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Samsung W200 Waterproof Pocket Video Camera
Thursday, March 8, 2012  


The Samsung W200 is the third waterproof/shockproof pocket camcorder we have tested at Travel Tech Reviews. It occupies the same market space as the Kodak PlaySport Zx3 and Zx5, with features leaning more toward the Zx5. The idea is simple enough. Build a video camera that can take a moderate level of abuse and still deliver respectable video and even still photos. And most importantly, offer these features in a camcorder that looks and feels like a cell phone.

Note: We tested the Samsung W200 during a 7-night cruise aboard SeaDream Yacht Club

The Samsung W200 is shockproof to IPX8, meaning it can survive a drop from 2 meters. It is also dust proof. Samsung claims that the W200 can resist water up to a depth of 3 meters (about 10 feet), so deep sea diving is not in the cards. However, snorkelers should love the underwater capabilities of the W200.

The W200 has a lockable, spring loaded door protecting the memory card slot and mini HDMI port, and another containing the flip-out USB plug. The locking mechanisms are not "double" locks like some waterproof cameras offer, so it is feasible that a door could accidentally open underwater. If that were to happen, well, it would not be a good thing. The doors are lined with rubber seals to keep moisture out. One of our favorite features of the W200 is the flip-out USB connector which allows you to connect the camera directly to your computer's USB port. Kodak models have a mini-USB port which requires that you carry a cable when you travel to connect their PlaySport models.

Samsung's advantage in the market is the 1/3.2in CMOS. This is a pretty large sensor for an economical camcorder and delivers 5mp resolution. The back-side illumination promises better low-light performance. Samsung built in Intelli-studio Light, giving you the ability to edit content once it has been copied to a computer. You can even upload directly to popular video websites like YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, etc.

Images are stored on a MicroSD card (not included) which are somewhat less available than standard SD format cards. Nevertheless, you can find these at any WalMart or Radio Shack. We tested using a 16gb MicroSD and had plenty of space. At full resolution, you can store about 8 minutes of video per gb.

The Samsung W200 is the first camera we have tested that offers an underwater filter. Basically, it is a white balance adjustment that compensates for shooting through water. It appears to be somewhat effective. The underwater filter is engaged through the main function "wheel", a round control button that surrounds the "OK" (record/pause/shutter) button. The control wheel has four assigned functions as follows:

LEFT: Toggle information on/off on the LCD
RIGHT: Underwater filter on/off
TOP: Telephoto (zoom)
BOTTOM: Wide Angle

While on the topic of controls, the photos we downloaded from the Samsung website (at right top) show a slightly different wheel design that our test unit had (right bottom). On our model, the round dial button had a rounded surface while the one in the photo from Samsung shows to be concave. The icons in their photo are also much more vivid and "readable" than on our unit. Perhaps we received a pre-production unit.

The zoom/wide angle control is also accessible from the toggle wheel. Th W200 offers a 3X digital zoom and you can zoom in/out during recording. However, like with most digital zooms, the action is very jerky and the image quality suffers greatly when zoomed in. Your best video and photos will be in the widest angle.

We found the buttons to generally be a little clunky. Pressing the red "record" button in the middle took a fair amount of pressure. There were a couple of times that we thought we were recording, only to learn we were not. Part of the reason for this is the inability to see the LCD screen in bright sunlight conditions, like on a beach, which is where this camera is really intended to be used. The W200 is not the only camcorder to suffer from a difficult to see screen. In fact, when in bright sunlight you really are just as well off pointing the camera in the direction you want to record, and hope for the best.

When you turn the camcorder on, a green "STBY" shows on the screen, if you can see it, indicating that the camcorder is in STANDBY mode. When you press the red OK button, recording will commence until you press the OK button again. A handy timer counts down the time of the current video clip. When recording the "STBY" is replaced by a red "record" icon, indicating that you are recording. However, in bright sunlight, it is almost impossible to see, so you often don't really know if you are recording or not. Again, the W200 is not the only camcorder to suffer from this shortcoming. A much better solution would be to include a red flashing LED on the back of the camera (or on top) that could easily be seen while in record mode.

There is a handy photo/video toggle button at the bottom of the LCD screen that lets you quickly switch between the two shooting modes. All other settings require a trip to the camera's menu system. The menus are fairly logical and easy to navigate. Face detection and digital image stabilization can both be toggled on/off. The image stabilization is somewhat effective, but could certainly be improved. There are also choices for digital effects, which we consider to be more gimmicks than real world features. There is a fisheye effect and vignetting in addition to the standard sepia and negative options. The backlight compensation is useful, but buried in the menus and clumsy to get to. The camcorder is basically always operating in an Auto mode, selecting various scene modes based on shooting conditions, so there is no manual control over these settings.

Another potential concern was, after shooting some underwater clips, we noticed some condensation (see photo at right) formed under the LCD screen, making the screen even more difficult to see. It also indicates that water is getting in someplace that it should not. We never took the W200 more than 2 feet underwater, so it was never under "pressure". The condensation soon dissipated when left in the sunlight (after about 20 minutes), and it does not appear to have damaged anything.

QUALITY

The tiny lens on this camcorder benefits greatly from the CMOS sensor's strength. Even in moderate light, the camcorder still produces decent detail and color compared to the competition. For it's price and size, the image quality of the W200 is pretty admirable. While the video and images far exceed what you will get from any cell phone, it is still far from the quality you might get from a traditional pocket digital camera and not even close to a dedicated camcorder. Nevertheless, this camera can go places the others cannot, most notably, underwater!


SUMMARY

The Samsung W200 has it all over the competition when it comes to specifications for a waterproof pocket camcorder. Even though it lacks some features, it offers decent performance in low light conditions and good performance in normal light. In our opinion, it is as good or better than any other competitor we have tested, and the built-in, pop-out USB connector alone gives it a convenience edge over the Kodak models. Don't think of the W200 as a replacement for your existing digital camera or camcorder, think of it as a low-cost addition that is purpose-built for wet or dusty conditions. I like to carry a camera around my neck when riding my motorcycle and the W200 would remove any worries about riding through a West Texas dust storm or rain.
 
For cruise enthusiasts, you can take the W200 to the beach, wear it around your neck while snorkeling in Grand Cayman and even take in the pool with you. For the price (about $150), the Samsung W200 is a great value! In fact, I saw one the other day at COSTCO for $99. Wow, what a deal!

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Excellent build quality
  • Fits comfortably in your hand
  • Photo/Video toggle button
  • Variety of shooting resolutions
  • Pop-out USB connector
  • Good image quality, even in moderate light

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • Buttons are a little clunky and unresponsive
  • Condensation under LCD screen when used underwater
  • Screen hard to see in bright conditions
  • Hard to tell when you are recording in bright sunlight
  • Image stabilization could be improved

SAMPLE PHOTOS

Click the thumbnails below to view a 1600 pixel size of the image.

 
 
 

VIDEO REVIEW

     
     
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3 Comments
 
JEN
 
Just purchased one for $49.95! I cannot wait to get it and record special moments with my daughter. :)
 
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 6:07 PM  
 
 
CHARLES
 
Audio / Video Cable for Samsung Camcorder models (Electronics)Not much to say expect it works, it arrived quickly and is of good quality. Now I can watch my old 8mm tapes on my. That's a good thing.
 
Thursday, October 25, 2012 11:29 AM  
 
 
RICKEE RICHARDSON
 
I saw one of these at Walmart just a few days ago for $89. That is an INSANE bargain for this camera.
 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 1:17 PM  
 
 
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