Samsung's taking its sleek smartphone stylings and applying them to its debut entry into minicamcorder territory. Looking a bit like the Memoir, but with the lens section angled slightly upward for (presumably) more comfortable operation, the HMX-U10 combines an eye-catching design with some--but not all--of the features necessary to succeed in the competitive direct-to-Web camcorder market.
It certainly takes the lead by offering 1920x1080 30fps video; the Flip UltraHD, Creative Vado and Kodak Zi6 all do only 1280x720 720p. And while the CMOS sensor is relatively large compared to the Flip and Kodak--1/2.3 inch vs. 1/4.5--it also crams in boatloads more pixels to be able to claim 10-megapixel still photos.
Like its compatriots, the U10 will allow for USB battery charging--however the USB cable isn't built in--and ship with in-camcorder software for editing and direct-to-YouTube uploading. The U10 does offer an SD card slot, a useful feature which the Flip lacks, but has a smaller 2-inch LCD. Like its cohorts, the U10 has a fixed focal-length lens. But it's a pretty slow one, f3 compared to Flip's f2.4 and Kodak's f2.8, which, especially in conjunction with the high-resolution sensor, doesn't bode well for low-light video quality.
With dimensions of 2.2 x 4.1 x 0.6 inches it's slightly wider than the Vado but smaller than the rest. That doesn't seem to include the lens, which pokes out from the body a bit. It's one of the lightest at 3.4 ounces, though.
So what's missing? A catchier name, for one.
It'd also be nice if it comes in more colors than just silver. When it ships in September, in silver, red, greet and black, Samsung will be asking $199.99 for it, putting it at the pricey end of the spectrum.