Sony has just announced the Sony HDR-GW77V, also nicknamed Sony 77V, a camcorder that is built for “life on the go” as Sony would define it. Unlike most camcorders in this rugged category, the Sony HDR-GW77V is not an MP4 camcorder, which is often synonymous of lower video quality and lower bitrate. Bitrate defines how much information is stored per second to encode the video. Typically, the higher the bitrate, and the less compression there is.

Instead, the Sony HDR-GW77V records in AVCHD, a format that is used in most (if not all) higher end camcorders. And of course, the Sony HDR-GW77V records in full 1080p, although the framerate remains a bit of a mystery (24p/30p/60p?). The format itself isn’t all: the imaging system for this camcorder is a Sony EXMOR BSI sensor, which is associated with a optics capable of achieving a 17X optical zoom.

Once the image quality questions are out of the way, the focus goes to the ruggedness of this camcorder, which is its reason for being. It has been designed to be completely waterproof (up to 16 feet), which means that you should be able to film underwater and that includes using the touch-display functions. The display will even adapt the White Balance when underwater so that colors look natural to your eyes. The Sony HDR-GW77V is also shock-resistant and can survive a 5 feet drop, according to Sony’s specifications.

Because most such (waterproof) camcorders are designed using lesser imaging systems, Sony has buit a unique product that should have no problem winning image quality comparisions in this “waterproof” category.

And to add a cherry on the cake, this camcorder is also capable of geo-tagging your content, thanks to the integrated GPS and the pre-loaded NAVTEQ maps. Geo-tagging is particularely useful when you have a lot of media files as it provides a quick way to sort them out and find relevant content.

Talking about having a lot of files, this camcorder comes with 16GB of internal memory, but can be extended with SD/SDHC cards, which are cheap and standard. You may also use Sony’s Memory Stick format if you want.

This is nice, but it doesn’t come for cheap. At $700, this is probably the most expensive waterproof consumer camcorders, and Sony is without a doubt counting on the largely higher imaging quality and features to justify the price point. In the end, you will decide if this works for you – what do you think? Just right or too rich for your blood?

Sony HDR-GW77V Specifications highlights

20.4 Megapixel BSI sensor
Waterproof (16 feet deep)
Shock-resistant (5 feet drop)
3″ 921k pixels touch screen display
Built-in Flash
3 Axis shake-cancellation
Built-in GPS and NAVTEQ maps
16GB of built-in storage. Expandable via SD/SDHC/Memory Stick
Available in late June, for $700

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