With the combination of an f2.2 lens and a BSI CMOS sensor, I expected better than average low-light video and it is, but it's still not great. That's mostly because I found Samsung's noise processing distracting, with tiny black dots constantly popping throughout scenes.
Audio quality from the mono mic is merely OK. What I did notice is that it picks up a low-level hum that is audible in quieter scenes. Also, when the W200 comes out of the water, audio can sound muffled until it dries out.
Lastly, as with most pocket video cameras, still photos are not great. They're on par with camera phone photos, so they're suitable for the Web, but not as good as photos from a good point-and-shoot. I will say, in this case, the lens and sensor did perform better than other minicamcorders in low-light conditions. Though if you're shooting inside and not under natural lighting, you'll probably want to do some color correction later on.
|Filter effects||Vignetting, Fish-eye, Retro, Classic, Negative|
|Lens cover (auto or manual)||None|
The W200 has a good assortment of shooting features for its class, but there are a couple of disappointments mixed in. It records 30 frames per second at both 1080p and 720p, but that's it. There are no lower resolutions for easier uploading or playback on less powerful computers and devices, and no 720p-at-60fps setting for smoother video of fast-moving subjects. You can record video using a handful of creative filters, but the resolution is fixed at 480p and 15fps, resulting in artifact-filled, jerky video. It has electronic image stabilization, face detection, back-light correction, and an underwater mode; these all work well, so no problems with those features. However, all but the last are turned on and off in the menu system; the underwater mode--the one you're probably least likely to use regularly unless you specifically buy this for diving--is too easily triggered by pressing right on the control pad.
The minicamcorder has a 3x digital zoom that, like every digital zoom on these devices, degrades image quality and eats up battery life. It has autofocus, but can only focus up to about 6 inches from a subject. On the other hand, the W200 has a feature rarely seen on minicamcorders (and a big reason to buy it)--a pause button. On other pocket video cameras, you can only start and stop recordings, which results in a bunch of clips. The pause button on the W200 allows you to quickly start and stop recording, but the result is just one clip.
Should you want to do any editing, the embedded software on the W200 should be enough for most users. It's not overly simple, especially for those who've never edited video before, but it's not difficult to figure out either and it has a very good set of editing tools. You can also use it for quick uploading to sharing sites including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, of course. Photos and videos can be tagged for uploading while in playback on the device and the software will automatically ask permission to send them when you connect to a PC. What's also nice is that you don't even need to install the software on a computer; it can run directly from the device. To edit, you do need to transfer clips to a computer first.
Conclusions: The Samsung W200 rugged minicamcorder is a very good choice if you just need something that's more durable than a non-rugged pocket video camera. It seems a little silly that something dustproof can't be used near sand, and the seals and door locks look weak, especially in comparison with those on the Panasonic HM-TA20. It has some similar shooting options to the Kodak Playsport Zx5, but the Kodak is easier to use and has better, more usable features. The W200 does have a handy pause button, though, and it's not exactly difficult to use, and its video quality and embedded software are very good.
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