Sony's Handycam HDR-XR500 series constitutes a pair of hard-disk-based AVCHD camcorders that integrate the dual firsts of built-in GPS and a new Exmor R back-illuminated CMOS sensor. Although the GPS aspect isn't quite ready for prime time, the new sensor and G-series lens combination deliver great video quality. Toss in some improvements to Sony's SteadyShot image-stabilisation system, as well as a solid feature set, and you have a winning combination -- albeit one dragged down by the awkward touchscreen interface and high price.
The two models in the series are identical except for the size of their hard drive: the £930 HDR-XR500VE has a 120GB drive (storing 14.5 hours of best-quality video), while the £1,100 HDR-XR520VE doubles that to 240GB (storing 29.3 hours of video at best quality). To get the lowdown on the XR500VE, check out our in-depth review of the XR520VE.