Remember that itsy bitsy GoPro competitor we spotted at Sony's CE Week booth earlier this summer? Well, it's gearing up for an official release late next month. Dubbed Action Cam -- a fitting name given that it'll live mounted anywhere from skydiving helmets to downhill skis -- it'll ship in late September or early October for $199. In a surprising twist, the incredibly small HD shooter will also be getting WiFi -- that version will be available for $270. Both cameras are identical save for wireless functionality, but considering that WiFi enables remote configuration and viewfinder capability for framing your shots (there's no video-capable LCD on the device itself), you're gonna want to shell out the extra 70 bucks. Regardless of which flavor you choose, you'll net a very capable camcorder with a 16-megapixel Exmor R sensor (great for low-light shooting) and fixed-zoom Carl Zeiss lens, complete with SteadyShot image stabilization, a 1080/30p capture mode and a 720p option at 120 frames per second, enabling some pretty slick slow-motion effects.
The Action Cam is a modular system, so you can count on a bevy of accessories -- there will even be a "Handycam Adaptor," which comes complete with a 2.7-inch display and a familiar camcorder interface. More standard options include an adhesive mount pack ($20, though two ship with the cam), a bar/bike mount ($30), angle mount ($30), a replacement housing that's waterproof to 60 meters and offers a standard tripod socket ($40 -- you'll get one in the box), two head straps ($25-30) and a suction cup ($30). It also uses removable storage (microSD), a swappable battery, and includes HDMI, USB and audio input jacks.
We weren't able to take the camera out on any wild adventure shoots, though plenty of professionals have, judging from the looks of the demo reel on display at Sony's event (and included at the end of our hands-on video after the break). We did get to play with the remote viewfinder feature, however, paired with the Android PlayMemories app (also available for iOS). This tool worked quite well over WiFi, with decent response and a usable framerate (for framing your shot, at least). The Action Cam itself feels quite solid, despite its size, especially when paired with the thick plastic housing (it's designed for use both underwater and on land). What we're not quite clear on is battery life, which will surely factor into any purchase decision -- that detail will likely come to light as we near launch. You can take a closer look at the camera and accessories in our gallery below, and both the hands-on video (complete with remote viewfinder demo) and sample POV footage after the break.
Sony Action Cam hands-on
Discover your sense of adventure with Wi-Fi enabled wearable Action Cam by Sony 29 August 2012
Ultra-compact Full HD video camera for extreme sports and point-of-view shooting
Ultra-compact, wearable Full HD camcorder
Capture all the action with 170° wide angle Carl Zeiss® lens
High quality images even in low light condition with Exmor R™ CMOS sensor
SteadyShot™ image stabilisation cuts blur for smoother footage
2 types of HD slow-motion modes (4x/ 2x) make your action more dramatic
Control your camera with your smartphone or transfer footage to your smartphone via Wi-Fi
Shoot in snow or down to 60m with supplied waterproof case
Wherever life takes you, get a thrilling first-person viewpoint with new Action Cam from Sony.
Weighing just 90g with supplied battery, ultra-compact HDR-AS15 Action Cam shoots detail-packed Full HD video, whether you're hiking, biking, snorkelling, surfing or sky-diving.
Fix Action Cam to your cycling helmet or board with the supplied adhesive mounts that press easily to smooth or curved surface. Alternatively, wear Action Cam with an optional Waterproof Head Mount kit. Then just press the large, fumble-free Record button to start 'hands-free' shooting.
The sensitive Exmor R CMOS sensor inside Action Cam lets you shoot crisp, low-noise video footage in almost any light, from dawn until dusk.
The high quality Carl Zeiss® Tessar® lens gives an ultra-wide 170° angle of view for a thrilling sense of your surroundings – from ski slopes to mountain trails. For more comfortable viewing when you're back home, SteadyShot image stabilisation helps keep footage clear and judder-free while you're negotiating potholes or a tricky mogul field.
There's a choice of five video record modes, from highest-quality Full HD 30p to VGA for extra-long shooting times. Two special slow-motion modes (4x and 2x) make it easier to analyse a golf swing or watch a BMX stunt in detail.
Action Cam comes supplied with a tough waterproof case for shooting in rain, snow or at depths right down 60m. It's also ideal for shrugging off dirt and dust if you're battling through a muddy trail route. Optional extras available from launch include a handlebar mount, a wearable headband, and a waterproof head mount kit for fans of cycling, hiking, surfing, wakeboarding and other marine sports.
The range of compatible accessories is expected to grow further over time. A tilt adaptor will give more options to angle the camera up or down for a different viewpoint, while Handheld Grip with LCD Screen unit adds a camcorder-style screen for monitoring and reviewing shots. There's also an anti-fog sheet to stop condensation build-up and a Replacement Door Pack that offers different housing door options for improved picture or sound quality if you're shooting underwater.
The camera's memory card slot accepts Memory Stick Micro™ (M2) as well as Micro SD/SDHC (class 4 or higher) type cards. Just pick the card type that's most convenient for you.
Install the PlayMemories Mobile app (Android or iOS) on your smartphone or tablet and transfer videos directly from Action Cam via Wi-Fi. The free app also lets you control Action Cam remotely from your mobile device.
The new HDR-AS15 Action Cam from Sony is available in Europe from mid-October 2012.
Notes to editors
1/2.3 type (7.77mm) Exmor R™ CMOS Sensor with approx. 11900K pixels (16:9) resolution
Still image resolution
Approx. 2.0 megapixels (1920 x 1080)
Carl Zeiss Tessar 15.3mm (35mm equivalent) / F2.8
Minimum focusing distance approx. 30cm
SteadyShot™ (electronic) image stabilisation with Active Mode
IEEE 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz band)
HDMI Out (micro); Micro-B/USB2.0 Hi-speed (mass-storage); mic input (stereo minijack)
Memory Stick Micro™ (Mark 2) and Micro SD/SDHC Memory Card (Class 4 or Higher) compatible
Monaural speaker and built-in microphone; display panel; date/time stamp; interval recording; fast playback
Approx. 24.5mm x 47.0mm x 82.0mm (including supplied battery)
Approx. 90g (including supplied battery)
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