For a full list of the HMX-H106’s official specifications, click here.
Related Models: HMX-H105, H104, H100
The $899 HMX-H106 has three close cousins: the HMX-H105,the HMX-H104 and the H100. All four models are essentially identical; they have the same video resolution, image sensor and zoom lens. The main difference is internal memory, which impacts how many hours of footage they can store. The H105 ($729) features a 32GB SSD, the H104 ($649) offers a 16GB SSD and the H100 ($579) does not offer internal memory and instead records directly to SD/SDHC memory cards.
If you like what you see in the H106 but want to save a few dollars by lowering the amount of footage it can store on internal memory, consider one of its lower-priced siblings. You can also boost the memory with an optional SD/SDHC memory card.
Samsung H106: The Good
While no one should buy a camcorder simply because it looks good, it bears mentioning that the H106 looks pretty darn good. It’s a beautiful camcorder (there is such a thing), sharply styled with a gun metal gray housing and black accents.
But the design has more to recommend it than stylish looks. Unlike competitive models in its class, Samsung’s camcorder has buttons that can be safely pressed by people with larger fingers, instead of tiny buttons that are trickier to access. It also features a rotating grip, for getting those hard-to-reach angles. Two very nice touches and at 14.2 ounces with battery and memory card, it's light enough to carry around for hours.
With 1920 x 1080 video recording in the H.264 format, the H106 offers generally excellent video quality for a model in its class. Indoors, in lower light, the H106 held up well, with only the occasional grain showing through. You can compensate for more challenging shooting environments by using one of the pre-set scene modes.
The H106 gives you manual control over shutter speed, iris, white balance and exposure. These are a must in a camera at this price range, as they let you fine tune the look of your video. Accessing these controls is done via the 2.7-inch touch-screen LCD and not through a manual ring as is typical in many higher-end camcorders. For most of the manual settings, that's not a problem, but it does make manual focusing difficult, particularly when you're trying to focus while filming.
The H106, like Panasonic’s HDC-TM300K, features touch-focusing. When activated, you can touch the LCD screen and make that point in the scene the focal point. This worked quite well, as the H106's touch screen is very responsive.
If you're not interested in digging around the menu, there's a useful "Easy Q" mode which will disable most of the H106's functions to simplify operation.
The H106 uses a solid state flash memory drive to store camcorder footage. With 64GB, you can hold a little over eight hours of footage at the highest quality setting. You can boost this by using an optional SD/SDHC memory card. For flash memory camcorders, 64GB worth of internal memory for $899 is a very good bargain.
HMX-H106: The Bad
The HMX-H106’s biggest liability was its autofocus. Indoors, the camcorder could occasionally be slow to lock focus. This was particularly problematic when snapping photographs in still photo mode. Some were indecipherable blurs.
While the H106 boasts of taking 4.6-megapixel still photos, it only has a 2.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor, which means it uses interpolation to hit the 4-megapixel mark. The photos aren't bad, per-se, but they're nothing you'll want to print and hang over the mantle. The H106 does offer a built-in flash, but no hot shoe accessory, which is something you'd typically find in higher-priced camcorders.
The H106 also does not have a viewfinder. You’ll be using the 2.7-inch LCD screen for composing all your video. Personally, I don’t mind losing the viewfinder but others may prefer having one.
The HMX-H106 is one stylish and intuitively designed camcorder. For its price, it packs on a generous assortment of features and delivers quality video recording. You may encounter some slower than average focusing and the photos are nothing to write home about, but the overall package is a solid contender in the HD camcorder market.