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Samsung HMX-U20 review

This pocket camcorder packs a quality lens offering optical zoom

Samsung HMX-U20
The lens may look large and bulky, but it offers noise free optical zoom


  • Good quality zoom
  • Still picture performance
  • Fast to adjust
  • Price


  • Little noisier than competition
  • Slow to focus

The most noticeable feature of the Samsung HMX-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.

The Samsung also impresses with 7.8MP stills, which beats most phone cameras hands down and even gives some digital compacts a run for their money. With all this, the Samsung U20 is a fantastic travel companion.

Footage also looked good, but results were a little noisier than those of the Toshiba and Flip MinoHD. Colours were true and it dealt with changes in light better than any other camera in our test, which harks back to that quality lens.

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing. At times the camera struggled to focus, leaving faces blurry and plunging the camera into confusion for a few seconds. This mostly occurred while shooting in busy places, but the Samsung was the only camera to really suffer. Compared to the way the Kodak and Toshiba dealt with focusing, this was disappointing, and at times made the footage all but unwatchable.

If there’s one way the U20 makes up for this, it’s through price. At £90, the camera is the cheapest in our test for a model capable of producing decent HD footage. However, there’s no memory built in, so the purchase of an 8GB card is necessary, which will bump it up to about £100.

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