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Article by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor) Product was submitted by: Samsung Canada
We all have to admit, with every passing day, HD is getting more an more popular. Whether it is your new HDTV, your Blu-ray player or your HD connection to your computer, the standard and the related products are getting more popular. Take for example this HD solid state camcorder I will be reviewing today. Seeing most consumers won't want to watch any of their standard resolution on a wide HDTV, a lot of buyers are moving to a camcorder that matches the capabilities of their flat panel TV. With prices falling and capabilities growing, no user has to settle for a bargain basement camcorder anymore. Everyone can afford a camcorder that only 3-5 years ago would be worth in excess of $1000-$2000. In addition, with HD on the rise, the consumer would be straight out foolish to buy anything other than HD camcorder and essentially future-proof their investment. Today I will be reviewing Samsung's latest HD camcorder offering which is completely solid state, features full progressive HD recording capabilities and packs it all into a small and tidy package that weighs as much as an old VHS tape that you would use in an older camcorder when they became available to the consumer in the open market. Keep on reading, you will be surprised.
PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS & FEATURES
Let's take a look at what is included with this HD camcorder. Samsung is pretty hit and miss with their included hardware and sometimes some components are overlooked.
First out is your usual user's manual along with the warranty and helpline registration paperwork. But also included is a full version of DVD Suite from Cyberlink. This essentially allows you to burn your solid state recorded content onto a DVD for archiving or viewing.
I do have to say, the hardware kit is pretty complete with some added additions that even I thought would not be included. What comes included is: - Docking Cradle - USB Data Cable - Soft Camera Case - Power Adapter - Remote Control w/ Batteries - Standard Analog Video Patch Cable - HD Component Patch Cables - Lithium-Ion Battery (850mAh) As you see, there is everything you need to enjoy your camera right out of the box. The one thing I wish was included seeing this was an HD camcorder was a HDMI cable. Seeing it has a direct HDMI connection capability, it should be included to allow most users to connect directly to their new TV with one simple connection.
And at last you have your new camcorder. As you can see in the photo that they still use the glossy piano finish which shows every fingerprint, hair and spec of dust. But over all the camcorder is quite small for a full HD camcorder. But the size, you would think it was a small cheap throw away type of camcorder you take on hiking trips, but other than the size, this camcorder is a lot more powerful than its dimensions. You will see why in the upcoming pages.
PRODUCT PICTORIAL & WALKTHROUGH
Let's take a walk around the camcorder and point out what you, the potential buyer, should know about your upcoming purchase.
Starting off at the front, there is a shutter slide to open and close a protective shutter over the lens as well. This comes in handy and you won't be constantly putting the lens cap on and off, but still will offer perfect protection from dust and debris. Also from left to right your have the recording indicator, and LED light and the remote control sensor. The bottom casing under the lens contains the stereo front facing microphone.
At first glance most will see a rather simple photo with the usual zoom control and the photo capture button, but the top holds more functionality than that.
What most will not see is the hidden door which allows access to the battery and the external MMC memory card slot. The battery can be slipped in and is held in place with a spring slide lock and the MMC card is a simple push into place configuration. You will laugh, but being as stubborn as I am, I tried to find the damn door to insert the batter and searched high and low and had to resort to the manual to find its true location. Of course I thought it was inserted into the bottom like most other camcorders.
The right side of the unit has an adjustable hand strap and a hidden, yet useful function.
The swivel hand-grip allows for comfortable video recording from lower vantage point and allows you to record at lower levels without getting on your knees or crouching.
Moving around to the rear, you have your usual power, record and mode button along with Samsung's Easy-Q setup button for excellent default recording settings along with a LED mode indicator and DC power and external microphone connections at the bottom. Very easy to use and essentially childproof right out of the box.
Once the side display is opened, you will have some other options you can explore. On the display frame, you have an alternate record button, a zoom control and a button to allow you access to the menu. The one thing that fooled me for a bit was some sort of navigation pad to navigate through the menu options. One option is to use the remote which works perfect and the other is seen below.
The display itself is also a VERY handy 2.7 inch touchscreen. Everything is accessible in seconds with a press of a fingerprint. As you can see, it can be rather fun to explore through the hundreds of menu options. I personally will not be walking through the menu system seeing it is so vast and if anyone can setup a TV, you can setup this camera. The Easy-Q is the best option for most users seeing it wraps all the perfect quality and anti-vibration options under one button. Even with all the fiddling I have done to make things just right, they were all essentially the same as what this one button offers.
Through a small door you will see the connections for USB, video and the handy HDMI connections. If something goes wrong, you also have a master reset that can be used if something goes wrong. Above the connection panel is the internal speaker and control buttons for the LCD display brightness boost and the display of recording information on screen. Again, Samsung has kept everything very simple so you will not need a tech degree just to record some video.
The large widescreen display is exceptionally bright, clear and sharp. Even from an arm's length away, the display can still easily be easily read. As seen in this picture, you will be able to keep track of battery and recording time info, quality settings, options enabled and the touch screen options to access the menu system.
PRODUCT USE & TESTING
In this section I will be going through my thoughts on using this product over the course of a couple weeks. I will be updating this review accordingly over time once more recording content is acquired. I will be posting samples as they come available. Photo Mode
The photo mode on most camcorders I have reviewed in the past wasn't worth being included in the product so I braced myself and winced as I went about doing some basic photo tests in lower light environments. To say the least, I was VERY impressed. The only thing to note is that you have to toggle to the photo mode in order to take a quick shot. I don't mind this seeing I don't want an interruption in my video anyway. I like to keep my photos and videos separate and not have the textbook shutter sound and screen pause when a photo was taken using other camcorders. This camcorder is essentially an excellent basic digital camera crammed into an already feature filled product. The 1.56Megapixel sensor is capable of interpolated 2048x1536 photo of surprisingly good quality in medium to well lit environments. There is also a macro mode which takes excellent close photos even in low light conditions. In fact, it takes better low light macro photos than my main camera. The picture above is just one of many close photos that were taken and this is in a lower light office environment at night. Although this camera doesn't have a flash, it is an excellent basic digital camera and should serve as a direct replacement when traveling. with the included 4 GB of memory, this will allow you to take 3813 photos at the highest resolution settings. Unless you are a professional photographer (we all know how snobby they can be when it comes to photo quality), the photos created by this camera are big enough, clear enough and good enough for just about everyone to enjoy. This will also allow you to keep the digital camera at home and save lugging around two different devices during an outing. Trust me, that is a great feature in itself. This camera is coming with me to Vegas and I will love the fact I can enjoy both HD video and excellent photo quality on one package.
Video recording is a simple test. It works well, or it fails. There is not suggestive middle ground. The SC-HMX10A is nothing less than an excellent HD video camcorder for everyday use. Regardless of quality, all files are recorded in MPEG4 format which means you will be strapped to using the DIVX player or *shudder* Quicktime to view any recorded content. Regardless of HD or SD quality settings, content is clear and does reflect the quality setting you actually pick for the particular job. To be blunt, you really can't make HD recording any easier. the unit comes with 4 GB of memory included and has a slot which will enable you to upgrade the memory through a SD up to 2 GB and up to 32Gb via an SDHC media card. Though 32Gb is an option, Samsung suggests that 32Gb might not work properly so 16Gb is suggested in most cases. Even so, with the included memory you have options of up to 267minutes of recording using the SD Economy setting or 44minutes using the progressive scan 60fps Super Fine HD setting. With either setting you will be limited to 8085minutes worth of battery life before a charge will be necessary. Samsung's battery estimates are accurate and I saw up to 90minutes when recording in certain lower light environments which ease the LCD's drain on the battery. Now when it comes to viewing the recorded content, if you can use the camera's player, do so. The HD playback on even a QX9770 quad core computer using the DIVX player or Quicktime is challenging. make sure you have an adequate system before you try to view an HD content. Progressive HD content rendering will stress even the best of machines and even my X6800 Xtreme Dual Core was studdering when playing back the higher quality content. At first I thought there was a problem with the camera, but it turns out it was a system that wasn't fast enough to view the content properly. Just keep that in mind. But overall, well done. Playing back progressive HD recorded content on a large LCD 1080P HDTV is damn impressive. But with the quality improvement, flaws in everything including your looks will be affected. I didn't know I was that ugly until I saw a recording of myself in HD.....
CONCLUSIONS & AFTERTHOUGHTS
Samsung's first foray into solid state HD recording can be easily summed up to be a success. Everything works perfectly, controls are easy to use and video/photo qualities are excellent for an all-in-one product. With the rise in HDTV sales, HD camcorders are going to get more and more popular. Consider an HD camcorder as future-proofing your purchase so it will be compatible with the new TV standard for several years. Throughout the couple weeks of testing, no real problems have reared their head other than the playback issues on the computer. But that is not a problem with the camcorder, that is a problem with the computer and limited HD MPEG4 viewing software that doesn't take advantage of multicore processors properly. Other than that, the only omission in my opinion is the lack of the HDMI cable in the hardware kit. If you make an HD camera, supply all the relevant HD connection possibilities and cables. To boil it down, if you are interested in future-proofing your new camcorder purchase, the SCHMX10A is practically a foolproof option that should be on your short list of potential buying options. This product is a very good buy. Pros: - Build Quality - Price - Ease of Use - Touch screen - 4Gb of included memory - Connectivity - Included Dock Cons: - Should provide a HDMI cable with the camera - Automatic lens shutter cover rather than a manual