the software didn't list my Sony DVD burner as a supported drive. Hmmmm. On the positive side, the ease of use and the small size really sold me. I also like the menu system on the touch LCD screen. For such a small camera with a low price, it has many nice features. It is a nice entry level digital camcorder.
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