Welcome to the Engadget Holiday Gift Guide! The team here is well aware of the heartbreaking difficulties of the seasonal shopping experience, and we want to help you sort through the trash and come up with the treasures this year. Below is today's bevy of hand curated picks, and you can head back to the Gift Guide hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the holiday season.
Whether you want them to or not, there's a good chance you've got a family member or two (or more) that feel compelled to capture every single moment on video, including those times when all you're doing is sitting around watching previously recorded memories. That's just an inevitably we face each and every family gathering, and if you must endure, might as well get them the best possible fidelity, right? Then again, maybe you are that memory-capturing individual -- in either case, we think we've got a few suggestions to maximize your holiday enjoyment.
Samsung SMX-C10 - Samsung's got a great aesthetic with the Touch of Color series, and we're more than happy to see it applied to its video camera lineup. Beautiful looks aside, image stabilization is a great bonus, as is one-touch YouTube uploading. No internal memory is a bummer, but with SD/SDHC card prices constantly dropping in price, that's not too much of deal-breaker for us. The big worry here is 720 x 480 / 60i fps video capture mode, which isn't going to be enough to satisfy ardent videophiles.
Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG10- We're looking at 720p / 30fps HD video, 5x optical zoom, and 10 megapixel stills if you're feeling inclined. Storage is SD / SDHC card only. Do yourself a favor and distract the younger ones by telling them it's a stun ray, then let them loose with it at the next kinship reunion. It'll be adorable, we promise.
Flip MinoHD- The Flip series is someone of a legend for pocket camcorders, and the MinoHD certainly lives up to its namesake. Of course, the attractive size comes at the cost of no image stabilization, but that's never bothered Flip fans before, and the bundled FlipShare software helps you get the minor editing out of the way before uploading to YouTube, MySpace, and / or Facebook. Take our advice and pay the extra $30 or so for the premium model, with a nicer screen, brushed chrome metal, and most importantly twice the storage space (8GB vs. 4GB).
VholdR ContourHD- As far as helmet cameras go, this is one of the best in the market today. Audio can be overly noisy at times, but it's 1080p video is hard to argue with. Mounting options have by and large improved since its release, and just recently a waterproof case was released, perfect for your next snorkeling escapades. Alternatively, strap one of these on Grandpa and get a whole new perspective on life.
Sanyo Xacti VPC-WH1 - Speaking of waterproof options, Sanyo's Xacti VPC-WH1 is all but betting you to record 720p into the blue lagoon along with 30x optical zoom and 2 megapixel stills. Just remember that the aqua-protection is only good for 10 feet below the surface.
Sony HDR-CX100- Sony's HDR series has been good to us -- we still pull out the HDR-SR12 from time to time. The continuation of its flagship series, the HDR-CX100 sports 1080p recording, a Carl Zeiss lens with a 10x optical zoom, and 8GB internal memory... but of course being a Sony product, your only option for expansion is a Memory Stick Pro Duo slot. And hey, if black isn't your preferred camera color, it also comes in silver and red.
JVC HD Everio GZ-HM400- Now we're getting into the big guns, here -- full HD recording, a 10.3 megapixel sensor, and 32GB internal storage with SD / SDHC expansion. AVCHD might turn some away, but if you don't mind the format, the 600fps, 300fps and 120fps slow motion capabilities will certainly get your heart racing. Just drop a bowl of jello on purpose, and be ready to capture it for excruciatingly drawn-out playback later.
Canon VIXIA HF S11- Never want to feel the temptation of deleting old memories? The VIXIA HF S11 has 64GB of internal storage, capable of retaining a touted 24 hours of HD video -- more if you toss in a SDHC card. It shoots 1080p in either 24p cinema or 30p progressive modes, boasts manual controls, and for another $120 or less, you can pick up the RA-V1 remote control adapter for syncing the camera to various third-party remote controllers.
Canon EOS 7D- Despite its technical classification as a DSLR, we'd be remiss not to mention Canon's EOS 7D as a standout video camera. It's a staple in our producer Chad Mumm's arsenal, and produces gorgeous 1080p footage, provided we're able to capture leisurely and not guerilla style. If you're picking this up with an aspiring filmmaker in mind, make sure to stuff the stockings with a tripod and external mic, too.