HD Camcorders for Any Budget

Forbes

Shopping for a high-definition camcorder doesn't sound like it should be a difficult undertaking, but the vast differences in prices can make your head spin. Don't fear. The following list will help you find the HD camcorder that best suits your needs and budget.

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Pure Digital Flip MinoHD
Price: $229

The Pure Digital Flip MinoHD is king of the Web-video camcorders, with a slim, stylish appearance and the best video quality of its class. Though it lacks important features, like image stabilization or optical zoom, the MinoHD is intended for taking short bursts of video for sharing on the Internet. The bundled software makes uploading to HD-supporting services like YouTube incredibly easy — even the least tech-savvy among us can make this little wonder work.

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Creative Vado HD
Price: $229

The Vado HD is Creative's attempt to challenge Pure Digital, and while it's a fine entry in the Web-video market, it doesn't quite live up to the Flip. The overall look of the camera is a dull matte-gray, rubberized finish. Video quality is fine, but not outstanding, even though Creative has double the recording time of the Flip.

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Kodak Zx1
Price: $149

Available starting this May, the Kodak Zx1 is the successor to the company's first high-definition model, the Zi6. On paper, the Zx1 has a lot working in its favor. The 2.0-inch LCD is certainly an improvement over the MinoHD's cramped, 1.5-inch display. It's also significantly cheaper than the MinoHD and Vado HD. Unfortunately, Kodak's recent track record of products with low prices and big features has not been so good. Whether the Zx1 can follow through on its claims is yet to be seen, but if the past is any indication: Buyer beware.

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Samsung SL820
Price: $279

A digital camera like the Samsung SL820 is strong competition for the Web-video camcorders. It not only provides excellent 720p high-definition video, it's also a fully functioning 12-megapixel digital camera with an image stabilized 5x optical zoom and a vivid, 3.0-inch LCD display. For only $50 more than the Flip or Vado, you can have a much more versatile HD video experience.

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Canon Powershot SD960
Price: $329

The Canon SD960 is a diminutive digital camera with 720p high-definition video. Small enough to be dropped into a pocket, the SD960 features a 2.8-inch widescreen LCD display, and has an HDMI output for piping your HD clips direct to your HDTV for playback. It's also a 12-megapixel still camera with a strong 4x optical zoom lens.

 

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Panasonic Lumix ZS3
Price: $399

This is probably the most robust HD digital camera currently available. It's a compact 10-megapixel camera with a large, 3.0-inch LCD that takes video in 720p, but that's not even its most appealing specification. The ZS3 also has a long-range, 12x optical zoom. Panasonic is positioning the ZS3 as a "hybrid" camera and camcorder, and it certainly begins to blur the lines between the two devices.

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JVC Everio GZ-HM200
Price: $579

If you prefer something a little more traditional, the JVC Everio GZ-HM200 has a standard camcorder form factor but is quite forward-thinking in its features. To start, it records in full 1920 x 1080 pixel HD and has a very powerful 20x optical zoom lens for crisp, long-range shooting. It also has two SDHC memory card slots and is capable of capturing video continuously across both cards. JVC is also mindful that sharing videos over the Internet is important to the modern consumer and has added a special button for one-touch uploading directly to YouTube. It doesn't get much easier than that.

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