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Samsung HMXR10 highdefinition camcorder review BY Ted Kritsonis Thursday, July 16, 2009 In a unique twist on design and usability, Samsung has crafted an HD camcorder that is reasonably priced and effective at what it's meant to do, albeit with some sacrifices. That's saying something in an economy where luxury gadgets like camcorders might fall by the wayside for those looking to be a bit thriftier. At $599 CDN MSRP, the HMXR10 is in the middle between what a pointandshoot digital camera and highend camcorder cost, which is to say that it's a pretty good price for what you get. And what do you ultimately get with this unit? For starters, it's got a pretty compact form factor, though not quite diminutive enough to start throwing in and out of your pocket (unless you have a purse or jacket). This is probably why it comes with its own protective pouch. It is light, too, weighing in at just a bit over eight ounces, so portability isn't an issue here. It has a 2.7" LCD touchscreen that comes in handy, as most user controls lie within the onscreen interface. And last but not least, it can capture footage in HD at 1080p at 60 fps, 1080p at 30 fps and 720p at 60 fps. It also does standarddef at 480p and VGA for the Web. It records the footage in H.264 in MP4 and saves it to SD or SDHC memory cards, so there is no internal storage. The lens also has an 8x zoom and electronic image stabilization. Looking at the body of the HMXR10, you'll notice that it doesn't have too many buttons or nooks and crannies that might offer you extra functionality. The Photo button at the top allows you to snap still JPEGs with the 12megapixel image sensor (it can even utilize a builtin flash that is right next to the lens). The Record and Zoom buttons are at the back, while the HDMI output is right below.
But the most obvious aspect that stands out is the lens. It lies on an upward angle, which means that holding the HMXR10 steady horizontally will basically capture what's 25degrees above your field of vision. The camcorder was designed with different ergonomics in mind, so that you don't have to hold it straight and strain your wrists. Older and larger camcorders always had that strap on the side that helped stabilize your hand and ensure that you didn't drop them accidentally. This one is too small to have that, but Samsung did include a wrist strap, which I'll touch on. For me, this was an adjustment, as I've actually become more accustomed to camcorders and pocket video cameras that have an upright form factor. I tried following the action of a hockey game with the HMXR10 and sometimes found it difficult to stay with the action because I was still trying to figure out the angle of the lens. I'm sure this is just a basic learning curve, so I didn't think it was a detriment to the overall usability of the unit. However, I did take issue with the wrist strap, which should've been placed in a better location. The hook is on the side just to the right of the Record and Zoom buttons. When I put my hand through it, I found holding the camcorder to feel a bit odd. And then trying to push the Record or Zoom buttons with my thumb turned out to be a bit of a chore in itself. I found the best way to make it work was to keep my thumb free of the strap, and toggle the buttons with my index finger. I also found it a little unintuitive to deal with the touchscreen, except this isn't really a major grievance on my part. It's generally good, but when you're trying to make adjustments while recording something, you have to be very careful not to cause any shake. And since all of the key functions are found within the touch interface, it's hard to avoid dabbling in it repeatedly. Mind you, this is no indictment of the camcorder's abilities, just an admission that it makes the experience a bit awkward at times. When it comes to performance, the HMXR10 does quite well under most circumstances. Colours are rich and there isn't much noise, although there is some grain that comes in when lighting dims. The night shooting mode isn't bad, and you can enhance that through the Super C.Nite setting but the more you do that, the more the framerate drops inducing both blur and stuttering during recordings. The Magic Touch Focus feature was also cool because of how it allowed me to determine what the lens would focus on by simply touching the screen. A yellow box would appear to indicate that it was focusing on that one spot. It comes in handy when shooting stills, too. Overall, I liked the HMXR10 but wish that it was a little better suited to my personal tastes. I think I would get naturally accustomed to the angled lens over time, and I did find that it was less tiring on my hand than the traditional horizontal form factor. It does capture good quality footage, and can perform well in different settings, so if you have the need and can get used to the angled lens, then you should be pleased with what this unit can do.
Published on Aug 31, 2009
In a unique twist on design and usability, Samsung has crafted an HD camcorder that is reasonably priced and effective at what it's meant to...