Top 5 Camcorders for the Best Dad in the World

May 31, 2009 11:28 pm ET

It's hard to imagine a better Father's Day gift for dad than preserving family memories with a cool new gadget. A new high definition video camera is the perfect complement to the HDTV and Blu-ray player that mysteriously showed up in the living room last year. This year's digital camcorders offer ultimate portability, full high definition recording (1080p), face tracking, and automatic smile detection. Choosing the best camcorder can be difficult, and June 21st is just around the corner, so to simplify your decision here are 5 of the best camcorders for dads.

Flip Video Ultra HD ($199)
The Flip is great for dads who want to capture short clips of their kids and share them without having to edit them on the computer. Even if dad already has a big camcorder, this pocket sized camcorder is easier to take along, and is more likely to be with him to record those timeless candid moments. The Flip uses AA batteries and has built-in memory, which can record two hours of 720p high definition video. According to TheCamcorderReview.com, "the Flip Ultra HD is the easiest and simplest camcorder that you can lay your hands up on". It is so easy to use that young kids can help dad make videos. To share videos, the Flip can be plugged directly into the computer via the spring-loaded USB adapter. With a few clicks videos can be uploaded to YouTube and shared with the extended family. While the quality of the video and recording capacity is not as good as the bigger camcorders; the price, size and convenience of this camcorder make the Flip Video Ultra HD a great gift for dad.

Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 HD 1080p Flash Memory Camcorder ($449-$499)
The Sanyo VPC-FH1 is a great way to get dad a ton of features and a good quality high definition camcorder without spending a ton of cash. This camcorder is the most affordable camcorder to shoot 1080p high definition video at 60 frames per second. It has easy to navigate menu which is just right for beginners and non professionals. Dad can transfer videos or photos directly into I-tunes and import them on a video capable iPod or iPhone making it easier for him to brag about the kids. It comes with a 16-GB SDHC memory card which should be enough recording time to get started. This is a great entry level HD camcorder which dad will love.

Canon VIXIA HF 200 ($599-$799)
The Canon VIXIA HF200 HD Flash Memory Camcorder is a light weight and compact Flash Memory camcorder with a 15x Optical Zoom that can easily zoom across a soccer field. Canon's advanced optical image stabilization eliminates most of the camera shake, so it doesn't look like dad was filming during an earthquake. The HF200 uses the highest AVCHD recording quality possible at 24Mbs. An on camera HDMI port allows dad to showcase his video on the family HDTV by just connecting an HDMI cable and using the on camera playback controls. Recording directly onto SDHC memory cards allows dad to keep recording by inserting another memory card once the first memory card is full, which is an advantage of flash camcorders compared to hard disk camcorders. The face detection feature automatically makes sure that the whole family is in focus, so dad can more time recording than fiddling with the settings. The Canon VIXIA HF200 is for the dad who wants high quality video and advanced features in an easy to use and affordable package.

Sony HDR-CX12 High Definition Handycam Camcorder ($799-$899)
This is the perfect camcorder for dads who love sports. This camcorder has a super slow-mo recording mode that will let dad analyze his golf swing or junior's Little League game with the same precision as the pros. In addition to the basic face tracking features of other camcorders, the Sony HDR-CX12 adds a smile detection feature that actually snaps photographs when the subject smiles, even while recording video. Instead of an inaccurate battery meter found in most camcorders, the HDR-CX12 tells dad exactly how many minutes of battery time he has left to record, saving him the frustration of running out of juice at the wrong time. Sony does use a proprietary memory card, so if dad doesn't already own other Sony products, he might have to buy some extra memory cards or a portable video storage device. Overall, this is a camcorder packed with advanced features, has good build quality, and should be the first choice for dads who already have other Sony products.

Canon VIXIA HV40 HD HDV Camcorder ($999-$1099)
The HV40 is Canon's latest HDV (high definition tape) camcorder in a series of well regarded DV camcorders. If dad thinks he is Martin Scorsese when making home movies, then he will love the HV40's native 24p Cinema Mode. When this is used with the CINE setting dad can achieve a film-like color tonal qualities, making a dance recital look like it was shot by a cinematographer. Canon decided to use a CMOS sensor in this camcorder which provides better low light recording than CCD camcorders. Dads with an existing investment in video editing software will appreciate that HDV & MiniDV camcorders, like the HV40, are more likely to be compatible with his existing software. Video from the HV40 also requires a less powerful computer to edit than the AVCHD camcorders, which might save dad from having to upgrade his computer to edit HD video. HDV camcorders are larger compared to flash camcorders and the HV40 is no exception. The Canon VIXIA HV40 was released just in time for Father's day, and could be hard to find because it's so new.

Read the full review of these and more camcorders at The Camcorder Review. The Camcorder Review provides reviews of flash camcorders, hard drive camcorders, MiniDV/HDV camcorders, dvd camcorders, blu-ray camcorders and accessories from popular manufacturers such as Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Sanyo, Samsung, JVC, and Flip Video.

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