It's 2013, and Sony's pair of standard-definition Handycams are officially on their way off store shelves. The company has retired the SX45 and SX85, which first began shipping in 2011 for $199 and $249, respectively, opting instead to introduce an entry-level HD model for $249. The CX220 is an update to last year's $299 CX190, offering enhancements in nearly every feature category. The Exmor R sensor has been boosted to 8.9 megapixels for stills and 2.3MP for video, with a 32/27x 29.8mm Carl Zeiss lens, AVCHD and MP4 recording options, and 60p captures now joining as well. At $279, the CX230 offers identical features, with the addition of 8 gigs of internal storage, while the PJ230 adds a built-in 13-lumen projector for $399. Rounding out the low end of Sony's CES lineup is the CX290, which boosts the lens range to 50/27x, features Optical SteadyShot and offers an enhanced 2.7-inch LCD for $349.
We were able to look through the LCDs of all four new models in a variety of colors (several of which are represented in that family shot above). The first thing we noticed was the camcorders' weight -- they're all incredibly light, with the PJ model as the one exception, since the projector infrastructure adds a bit of heft. Ultimately, if you're in the market for a camcorder, it'd be worth saving up a bit more cash to add Optical SteadyShot with the CX290 to boost the overall quality of your footage, but if filming casual family outings is your primary objective, even the $249 CX220 will suffice, and it looks nice too, shipping in black, blue, red and silver beginning next month. The CX230, CX290 and PJ230 will also be available in February in black finishes. You can check out all four flavors in the hands-on gallery just below.