Samsung SC-MX20 Camcorder Review
Earlier this year, Samsung blew us away with the surprisingly strong performance of their high definition SC-HMX20. Over the years, we had grown accustomed to mediocre video from the Samsung line and the HMX20 gave us reason to pause—even reason to recommend a Samsung camcorder. Unfortunately, the surprising improvements we saw in the HMX20 didn\'t trickle down to the latest standard definition camcorder: the Samsung SC-MX20 (MSRP $229.00).
Audio / Playback / Connectivity
While the Samsung SC-MX20 does have a couple of intriguing audio options, it certainly doesn't offer the breadth or depth of control that more experienced videographers crave. Then again, there is also no accessory shoe, microphone output, or headphone jack... this isn't a camcorder for the pros. The only sound input available is the built-in microphone, cleverly mounted on either side of the lens—out of reach from wandering pinkies.
The menus offer no monitor or control over audio levels, but there are two options designed to provide better audio: wind cut and voice mute. According to Samsung, the wind cut feature cuts off 'low frequency components in the sound picked up by the microphone.' This might help reduce some background wind noise, but it can muffle other sounds too. And it certainly won't magically wipe away the distraction of a truly blustery day. If you want to mute the sound entirely, you can enable 'Voice Mute,' which will make a completely silent recording. (Contrary to the name of this feature, the camcorder cannot selectively mute voices and record other sound.)**
Like most camcorders, the Samsung SC-MX20 has a separate playback mode, which can be engaged by pressing the mode button at the back end of the camcorder. The playback mode is very basic: a screen full of thumbnails opens and you use the directional pad to highlight a clip, then press the center button on the d-pad to select it.
While the clip is playing, you can raise and lower the volume (up and down on the d-pad) or skip to the beginning or end of the clip (left and right on the d-pad). Holding down on left and right will also let you fast-forward or rewind.
Strangely, returning to the thumbnails is accomplished by pressing down on the joystick, then pressing the zoom toggle. It's the one unintuitive control on the entire camcorder. Finally, if you want to delete a clip or change your playback options, you can press the Menu button. There isn't a whole lot you can do, but there are a few options:
|Play Option||Play All, Play One, Repeat All, Repeat One|
|Delete||This File, All Files|
|File Info||This File|
|Settings||Storage Info, Format, File No. (Series, Reset), Time Zone, Date/Time Set, Date Format, Time Format, Date/Time, LCD Brightness (-15 - +15), LCD Color, Beep Sound, Auto Power Off, TV Display, Default Set, Version, Menu Color, Transparency, Language, Demo|
The SC-MX20 is certainly minimalistic when it comes to its ports. Designed with just two different compartments, Samsung has given the user the bare minimum when it comes to connectivity.
On the bottom, you'll find a compartment housing the battery and SD/SDHC card slot. The cover is spring-loaded and releases with a sturdy switch. Inside, the battery is held in place by its own small switch, while memory cards are released with the traditional spring mechanism. The bottom location makes good design sense, but is less than ideal if your camcorder is typically mounted on a tripod—you can't replace the battery or the memory card without removing the tripod plate. This compartment is also the flimsiest component of the otherwise durable MX20; the hinge for the cover seems delicately built and will likely break with too much wear and tear.
|The compartment door has a flimsy hinge, but the battery and memory cards are safely stowed away.|
On the back of the camcorder, you'll find the primary port cavity: a small enclosure for the AV output, DC power input, and USB jack. The cover is attached by a thin plastic strip, but it feels a bit sturdier than similar designs on other camcorders. The placement keeps the cords out of the way when you're recording or just transferring files.
|Just three lonely ports on the Samsung SC-MX20.|
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