When it comes time to buy a digital camcorder, you’ll have a number of shopping options.
Online merchants such as Amazon.com and Buy.com have a vast, virtual warehouse of camcorders. User reviews can often provide a helpful clue as to how others have enjoyed (or not enjoyed) the camcorder in question. Comparative shopping engines such as PriceGrabber can help you find the best online price available for a given camcorder.
On the downside, if you encounter a problem with the camcorder, you’ll have to deal with customer service over the phone and not in person. If there’s a major problem, you’ll have the hassle of having to repackage and mail the unit back.
You’ll often find the best camcorder prices at big box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, just don’t go to a mass merchant chain with any questions about camcorder technology. If you can find a sales associate, odds are they won’t have the answers. If you want to shop these retailers for the best prices, be sure to have your research done first and know precisely the camcorder model you’re looking for.
See this article for What to Consider When Buying a Digital Camcorder.
Consumer electronics stores like Best Buy will boast a nice selection and fairly aggressive prices on most camcorders. Chances are the sales associates will be more readily available and more knowledgeable than the ones you’ll find at a mass merchant. There’s also a healthy assortment of camcorder accessories, such as blank media, tripods, DVD burners, and external hard drives.
Photo Specialty Store
Stores like Ritz Camera Centers, B&H (in New York) or any local photo shop will have the most knowledgeable sales people around. They’ll have a very broad selection of product, the best selection of accessories, and ample opportunities to get a hands-on demo and ask questions. You might not find the best price at a specialty store, but savvy shoppers armed with competitive online prices, may be able to haggle.
Whichever option you choose, be sure to get your hands on any camcorder you wish to buy, before you buy. Even if you shop online, there's nothing like a hands-on demo to fully familiarize yourself with a camcorder's feel and features.