There are a lot of things going for the Samsung VP-DC165Wi, including Dual Layer recording and a great feature set. The trouble is they just don't make up for the mediocre video quality and dreadful still images from this lower priced model.
- Support for dual layer discs, easy to use, well built, microphone input, huge zoom
- Poor video quality, poor still image quality
While it has a good range of features, the VP-DC165Wi is let down by poor quality video.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
For a start, the colour reproduction is disappointing. In anything but perfect lighting conditions the colours looked washed out and dim. Passing cars outfit in garish red were reduced to a maroon hue on our recordings. The glossy green sheen of the grasses growing outside our office looked drab and dull.
Things were even worse in our low light tests taken in a darkened room. Here we shoot brightly coloured bricks and a colour test chart. Both are an explosion of primary colours, but came out looking almost entirely grey. However, some camcorders fail to even pick up any details in this test, so things could have been worse still.
Unfortunately, it's not just the colour that's off. We found the picture generally lacked the sharpness that we have seen on other models, even when using the highest quality settings. Video, while generally smooth, had a soft, blurry look that degraded the image. We also noticed a fair number of compression artifacts creeping into footage, as is common with DVD camcorders.
If things weren't great with the video quality, they were downright awful with still images. The 800 x 600 snaps produced by the VP-DC165Wi look as if they have been created by the camera on a $99 mobile phone. All the problems we saw on the video are present, but in this case they are exacerbated further. You would struggle to even produce a decent 6 x 4in print from these.
All these problems may make the VP-DC165Wi sound a like a terrible camcorder. But, as we have seen with other Samsung units, near enough every other aspect of the camera is well designed and well implemented. If only Samsung could up the quality of the video they'd actually be onto a winner.
The build quality is generally very good, especially for a cut-price model such as this. The camera is easy to hold and lightweight too, though there are a few hard edges. All the vital functions are within easy reach, and there's a convenient shortcut menu for accessing manual options. These options include shutter speed, manual exposure and white balance control. Manual focus can be accessed with a dedicated set of buttons.
These are good inclusions for a lower-priced camcorder, and another great feature is the microphone jack which sits on the rear of the chassis. It's rare to see a microphone jack on a camcorder in this price range, so Samsung's decision to add one is certainly welcome. Other hardware features include the huge 33x optical zoom, which is verging on overkill, and the 2.7in widescreen LCD.
One final feature of note is the VP-DC165Wi's support of different DVD formats. In addition to regular 8cm DVD+/-R and DVD+/-RW, the camcorder also supports Dual Layer DVD+R. This doubles the recording time of the DVDs. Considering most DVD camcorders can only manage a rather feeble 20 minutes of recording at their highest settings, the jump to 40 minutes is useful.
Samsung has crafted a capable yet underperforming camcorder with the VP-DC165Wi. On paper, its range of features and support for Dual Layer discs make it a viable contender. In practice, the sub par video and images make it a less than perfect choice.
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