Our editorial staff evaluates products and services independently. But Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links. Learn More


Hard Drive Camcorder Reviews

reviews & comparisons
Top Ten Reviews no longer updates this category and keeps it here for archiving purposes only. It was last updated in

Hard Drive Camcorder

Why Buy a Hard Drive Camcorder

Hard drive camcorders are much more convenient than conventional camcorders that use a tape or optical discs. There is no need to worry about running out of tape or space on an optical disc, or swapping out a small flash-based SD card in the middle of your daughter’s recital. Thanks to a large capactiy hard drive, these camcorders can record dozens of hours of video without worrying about running out of digital storage space.

Hard drive camcorders are typically smaller than their mini DV and HDV counterparts. Since there are no tapes or discs, there is no need for a media transport mechanism, allowing manufacturers to slim down the chassis, making it easy to hold and very lightweight.

Our top three products – the Sony HandyCam HDR-XR160, JVC GZ-HD520BUS and Panasonic HDC-HS80 – shoot videos and digital stills that are stored on the hard disk drive. As a result, it is very easy to manage and organize clips or digital photos without the need for software, though many of the cameras do include a media management application. Typically, every time you hit the record button, the camera will create a new clip, making it easy to quickly go to the video you want to view.

Be sure to check out our articles on hard drive camcorders to learn more.

Hard Drive Camcorders: What to Look For

There are a variety of items, features and functions you should be looking for when deciding which hard drive camcorder is best for you. While many share similar features, not all of these camcorders shoot in high definition, or have a large hard disk drive, for example.

Every hard drive camcorder comes with standard features such as a state-of-the-art image sensor to capture video in high-definition or standard-definition, a quality lens with optical and digital zooms, and an image stabilizer for smoothing shooting. A couple of other important features include how the unit handles shooting in low light situations, and whether it can take digital photos. Plus, is there a touchscreen color LCD monitor, does it feature face detection and so on.

Image Quality
The video resolution of a hard drive camcorder is typically full high definition 1080p, though some of the camcorders on our list are standard definition. The video and audio should look and sound good. It’s also that it has several image quality settings, from highest to lowest, and the best setting can produce better video, but larger file sizes. These camcorders also can take digital stills, so the total number of megapixels is also important when considering the best unit.

Hard Drive Capacity
The larger the hard disk drive, the more footage it will hold. Many hard drive camcorders start at 80GB capacities, and the newest models are hitting 220GB, some of which can hold nearly 100 hours of high definition video, depending on the image quality setting.

Help & Support
It’s important that the hard drive camcorder manufacturer includes help options, such as a user manual, a FAQs page, tutorials and more, plus information about the warranty, such as the length of time for parts and labor. If you need support, a good company will provide a way to contact them, such as by phone, email or live chat.


Hard drive camcorders have plenty of features to help you create lasting video memories of your loved ones and friends, and using a hard disk drive allows you to shoot for hours without having to change a tape or SD card. They are easy to use and record beautiful video.

At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™

Camcorders Configurator
Not sure what to get?
Not sure what to get? Our Camcorder Configurator can help