Sony and Panasonic are going toe to toe in the battle to make the world's smallest HD camcorder, with the tiny CX6 upstaged by Panny's even sleeker SD5.

So is it game over for the current smallest Sony, or is there more to this contest than just size? A perusal of the specs list suggests it could be game on...

A strong CV

Both are SD card-based cams recording 1920x1080i 'Full HD', but Sony packs in some great extras. The CX6 has 5.1 audio and surprisingly includes a hot shoe, which means it can be fully rigged up with Sony video lights and microphones – including the fab wireless Bluetooth mic.

The Panasonic does have three CCDs, which usually means better colour, but the Sony's single CCD is larger and spits out more pixels, meaning it doesn't need to rely on 'pixel shift' trickery for its Full HD output. How do you like them apples, Panasonic?

On stills ability it leaves the Panny standing, with 6.1MP to its rival's measly 2.1MP. Refitted with high-capacity cells, this baby can run for more than six hours – four times as long as the SD5.

The Sony is heavier however, and can leave your wallet £100 lighter – a price gap that only widens if you shop online.

Nice body

Time to put the CX6 to the test. It perches well in our mitts with its comfy leather strap and well-placed controls. Be warned that man-size hands can overshoot its natural grip and, like its rival, it's all too easy for fingers to rub on the built-in mic.

The all-black finish looks the business, as does the Vario-Sonnar T* lens cover. HDMI and AV out are on board, but the USB connection to your PC is only via a bundled cradle. Cabling wise, it'll cost you an extra £30 if you want to hook up to your TV via HDMI. At least there's a 4GB MemoryStick PRO Duo in the box: enough for up to 75 minutes of HD.

Touchscreen triumph

The touchscreen menus couldn't be simpler in point-and-shoot mode. Switch to normal mode and you get the option to spot focus by touching the relevant area on screen. Manual controls are strictly limited.

Still and video are sharp and colourful, but the auto white balance can go badly wrong indoors. It's easy to fix by diving into the white balance menu, pointing the camera at something white and hitting the 'one push' button, but it's a faff we could do without.

So who wins this fight? If we have to call it, we'd say the Panasonic SD5 – but largely on the price difference. On performance alone, the title's Sony's.


Stuff says... 

Sony HDR-CX6 review

A tiny package, great footage and a worthy stills performance make this the ultimate holiday cam – we just wish it could be a tad cheaper