There is very little to control on the W200 outside of resolution, being that the camera “autos” everything from focus to white balance. But seriously, the W200 is built for abuse and underwater excursion, and in three weeks of dousing, dunking and kicking around, the W200 has performed nobly in that it still works as good as it did out of the box. However, a few noticeable drawbacks and shooting features keep it from being all it can be.
The W200 has a special setting called Aqua Mode assigned to the four-way controller for quick access on or off. The pocket camcorder also has a Anti-Fog feature to keep the lens clear and fog free. The Anti-Fog feature definitely works, but I can’t speak to the effectiveness of the Aqua Mode. According to the manual, it adjusts the white balance, focus, and audio for underwater shooting, but after dunking the W200 with it on and again with it off, I’m hard pressed to tell the difference in the resulting clips.
Whatever it does, I have no issues with either Anti-Fog or Aqua Mode. I have an issue with the fact that the W200 has no Macro Mode for close up shooting. The second-generation Kodak PlaySport has it, and so should the W200. As it stands, the W200 requires at least ten-inches of space between the subject and the lens to retain focus. That means that any curious fish are going to be out of focus, and it will be extremely difficult to shoot anything in murky water.
Video, Stills and Audio Quality
The video W200 video quality compares favorably against other pocket camcorders, which means it isn’t anything special. Colors are nicely balanced, but the picture is not especially sharp, even at 1080p. The camcorder is above average in low light situations and picks up a surprising amount of color, certainly more than other pocket camcorders I’ve tested. Underwater picture quality is dependent on the clarity of the water, but the W200 should be able to pick up something six or seven feet away from the lens in a clear pool.
On the downside, the W200 has horrible audio pickup, which makes sense considering it’s a waterproof camera. The on-board mic is probably sealed up to prevent water from leaking inside. I suppose that’s the tradeoff: horrible audio pickup and muted/muzzled/hollow sound quality for a water tight device.
The stills performance is excellent, in fact, I think the stills output is some of the best I’ve seen on a pocket camcorder. The colors look great and the contrast is excellent. I’d consider using this as my exclusive Point and Shoot for trips to the beach.
by Valerie Sarnataro
Operation and Extras
The Samsung W200 doesn’t deviate from the “stupid simple” standard set by other pocket camcorders, but it has two maddening features that really set it back from the pack.
The W200 is the first pocket camcorder I’ve seen to record onto microSD cards exclusively. Ever use a microSD card? It’s the tiny memory card that slots into most phones, and it’s extremely unsuitable for camcorder use because they are so small and easy to lose. Also, when was the last time you saw a laptop or PC with a microSD card slot?
It’s frustrating that Samsung would choose microSD when the W200 is large enough to sport a standard SD card slot. In fact, I’ve seen much smaller and older camcorders support full-sized SD.
Also irritating, but only slightly less so, is the W200’s rigid USB dongle. It’s not long enough and I had trouble slotting it into my laptop for charging and uploading footage.
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