LAS VEGAS -- Few, if any, action cam makers are in a better position than Sony to steal sizable market share from GoPro. And, with the new HDR-AS100V Action Cam announced at CES 2014, it looks set to do just that.
The slim, ultracompact design is the same as its past Action Cam models, though it's now lighter weight and white, and this one includes a tripod mount. That last bit is important since the camera's shape doesn't allow it to stand up on its own and, with the AS100V being splashproof, it means you can mount the camera without a housing and use it in the rain and snow (though it comes with a housing, too).
In front is a new premium ultrawide Zeiss Tessar lens that realizes 30 percent higher resolution with reduced aberrations (an issue with older models) and has a 170-degree viewing angle. Sony's also tweaked its image stabilization so that it automatically compensates for different movement such as when walking, biking, or driving.
Behind the lens is a new 18-megapixel Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor and a high-performance Sony Bionz X processor. The combo lets you record at 1080p at 60fps in MP4, but can also record in Sony's XAVC-S format for 1080p60 movies with bit rates up to 50Mbps. The AS100V also supports shooting at 1080p24 and high-speed 720p video at 120fps and 240fps shooting with sound.
For advanced users who want to do more than just point, shoot, and share, the camera has neutral and vivid color modes with the former allowing greater post-production flexibility. When recording in XAVC-S and working in Vegas Pro you'll be able see time code and user's bit data to make editing video from multiple cameras easier.
Like its linemate, the AS30V, the AS100V has built-in Wi-Fi accompanied by NFC for fast pairing with NFC-enabled smartphones and tablets. It has built-in GPS, too, which can be used with Sony's PlayMemories Home software to overlay location or speed information onto your videos. The software will also allow you to create a split-screen composite for viewing the video from multiple cameras in a single clip.
Sony's Live-View Remote (RM-LVR1), will also work with the AS100V and is being bundled with it as the HDR-AS100VR. The remote is basically a small waterproof color LCD that wirelessly connects to the camera. It can be used for setting up your shots as well as starting/stopping recordings and switching between photo/movie modes. It will also control up to five AS100Vs at the same time.
With the addition of the AS100V, Sony now has three models in its lineup, with the $199.99 entry-level AS15 and the $299.99 midrange AS30. You'll be able to pick up the AS100V for $299.99 as well when it shows up in March, but for $399.99 you can pick up the AS100VR bundled with the Live-View Remote, which is the same price as GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition.