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Sony HDR-AZ1 review

Richard Easton
14 Feb 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
279
inc VAT

The diminutive Sony HDR-AZ1VR is a tiny and competent action camera with a useful wrist-based remote

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Specifications

Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS, Sensor pixels: 11900000, Max recording resolution: 1080p (60fps), AV connections: None, Size (HxWxD): 36x24.2x74mm, Weight: 63g, Warranty: One-year RTB

When removed from its waterproof case, Sony’s HDR-AZ1 is one of the tiniest action cameras we’ve seen, and there certainly haven’t many that have been as capable. Sony has managed to shrink down the HDR-AZ1 by moving many of the controls and functions to the wrist-worn RM-LVR2V Live View remote control unit; the action camera and the remote are bundled together as the HDR-AZ1VR.

We would advise going for the bundle, as the HDR-AZ1 is slightly limited without it. The Live-View remote has a 1.5in LCD screen that’s missing from the camera itself, so without it there’s no way to change settings or play back footage without using an iOS or Android companion app. Controls on the camera are limited to power and a button for toggling through Wi-Fi pairing options.

The remote is about the size of a matchbox and is comfortable to wear on your wrist, with Velcro straps securing it in place. Button layouts are simple and the menus are straightforward to navigate to change settings like resolution or shooting mode. The big record button is easy to activate, even if you’re wearing gloves.

The remote control unit also includes GPS, and because this is missing from the camera there’s no way to include geolocation data without it. You can pull in this GPS data and overlay it on your video recording using Sony’s Action Cam Movie Creator desktop software, providing route and speedometer readings and adding an extra layer of information to your footage. 

There was a surprising lack of delay between what was captured by the camera’s lens and what was displayed on the screen. We measured it at around half a second, which is considerably better than many other action cameras we’ve tested that use a smartphone as a remote display. We managed about 10m of wireless range before the remote lost connection to the camera.

Even when paired with the PlayMemories app there was very little delay. The camera has an NFC contact point for quickly pairing with an Android device and will take you to the Google Play store if you don’t already have the app installed. All the menu options available on the RM-LVR2V are in the app, so it’s a viable alternative if you don’t want to use the remote.

A water-, dust- and shockproof case is included in addition to the remote control unit, with mounting points for accessories. The camera itself is merely splashproof, so using the case makes it waterproof to depths of 5m. This isn’t particularly impressive, however, as many rivals can go to depths of 50m or even beyond. If you’re looking for an action camera to take scuba diving, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The case feels robust and it’s easy to press the camera’s few buttons through it.

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