Pocket camcorders are a good option for anyone who wants to capture good quality HD video and play it on a large screen TV, or share it over the internet, without having to pay $1000 for the privilege.
Although designed for the web-sharing generation, most of the models tested record video good enough to enjoy on a large-screen TV, and are easy to use.
- They all capture video using the common H.264 codec for video and use the MPEG-4 video format, which has widespread support among PC and Apple media players as well as many of the latest TVs and digital video recorders (DVRs).
- Most of the models tested cost less than $300, are simple to use and can upload video to sharing sites such as YouTube using a PC with a minimum of fuss.
- Unlike most smartphones or full-featured HD camcorders, many of the pocket camcorders on test can be dropped, submerged in water and generally dealt with in a rough manner, which is a big plus if you plan on sharing recording duties with family and friends.
CHOICE tested 15 pocket camcorders (also known as multimedia cameras) to see which deliver the best combination of video and audio quality, and which are easiest to use. We also compared the video quality of the pocket camcorders on test with a variety of other devices that claim to capture video including Smartphones (Apple iPhone 4 and Nokia N8), HD camcorders (Panasonic HDC-SD750 and Canon Legria HF–R28), a Sony Alpha 55V digital SLR and Casio EX-ZR10 compact.
The results show that the top performing pocket camcorders are significantly better than the best Smartphones for video quality and similar to the digital SLR and best performing compact. As expected, the HD camcorders deliver not only more exposure control and an optical zoom but also better quality HD video.
For more information on Camcorders, see Cameras and Camcorders.
Brands and models tested
- JVC Picsio GC-FM2
- JVC Picsio GC-WP10
- Kodak PlaySport Zx5
- Panasonic HM-TA2
- Panasonic HM-TA20
- Panasonic HX-DC1
- Panasonic HX-WA10
- Samsung HMX-W200
- Sony Bloggie 3D MHS-FS3
- Sony Bloggie Duo MHS-FS2
- Sony Bloggie MHS-FS1
- Sony Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20
- Toshiba Camileo BW10
- Toshiba Camileo S30
How we test
All video recordings are made at the maximum resolution setting in auto mode.
The devices are mounted on a tripod to record our test scene
, with a mix of static and moving objects in the foreground and background, for one minute with panning. The lighting conditions are controlled to simulate outdoor (light temperature 5600K with an illumination level at 3500 lux), artificial (fluorescent lamp at 3200K and 1000 lux) and low light at about 12 lux.
The recordings are played back
on 24-inch LCD monitors with the resolution set to 1920 x 1200p, and a three-person panel evaluates sharpness, resolution, colour fidelity, exposure and contrast gradation.
The quality of the recorded sound is judged by three testers, evaluating overall audio quality.
Ease of use
is carried out by evaluating aspects such as the menu controls during recording and playback, as well as the quality of information supplied on the LCD screen.
PC transfer and online uploading
is evaluated for speed and ease of use when moving video footage from the camcorder to a PC, as well as the software used to prepare and upload video to a site such as YouTube.
is tested using the camcorder at the highest resolution possible and measuring the recording time taken before the battery is discharged. Our testers also evaluate the time taken to charge the model using the USB connection if available.