Camcorders that use flash memory to store video weigh less and are more compact than models that use tapes, DVDs or hard disk drives. But just because they're small doesn't mean that flash camcorders don't pack a quality punch. You'll find flash memory used in both high-end, high definition camcorders all the way down to inexpensive, standard definition models. We've evaluated the field and selected the best flash camcorders across a range of capabilities and price ranges.
Panasonic's HDC-TM300K records 1920 x 1080 video in the AVCHD format to 32GB of internal flash memory and to optional SDHC memory cards. This lightweight HD camcorder offers a 12x optical zoom, a touch-screen LCD and face detection. One of the strengths of the TM300K is its ability to appeal to both advanced camcorder owners and those who want to grow into the model's more advanced features.
Canon's Vixia HF-S10 a high-end, high definition model that records to 32GB of internal flash memory or to an optional SDHC memory card. The Vixia HF200 boasts the highest quality recording supported by the AVCHD format in a package that's easy to take anywhere. A 10x optical zoom lens, face detection, and a wealth of advanced features make the HF-S10 a top pick for those shopping for an HD flash camcorder.
Samsung's SMX-C14 is a standard definition flash camcorder with 16GB worth of internal memory and a slot for SDHC cards. In addition to being extremely light weight and well designed, the C14 sports an "active angle lens." This skyward pointing lens makes the camcorder easier to hold during long shoots. The C14 is well stocked with features including face detection, 14 scene modes, time lapse recording, USB battery charging and direct uploading to YouTube when connected to a PC.
4. Kodak Zi8
Kodak's Zi8 is a high definition pocket camcorder that records 1920 x 1080p video at 30 frames per second (fps). This easy-to-use model offers more features for the price than its competitors without sacrificing its simple interface. You'll find a 2-inch LCD, a flip-out USB plug, several video recording settings and a removable battery. It's light on internal memory (only 128MB) so you'll have to use an optional SDHC card. (Click here for the best models in the pocket camcorder category.)
Pure Digital was not the inventor of the pocket camcorder per-se, but the success of its popular Flip line has definitely put the category on the map. The Flip UltraHD retains all the qualities that have made previous Flips so popular - it's lightweight, extremely easy to use and takes excellent quality 720p HD video for a pocket camcorder. It has almost no features to get lost in. If you're looking for something that you literally just turn on, turn off and hit record, choose the Flip UltraHD over Kodak's more feature-rich Zi8. If you're not in the market for an HD model, consider the Flip Ultra, which is basically a standard definition version of the UltraHD.
Sony's HDR-CX100 packs 8GB of internal flash memory and a 10x optical zoom lens. This Full HD AVCHD camcorder records 1920 x 1080 video at 16Mbps and can store about an hour of video at the highest quality to its internal memory (you can boost capacity with an optional memory card). The CX100 is a bit bulkier and boxier than other flash camcorders, but it's feature-set and quality make it a good value for the price.
7. Canon FS200
Canon's FS200 is standard definition camcorder with a powerful 37x optical zoom lens and a 2.7-inch LCD. While not technically a pocket camcorder, it's so lightweight and compact that it's easy to slip into pocket and purse. Keep in mind that there's no built-in memory in the FS200, so you'll have to use an optional SDHC card. But the overall video performance and feature set make the FS200 a good value for the price.