Aimed at the home user, Toshiba's Camileo H20 1080p camcorder is available for around £170. You point and shoot, and it zooms and does everything else you would expect without any fuss or difficulty.
Setting up the H20 is very simple indeed. You charge it, open up the screen on the side and it just starts working. It's as simple as that. This simplicity carries through to the operation of the H20 and makes it a pleasure to use.
Solid, reliable and attractive, the H20 also performs well -- as long as the conditions are right. Image quality is decent when you're out in daylight or in a well-lit room, but it's something of a surprise that, when the light starts to dim, the picture quickly begins to go very grainy.
There's a standard socket for screwing in a tripod if you need to, and, although some of the motion video you film may be slightly juddery, we can live with that in a camcorder that's already dipping below £170 on some Web sites. The 5x zoom also means you can end up with some excellent close-ups of someone or something you can't actually hear all that well. When you are in range, the microphone on the device handles sound recording very well.
The camcorder also has a few extra bells and whistles, including the ability to take still photos, which can be stored on the generous 128MB of flash memory. The flash for still photos works well in auto mode, but we'd like to be able to adjust it to compensate for lighting conditions.
The H20's microphone does a good job of recording sound, but a minor niggle is that there's no standard microphone jack. Had there been one, it would have been possible to use the H20 not only for family-and-friends-type movies but also for video podcasting and other more serious applications.
We'd also like to see a protective case included. The H20 comes with a little felt bag, but it won't do much to protect the camcorder in the event that you drop it. Finally, the H20's connectivity (USB, TV out and HDMI) is pretty basic for a hi-def device.
The ease with which someone who's never used a camcorder before can become a HD maestro in seconds raises the Toshiba Camileo H20 well and truly above the norm. But you can't help think that it wouldn't have cost Toshiba very much to include a few extras like a microphone jack and protective case.
Edited by Charles Kloet