Samsung HMX-U20 Compact Camcorder Review

I’ve been spending some time with the Samsung MemoryCAM HMX-U20 1080 HD  compact camcorder / pocket camcorder and, honestly, when I initially opened the camera and took it out of the box I was not to fired up about it.  Once I charged the battery and began to see the little cameras abilities and user friendliness my attitude toward it became more positive.  The MemoryCAM is not without flaws, but it is quite a solid performer and holds a good value at a decent price in my opinion.

The Samsung MemoryCAM HMX-U20 is a stylish piece finished  in a nice shinny black, silver, blue or red case with a slightly curved form that fits the hand nicely.  Not only does the MemoryCAM shoot 1080 HD video, it can manage 7.8MP still images also.  The MemoryCAM also comes with a nice thick nylon wrist strap with adjuster.

Operating the Samsung MemoryCAM is super easy.  There is a single start/stop video button and a separate button for still video capture.  A center toggle switch operate the zoom.  There is a 3x optical zoom on board and if that is not enough there is an extra 10x digital zoom.  The LCD is bright and easy to see as long as there is not direct sunlight.  I had to view the screen at somewhat odd angles, when in bright sunlight, in order to even get an idea of what was on screen.  While I am on my soapbox I want to mention that there is not a built-in light for dark conditions.  Samsung really needs to reconsider the decision to omit a light.  A couple of things that I like about the Samsung is the presence of real buttons and no touch screen capability.  Real buttons give feedback, which just makes for better camera operation, no matter the camera.

SPECIFICATIONS

Optics

  • Sensor: 14 Megapixel 1/2.3″ CMOS 1 (7.8MP effective)
  • Lens: Fixed Focus
  • Zoom: Optical: 3x / Digital: 10x
  • Filter Size: None

Recording

  • Recording Media: SD/SDHC
  • Video Format: High Definition MPEG AVC/H.264 1920 x 1080p (30 fps)
  • Still Image Resolution: JPEG: 10 Megapixel, 3648 x 2736
  • Audio Format: 2-ChannelStereo

Display

  • Display Type: LCD
  • Screen Size: 2″
  • Touchscreen: No

Features

  • Image Stabilization: Digital
  • Built-in Mic: Yes
  • Built-in Speaker: Yes
  • Built-in Light/Flash: Light – No; Flash – No
  • Accessory Shoe: None
  • Tripod Mount: 1/4″

Input/Output Connectors

  • Inputs: None
  • Outputs: 1x USB 2.0; 1x Composite Video (out); 1x Component Video (out)
  • Microphone Input: No
  • Headphone Jack: No

General System Requirements

  • Windows: (XP, Vista, 7); Mac (OS X)
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack
  • Power Adapter: A/C; USB
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 2.07 x 4.09 x 0.61″ / 5.26 x 10.39 x 1.55cm
  • Weight: 0.25 lb / 113g

Samsung has included an A/V out put port as well as a mini HDMI output.  An HDMI cable is not included.  A nice feature is being able to charge the MemoryCAM with A/C power or USB power.  Accessing the USB plug and other ports can be a little challenging.  While the port covers are sleek and good looking, removing the covers is a little difficult.

The bottom cover hides the lithium ion battery and SD memory card.  I wished more the once that the output port cover was as easy to open.

Accessories

Extra Memory: I’ve used the basic Kingston SD cards in the MemoryCAM, which worked just fine. No need to go all out on fast memory cards.  You’ll just need to make sure you pick up SD cards that are Class 4 or higher in order to capture Full HD video. The Samsung MemoryCAM HMX-U20 is compatible with all SD and SDHC cards – but not SDXC cards.

Extra Battery: When you are out and about an extra battery is a good idea so no action gets missed.  Samsung has a reasonably priced battery or for a few dollars less Pearstone has a suitable battery.  Pearstone also has a standalone AC/DC battery charger that could come in handy.

Case: The first negative impression I received upon opening the MemoryCAM was the lack of a case or pouch.  An inexpensive case is good insurance when carrying a camera of any kind when not in use.

On-Camera Light: I mentioned earlier that an on-camera light would be a welcome addition, but until Samsung steps up a CameraBright LED light that screw into the tripod mount would serve well.

Conclusion

All-in-all I really like the Samsung MemoryCAM HMX-U20.  There are a few annoyances that need some work by Samsung, but for the price, the video quality is quite good and the camera is easy to operate.  I really like the 3x optical zoom and the zoom toggle switch.

Samsung MemoryCAM HMX-U20 at B&H Photo/Video $179.00 $149.00 through 10/2/2010

Get the Samsung MemoryCAM HMX-U20 in Silver, Red and Blue also.

By making your purchases at B&H through the link above, you are supporting what we are doing here at Tech Tilt and by doing so in no way affects the price you pay.

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