When you go to an electronics store to pick out a camcorder the selection can be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few good questions to ask the salesperson before you leave the store:
What is your return policy?
In most cases electronics stores will charge you a restocking fee of 15% or more if you return an opened camcorder. In addition to the restocking fee most stores will not allow you to return the camcorder at all after a certain amount of time has passed, usually 30 days. This is something you especially will want to take note of if you give a camcorder as a gift.
What if its broken?
Some electronics stores will not take your camcorder back if it is broken, even if it is within your normal 30 day return policy. Find out in advance what the stores policy is on broken or damaged merchandise. If the store requires you to deal with the manufactuer, even during your 30 day return window, I recommend you shop somewhere else.
Can I try this out?
Make sure you know how to use your camcorder before you leave the store with one. Think about what features you are likely to use the most, and then try to use them with the in store model. Ask questions, lots of questions. Want to know how to change the exposure? Ask. Reading instruction books can help a lot in learning how to operate your new camcorder, but having someone show you hands on can save you a lot of time and make your camcorder owning experience much more enjoyable.
Tell me about this other model
The difference between two different camcorder models can often be as simple as the resolution of the built in digital camera, or the amount of digital zoom the camcorder has. Make sure you understand what makes the camcorder you have chose different from the models above and below it made by the same manufactuer, you may discover you need to go a model up, or find out you would be happy with the less expensive model.
What features does this camcorder have?
Ask about whether the camcorder has a manual focus as well as if it has a mic-in port. If you are purchasing a digital camcorder, ask if you can use it to transfer old VHS tapes into a digital format. If you plan of using the camcorder at night (and even if you arent) ask about a night mode and how to use it. A good test of the night mode on a camcorder is to place your hand over the lens. Good night vision camcorders will allow you to see the inside of your hand, bad ones will not.
What accessories do you carry for this camcorder?
Can you buy the longer life battery in the store, or is it something you are going to have to ship off for? Its good to know before you purchase a camcorder what items are available for it should you decide to upgrade later with new accessories. You dont need to purchase all the accessories for the camcorder right then, but its good to know whats available.