Sony has announced the launch of a new HD ready camcorder in a compact size promising consumers, not professionals the ability to record high definition movies.

The new smaller, lighter HC3E (it weighs 500g, which is 26% lighter compared to HC1 (680g), and the cubic volume has been reduced by 26%) is the latest model following on to the HDR-HC1 digital high definition Handycam that was released by Sony in July last year.

Improvements include higher image quality (now 4 megapixel), a smaller, lighter design and the addition of a 2.7-inch LCD and Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with a 10x Optical Zoom.

Sony has also said the camcorder offers the ability to capture 2.3 megapixel still pictures while you are shooting movie footage, by saving them temporarily on the camcorder's internal memory before they can be transferred to a Sony Memory Stick Duo.

The new HDR-HC3E from Sony will be HDMI ready, pushing Sony's vision of a HD ready living room even further. The move means users will be able to play back movies and audio through a HD Ready TV without degradation of the digital image.

The Sony HDR-HC3E will be available throughout Europe from April 2006.