Samsung VP-HMX10 review
A good price for an HD camcorder, but poor design makes it an awkward device to use one-handed.
The term high definition has become accepted by the mass market, at least when it comes to TVs. But in the world of camcorders, HD has still been very expensive until just recently.
Camcorders such as the hybrid Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD700, are bringing HD recording into the realms of the affordable and, at the low end at least, flash memory increasingly appears to be the recording medium of choice.
Samsung's HMX10 is the latest HD camera to fit this mould, and is notable principally for its low price. It costs just £324, yet the spec list is by no means basic - this camera has a 10x optical zoom, and 720p recording on a single 1/4.5in CCD.
Image stabilisation is, however, electronic rather than optical, so it's not as effective as the system on the Panasonic HDC-SD9. There's also no accessory shoe, though you do get a socket for an external microphone.
We had few complaints with image quality. It's quite noisy in low light conditions - hardly surprising given its relatively high light sensitivity rating of 15 lux - and colours are a bit washed out, but in general the standard settings worked well to produce HD footage. Hook it up to large screen TV via its HDMI port and you won't be disappointed with the results.
We were more concerned with the HMX10's usability and ergonomic design. The touchscreen works well for basic operations, but we don't like the fact that the LED light switch is buried under several layers of menus. There are basic editing tools that allow you to trim and join clips together, but annoyingly you can only join two clips at once.
The round barrel of the HMX10 is also an irritation. Though the hand grip innovatively rotates, there's no single position where one-handed operation is comfortable.
You always seem to have to cramp your thumb across to reach the record button, and the rounded profile means the camera wobbles unless you grip it with your fingers. The integrated shutter cover switch is also inconveniently placed by the hand strap.
This puts a dent in our otherwise good opinion of the HMX10. It's cheap, and produces decent results for the money, but its awkward ergonomics prevent us from wholeheartedly recommending it.