The Top Rated Mini Camcorders Of 2011

Mini camcorders, sometimes called shoot-and-share or pocket camcorders, offer portability and simplicity with minimal features and a lightweight, compact design. Mini camcorders are convenient for websharing and handy for on-the-road adventures. Though you won’t get the video quality of a full-blown camcorder, most mini camcorders now offer HD capability and have been much improved over the past few years.

The top review sources for this article were Consumer Reports, CNET, Amazon, PCMag, and TechRadar. Here’s our list of the top rated mini camcorders of 2011:

Kodak Playsport Mini Camcorder ($120)The Best Mini Camcorders Of 2011

Pros:

  • Very good picture quality for the price
  • Waterproof to 10 feet; Image stabilizer
  • Takes 5 megapixel stills
  • Built-in software contributes to ease of use

Cons:

  • No macro feature

Top Review Sources:

  • Consumer Reports: highest rated mini camcorder with 54 out of 100; Very good rating to picture quality, ease of use, and display quality; Fair rating to audio quality
  • CNET: 4 out of 5 stars, Excellent
  • Amazon: 3.9 out of 5 stars based on 863 reviews

The Kodak Playsport is an inexpensive mini camcorder that you can throw in your pocket for a trip to the beach, mountains, or a sporting event. Though not shockproof, the Playsport does have a rugged design that can be taken underwater and, with minimal features, is simple to use. It shoots HD video and all the necessary cables are provided. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts for an hour and 30 minutes using the lowest HD mode, less with 1080 HD. If you’re looking for all the bells and whistles, look elsewhere, but for a simple point-and-shoot video that you can take anywhere, then the Kodak Playsport  is a solid choice. It’s available in black, purple, and blue.

The Kodak Playsport mini camcorder is available on Amazon.

 

Flip MinoHD Mini Camcorder ($172)

Flip MinoHD Mini Camcorder

Flip MinoHD Mini Camcorder

Pros:

  • Good picture quality, better than average sound quality
  • Simple to use
  • Image stabilization
  • Built-in software compatible with Windows and Mac

Cons:

  • No expansion card slot
  • Unable to capture stills

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 4 out of 5 stars, Excellent, especially liked the sleek, functional design
  • Amazon: Average 4.1 out of 5 stars based on 85 reviews
  • PCMag: 3 out of 5 stars; “Very good video quality in a thin, light design”

The Flip has long been synonymous with mini pocket camcorders. The MinoHD is Flip’s most pocket-friendly model and has had a couple of upgrades for the third generation adding an image stabilizer, higher frame rate, and simpler software which allows the user to quickly upload to Facebook and YouTube. The 8 GB of internal memory will hold 2 hours of video. Battery life is 83 minutes. Though still on the pricey side, the Flip MinoHD is for those who want minimal effort in producing quality video with an aesthetic, ultra-portable design. Also available in silver or you can design your own on the the Flip website.

The Flip MinoHD sells on Amazon.

 

Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 Mini Camcorder ($115)

Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 Mini Camcorder

Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 Mini Camcorder

Pros:

  • 270 degree rotation lens, 2.4 inch LCD screen
  • 4 video resolution options and captures 5 megapixel stills
  • Good picture quality
  • Easy upload to Facebook, YouTube, MySpace

Cons:

  • Only top half of screen is used for shooting video
  • No HDMI output or mic input

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 3.5 out of 5 stars, very good; “Best suitable for websharing”
  • Consumer Reports: 52 out of 100 (highest rated mini camcorder is a 54); very good picture quality
  • Amazon: 3.9 out of 5 stars, based on 42 reviews

What distinguishes the Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 from the rest of the mini camcorder pack is the swiveling lens which is turned inward for protection while shut off then can rotate 270 degrees for a variety of shooting angles. It offers full HD resolution and picture quality is good overall, comparable to the competition. The Sony Bloggie allows one-touch uploading for websharing. Otherwise, the recording and editing features are basic for a point-and-shoot. The built-in USB arm plugs into a PC or Mac though the extra software is not Mac-compatible. It comes in Violet, Blue, Pink, and White.

The Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is available from Amazon.

Kodak Zi8 Mini Camcorder ($115)

Kodak Zi8 Mini Camcorder

Kodak Zi8 Mini Camcorder

Pros:

  • Superior video quality for the size and price; Full 1080p HD
  • Loads of features including image stabilization, face detection, and macro focus
  • Updated slim design with Li-Ion battery
  • Large 2.5 inch screen
  • Nice add-ons such as external mic, expansion card slot, built-in USB and comes with HDMI cable

Cons:

  • On-board memory is low- 128MB
  • Software isn’t Mac-compatible (editing can be done through 3rd-party software)
  • Unsteady zoom

Top Review Sources:

  • PCMag: 4 out of 5; Editor’s choice, “More features than we’ve seen in any other pocket video camera”
  • CNET: 4 out of 5 stars; Excellent, “Surpasses Flip Video’s video quality and feature set”
  • Amazon: Average 3.9 out of 5 stars, based on 610 reviews

The Kodak Zi8, updated from the Zi6 model, tops many lists of the best mini camcorders. Though slimmed down from the previous model, the Zi8 is still slightly chunkier than other mini camcorders, which some may prefer for the larger screen and extra features. The Zi8 records in a variety of resolution options: 720p resolution at up to 60fps, which according to Kodak is best for sports and action, 720p at 30fps is best for websharing, and WVGA is best for conserving memory card space. Kodak provides the HDMI cable for viewing directly to an HDTV. Black, Aqua, and Raspberry are the color options.

The Kodak Zi8 mini camcorder sells on Amazon.

 

Creative Labs Vado Mini Camcorder ($100)

Creative Labs Vado Mini Camcorder

Creative Labs Vado Mini Camcorder

Pros:

  • Wide angle lens
  • Performs excellent in low light
  • Handy exposure controls for adjusting during recording; external mic jack
  • Excellent battery life

Cons:

  • LCD screen not brilliant
  • No HDMI cable included

Top Review Sources:

  • Consumer Reports: 49 out of 100; “simple to use interface and intuitive recording and playback controls”
  • TechRadar: 4 out of 5 stars; “a surprising amount of functionality”
  • Amazon: 3.7 out of 5 stars, based on 53 reviews

Though it may not be able to compete with the Kodak or the Flips in terms of durability, the Creative Labs Vado sets itself apart with some other features not seen on the competition, such as the wide angle lens and exposure controls. The on-board software makes uploading to the web easy and is compatible with both PCs and Mac. It shoots in 720p HD at 30 fps and also has still capture capability. What the Vado is most praised for by reviewers is the low light picture quality. Another plus is the price as it can be found on sale for under $100. Comes in black, red, white, blue, and purple.

The Creative Labs Vado 3rd generation is available on Amazon.

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