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Most of us take camcorders so much for granted; it's hard to believe they've only been around for about 15 years. In fact, C&CV (originally called (Camcorder Report) was born in the fall of 1988, at the start of the video camera era. What's even harder to believe is the incredible advances made in that short period of time. The early models didn't have image stabilization, you had to manually change the lens position to get up close in Macro mode, and they weighed as much as watermelons!
Needless to say, all that's changed. Image stabilization is now common on all but the least expensive models. Close-up features in both wide-angle and telephoto are ubiquitous. And, the weight and size of these powerful new cams has been dramatically reduced.
Manufacturers keep improving models with new features, such as recording to DVD, the ability to "see" in total darkness, larger, brighter color LCDs, and the capability of capturing high-quality digital still images. And, some of the new camcorders are even targeting specific markets, as female buyers.
If you've been considering buying a new camcorder, or are just plain curious to know what's new out there, check out the following models. They will give you a taste of the latest by major manufacturers. (By the way, we've specifically not included two of the newer and more remarkable camcorders on the market: Panasonic's PV-GR70, which offers 3-chip design for under $1,000 that we reviewed in the October 2003 issue, and Samsung's SDC-5000 dual-cam, which offers both Digital Video performance and high 4MP digital still camera resolution. (See Tony …