Back to School Guide 2010: Five camcorders for the student crowd

Here are five camcorders to consider for the student crowd all under the $300 mark.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor on

Now that it is August, it's time to start thinking about what gadgets to bring back to school. While a computer is necessary for work, everyone needs something to capture the memories, and a camcorder is a useful tool to do just that.

While many point-and-shoot cameras and smartphones come with video recording support (sometimes in HD), there are plenty of other recording devices available for some higher quality clips and easy uploading features to YouTube and Facebook.

Here are five camcorders to consider for the student crowd all under the $300 mark.
Coby Snapp Mini For the absolute budget-minded, there's the Coby Snapp Mini camcorder. Priced as low as $30, the pocket-sized device is extremely basic with a 1.3-megapixel CMOS sensor and a tiny 1.44-inch TFT LCD screen. You'll only get just about two hours of recording time in with a 640 x 480 resolution at 30fps in motion JPEG format. But for quick clips and if high-quality isn't a prerequisite, then this little camcorder isn't a bad accessory.

Flip SlideHD The latest addition to the Flip family, the Flip SlideHD mini-camcorder is a departure from previous models with its design. Most specs have been upgraded -  most notably the 3-inch TFT display with a 400 x 240 resolution that is revealed when the user slides open the camcorder. Recording 1,280 x 720 resolution clips at 30fps in H.264 format, videographers can save up to four hours of video to the 16GB of internal memory. However, note that the internal Lithium-Ion battery only lasts hours per charge. The standard MSRP is $279.99.

Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 Sony has made the HD mini-camcorder market far more competitive with the recent release of the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5. Available in four shades (blue, pink, violet and white), the newest Bloggie model challenges the Flip Slide in both price (MSRP: $169) and video quality (1,920 x 1,080 resolution in H.264 format). The landscape-oriented LCD is only 2.4-inches wide, but it sports a unique flexible lens that can swivel up to 270 degrees and instantly powers on when turned. Along with shooting 5-megapixel stills, the MHS-PM5 includes face detection in both video and still modes.

Canon FS300 If you're looking for something a little more powerful, there are two higher-end compact digital camcorders on this list.

First up is the Canon FS300, which was unveiled at CES 2010 earlier this year. Powered by Canon's own DIGIC DV II processor, the FS300 boasts 41x advanced zoom, a 2.7-inch widescreen LCD, and Dynamic IS technology for smoother video. While image quality isn't going to be professional (it's standard definition rather than HD), users can record directly to SD cards with up to 32GB in capacity for approximately 20 hours. You can get this Canon camcorder for as low as $239.

Samsung SC-MX20 The Samsung SC-MX20 is a direct competitor to the Canon FS300 with better specs in some areas but some weaker aspects as well. Made for customers interested in easy uploading to YouTube, the standard definition camcorder boasts a 680K-pixel CCD sensor, a Schneider Lens with 34x optical zoom and 1200x digital zoom, and a 2.7-inch LCD screen.

The SC-MX20 does offer some flexibility for videographers, including two optional aspect ratios (4:3 and 16:9), and support for both SD and MMC cards. However, this one shoots 720 x 480i resolution clips in H.264 format, and only up to 16 hours on a 32GB capacity card. Nevertheless, this Samsung camcorder only costs $230. But it's a little more if red is your favorite color.

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