Samsung heads into CES week with an early announcement of its HMX-Q10 camcorder, a really aggressively priced model that should have a lot of people asking "what's the catch?" At a price of $299, I'd expect the ultracompact Q10 to have some obvious omissions, but Samsung seems to make better trade-off choices with this model than the manufacturers of similarly priced competitors.
Most notably, almost all competitors play the specsmanship game and opt for lower-than-HD resolution sensor and pair it with a longer (20x-plus) zoom lens, which results in pretty poor video quality. The Q10, however, uses a 5-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS and a shorter--but quite sufficient--optically stabilized 10x f1.8 zoom. Though the Samsung's 1/5.8-inch sensor is still pretty small (and the way the spec is reported is odd, so I'm not quite sure what's going on), that's typical for the class.
The rest looks pretty reasonable as well. In theory, the new Switch Grip allows you to record with the camcorder flipped over--in other words, it should be usable left-handed as well as right. That's a nice feature, if it works as advertised. It's got a 2.7-inch touch screen, and the company's spinning the complete lack of direct controls, with the exception of the record and zoom switches, as an ease-of-use windfall.
The camcorder supports 1080/60i and 720/60p recording (still waiting for info about the format, but I'd wager its H.264 MPEG-4). Another nice-sounding feature is Record Pause technology, which allows you to pause recording without creating a new clip on resume. And though it doesn't seem to have a built-in USB cable, the battery charges via USB.
Slated to ship in February, the Samsung HMX-Q10 actually looks like it might be a decent budget model.