With its pedestrian 1/6in sensor, the MX20 was never going to offer quality even vaguely close to the HMX20. It lived up to our lack of expectations, producing performance more reminiscent of Samsung camcorders of yore. On the plus side, the footage is sharper than similarly specified models from competitors, such as JVC's Everio GZ-MG330. But compression artefacts are also more noticeable, and colours darker. The results will be more than good enough for YouTube, though.
In moderate artificial illumination, quality is merely average for a camcorder in this class. Footage is fairly dark, filled with coarse grain and compression artefacts. This worsens as the light diminishes. But the MX20 does get the white balancing mostly correct, which is a refreshing change from most budget camcorders. The C.Nite low light modes also boost brightness, but at the expense of grain. The most aggressive of the two produces seething swathes of noise, and both introduce an unsightly posterising effect. The auto focus is also very unsure of itself in poor lighting. Audio isn't brilliant either. This is recorded at 24kHz, rather than the 32kHz or 48kHz used by most camcorders.
CyberLink MediaShow is bundled on CD for uploading your videos to YouTube, which worked well. But we also tried the MP4 files in Adobe Premiere Elements 7, Corel VideoStudio Pro X2, Pinnacle Studio 12 Plus and CyberLink PowerDirector 7. None of them had any trouble importing or editing the files. If you just want to watch footage on a TV, an AV minijack is incorporated with a breakout cable for composite video and stereo RCA audio.
The Samsung VP-MX20 is not a huge revelation like the VP-HMX20. Targeting the video-sharing mainstream, its specification raises fewer eyebrows, and its video performance is towards the lower end of the market. Note also that the MX20 has no still photo mode at all, so can't stand in for a digital camera. But then there's the price. With most competitors costing over £200, this camcorder represents great value, even if it doesn't have the image quality or features required for the video-making enthusiast.