Samsung HMX-W300 ( Orange)
The Samsung HMX-W300 rugged minicamcorder is a good traveling companion for capturing Web-friendly movie clips and photos of your next hike or beach trip.
Panasonic's trio of prosumer camcorders, the hard-disk-based HDC-HS900 and flash-based TM900 and SD800, deliver generally excellent video quality and provide the full set of manual controls and features advanced users want. But you have to be willing to baby the white balance a bit. The TM900 is my top pick of the three for its EVF, but if you're on a tight budget the SD800 should suit just fine.
Panasonic's HDC-TM40, TM41 and SD40 are some of the cheapest camcorders you can buy with a zoom lens and manual controls. If you care about video quality, spend a little more money on another model; if you don't, buy the cheapest one of these you can find, adjusting for the cost of memory for the SD40.
Sony Handycam HDR-PJ10
You're paying a couple hundred extra for the projector in the otherwise frills-free Sony Handycam HDR-PJ10 over its identical twin, the CX160. But if you regularly show off your vacation videos in the homes of friends and family then it's worth it.
Samsung W200 Rugged ( Orange)
The Samsung HMX-W200 might be a little less impressive than its specs, but it's still a very good rugged minicamcorder for the money.
Panasonic HDC-TM80 ( Red)
A functional trio of camcorders, the Panasonic HDC-SD80, TM80, and HS80 are notable for their manual exposure controls (unusual for their price class) and well-designed touch-screen interface, but otherwise you can find better options. Of the three, the SD80 is the best choice simply on price.
Panasonic HDC-SD80 ( Red)
A functional trio of camcorders, the Panasonic HDC-SD80, TM80, and HS80 are notable for their manual exposure controls, unusual for their price class, and well designed touch-screen interface but otherwise you can find better options. Of the three, the SD80 is the best choice simply on price.
Sony Handycam HDR-CX130 ( Black)
Typical for their price class, the no-frills Sony Handycam HDR-CX130, CX160, and XR160 produce generally subpar HD video, but if you're not picky you'll probably be fine. The CX130 is the best buy of the three, as long as you go cheap on the memory card.
Canon Vixia HF M300 ( silver)
At its best, the Canon Vixia HF M3x series--composed of the M300, M30, M31, and M32--delivers a very good blend of video quality, features, and performance for the money, but some people may find the touch-screen interface extremely frustrating to use and the battery life painfully short. Plus, you really need to bump up to the highest bit rate quality. Of the series, the HF M300 is the best deal.
JVC Everio GZ-HM340 Camcorder ( Black)
The four sibling models--the JVC Everio GZ-HM300, HM320, HM340, and HD500--deliver subpar video for even their dirt-cheap prices.