Are these full HD camcorders? Are they phones? No, these are pocket cameras capable of delivering high-definition video in a box smaller than a mobile phone for about £100.

With selling points like these, it's no surprise that pocket video cameras are being bought in their millions by consumers hungry for affordable, high-quality recordings on the move. It's a trend that's only been fuelled by the cavernous gulf between camcorders and mobile phones.

Only a handful of smartphones have made the jump to 720p video recording, and in the last 12 months they've come back to threaten the pocket camera.

The iPhone 4 and HTC HD7 boast the capacity to consign dedicated devices to history. Despite the fierce competition, though, pocket cameras are still astonishingly cheap, and make perfect gadgets for beach holidays and skiing trips, or even toys to help kids get creative.

So what's the best pocket HD camcorder to buy? Let's find out...

Toshiba Camileo P20 - £136
www.toshiba-multimedia.com/uk/camileo-camcorders/p20

Flip MinoHD - £150
www.theflip.com

Creative Vado HD - £70
www.creative.com

Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5K - £118
www.sony.co.uk

Kodak PlayTouch - £158
www.kodak.com

Samsung HMX-U20 - £90
www.samsung.com

Pocket HD video camera reviews...

Toshiba Camileo P20

Camileo p20

Toshiba's Camileo range is a departure from the traditional flip-style camera, and its roots are firmly in the camcorder rather than the phone.

The P20 benefits from a pistol-grip form and fold-out screen, which make it feel natural to use. With excellent image stabilisation built in, it isn't a victim of the shake associated with many models.

Read TechRadar's Toshiba Camileo P20 review

Flip MinoHD

MinoHD

The Flip MinoHD is in its third generation, but the market is now a tough place for the company that first took the pocket camera niche by storm.

This is a true pocket cam, and by far the smallest in our test. However, the range of features is just as light as the camera itself, and it's clear that sacrifices have been made to keep cost and bulk down.

Read TechRadar's Flip MinoHD review

Creative Vado HD

Vado hd

The Creative Vado HD has been around for a while, and the fact that its competitors have brought out replacements and stepped up performance has left it looking exposed.

The spec sheet doesn't make for great reading, and the 30fps, 720p recording and 0.9MP still images are easily beaten by most of its rivals.

Read TechRadar's Creative Vado HD review

Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5K

Bloggie mhx-pm5k

The Sony Bloggie is a unique-looking camera with a rotating lens to give users extra control.

Sony hasn't made a secret of its intended audience, and is hoping to pick up the increasing numbers of amateur directors promoting home content online. The main feature is the lens, which folds into the body when off, and turns to face forwards or backwards.

Read TechRadar's Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5K review

Kodak PlayTouch

PlayTouch

The PlayTouch might sound like a lewd product from a chemist, but it's actually Kodak's latest pocket camera. The sleek black body houses just one button, which handles the recording. All the other options are located on the 3-inch touchscreen.

This is the most expensive camera in our test (due to the touchscreen interface), but it packs in the features for your cash.

Read TechRadar's Kodak PlayTouch review

Samsung HMX-U20

Samsung hmx-u20

The most noticeable feature of the Samsung U20 is the lens, which makes it look more like a serious piece of photographic equipment than a pocket video camera.

However, this feature has real benefits, like optical zoom, that differentiate the U20 from its brethren and their digital zooms. The effect is quick, smooth zooming that can be accessed during full 1080p recording and doesn't produce noise or distortion.

Read TechRadar's Samsung HMX-U20 review

The best pocket HD camcorder is...

From our tests, it's clear that the pocket camera market is responding to the threat of smartphones with some fantastic features, which help improve image quality drastically.

The differences between the 2011 and 2010 models are dramatic and obvious, and it's exciting to see companies developing this range of technology.

However, the pocket cameras out there still lag way behind even the most basic full form camcorders in terms of image quality. They also fail to represent a magic way of saving £300 on the price of a camera, unless you don't mind sacrificing a lot of quality.

They're perfectly good for holiday videos and capturing special moments, but don't expect to become the next Spielberg with any of them.

Editor's choice - Toshiba Camileo P20

A great all-rounder, the Toshiba feels like a full camcorder and records great-looking footage at a fantastic price.

The image stabilisation feature and large viewfinder that folds back for easy vision make the P20 feel like much more than a standard pocket camera, and are head and shoulders above the competition. If you want good-quality home movies, look no further.

Performance award - Flip MinoHD

The increase to 8GB of built-in memory puts the Flip MinoHD at the forefront of the pocket camera market, and adds fantastic video quality to back it up.

The MinoHD may be lacking somewhat in terms of the spec sheet, but smooth, noiseless footage and great handling of tricky lighting lead to results that many full HD pocket cameras can only aspire to, making this the best pocket HD camcorder for performance.

Value award - Samsung HMX-U20

While questionable focusing might let the Samsung down, the footage does look great when the camera's properly focused.

Its sub-£100 price and quality lens make it a genuine bargain: you get 1080p recording and great still pictures, which mean this pocket video camera will be ready for whatever you can throw at it without you having to spend the Earth, making this the best pocket HD camcorder for price.

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First published in PC Plus Issue 305

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