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Sony Handycam DCR-DVD803E
Digital Cameras/Camcorders | First Looks
Sun 14 Aug 2005

Box Office Home Videos
  "The Sony Handycam DVD803E is the world's first to introduce a 3.0-megapixel Advanced HAD CCD sensor on a consumer camcorder"

Right flank of Handycam DCR-DVD803E with Controller.

Note the built-in flash for photography.

The Handycam DCR-DVD803E fits well into most hands.

Step into any consumer electronics shop and you will find that most large screen LCD and Plasma TV models have a widescreen layout (with a screen aspect ratio of 16:9). High Definition (HD) and widescreen displays are fast becoming a de facto standard and is being fuelled by the rise in digital broadcast channels, digital cable TV content and high penetration rate of DVDs. However, the bulk of consumer camcorders in retail as well as existing ownership conform to older standards and technologies, which would undoubtedly underutilize a high-end display unit. Most do not have the high recording resolution and/or the widescreen capture aspect ratio, but that's all changing now as the latest digital camcorders are bridging this gap.

Sony's Solution And Its Highlights

The Sony Handycam DCR-DVD803E is one of these new generation camcorders that have options to capture video in either the conventional 4:3 aspect ratio or the 16:9 widescreen format. It is also the first in the world to introduce a 3-megapixel Advanced HAD CCD sensor on a consumer camcorder. As the model name implies, the Sony Handycam DCR-DVD803E stores all captured data on an 8cm DVD+/-R or RW media only. Unlike most Sony camcorders, the Handycam DCR-DVD803E doesn't support Sony's MemoryStick media.

A major highlight of the Sony Handycam DCR-DVD803E has to be the "Easy Handycam" function that automatically adjusts most settings optimally based on the environment and hides advanced functions away. This makes the camcorder ideal for people without much video recording experience.

Other unique features of this camcorder that sets it apart from the competition is its omni-directional microphone which allows it to capture audio from its surroundings accurately and the ability to encode that into Dolby Digital 5.1 format. From our recording field tests with the camcorder and later replaying the videos captured, sound quality was crystal clear and had more depth to it since it was more directional. So now, not only can you capture your audience with the visuals of your home videos, but it will also draw them into it, courtesy of the fantastic surround effects.


Besides functioning as a trusty modern camcorder, the Sony Handycam DCR-DVD803E can also double up as a reasonably good digital camera. Being a 3-megapixel camcorder, the snapshots taken were definitely one of the best we have seen compared to other photo function enabled camcorders. Images are clear at high resolution, though noise does exist when you enlarge them.

Controls And Operation

Operating the Handycam DCR-DVD803E is simple and shouldn't intimidate most people as it uses only six buttons for most of the tasks. Of these, the most commonly used buttons are all within the reach of the index finger and thumb, except for the important "Record" button. While performing our recording trials, we often found the need to bend our thumb to reach the record button and that can be a small problem for those with bigger hands. Our best advise here is to have a hands-on trial before you flash your credit card.

The other functions can be accessed through the large 2.7-inch wide touch-screen LCD display. Settings such as white balance, exposure and shuttle are just some of the 37 options accessible by cycling through them using the onscreen arrow down/up key. With so many options to choose from, we would have preferred a jog dial selector, which handles circular selections faster.

Closing Statements

Overall, if you are looking for the latest all-in-one camcorder that captures widescreen home videos, records audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 and has the ability to take good still photos, the Sony Handycam DCR-DVD803E is one you should give close consideration. Take note that the Sony Handycam DCR-DVD803E also goes by another model name in certain continents as the DCR-DVD403E.

Product Specifications

  • 3-megapixel Advanced HAD CCD sensor
  • Professional Quality Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar® T* Lens
  • Optical / Digital Zoom: 10x / 120x 
  • One Touch Wide Angle Shooting
  • Super SteadyShot Image Stabilizer
  • Super Nightshot Infrared System
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 Creator Technology
  • 2.7-inch LCD Touch Screen
  • DVD Format Video Recording (DVD-R/RW, +RW)
  • Record Times (HQ / SP / LP Modes) : 20/ 30/ 60mins
  • PC Interface: USB 2.0
  • Dimensions (W x H x D) : 133mm x 62mm x 93mm
  • Weight: 520g