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What can $200 buy you in a camcorder? Not a whole heckuva lot, which is probably why the standard-definition SC-MX20, with its traditional design, long zoom lens, convenient SD-card-based recording, and relatively nice manual feature set, jumps out from a crowd of nonzooming minicamcorders and awkward pistol-grip models. But while its feature set sounds quite appealing, its performance and video quality don't match closely priced competitors.
I have mixed thoughts about the MX20's design. It comes in silver with black accents, red accents, blue accents, and all white. It's about the same size as Canon's FS models of similar vintage, but, oddly, it looks larger; neither camcorder is terribly tiny, but they are small enough to fit in a large jacket pocket. Though it's relatively tubular in shape, which can sometimes pose usability problems, it has the neat rotating grip that debuted on the SC-HMX10 that lets you adjust the camcorder's height for comfort. You rest your back three fingers on a recess of rubberized material on top for additional stability.
Except for the plastic accents, the camcorder appears almost featureless; the few buttons and switches are silver on silver, so you can't miss the big red dot indicating the record button on the back, just above the power switch. A zoom rocker sits on top with a movie/still mode toggle button to the rear; a tethered plastic cover below it hides an AV out connector, USB connector, and power jack. The battery and SD card slot are on the bottom of the device, much like a camera, which makes card and battery swapping difficult if you're using a tripod. On the camcorder body when you open the LCD are three buttons--info/battery check, screen brightness, and Easy Q (full auto)--plus the speaker. There's a manual lens cover switch on the lens barrel.