Sony Handycam HDR-GWP88 is waterproof with built-in projector; SRP PHP 35,000

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I must admit that video recorders haven’t been on my radar for so long. Considering my earliest childhood memory of being enthralled with gadgets involved a video recorder (my dad was recording me while I kept on asking how it was possible “to watch yourself in the past”), the handy cam became obsolescent when almost all forms of consumer tech (i.e. webcams, mobile phones, compact and DSLR cameras) could record video.

But alas.

abuggedlife sony HDR GWP88

Here I am today trying not to get too excited over the new Sony Handycam. It’s called the HDR-GWP88. OK so Sony still hasn’t learned to make their product names sexy but beyond the nomenclature, this Handycam makes me giddy like a new dad and I guess video cameras and young parents have some form of symbiotic relationship because the first thing I did after tearing open the box was to shoot a test video of my 6 month old son standing up on his crib. And then a video of him eating solids for the first time.

You get the drift.

The GWP88 leaves a small footprint for a video camera as it is roughly the size of a circa-2003 Cybershot being more bulky than long. But that’s fine as I can still store it in my pants pocket or dangle it with the lanyard without having to feel the weight. The unit powers on only when you pull out the touch screen digital viewfinder and press the power button. And this is good! My dad’s old video camera has so much wasted tape footage from leaving the cap on because he thought it was closed the whole time. In other words, you’ll know when it’s on and never have to second guess. In the same way, shutting down

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Projection quality inside room with no lights (ambient light from the outside), 2 ft viewing distance

Built-in Projector

The biggest selling point of the GWP88 is the built-in projector. Portable projectors are not new (check out my review of the Toshiba FF1 Ultralight from 2008, but the technology being implemented into all sorts of consumer devices such as the Android-powered Samsung Galaxy Beam. To be honest I was half-expecting a lackluster performance with the actual video projection, because clarity was a big issue in all of these devices. By clarity, I have to specify the particular experience when viewing in a room with natural light. All things constant in a dark room, these portable projectors work fine with the contrasts and image clarity but the GWP88 has an overwhelming advantage with the brightness of the projection. Ergo, although you can view your movies in a well-lit room, you shouldn’t, because that’s stupid.

You can throw an image as close as half a foot. Ideal viewing distance would be about 2 meters (or 6 feet) but I’ve projected more than 4 meters and the videos, although not as crisp are still decent to watch.

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Waterproofing

The GWP88 is waterproof up to 10 meters or 33 ft. That doesn’t mean you should take it down to that depth. After close inspection of the device, the port for the battery and external memory is lined with a protective rubber coat. This absolutely must be cleaned at all times by avoiding too much contact with your hands as traces of lint, dead skin or hair can cause leakage. Since the LCD is also a touch screen, the sheer pressure of the water will push down on the contact points the deeper you get. I would wager that 33 ft is annotated as your maximum operating depth (MOD) but to be safe, snorkeling depths of up to 10 feet should be observed so your device (especially the touch screen) doesn’t cave.

SONY Handycam abuggedlife size comparison

The GWP88 on top of an iPad mini for scale

Other Features

Additional features include stills at 20MP on photo mode as well as being able to take photos while recording video. The video recording function with built in image stabilizer comes with additional shooting modes as well but to be honest I did not make use of these as the attraction of merely shooting in pure vanilla HD is rewarding enough.

Sony has been harping about a new technology called Triluminos rendering which they have on their BRAVIA LED TV’s. Basically, this new innovation is a color correction mechanism that tries to display RGB in its most natural state. In other words, plants appear the same way you see them in nature and the oceans have that real tinge of blueish green. The consumer effect: if you own a Trilumonos camera and a Triluminos TV, you won’t need to color-correct.

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Verdict

Picture this: you’re home from your family vacation and everyone’s gathered around the living room after dinner. Mom turns the lights off and dad props the GWP88 on the coffee table and turns it on, projecting over an hour of HD footage from your trip. It’s raw and unedited, but boy is it clear and everyone’s just so into it. It’s instant gratification at your fingertips.

The Sony Handycam HDR-GWP88 has a SRP of PHP 35,000.00

Pros
– Built in 16GB memory (2 hours recording on HD) but it also accepts both SD/SDHC/SDXC and Sony Memory Sticks
– Weather, shock and water proof, but the bottom-line is that the lens is covered up and protected to avoid fingerprint marks
– Best projector technology on a mobile device I’ve seen
– Responsive touch screen
– built in kickstand

Cons
– volume level playback on device is so-so
– tough to use for left-handed people like me
– doesn’t come with expandable memory (but it does have an internal 16GB to work with)

abl03

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