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Samsung HMX-H300 Camcorder Review
Lens & Imaging System
The lens on the HMX-H300 has a long, 30x optical zoom, which is one of the longer zooms we've seen on a mid-range HD model. The lens has no automatic cover, however, so you must remember to flick the small lens cover switch on the side of the camcorder to keep the precious lens protected when it isn't in use. The camcorder has a 1/4.1-inch sensor, which is the same size CMOS used on most mid-range HD camcorders (the Panasonic HDC-TM90 and Samsung HMX-H300 included). One mid-range model that does not use a 1/4-inch sensor is the Canon HF M40, which uses a larger, 1/3-inch sensor instead (but a smaller concentration of pixels).
Samsung increased the LCD size on the HMX-H300 to 3-inches (up from 2.7-inches on last year's HMX-H200), but everything else about the screen and LCD panel remained the same. The extra size does make the touchscreen easier to use, but the system is still somewhat aggravating. The screen isn't always responsive when you press it, and it is particularly sluggish in the moments right after you stop recording a video clip.
These complaints about the touchscreens are nearly universal for consumer camcorders, nearly all of which employ touchscreen systems this day in age. The system on the HMX-H300 isn't much worse than what you get on the Panasonic HDC-TM90 or the Canon HF M40, but you do see better touchscreen LCDs on certain high-end camcorders (like the Canon HF G10). Like most mid-range camcorders, the Samsung H300 does not have a viewfinder, so all your framing and recording must be performed using the LCD.
The Samsung H300 isn't heavy on connectivity features, but the upside of this is that most of the camcorder's ports and jacks are located in one, easy-to-locate spot. To find them, you simply open the LCD panel and flip down the small door that is near the base of the camcorder. Opening this door you'll notice a mini HDMI port, a USB terminal, and a proprietary AV port that works with the provided AV cable. The only unique thing we must note about these ports is that the USB terminal can be used to charge the camcorder if you wish. This is a great commodity for people who are traveling with lots of USB-charging devices (like iPods, cell phones, etc.).
If you don't have a USB terminal handy to charge with, the HMX-H300 can also be powered via its DC-input. This input is located on the back of the camcorder and has its very own port cover. This cover, like the port cover inside the LCD cavity, feels reasonably strong and it has a small tab to make opening it easier. The camcorder ships with a power adapter that works with this DC-input.
The only other connectivity option on the camcorder is the memory card slot located on the right side. This slot is somewhat difficult to locate due to the placement of the camcorder's hand strap, but it does have a decent cover that protects the slot. The card slot works with SD or SDHC memory cards, but Samsung makes no claim that the H300 is compatible with new SDXC memory cards. This isn't much of an issue at this time, however, as SDXC cards are very expensive. Instead of getting on 64GB SDXC card, you're better off buying a two 32GB SDHC cards or a bunch of 16GB SDHC cards.
As we said earlier, the battery compartment on the H300 is on the back of the camcorder. It is also an open compartment, which means you can use larger battery packs with the camcorder if you need longer battery life. Three hours is a pretty long time for a provided battery pack to last, though, so you may not need much more than that. Find out how the performed in our battery life test./r:link_to_content
There's no internal memory on the HMX-H300, so you must purchase an SD-type memory card to fit into the camcorder's card slot before you can start recording videos or taking pictures with the camcorder. The card slot works with SD or SDHC memory cards, but Samsung does not list SDXC compatibility as a feature of the HMX-H300.
The H300's sibling model, the HMX-H304 is identical to the H300, but contains 16GB of internal memory. Samsung originally announced an HMX-H304 (8GB internal memory) and HMX-H305 (32GB internal memory), but neither of these camcorders appear on Samsung's US website at this time. Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of various media types.