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What's the best HD Pocket Camcorder for around a hundred bucks?

andstone's Photo
Posted Nov 30 2009 02:17 PM

I understand that Flip camcorders have been the leader of it's kind for a long time. But with competitors offering better specs at cheaper prices, what's my best bang for the buck? Does anyone have personal experience with these devices from Kodak, Sony, Creative, or of the lesser-known brands?

I want to get one as a Christmas gift for a friend that makes super low-budget music videos for fun. I'm sure an HD upgrade would make him pretty happy.

5 Replies

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  adfm's Photo
Posted Nov 30 2009 04:53 PM

The Flip MinoHD is kind of hard to beat. It's tiny and has a pretty decent picture. Size really is a factor when it comes to low-end camcorders. It's not until you hit the prosumer class do you really notice the difference. Still, there are some other cool models out there.
Sony makes a Flip-sized unit with a swiveling lens called the Webbie HD. I thought this was a useless gimmick until I saw it in use. Unfortunately it uses Sony's proprietary memory format.
Aiptek makes a number of low-cost HD camcorders in your price range. They sport 1080p HD and take SD flash. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for when it comes to an off brand like Aiptek. The unit I have has a loud zoom motor which you can hear on the recording. On the bright side it dumps straight into a Quicktime container and has an option to shoot 720p@60fps.
While 1080p sounds great, it really doesn't make that much of a difference on the low-end. Having used all three cameras I'd still go with the MinoHD. Even the UltraHD is too big, IMHO.
 : Nov 30 2009 05:57 PM
Thanks Adam for your reply!

Although more than a hundred, learning more about the MinoHD introduced me to a pretty formidable competitor, the Zi8 by Kodak. This one retails at roughly $150, but it might be worth the extra fifty. It shoots 1080p, has a stereo mic port and image stabilizer, and is actually slimmer than the Flip. I found a very comprehensive blog entry comparing the two by TechHighDad.com.

Like you said, 1080p might not make much of difference with these cheap pocket camcorders, but it looks to me the Kodak beats the UltraHD Flip in low light, which is a huge plus for me personally. A big minus is that it doesn't come with a lot of internal storage, which will mean I'd have to fork another twenty for a reliable 8GB SD card.
 : Dec 01 2009 01:04 PM
Another big plus for the Kodak model is the ability to use an external mic.

If you plan to edit the Kodak or Flip video in Final Cut you will need to transfer the MP4/H.264 files to Apple ProRes or a lossless codec that will work with FCP.

A stocking stuffer camera - your friend is the lucky one this year!
  kevin.suttle's Photo
Posted Dec 02 2009 06:40 PM

Gizmodo seems to have the best head to head comparisons.
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  mattw@seattlewireless.net's Photo
Posted Dec 08 2009 12:33 PM

I have one of the Aiptek Action HD cameras with image stabilization, and I think I paid $180 for it on AMZN (it's probably cheaper now). It's pretty good as a camcorder, not really a very good 'camera'. It has a useable zoom, and the picture quality is pretty impressive. I think the best part of it is that it has an external mic capability, which is something that you just don't find on the low end. Sound matters most in video, so if you're going to splurge on anything, spend your money on microphones. Video is always second.

It's been a little while since I used it, but at the time, Flickr did not handle the native codec, but YouTube did.