Until last year, Samsung was firmly targeting the budget end of the camcorder market. Then it released the VP-HMX20 and showed us that it had the technology to vie with the top names. Now the company has launched a new H series range, with which it hopes to build on the ground it gained in 2008. This week, we put the entry-level HMX-H104 through its paces.
The first batch of H series camcorders are separated only by the amount of flash memory they have on board. The H104 has 16GB, the H105 has 32GB, and the range-topping H106 incorporates a whopping 64GB. Despite its impressive specification, the VP-HMX20 only comes with 8GB. However, although the new models share a similarity of design with their predecessor, what's inside is markedly different.
The most surprising aspect of the HMX20 was its massive CMOS sensor. At 1/1.8in, it's still the largest in any consumer camcorder, and the 6.4-megapixel resolution was also market leading at the time of release. In contrast, the H104 and its siblings sport a much more modest 1/4.5in CMOS sensor with just 2.2-megapixels. Samsung still promises 4.7-megapixel still images, at 2,880 x 1,620, but this is clearly with a hefty dollop of interpolation, even if the end results are satisfactory for a camcorder.
A similar array of shooting resolutions and qualities are available to the HMX20. The top resolution is 1,920 x 1,080 Full HD, operating at 25 interlaced frames per second. But you can also record at 1,280 x 720 and 720 x 576 with 50 progressive frames per second. You can shoot time lapse footage, too, with one frame recorded every 1, 3 or 5 seconds for up to 72 hours at a resolution of 1,280 x 720. However, the slow motion options offered by the HMX20 have been left out. There are three quality settings, with the top Super Fine mode allowing around two hours of Full HD footage within the 16GB storage. There's also an SDHC slot if you need a bit more capacity.