Consumer digital camcorders are not exactly one-trick ponies but they are normally more focused on recording videos at the best quality possible. Taking photos is more of a backseat feature and built-in video editing and sharing features are becoming more apparent. These are the areas that modern camcorder manufacturers like to compete in but Sony seems to be the only one that is interested in giving the modern camcorder an extra key feature – a built-in projector. In fact, Sony amassed an army of these types of camcorders years ago and they continue to improve each year. However, Sony’s primary camcorder lineup consisted of camcorders that may not have the built-in projector but had other neat features like live streaming. This 2015, Sony announced the Sony HDR-PJ670 and it intends to put the projector camcorder lineup up to speed with the rest of the camcorders while making it the same price as its predecessor –the Sony HDR-PJ540.
Sony isn’t making any serious changes to their entry-level and midrange lineup so the Sony HDR-PJ670 can feel right at home with its 2014 siblings. Being an upper mid-ranger, the Sony HDR-PJ670 feels a few ounces heavier than the more basic models. That shouldn’t be alarming as the camcorder has a more solid and stable feel and the handstrap is pretty comfortable. Plus, Sony is continuing its tradition of putting a USB 2.0 cable right in the handstrap so you can conveniently take it out whenever you need a quick charge and forgot to bring a cable. Like its predecessor, the HDR-PJ670 also gives you the luxury of touch controls making the interface a bit easier to learn. Since buttons are no longer required next to the screen, Sony had room to make the screen bigger. The 3.0-inch Clear Photo Plus LCD display is nice and previewing HD videos is more appreciable. Opening the screen door also reveals dedicated buttons for the wind noise reduction and projector functions. It is also the section for plugging in HDMI cables to the micro-HDMI input or output depending on what you want to do with the camcorder. There is also a small door that hides the mic and headphone jacks. Finally, there is an SD card slot.
Sony is really proud of its own XAVC S recording format and is more than delighted to add support for that format to the Sony HDR-PJ670. While the HDR-PJ670 doesn’t have 4K support like the other advanced cameras with XAVC S support, this camcorder can still capture 1080p/60p videos at an impressive 50 Mbps. Because this format uses an MP4 wrapper, editing these types of videos is easy. This is the ideal format to use if you want to see the best video quality possible. The Sony HDR-PJ670 is also equipped with a back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor so you get decent results under low light conditions too. You also get a degree of flexibility too with the 30x optical zoom which can optionally extend to a 60x Clear Image Zoom. The Balanced Optical SteadyShot image stabilization feature makes sure that the video footage stays steady even when zoomed all the way. While you are recording video, you can take 9.2-megapixel stills.
The HDR-PJ670 won’t be a “PJ” camcorder without the projector functionality. On the opposite side of the camcorder’s screen door lies a small LED projector that can project video at a reduced resolution of 640×360. That is way below HD quality and makes it similar to the entry-level projector models but the Sony HDR-PJ670 is still superior in terms of light output as it can go as high as 25 lumens. Expect the kind of quality you would normally get out of an inexpensive nano projector. If you have a large HDTV, you should be able to get a better viewing experience by connecting the camcorder to the TV’s HDMI port using the included HDMI cable. But that doesn’t make the projector function useless. When you are on the go with the HDR-PJ670, you are essentially carrying a portable projector that you can plug all sorts of devices into. If you have the required cable and your smartphone or tablet supports it, you can beam the device’s screen to any wall. The idea of watching Netflix, for instance, at 640×360 might seem like a downgrading experience but it ends up looking neat when you blow up the screen size.
The wireless capabilities of the Sony HDR-PJ670 deserve its own section because it is more than just the simple idea of being able to transfer files from the camcorder to a computer or mobile device. Sony is a huge proponent of NFC and it is present in all of Sony’s flagship smartphones and tablets. Since the HDR-PJ670 has NFC as well, it is easy for those Sony gadgets and other mobile devices with NFC to wirelessly connect to the camcorder. To take advantage of the pairing, you must download the free PlayMemories Mobile app to the iOS or Android device. After that, you can use the app to remotely see what the camcorder is looking and issue remote control commands. There is also this new feature that enables real-time streaming to the Ustream service.
Some of the other nice strengths that the Sony HDR-PJ670 have over cheap models include 32 GB of internal memory and a 5.1-channel surround mic for better audio capturing. Also new to this specific model is support for multi-camera control so you can mount another Sony camcorder such as an Action Cam to the PJ670 and record multiple angles. The same PlayMemories Mobile app ties these multiple camcorders together into one simple interface for easy management.
The Sony HDR-PJ670 is priced at $699 while the PJ540 model continues to sell for about $50 less so you will still have two projector camcorders to pick from if you have a $700 budget. But the Sony HDR-PJ670, is easily the better deal because of all the nice improvements present especially if you have a thing for very high quality videos.