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Review: Samsung SMX-C10 Camcorder

YouTube Uploading

The Intelli-studio software lets you edit your video clips and upload them directly to YouTube, simply by entering your login and password. It’s built directly into the camcorder and installs automatically on your PC as soon as you connect the C10 via a USB cable. It’s a convenient system, but it already exists on a lot of Web-dedicated camcorders like the Creative Vado HD – which shoots in 720p HD.

The “Internet generation” probably watches video on a computer more than they do on a TV set. Instead of watching their cousin’s wedding or footage of a family reunion, they tend to favor watching the indiscretions of the latest celebrities (oversimplified, of course).

Logically enough, Samsung is following the trend with the SMX-C10, which falls straight into the “Shoot and Share” camcorder category. To be sure we make no mistake about it, Samsung has even stuck on a YouTube label, clearly stating that this camcorder is made for uploading straight to the Web.

MP4 (H.264)
CCD 1/6"
10x optical
Focal length in 24x36
1.52” x 2.22” x 4.5”/1.2 pounds

First impressions

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. To make sure, Samsung supplies a very explicit user’s guide to explain how the product works. Visually, the C10 looks like a lacquered soap holder and is sold in three “Touch of Color” colors – red, blue, and gray.

The C10’s finish is very pleasant to touch. The camcorder has a distinctive feature – its lens is tilted upward 25 degrees. 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.

Zoom toggleRear compartment for the battery and SD card

The C10 also has a rear compartment - like the trunk 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, with its 2.7-inch display at 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 convenience feature of the C10 is that it can recharge via the USB cable or an AC outlet. The battery life is a remarkable 120 minutes in regular use.

Image quality

With its small (1/6-inch) 800,000 pixel CCD sensor, the C10 shoots in standard definition - 720x576 - and saves the files to an SD card. 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 mediocre. 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 bit rate is that it makes it possible to record three hours of video on an 8 GB SD card. 

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

Samsung SMX-C10
  • Light and compact
  • 34.6mm focal length
  • Easy to use
  • Backlit remote control
  • High noise in low light
  • Digital image stabilizer not effective
  • Low bit rate
  • While it’s easy to use and quite handsome, the C10 is behind the curve. At $199.99, it faces strong competition from “pocket” camcorders that shoot in full HD for the same price.