Review: Samsung SMX-C10

Our score: 2/5
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November 11, 2009 9:30 AM
 
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Published: November 9, 2009 11:00 PM
By Edouard Maire

Today's Internet generation watches more video on a computer than they do on television. And instead of their cousin’s wedding or a family wedding party, they tend to prefer the indiscretions of the latest star (of course I’m oversimplifying...). 

Logically enough, Samsung is following the trend with the SMX-C10, which falls straight into the 'shoot and share' camcorder category. And to be sure we make no mistake about it, Samsung has even added a YouTube sticker, making it clear that this is a camcorder made for uploading video directly to the web.

Handling

The C10 is a model of simplicity. With only four buttons on the body, including the playback toggle and the on/off button, it won’t be easy to make mistakes.  Samsung also supplies a very explicit user’s guide to explain how the product works. Visually, the C10 looks like a lacquered soap dish and comes in three 'touch of colour' shades: red, blue and grey.

The C10’s finish is very pleasant to touch. The camcorder has a distinctive feature – its lens is tilted upward 25°. Thanks to this innovation, you won’t need to keep your elbow raised to film horizontally. You can keep it at waist level. In actual use, this ergonomic design feature works best when you’re filming subjects who are close to the lens. For landscape or medium-range shooting, the angled lens doesn’t really change anything. There’s no protective cover over the lens, but that’s not a problem since it’s protected by a very thin transparent window. The zoom control works well and is relatively sensitive. You do need to press it very, very softly to do a slow zoom.


Left: the zoom control.  Right: the slot for the battery and memory card

The C10 also has a rear compartment, like the boot of a car, that houses the SD card and the battery. I really like this system – it’s convenient and discreet, blending in perfectly with the contours of the body. The 16:9 display is also good, measuring 2.7'' from corner to corner and 230,000 pixels. The adjustment menu is plain but adequate, as is navigation through its various headings, which you do via a joystick button at the edge of the display.  Another convenient feature of the C10 is that it can recharge via the USB cable or regular power outlet. The battery life is a remarkable 120 minutes of regular use.

Image Quality

With its small 1/6'', 800 000 pixel CCD sensor, the C10 shoots in standard definition – 720x576 pixels – and saves the files to an SD card. Thus, unfortunately, this is not a High Definition camcorder. But the field of view uses a 16:9 aspect ratio, and the focal length is a very wide 34.6 mm, with a zoom factor of up to 10x.

The image quality is very averge. In low light, the autofocus has trouble keeping up, and noise quickly invades the image, especially when the digital image stabilizer is enabled. That’s because it hogs half of the CCD sensor in order to do its job, which inevitably has an impact on image quality. In fact it’s not very effective, and you can disable it in the menu. The use of H.264 encoding doesn’t really help the image quality, either, with its bit rate of 5 Mbps – only average, but good enough for standard definition. The only advantage of the lower bitrate is that it makes it possible to record three hours of video on an 8 GB SD card.

Since the C10 isn’t HD, connectivity is kept to a minimum – a Composite A/V cable and a USB cable for connecting to your computer.

2/5 Samsung SMX-C10 DigitalVersus 2009-11-10 00:00:00

Pros

  • Light and compact
  • 34.6 mm focal length
  • Easy to use
  • Recharges via USB port

Cons

  • High noise in low light
  • Digital image stabilizer not very effective
  • Low bitrate video

Conclusion

While it’s easy to use and quite handsome, the C10 is behind the curve. At this price, it faces strong competition from “pocket” camcorders that shoot in Full HD without being more expensive, like the Kodak Zi8.

OUR SCORE 2/5
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