Samsung's Standard-Definition Camcorders: SMX-K45, SMX-K40
Last updated on 03/01/2011
Though high-definition has seized the forefront, standard-definition camcorders are still available and could make for excellent deals if you're not too concerned about being on the cutting edge.
Last week, we discussed the announcement of the Samsung HMX-U10, a pocket camcorder in the mold of the Flip, which is capable of shooting video in full 1080p high-definition resolution. Though high-definition is nice, it's not always what one might expect. Though we haven't yet gotten a close look at the HMX-U10, it's probably safe to assume that a $200 HD camcorder isn't going to get you the same quality and satisfaction that a $1,200 HD camcorder would.
Additionally, pocket camcorders like the HMX-U10 lack important features that can impact the overall quality of your videos, namely image stabilization and optical zoom capabilities. What good is a high-definition video if it's all jittery and shaky? If you're a consumer shopping in the more affordable end of the market, a product like the U10 might seem appealing—high quality, low price—but ultimately you get what you pay for.
Standard Definition: Still an Option
Though not as cheap as the U10, the Samsung SMX-K40 and SMX-K45 digital camcorders have a lot to offer, and the extra cash you shell out might just save you some headaches. The SMX-K40 has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $329, while the K45 has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $499.
Both camcorders shoot at standard-definition resolutions, though not in the traditional standard-definition aspect ratio of 4:3. These camcorders have resolutions of 720 x 480 pixels, which is widescreen, and should allow them to be viewed comfortably on a high-definition television (though obviously not in high-definition). They both also have a built-in HDMI output, for easy, best-quality connection to an HDTV.
They are equipped with optical zoom lenses capable of reaching 52x. That's nice, but things typically get too shaky beyond 30x, even if you're using image stabilization. In any case, the reach is there if you need it, or if you have a tripod that can keep the camcorder steady in super-long zoom situations.
Even though the SMX-K40 and K45 lack the resolution found on the U10, the superior optics, processing, and image stabilization feature make it a formidable competitor. It's important to remember that resolution is not the be all and end all when it comes to digital video, no matter what the marketing hype may say.