The Samsung VP-D103i combines the old standard camcorder features with a few newer additions such as a playback zoom, easy automatic mode, and the ability to record directly onto an optional Memory Stick. While it doesn't represent a vast leap in technology, its features are more than sufficient for point-and-shoot users.
Overall, the VP-D103i has a conventional design, with no suprises in the locations of the main buttons and the menu layout.
The unit is rather robust, although the inflexible hinge on the LCD screen could lead to an unfortunate snapping incident. The black and white image seen through the viewfinder lacks the relative clarity of the LCD, and struggles to show an accurate representation of the various lighting modes and effects. With the LCD causing heightened battery drain, the image quality as seen through the viewfinder is a let-down.
One obvious design flaw is the location of the image capture button. The button is positioned on the top of the camera, next to the viewfinder, which leaves it directly under the user's fingers. This led to many errant photo captures during testing, and a great deal of frustration.
In addition to miniDV tapes, the camera also features a Memory Stick slot. Moving images can be recorded directly onto the Memory Stick, but at a maximum MPEG-4 resolution of 352 x 288, it's hardly worth the expense of buying removable media. Tapes and memory cards are loaded from the bottom of the camera, which could make shooting with a tripod inconvenient.
The features of the VP-D103i are targeted at novice shooters, and include an 'Easy Q' recording mode, power night capture and digital special effects.
The Easy Q function is great for beginners, as it applies settings automatically, allowing users to become familiar with using the camera without being intimidated by a swag of options.
There are nine digital special effects to enhance or distort your recording, ranging from standard sepia and mosaic modes to the more bizarre-looking emboss and art modes. Although the majority of the effects will leave your footage resembling a music video from the 1980s, they are fun to experiment with, especially for first-time users.