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Tech Report – Camileo S20 Camcorder

The camcorder market has undergone some dramatic changes over the last few years, none bigger than in 2006 when a relatively unknown company called Pure Digital Technologies introduced the "Pure Digital Point & Shoot", which later became known as the Flip.

Amateur video buffs loved the Flip. While other camcorders had progressively become more complicated, the Flip stripped everything away, leaving just two operating buttons and a pop-out USB connector for transferring files to a computer.

The simplicity of the Flip caught on immediately. By the end of 2008, the Flip had become the best-selling camcorder on the market.

Since the arrival of the Flip, other camcorder manufacturers have tried to "dumb down" their products with mixed success. Canon, Panasonic, and particularly Sony with the Webbie series, have all tried to match the Flip for price point and simplicity but none of them has managed to create the same kind of excitement.

Now, it appears that serious competition has arrived from a rather unexpected source. Earlier this month, Toshiba announced that it would be bringing its popular Camileo line of camcorders to the U.S. Previously only available in Europe, the Camileo series includes the S20, a low-priced pocket-sized camcorder that will draw instant comparisons to the Flip.

The first thing you notice about the Camileo S20 is its size. At 3.5oz and just 0.6-inch thin, it's no bigger than a smartphone and slips easily into a jean pocket. Once the 3-inch LCD screen is extended for previewing and shooting, it comfortably fits into the fingers of one hand. The glossy black exterior and red trim give it a pleasing and professional look.

Unlike the Flip, to operate the S20 you will almost certainly need to pick up the manual, but the controls are logically laid out and easy to master. On the back of the S20 there is a clickable zoom rocker, which also doubles as a menu navigation control, along with the record, forward, back and playback buttons. Below those controls is a plastic cover, which pops open to reveal the AV, HDMI and USB ports.

On the opposite side of the S20 you will find the photo/video mode control, and you open the LCD screen to locate the power and pre-record buttons. There are 4 different recording modes: Macro for close-up shots, motion detection mode for surveillance, slow motion for sports and a time elapse mode.

The S20 shoots video in full 1080p HD or you can shoot in 720p with up to a 4x zoom. There is also a built-in LED light for dark or low-light situations. The full HD video quality is spectacular, particularly when played back through an HD TV. The S20 also doubles as a 5 megapixel digital still camera.

The S20 retails for $179.99 and comes with an impressive array of accessories, including a hand strap and case, a mini tripod, a full set of cables including HDMI, a cleaning cloth, and the software CD!

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