For the occasional family gathering and a little holiday footage, the Canon MVX20i is a relatively cheap option. Compared with its sibling the MVX250i, it has smaller 14x optical zoom range (the MVX250i has an 18x optical zoom range) and lacks a light for filming in low light conditions. Although the difference in zoom may not be a big drawback, you might want to think twice before forgoing the night light.
The Canon MVX20i has a lot of features for its class, and it boasts an excellent instruction manual. It has a 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD viewfinder and offers manual control of focus and exposure. You can capture still photos to an SD card with a separate shutter button and create panoramic images with the enclosed software. Battery life is very good. You can expect a full hour per charge, perhaps more if you film with the viewfinder instead of the LCD screen. Be warned however: the electronic viewfinder is only for those with exceptional vision.
You can connect the MVX20i to your TV via the standard audio/video connections or the S-Video jack. A FireWire port is there for video editing or for using the camcorder as a Webcam, and a USB port lets you download still photos or 320 x 240 QuickTime movies from the SD card.
I filmed in many different lighting situations, but the MVX20i does best in moderate-contrast, well-lit conditions. The footage gets grainy quickly as the sun sets.
Edited by: Lori Grunin
Additional editing by: Tom Espiner