Aside from the recent wave of ‘pistol-grip’ shooters, camcorders have stuck resolutely to the traditional horizontal form factor. And with good reason – for most people and situations, it’s a comfortable way to shoot video. But Samsung thinks it’s got an even better solution for our wrists – the HMX-R10, which has a lens that tilts upwards at a 25-degree angle.
The result is certainly eye-catching, if initially baffling. Picture the way that American cops hold flashlights in the movies and you’ll have an idea of how to approach it – you still hold the R10 aloft, but the angled lens means you can hold it at a more natural angle.
In many respects, the novelty design distracts from what is a wide range of practical and creative features.
The R10 records 1080p video or 9MP stills to SD and SDHC cards, and is remarkably easy to use. Its menu system is accessed via a responsive 2.7in touchscreen LCD, and while it’s a no-thrills option it remains straightforward and clearly labelled.
You can find and activate the features you need in double-quick time. Also particularly useful are the extra ‘record’ button and a second zoom control that are on the frame of the LCD.
Time well spent
Light and compact, the R10 suffers the same problem as many smaller cams: a narrow lens. This means you’ll find yourself moving further back in order to cram more of the shot in.
This downside is counter-balanced by features like face detection and HD timelapse recording, which allows you to record at between one- and 30-second intervals for up to 72 hours; perfect for capturing those rolling cloud shots beloved of wildlife documentaries.
There’s no manual in the box, that’s on a paper-saving CD, but there’s also no software CD among the accessories. Instead, as with pocket-sized competitors like Creative’s Vado HD and the Flip Mino HD, the R10 has software built-in. Connect it to a PC and the software will launch almost immediately, and you can edit and share movies.
The built-in software doesn’t work for Macs, though the R10 will be recognised on your desktop as an external drive and you can transfer files by dragging and dropping. The MP4 movie files can be played on a Mac using QuickTime.
Pennies from heaven
The R10 is a cleverly conceived camcorder, and that’s ignoring its unique design. Video is smooth, colourful and detailed, while the 9MP stills (12MP using interpolation) are crisp and vivid.
It is more costly than Flip, Creative or Toshiba Camileo models, but it’s also more versatile and productive – so in our view worth the extra pennies. It’s fun to use and serves up a superb platform to shoot and share movies with.