Best Camcorders - £250 or Less
If your budget is below £250, you shouldn't really consider an HD camcorder unless it's one of the ultra-cheap models described below or one aimed entirely at rapid Internet upload. Instead, stick with SD and you'll get better image quality and a more competent set of features. JVC's GZ-MS120 fits these criteria very nicely indeed.
You will need to supply your own SD memory, but the MS120 comes with two slots so you can purchase a pair of cheaper, lower-capacity modules. An 8GB card will store two hours of footage. Where the MS120 really excels is in video performance, however. The Gigabrid HD Premium image processor allows this camcorder to shoot much better footage in low light than you would expect from its 1/6in CCD. There are signs of grain, but the image remains bright down to surprisingly low levels of illumination, so you will be able to capture those all-important indoor moments.
Battery life is also very impressive, with the MS120 providing over two hours of continuous shooting between charges. There is a reasonably selection of manual settings, too, although these are buried in the menu system and require usage of JVC's fiddly Laser Touch Operation system to access. Overall, this is a great little camcorder if you're on a tight budget.
The SX30E is almost cheap enough to slot into the sub-£150 category, making it even more keenly priced than JVC's Everio GZ-MS120. However, although it also comes with 4GB of memory on board to further sweeten the deal, low light performance isn't as good as the JVC, making the latter a more flexible purchase. This doesn't stop the SX30E being incredibly good value, though.