Best Camcorders - £150 or Less
Although you can now get HD camcorders for under £150, the compromises required to achieve this can be significant. Instead, sticking with SD could be a better choice, and the Samsung VP-MX20 exemplifies this. It's a slightly unusual camcorder, as it eschews MPEG-2 compression in favour of MPEG-4 H.264 AVC packaged as MP4 files, although we had no problems editing footage in any of the major desktop video apps.
The MX20 is based on a 1/6in CCD with 800,000 pixels, the small size of which allows a healthy 34x optical zoom. Video is recorded to SD or SDHC, so you will need to factor the cost of a memory card into your overall cost. This isn't a particularly feature-rich camcorder, either. There are manual exposure and shutter settings, which can be adjusted independently using the LCD jog dial. This also operates manual focusing. But no accessory shoe is available, nor mini-jacks for an external microphone or headphones.
As the price implies, the MX20 is no image quality power house. In good lighting, the picture is sharp, but grain and artefacts become increasingly evident as illumination drops. Still, if your budget only stretches to £150, the Samsung VP-MX20 will capture family moments adequately for burning to DVD or online sharing.
The Camileo H10 is fairly typical of a sub-£150 HD camcorder. It doesn't offer Full HD, merely 720p, and uses a non-Europe-friendly 30fps. But it does have a 10.48-megapixel sensor, so boasts still images up to 4,608 x 3,456 (with interpolation). Image quality is acceptable, but aggressive compression smoothes out detail noticeably. So only consider the H10 if you really must have HD for under £150.
Not only has Genius managed to fit in 720p HD video shooting for under £150, this camcorder actually costs less than £100 - even cheaper than most pocket Internet HD models. It's a very limited piece of kit, though, with no optical zoom, few manual settings, and genuinely irritating controls. But it shoots reasonable video for the bargain basement price, making it worthy of consideration if your budget is very tight indeed.