Review Price £139.95
Samsung SMX-C20 - Performance and Verdict
The C20 also incorporates one of Samsung’s more unusual recent design features – a lens that points slightly up. This takes a little getting used to, as you naturally expect to point this format of camcorder in the direction of its longest dimension. However, it's also true that your wrist feels more comfortable with the camcorder pointing slightly downwards. So having the lens points up means you can hold the device without twisting your hand, making the posture less tiring. Once you've adjusted the LCD to compensate, shooting like this can be quite comfy. If you prefer holding the camcorder in a more torch-like fashion, controls are available on edge of LCD for operating the zoom and toggling record.
There’s no storage integrated into the C20, with removable SD memory called upon instead. The video resolution is set at 720 x 576 and frame rate at 25 per second, although you can choose between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. There are three quality levels available, with the top one capturing video at 4.5Mbits/sec. So a 4GB SDHC card will be enough for around two hours of footage. Still images can be captured at 1,696 x 960 or 848 x 480, neither of which are going to give a standalone digital camera any competition.
Where colour is concerned, the C20 performs very well for its price. Fidelity is good in bright light, although the camcorder is put through its paces by extreme contrasts in brightness. It’s also hard not to notice the lack in detail compared to most HD camcorders. There is obvious smearing visible from bright light sources, too, but overall the C20 achieves very commendable results for its price.
Low light abilities are a mixed bag. Again, colour remains reasonably accurate, even in relatively poor illumination. However, the image is much fuzzier in these conditions, and detail is even more obscured. So whilst you can see your subjects in low light, the picture isn’t particularly impressive.
Built-in software is becoming de rigueur for budget camcorders, and the C20 includes an app called Intelli-Studio, or i-Studio depending on where you look, which installs on your PC straight from the camcorder when you first plug it in via USB. Intelli-Studio is reasonably well featured, with modest editing abilities and uploading to Flickr and Facebook as well as the ubiquitous YouTube.
It won’t be very long before we find it impossible to recommend any camcorder that doesn’t shoot in high definition. But for now there’s still just about enough reason to choose standard definition when on a budget. If you just want to point and shoot, with no need whatsoever to configure your shooting, an HD pocket Internet camcorder would suit you best at this price. However, if you want a little more flexibility, particularly a fully fledged optical zoom, Samsung’s SMX-C20 would still be worth considering instead, and its sub-£150 price makes it great value.
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