Sony’s latest camcorder allows you to record your footage, take out the miniature DVD and then play it using a standard DVD player with out the need for a computer. Pocket-lint.co.uk shouts “Lights, camera, action!” and finds out whether it’s as easy as the advert.

The circular designed unit is fairly small. Not small enough that you’ll have crowds of people in disbelievement, but enough to still be impressive. Think CD Walkman size only slightly fatter with a lens shoved on the front and you’ll get the picture. Actual dimensions are 12.7 cm x 4.9 cm x 10.1 cm and 360g in weight.

The back is swamped by the rather large 2.5in LCD display - a firm favourite of Sony’s at the moment - and this touch screen is the main access point to controlling the device and the easy-to-use menu system. There are other buttons on the back of the model, but it’s the screen that’s the main focus.

Because of the design you are required to hold the camcorder like you would a digital camera and this has its pros and cons. The pro is that for most people holding a digital camera has become second nature and therefore getting what you want centralised on the screen not really an issue. No longer will you experience your holiday with a telescopic eyepiece.

The con however is, and we have to admit is a rather superficial one, that you don’t get that “I’m making a movie feeling” when using the camera.

Aside from how you do or don’t hold the camcorder, the DVD7E boasts plenty of features. There is the Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar Lens, 10x optical zoom and of course more importantly the ability to record directly to DVD.

The unit takes the new miniature 3in DVD discs and the elaborate compartment opening to get the disc in and out seems a touch over-engineered. On the standard definition setting discs can record around 30 minutes of DVD quality footage and as you have treble this amount of time in battery life it’s more than enough to keep you going.

The camcorder also boasts a digital still camera, which can be accessed by changing the mode although with only .8 megapixel resolution, it’s not something to write home about.

Moving or still images are recorded onto the DVD disc. With DVD-RW and DVD+RW you can press record and stop as many times as you like to fill up your 30 minutes and then when you’re finished or run out of space you’ll need to finalise your recordings.

Finalisation takes up to eight minutes depending on how much you’ve recorded and the more you’ve recorded onto the disc the less this time takes. Of course there is always a catch. Much like a multisession CD-R, Finalise a disc and you won’t be able to record onto it again.

A quick check on the internet found third party discs to cost around £1.50 a pop and its something to bear in mind before you decide to press that finalisation button.

Formats supported are DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW for direct recording and DVD-RW and DVD+RW for rewriting and you’ve got to keep the unit still so you get a good finalise.

Verdict

As an entry level camcorder the DCR-DVD7E is very consumer friendly and perfect for the non-techie types out there. The lack of buttons makes this an easy to use machine and the cameras ability to play its recording results via a standard DVD player straight away is also a great bonus.

We had only two gripes with the unit; the way you have to hold it and the fact that once the disks are finalised you can't use them again.

However saving the footage straight on to DVD rather than DV tape certainly has more pros than cons, especially if you want to share the footage quickly.