Genius is not a name you would normally associate with camcorders. In fact, you're much more likely to think of mice, keyboards, and speakers. But alongside these products, the company also offers a small range of cameras and camcorders. Heading up the camcorder range is the G-Shot HD55, offering High Definition shooting and 5-megapixel stills - all for under £100.
At this price, you wouldn't expect the HD55 to be as well constructed as Sony's offerings. Sure enough, overall build quality doesn't feel as sturdy as the big camcorder names, with the LCD panel a bit stiff to open, and the finish rather plasticky. There is no lens cap, either, and we had managed to get a fingerprint on the lens within minutes of getting the HD55 out of its box. But the chassis is solid enough, and fits snugly in the palm with all the main controls right at your fingertips.
The HD55 is built around a 5-megapixel CMOS sensor with a large 1/2.5in diagonal. Three shooting resolutions are offered - CIF, D1 and HD. These correspond to 352 x 240, 720 x 480 and 1,280 x 720 resolutions respectively, but all operate at 29.97 frames per second. In HD mode, the video will use a 16:9 aspect ratio, so is presented as letterboxed on the 4:3, 960 x 240-pixel LCD screen. Still images can be recorded at resolutions up to 3,264 x 2,448, although this uses interpolation, as it exceeds the CMOS sensor's native number of pixels.
Footage is recorded to flash memory, but only 32MB is built in - scarcely enough for a few seconds. Instead, you will need to add an SD or SDHC card, which are fortunately now very cheap. The 4GB PNY memory card we were using was enough for 130 minutes of footage in HD mode, 260 minutes in D1, and 745 minutes in CIF. In photo mode, 4GB will fit over 1,500 images even at the top setting.