Samsung SMX-C20 review

Full review: Stylish standard def cam takes on the Kodak Playsport and co

Image 1 of 3 Samsung C20 red
Samsung C20 red
Image 2 of 3 Samsung C20 black
Samsung C20 black
Image 3 of 3 Samsung C20 hand
Samsung C20 hand

Is anyone still interested in a standard def camcorder?

It’s not very often a standard definition camcorder rocks up at T3 Towers, unless it had been lost in the dungeons of Royal Mail for about three years,

Confident that the lack of a hallowed gold and black HD sticker is something that camcorder buyers are ready to overlook, the latest addition to Samsung’s SD range is the ultra compact C20 camera, which sits at the budget end of the scale competing against the Flip Mino.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

More on Samsung:

Samsung NX10 review

Samsung WB650 compact camera: Reasons to buy

Canon SX210 IS Vs Samsung WB500

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Samsung has opted for a seriously stylish and palm-friendly compact design, with the rounded body fitting very well in the hand. The company is hoping the style-factor, plus the ease of YouTube sharing and competitive price point will put the lack of a 720p sensor in the shade.

The design does offer a unique shooting angle is supposed to promote a more natural grip. The lens is pointing slightly skywards, meaning a standard grip would shoot above the target. Tilting the LCD screen down 25 per cent (or one click) and using it to line up your footage is the way to go. However it does mean pointing the camera downwards, which in our experience of using camcorders, doesn’t feel natural. The record button also takes a fair bit of force to activate.

Samsung SMX-C20: Footage and uploading

But how does that SD footage stack up against the HD models? Is HD a misnomer on a budget lens anyway? When played back on a PC through a USB cable - which also handily charges the device - video is very crisp, clear and colourful. In a lot of cases reproducing colours vividly, but less so in low light. However, the poor auto focus often leaves that footage blurred.

Sharing to YouTube requires you to pre-select the files you want to share on the neat live animated playback menu, before mounting the camera as a USB device and uploading through the desktop interface. Obviously it would be easier to post via Wi-Fi, if the C20 boasted Wi-Fi, a la most smartphones. This is hardly “one-touch sharing”.

If your main purpose of using a camcorder is to upload footage straight to YouTube, it wil be compressed anyway, so HD footage is practically pointless. We’d say once its live the difference between this and a HD, rival is minimal, but still evident.

Still shots are a paltry 1.9-megapixels, way below what can be expected from a modern pocket cam - the Kodak Playsport boasts excellent 5.3-megapixels shots - and the quality is reflected as such. Better than your very basic smartphones, but really not up to much.

Samsung SMX-C20: Lens and screen

A highlight of the C20 is the very respectable 10x optical zoom, which far outstrips its pocket camcorder rivals like the Flip Mino and Kodak Playsport, but while it extends smoothly, the mechanism is extremely audible when playing back footage and auto focus struggles to cope with the even the slower zooms.

The 2.7-inch LCD screen is actually very good, reproducing colours very accurately, while the easy-to-use interface presents a range of options, including a Time Lapse setting that allows you to collect happenings over a period of time. You’ll need the full 32GB SDHD capacity to make use of that though.

Unsurprisingly for a camcorder at this price bracket there’s no white balance setting, but image stabilisation, face detection, a range of digital effects and a handy back-light can make a world of difference to your footage. Battery life is great, with a single charge offering 2 hours and 40 minutes of recording time, which easily outstrips most of the competitors.

The Samsung SMX-C20 is a well-designed compact effort that produces footage good enough to show there’s life in standard def yet, but whether people are willing to see past the lack of HD when there’s so many great value hi-def options out there is a different matter. Cameras like the Kodak Playsport and Flip Mino HD produce better video, better stills and are far more portable.

The Samsung SMX-XC20 is on sale now, find out more from Samsung

----------------------------------------------------------
Specifications

Sensor: 1.6 inch CCD
Zoom: 10 x Optical f/1.8-2.4
Stills: 1.9-megapixels
Video: 720x480 H.264
Storage: SDHC upto 32GB (no internal)
Battery: 2 hours 40 minutes
Connections: USB, 3.5mm jack
Microphone: built-in
Weight: 145g
Dimensions: 33mm x 109mm x 2.2mm

-----------------------------------------------------------