Best camcorders for Christmas 2012
Looking more like a weapon from Halo than something you'd gladly point at a family member, the Canon XA10 is designed to be compact but still rock the skills of a professional camera. To that end, you get a 10x optical zoom, high quality audio recording, 64GB of storage with space for two SDXC memory cards and exceptional video quality fused with relative ease of use.
£1730, Amazon UK
The Sony NEX-VG20 packs a whopping 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 E-mount lens, full 1080p video at 60 frames per second, a top-notch microphone that supports 5.1 surround sound and the camera lens from Sony's extremely talented NEX 5-N digital SLR camera. Pricey it may be, but this is a beast of a camcorder.
GoPro HD Hero3
From £200, GoPro
For extreme sports purists or motorsports fanatics, the GoPro HD Hero3 tops our list. Whether you go for the cheaper White edition or the top-of-the-range Black variant, you are getting at least 1080p quality in a pocketable camera capable of being attached to just about anything, including handlebars, helmets and dashboards. You also get a waterproof case and built-in Wi-Fi.
In its waterproof case (up to 60m depth, if you were wondering), the Contour+2 looks particularly odd, but the aerodynamic cylindrical design hints at its purpose: this extreme sports-focused camcorder is designed to sit on your helmet. It comes equipped with a port for an external microphone, smartphone remote control, 4GB of microSD storage and a mini HDMI connection for watching your videos on an HDTV or monitor. Oh, and it packs full 1080p video quality.
JVC Picsio GC-FM2
£50, Amazon UK
While it may be a bit long in the tooth, there's no denying the allure of a full 1080p camcorder with a touch screen for under 50 smackaroons. Yes, it looks like an old MP3 player but that makes it beautifully portable and the lack of buttons ensures just about anyone can use it. Throw in full 1080p recording, image stabilisation and internet sharing and you have a great starter camcorder for the less tech-savvy movie-maker.
£150, Amazon UK
While a number of cameras include cases for going underwater, the Panasonic HX-WA10 can film from up to three metres below the surface without a bulky case and for a considerable length of time – certainly long enough for your skin to shrivel up. It can also do slow-motion filming for capturing the deep blue's finest in style, zoom in to 12x and the 1080p video quality is great. If looks matter, it also scores in this department.
Liquid Image Summit 1080p
£220, Action Cameras
While mounting a camera is a doddle once you've decided where it is going, you may forget to bring the camera with you or may even go walkies. Fortunately for you, Liquid Image provides HD camcorders built into goggles, with the Summit example designed for snowboarders and skiers. Apart from looking awesome and being easy to use, you get an LCD display you can view from the inside to keep tabs on battery life and the option to expand the memory via a microSD/SDHC slot.
Toshiba Camileo X400
For smaller wallets, the Toshiba Camileo X400 may be a good fit. A 23x optical zoom at this price is extraordinary and the 1080p video quality will help your videos look the part. It can even do 5MP stills and the storage space can be bumped up via a SDXC memory card if you have lengthy footage requirements. As if all that wasn't enough, you get a fetching carry pouch, shoulder strap, remote control and mini HDMI cable.
£500, Amazon UK
Not sure if you want to record in 2D, 3D or a bit of both? Fear not, reader. Panasonic's HC-X900 can film both mediums with ease – if you upgrade to the 3D lens, that is – and in a steady fashion, thanks to five-way stabilisation and excellent detail. It comes with a host of options to fine tune your footage as well as a built in six-channel microphone and the 3D footage works even if you lack 3D glasses. Cheap it most certainly isn't, but the portable HC-X900 offers pro-level perks for its price.
£690, Amazon UK
Equipped with a sizable 3.5in touchscreen display, 3D recording out of the box and 5.1 channel surround sound recording, the Sony HDR-TD10E is a truly capable camcorder. Two lenses at the front, two sensors for each lens and two processors ensure 3D recording is far from an afterthought, and standard recording is at 1080p quality. It also takes 7.1MP stills, in case you require the odd photo. Just don't drop it – there's twice as much to go wrong.