By Mike Wheeler
BenQ is not the first name that comes to mind when thinking of camcorders. More well-known brands such as Panasonic, Sony, Canon and JVC may grab the headlines, but some of the smaller vendors have a place in the market, too.
Not even 10 years old, Taiwanese-based Benq is an anagram for Bringing Enjoyment and Quality to life, and this mantra is what they try and put into their products. One such product is the DV S21 camcorder. Out of the box, the unit is small, light and easy to hold. Although it looks small – almost bordering on the flimsy – the unit is reasonably solid and doesn’t feel like it’s about to fall apart any time soon.
Operation is easy, with the buttons allowing you to use the device as a still camera, camcorder and voice recorder. It also has the ability to shoot at night. You can save still pics to the unit, but you will need to use one of the two SD card slots to store recordings via the camcorder. Technophobes will be happy to learn that the instruction booklet is brief, which means you don’t have to read screeds of detailed technobabble to make the unit function.
Picture quality of both the stills and camcorder were pretty good. Remember, this records in Full HD 1080p, so the videos I recorded were crisp and clean. It has a 3-inch touchscreen display that previews both stills and video. The still camera shoots 16 megapixel photographs.
One downside is that the USB, HDMI and AV out ports are hidden under the ‘power on’ switch instead of the outing casing of the unit. This was a little annoying, but there is not a lot of room for them on the outside.
There is a dual battery option. As well as using the supplied lithumion battery, you can also put in two AAA batteries if the main one dies. However, you will have to remember to pack the back-ups – so while the idea is good, the practicalities might not be so straight forward.
While the DV S21 won’t leave the main players shaking in their boots, it shows that an above average camcorder need not be expensive, nor take up much room in the glove compartment of your car, and you’ll still come out with shots and videos that will provide memories for years to come.
Pros: Small, reasonable battery life, price, dual battery option, good quality pics
Cons: USB/HDMI slots hidden, no internal storage for videos
3.9 Shacks out of 5