It's been over a year since Sony released its DEV-3 and DEV-5 digital recording binoculars, and while they've been a welcome device for nature lovers and sightseers, they're still quite bulky to carry around. At CES this year though, Sony revealed a prototype for its next pair of 3D digital recording binoculars that will provide more features in a smaller form factor.

At Sony's booth, the prototype was kept behind glass, but the difference between it and the old model was apparent even at a glance, with the most noticeable change being the slimmed down size. When placed next to the current model, it appeared to be almost a third smaller.

The microphone has been moved to the front, between the two forward lenses, and the overall design has been streamlined to eliminate any extra bumps or protrusions. With the change in overall dimensions, the updated binoculars are now just a tad larger than a typical DSLR, which should be much easier to throw into a backpack before a hike.

Sony has yet to reveal many specific details on the new binoculars, but has stated they will contain the same features as the DEV-3 and DEV-5, plus a few extra. Aside from being lighter and more compact, the binoculars will record HD video or still pictures in both 3D and 2D – or in plain standard definition if you choose. No word yet on the amount of magnification, but the DEV-5 included a 10x optical zoom along with a 10x digital one, so it's a fair bet Sony's next model will magnify at least that amount.

To make sure users get as clear a picture as possible, Sony has incorporated optical image stabilization, which compensates for any movements the user makes while holding them, and an OLED electronic viewfinder. The binoculars will also incorporate GPS functions, which were previously only available in the DEV-5, a shoe for attaching a light or microphone, and an HDMI out port.

Unfortunately, the Sony reps at CES wouldn't allow us to take the company's latest binoculars out from the glass case and stated that no official specs, pricing, or release date has been revealed yet. Still, a travel-ready set of digital binoculars that can capture pictures and video in both 2D and 3D could certainly rival traditional analog binoculars and prove a handy tool for tracking down errant droids.

Source: Sony