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Link: http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-camcorders/samsung-hmx-h106/4505-6500_7-33496178.html? tag=mncol;lst

Samsung H MX-H106-CNE T editors' review

• • •

Reviewed by: Lori Grunin Reviewed on: 08/25/2009 Released on: 05/15/2009

Photos and image samples: Samsung HMX-H106 Samsung attempts to differentiate the bulk of its HD camcorder line by incorporating SSD--solid-state drive--storage compared to competitors' traditional hard disks, regular old built-in flash, or simply removable flash cards. This is a rather flimsy thread to hang a strategy on. While SSD theoretically confers a size advantage over hard disks, Samsung's core line of four HD camcorders--the HMXH106, the H105, the H104, and the H100--are nevertheless relatively large, and larger than a typical


card-based model. The models are identical save the built-in storage, which starts at none (SDHC card only) and tops off at 64GB. Given that you pay a price premium for the SSD--the differential between the no-memory HMX-H100 and the 16GB H104 is about twice the cost of a Class 6 16GB SDHC card--and the absolute dollar gap widens as capacity increases, the SSD ultimately ends up a marketing gimmick. This series review is based on tests of the H106. Comparative Samsung Samsun specs: H MXg SCSamsung H D H106 H M X20C camcorders Sensor

Lens Image Stabilization EVF

LCD

Primary Media

2.24megapixel megapixel CMOS CMOS 1/4.5 inch 1/1.8 inch 10x 10x f1.8-2.5 f1.8-2.5 3.3-33mm 6.3-63mm (actual) (actual) Optical

Electronic

No

No 2.7-inch, 2.7-inch, 230,000230,000pixel pixel touch touch screen screen 64GB 8GB builtSSD in flash

Sasumng H MXH105/H104

Sasumng H MXH100

2.2-megapixel CMOS

10x f1.8-2.5 3.3-33mm (actual)

2.2megapixel CMOS 1/4.5 inch 10x f1.8-2.5 3.3-33mm (actual)

Optical

Optical

No

No

2.7-inch, 230,000-pixel touch screen

2.7-inch, 230,000pixel touch screen

32GB/16GB SSD

SD card

1/4.5 inch

Maximum bit rate Manual shutter speed and iris

Yes

Yes

Yes

Accessory shoe

No

No

No

Mic/headphone jacks

No

No

No

No

2 channels

2 channels

2 channels

2 channels

Audio

n/a (Samsung does not report bit rates) Yes No

Body 2.5 x 2.4 x 2.6 x 2.7 x 2.5 x 2.4 x 5.1 2.5 x 2.4 x dimensions 5.1 5.4 5.1 (WHD, inches) Operating 14 16 (est) 14 14 weight (ounces) Mfr. Price $899.99 $849.99 $729.99/$649.99 $579.99 While the camcorder's design is attractive, the feel is a mixed bag. Physically, it's quite similar to its progenitor, the HMX10. A tad more compact than nonflash competitors, it looks and feels pretty solid despite its all-plastic construction. All the operational controls--zoom switch, photo button, power, mode, and record--fall comfortably under your right thumb or forefinger. The top zoom switch is one of the skinny, wobbly types that I find uncooperative when trying to maintain a smooth, consistent zoom, however. In a hatch below sit the miniHDMI, the USB, the AV, and the power connectors. The grip rotates about 150 degrees, and though you can leave it at any point in the rotation, it locks into only two positions. The first slight rotation drops it by about 5 degrees, increasing the height for


larger hands. You can continue the rotation to about 150 degrees, useful when shooting at a low angle. This is a clever, older design that I've yet to see copied. Inside the LCD recess are a power switch, photo flash, display, full auto Easy Q, and image stabilization buttons. On the LCD bezel sit a secondary zoom switch, record button and Q(uick) Menu button. The battery and the SDHC slot sit on the bottom of the camcorder, a poor location if you plan to shoot on a tripod, which completely obstructs the hatch. It also provides a built-in electronic lens cover, a nice feature that has become typical in camcorders in this price range, and the stereo microphones sit on either side of the lens, gaining more separation than we typically see in consumer camcorders. Unfortunately, though, the touch-screen interface is relatively annoying. I generally find that touch screens aren't very comfortable to work with on the 2.7-inch displays common to this class, and Samsung's proves to be no exception. I found the system to be frequently unresponsive, and require multiple presses to recognize input. That said, the menus are organized fairly well. However, even though the camcorder offers some manual adjustments, like shutter speed and aperture, they're inconveniently buried in the menu system. You can't even pull them up with the Q Menu button; that's reserved for switching storage media (SD or SSD), scene modes, video and photo resolution, white balance, exposure compensation, and focus (auto, manual, or TouchPoint). The camcorder records 1,920x1,080/60i, as well as 720p and 480p, video using MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 encoding, similar to that used by AVCHD. Though Samsung doesn't report its bit rates, QuickTime reported that most of my test clips encoded at about 17 megabits per second, which is pretty typical for this class; some camcorders can handle up to 24 megabits per second, but if you're not planning on editing the video you probably won't notice the difference. You can fit about 7.5 minutes of footage per gigabyte of storage at highest quality; clips are limited to a maximum of 1.8GB.

Key comparative specs

Sensor

Sony Samsung H MXHandycam H106/H105/ H D RH104/H100 XR100 2.2-megapixel CMOS 1/4.5 inch

Lens

4-megapixel Exmor CMOS 1/5 inch

No 2.7-inch, 211,000pixel touch screen 80GB hard disk 16Mbps

3.3megapixel CMOS 1/3.2 inch 12x f1.8-3.0 42.9 514.8mm (16:9) No 2.7-inch, 211,000pixel touch screen 60GB hard disk 24Mbps

No

Yes

10x f1.8-2.2 10x f1.8-2.5 - 497mm 3.3-33mm (actual) 42 (16:9)

EVF

No

LCD

2.7-inch, 230,000pixel touch screen

64GB/32GB/16GB SSD; SDHC Maximum bit rate n/a Manual shutter Yes speed and iris Primary Media

Canon Vixia HG20

Accessory shoe

No

No

Yes

Mic/headphone jacks Audio Body dimensions (WHD, inches) Operating weight (ounces)

No

No

Yes

2 channels 2.5 x 2.4 x 5.1 14

5.1 channels 2 channels 2.8 x 2.8 x 2.9 x 2.5 x 5.1 5.4 14.5

17.6


Mfr. Price

$899.99/$729.99/ $649.99/$579.99

$749.99

$899.99

Compared with many of its competitors, especially the higher priced ones that go head-to-head with the H106, the performance doesn't stand up very well. The autofocus especially seems slow, and has more trouble than usual finding and locking on the correct subject. I ended up having to use the TouchPoint focus more frequently than normal, and between the occasionally nonresponsive touch screen and the subsequent slow focus--even after being told where to look--I missed several shots. The optical stabilizer works pretty well out to the end of the zoom range, though. While the video quality isn't bad, it lacks the sharpness and color saturation we expect from HD models. Edges are noticeably fuzzy, especially when viewed on a large-screen TV. Even in good light there's some color noise in the video, and low-light video looks perceptibly noisy and overprocessed. In normal daylight, the white balance is overly cool and there's some clipping in the highlights. Still photos just look smeary and overprocessed. There's not much to recommend in Samsung's current HMX series--the H106, the H105, the H104, and the H100--over similarly priced competitors. They don't stand out in any particular aspect, and weak, though not terrible, performance and video quality may be turnoffs for many people. Before committing to one, check out our list of top HD camcorders.

Samsung HMX-H106 [CNET editors' review]  

Samsung attempts to differentiate the bulk of its HD camcorder line by incorporating SSD--solid-state drive--storage compared to competitors...