Okay, so the UI is remarkable, but how's about the actual performance? First off, we were quite amazed to find that the 8GB of internal storage space could hold around 71 minutes of 1080/30p or 1080/60i in Super Fine mode. Knock those resolutions down a bit (but c'mon, who is going to do that?), and you can fetch upwards of 2 hours without even slapping your own SDHC card in there. A fully charged battery showed about 90 minutes of life, and even with heavy LCD use, it proved quite accurate.
Capturing video was a cinch, and we really appreciated how the camcorder kept track of files internally. Upon connecting it to Windows XP and OS X-based machines, it simply mounted as a drive and enabled us to pull the (very manageable / playable) MPEG-4 clips over to our computer's hard drive. Simple as that. Be forewarned though -- playing back said clips via QuickTime requires a pretty potent computer. Otherwise, Full HD clips will skip and stutter as your rig attempts to churn through.
Overall, we'd have to say we're pretty pleased with the unit's ability to log clips. Yeah, we wish that totally novel SlowMotion mode was available in HD, and we wish the low light performance was a touch better (as with every other camcorder out there), but we really can't find too much to kvetch about. While shooting in broad daylight, we were satisfied with results when keeping in mind that the target audience is novice / amateur users. Clips were free from excessive grain, the audio capture was sufficient and playback on both a computer and an HDTV was up to par. The 10x zoom was decidedly smooth and snappy, as well.
While shooting in low light, the expected grain monster reared its ugly head, but such is the case with all small, handheld camcorders to be frank. In other words, we wouldn't recommend this unit for those who find themselves using it primarily at night or in dimly lit scenarios, but those who wander outside every now and then during the day (imagine that!) will probably be pleased with what it can do. One other note on the SlowMotion: it's a sweet feature, and it sure adds some wow-factor, but the inability for it to function in HD is a real bummer for us. Photo performance
Alright, we get that you aren't seeking out a camcorder for its still shot abilities, but hey, Sammy included it, so we tested it. Put simply, the image capture mode isn't half bad, and it's actually passable in daylight. Don't get it twisted, however -- we'd still strongly
recommend carrying your trusty P&S / DSLR around and using that when possible, but if you're trying to do everything yourself and just can't find time to fish out that shooter, the SC-HMX20C should suffice. Of course, we're comparing its results to other camcorder results that we've seen in the past, and from that, we came away reasonably happy with what it could do.