Samsung VP-HMX20C review

Ben Pitt
18 May 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 



1/1.8in CMOS sensor, PAL, 1,920x1,080 (50i/25p), 10.0x zoom, 456g

The VP-HMX20C is unique here thanks to its 1/1.8in sensor.

This has almost three times the surface area of the Sony HDR-CX11E's 1/3in sensor, and over 11 times that of Panasonic's HDC-SD20. Bigger sensors capture more light and measure it more accurately, giving a significant boost to image quality. In bright conditions the VP-HMX20C produced high-quality video, but in low light it was fantastic, with barely any noise when shooting indoors on the 1080p progressive scan setting. Colours were good, if a little warm.

Externally, the VP-HMX20C is simple and elegant. There's no video lamp but a flash supports the photography function. The HDMI output on the docking station requires a mains adaptor, though. The touchscreen-based menus are easy to navigate, but shutter speed and exposure controls aren't accessible at the same time, and the spot-focus mode is clumsy.

The 8GB of built-in memory holds 71 minutes of top-quality footage, and there's an SDHC slot to expand it. Video is saved in H.264 format at an average bit rate of 14Mbit/s, which is almost identical to the AVCHD format used elsewhere. However, fast-moving subjects posed more of a problem, resulting in blocky artefacts. The problem was exacerbated by wobbly camerawork, and with the electronic image stabilisation struggling to compensate, this is a camera that needs to be handled very smoothly. Compression artefacts were also more visible in out-of-focus shots, particularly in low light, where the autofocus struggled.

The lack of AVCHD compliance caused problems with software, although footage worked fine in the bundled CyberLink playback and editing software. Worryingly, some files were reported as corrupt by Sony Vegas and made Adobe Premiere Elements and CyberLink PowerDirector crash.

The VP-HMX20C's low-light performance is fantastic, but the proprietary format makes Sony's less remarkable but more dependable HDR-CX11E a better choice.

Basic Specifications



Optical zoom10.0x
Digital zoom100x
Sensor1/1.8in CMOS
Sensor pixels6,400,000
Widescreen modenative
LCD screen size2.7in
Viewfinder typenone
Video lampNo
Video recording formatAVC
Video recording mediaSDHC and flash memory
SoundAAC 48KHz stereo
Video resolutionsPAL, 1,920x1,080 (50i/25p)
Maximum image resolution3,264x2,448
Memory slotSDHC
Mermory supplied8GB internal


Digital inputs/outputsUSB
Analogue inputs/outputsAV out, component out, HDMI out (via dock)
Other connectionscharge jack, microphone, docking port
Battery type7.4V 850mAh Li-ion
Battery life1h 43m
Battery charging positioncamcorder

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB

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