For those looking for an amazing lot of bang for the buck in a standard definition camcorder, the Samsung SMX-C10 may just be the best option available, that's why it's TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award winner. Beyond the low price and relatively impressive set of features, the camera has a unique, futuristic design that we find appealing. Rather than the typical straight on orientation, the lens is tilted upwards 25-degrees which allows the user to hold it at a more natural angle while filming. Additionally, the lens is recessed behind a similarly angled window. We can’t help but be reminded on the omniscient eye of the HAL 9000 computer in the classic science fiction classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
We generally only mention the cosmetics of electronic devices as near afterthoughts. But in the case of the Samsung SMX-C10 the handsome Touch of Color feature flows naturally from discussing the unique lens positioning, above. Though the camera is largely glossy black, can be purchased with either blue, red or gray discreetly embedded deeply within the housing of the camera and extending from the lens both on the top and bottom. It’s an exceptionally attractive look.
The SMX-C10 is a direct competitor with such pocket video cameras as the Flip and in its own ways, each has its benefits. This camcorder’s main advantage is the genuine 10x optical zoom and a great deal of flexibility that is absent from the pocket models. In addition to the optical zoom, there is a whopping 1,200x digital zoom which may sound impressive but, because digital zoom only enlarges the image collected by the lens, higher zoom equals distortion so it’s limited in its practical application. The optical zoom, on the other hand, keeps the image clear throughout its range. This camcorder has a digital image stabilization feature which Samsung calls Hyper Image Stabilization to reduce the effects of camera shake. Regrettably, it doesn’t have the much superior optical image stabilization feature.
The tiny size of the Samsung SMX-C10 is in large measure achievable because of the flash memory card. Rather than being recorded on antiquated video tape or even an integrated hard disc or DVD, the only recording medium on this device is a removable SD/SDHC card. It can accept cards of up to 16GB size. This is comparatively small next to some of our other top rated flash camcorders but, because the SMX-C10 records in the highly compressed H.264 format, it still can record a lot. Even at the top Superfine setting, about 6 hours and 20 minutes of recording can be stored. The cameras digital output is in MP4 format so is compatible with most editing programs.
Incorporated within the camera is Samsung’s Intelli-Studio software for viewing, editing and sharing videos. Unlike cameras that have software that must be installed on a computer before linking, the programming is in the camera so it can be plugged into any PC via the USB cable. The software is not Mac compatible. While it’s completely functional for local use, the programming is clearly aimed at video sharing web sites. It includes one touch uploading to popular sites like YouTube and Flickr. The USB connection also serves to charge the battery though there is also a dedicated charger.
We like the time lapse photography feature included in the SMX-C10. It allows for the recording of a single image at user designated intervals of one, three, five, ten, fifteen or thirty seconds which make it possible to record over a long period of time and collapse the whole process into a short, interesting video. The elapsed time frame can cover 24, 48 or 72 hours. Another useful and uncommon feature is animated thumbnail file selection. Each video clip creates a thumbnail view and, while searching through them, the user can select one which will play it as a thumbnail without having to enter playback mode. On camera editing is also available allowing for merging or splitting of files without using a computer.
Most controls on the SMX-C10 are located along side the 2.7-inch LCD screen. The majority of functions are controlled by a miniature joystick which allows for changing between auto focus, face detection and manual focusing. Manual focus is accomplished by manipulating the joystick and can be quite a challenge. Scene modes and a number of other functions are accessible via the joystick as well. Rated battery life is two hours and forty minutes but the camera seems to typically perform a little better than that with a full charge.
The Samsung SMX-C10 is a tiny, exotic looking camcorder whose size belies its substantial functionality. It’s a direct competitor to pocket video cameras, many of which now record in HD. This unit’s advantage lies in its superior flexibility and the 10x optical zoom lens. It’s a terrific choice anyone wanting extreme flexibility and portability at a low price.