The Samsung HMX-R10 is a compact, 1080p-capable camcorder, available for around £260 online. It has plenty of shooting features and, in an attempt to make it more comfortable to use and reduce strain on your wrist, Samsung has angled the R10's lens at 25 degrees. But Samsung has made some other design choices that miss the mark. In the end, the R10 is at its best as a point-and-shoot camcorder. It's a step-up from pocket camcorders, like the Sony Bloggie CM5, but it's not as capable as prosumer models.
Gives your wrist a hand
The R10 definitely has an eye-catching design. Its capsule-shaped body -- available in silver and black versions -- is slim enough to slip into a large pocket or small bag.
Angled upwards at 25 degrees, the lens is noticeably unusual. The lens is like this because the camcorder is meant to be used with your wrist straight instead of cocked back. It makes for a more natural position when shooting video and photos but, if you're accustomed to traditional camcorders, it takes some time to get used to it.
The right side is curved in, so your palm fits into the body. There's no traditional hand strap on the R10, only a wrist strap. This is perhaps because of the angled lens but, regardless, it makes for a less-than-secure grip on the camcorder, which is made worse by the fairly slippery body material. You'll certainly want to use the wrist strap and shoot with two hands -- with your left hand on the left edge of the display -- as much as possible.
As for the R10's controls, they're both good and bad. On top is a shutter release for photos and that's all. Moving to its back, there's a mode button for switching between capturing still images or video, a vertical zoom rocker for the modest 5x optical zoom, and a record button. Below these controls is a covered panel with a mini-HDMI port, DC in, and proprietary USB/AV jacks. While larger hands should have no problem using these controls, smaller ones will probably struggle to reach them and keep a secure, steady grip when recording. That's especially true when using the zoom rocker, which should be moved to the top.
Flip open the 69mm (2.7-inch) touchscreen display and you'll get a second set of record and zoom controls, as well as a 'Q.menu' button that lets you program up to four of your most regularly used shooting features (focus, white balance, resolution, exposure and so on) for fast changes. In the LCD cavity are three more buttons: power, 'easy Q', and 'display/iCheck'. When the camcorder's on, the display/iCheck button toggles the on-screen information on or off. When the R10's off, the button gives you gauges for remaining battery life and storage capacity. Easy Q is Samsung's simplified automatic mode, offering little access to adjustments.
The touchscreen is used for changing settings -- including manual adjustments to focus, shutter speed and aperture -- should you choose to do so. Unfortunately, the screen isn't the most responsive we've used, so making these changes can be trying. Also, there's no option to calibrate the touchscreen. On the upside, you get a touch-focus option that lets you focus the camcorder on the correct person or object with a simple prod.
On the bottom of the camcorder is the battery and memory-card compartment. The R10 doesn't have internal storage, so you'll need to supply an SD/SDHC card. Also, because the compartment is covered, there's no opportunity to use a larger battery with longer life. Fortunately, the R10's battery life is very good for its class, but you may still want to invest in a back-up pack.