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Old Nov 9, 2009, 10:14 PM   #1
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Default NEWBIE - Any decent camcorders for ~$100?

Looking to buy a 'decent' inexpensive digital camcorder, we are on a budget so looking at the ones around $100 or less. I don't expect much and I don't need a ton of features, but would like optical zoom and decent battery life at least. I know you get what you pay for, but are any of the ~$100 ones good for a basic vacation camcorder? Looks like most in that price range are DXG and Aiptek, neither of which I'm familiar with. Thanks!
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 12:33 AM   #2
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The only one I can personally recommend in that price range is the Kodak Zi6 pocket HD camcorder. It is last year's model, so it has recently been on sale for as low as $49.99.

Budget camcorders from companies like Coby, DXG, SVP, Jazz, and Aiptek are unfortunately mostly low quality and low performance. There are some exceptions which deliver acceptable results, but it's difficult to pinpoint them as the models keep changing every year. And please don't waste your money on a low-budget camcorder from Sakar, Digital Concepts, or Vivitar, like the kind you find on the shelf at Wal-Mart. They are all nothing short of terrible!

Best Buy currently has their standard definition (VGA resolution) Insignia camcorder on sale for $59.99. I don't have any experience with it; reviews on their web site for it have been good but not great (3.4 out of 5 stars).

Increasing your price range to $150 opens you up to many other good quality pocket size camcorders, including the Flip Ultra, Flip Mino, Samsung HMX-U10 (on sale), Sony Webbie, and Kodak Zx1. Best Buy also has several of their own Insignia HD camcorders in this price range.

And if you don't mind something larger than shirt-pocket size, NewEgg.com has the JVC GR-DA30 MiniDV tape camcorder on sale for $109.99 (refurbished). For that price you are getting a "real" camcorder with 30X optical zoom, autofocus, image stabilization, and manual adjustments -- features that most pocket size camcorders lack. If you don't want to deal with tapes and can spend a little more, they also have the JVC GZ-MS100 flash memory camcorder on sale for $144.99 (refurbished). I have the GZ-MS100 myself and it is an outstandingly good all-around camcorder for the price -- plus it's the smallest and lightest "real" CCD image sensor camcorder you'll find anywhere.
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 2:07 AM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply vwestlife. I am totally new to digital camcorders, so I guess I need to learn the pros & cons of the various recording media, ie flash memory vs miniDV vs others etc.

As for the Kodak Zi6, I just looked at some online reviews, and it sounds good! So thanks for the recommendation. Do you recall where you've seen it for $49? Because the best I've found so far is around $100.

Thanks again!

Last edited by DaveNetMan; Nov 10, 2009 at 2:56 AM.
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 8:37 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveNetMan View Post
As for the Kodak Zi6, I just looked at some online reviews, and it sounds good! So thanks for the recommendation. Do you recall where you've seen it for $49? Because the best I've found so far is around $100.
I haven't seen it myself at that price, but I heard Target had it as a closeout sale for $49.99. That may have been just a display model at a particular store, though.
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Old Nov 11, 2009, 5:57 PM   #5
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DaveNetMan

What I would do is look around your local walmart, targets etc and write down a list of camcorders you see in your price range and then enter the model numbers into youtube.com to see if there is any test footage. While youtube won't show it at it's best quality, it will give you an idea of whether the camcorder is worth bothering with.

It all depends on your video quality threshold. Some are only happy with the best that money can buy while others are happy that it's watchable. I still treasure the video I took of my newborn son 3-4 years ago with a cheap Aiptek IS-DV I got from Target. Had I not bought it, I wouldn't have those adhoc moments in Starbucks, the Mall, Parks etc! To me a camera with reasonable video quality is more valuable than one that is of prosumer quality that I am afraid to leave home with! Expensive cameras make me feel like Gollum in the Lord of the Rings when he says "my precious!" LOL

Generally in that price range you are going to have standard definition. Amazon.com still do the Aiptek MPVR which I have for under $100. It's VGA and quite decent still, but it doesn't do so well in low light but that's a hallmark trait of a lot of these solid state camcorders though they are slowly getting better.

Now there is one little inexpensive camcorder that is highly regarded here, and that's the Jazz HDV178. Both fishycomics and myself have it. We got it from Walmart for $99. The problem is there now appear to be 3 different versions of the same product and we have no idea if they have the same characteristics but Walmart has a decent return policy so you could at least try it.

This is the version we have:



The quality of this little camera is quite good although it does tend to pixelate on scenes with a lot of detail such as vegetation. But it does have quite reasonable low light for such a cheap device although color starts to fade but that doesn't bother me, after all sometimes a decent colorless video is better than a noisy useless color one.

Other than that, as vwestlife said, look for closeouts on models that have just been replaced such as the flip videos and kodaks. If you look around hard enough it's surprising sometimes what you can find!
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