A little over six years ago, Pure Digital's simple-to-use Flip pocket camcorders created a huge buzz. Recently, though, devices have been losing market share to smart phones, which have nearly identical specs and features but can more easily connect to the Internet. So some pocket-cam manufacturers have begun to add rugged or waterproof features to their models, to differentiate them from smart phones. And our testers are starting to test and rate these new models.
For example, Samsung's HMX-W300, $160, which we've included in our new batch of pocket camcorder Ratings, has a lower price than most rugged models. It can be submerged in 16 feet of water and can withstand a 6-foot drop. This would probably ruin a smart phone, since most aren't waterproof or shockproof.
Like most pocket camcorders, the HNX-W300 has no optical zoom and features a USB connector that pops out of the bottom. But this model has one thing in common with many smart phones: It stores photos and video on a micro SD memory card. And taking video (and still photos, too—see below&mdash) is simple and straightforward.
Another popular pocket camcorder included in our Ratings is from GoPro, a company that's been doing a lot of marketing at extreme sporting events. The GoPro HD Hero2 is small and very portable (you'll often see it attached to an athlete's helmet), and it features a rather wide-angle view, which is popular with cyclists, skateboarders, bungee jumpers, and hang gliders. But it isn't waterproof unless you buy the Outdoor Edition, which includes an underwater housing for the device. And an LCD costs extra, about $80.
For more on this pocket camcorder and other models, check out our recently updated pocket camcorder Ratings.