# Thursday, 02 October 2008

I picked up the Creative Vado Pocket Video Cam 2 days ago.

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It’s a small pocketable video camera that only has 2GB of non expandable internal memory. And that’s pretty much the only thing it can do, take videos, no still photos, no other nifty little tricks. In fact here’s my summary of this little gadget right now.

It’s a relatively small video camera, that is relatively cheaper than other video cameras, which captures relatively good video as long as it’s in a relatively well lit area and that you don’t mind the relatively poor audio compared to other video cameras.

Originally I didn’t care too much about this little guy since reviews generally panned it for poor performance, but then a new firmware was released and it seems to have gotten better. For sample video files you can look in my Skydrive here.

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Specifications wise there’s nothing much to yell about the camera, on the lens side you don’t have optical zoom, the lens has a fixed focus starting from about oh… 10cm to infinity. The recording format is interesting to me because instead of going the MP4 route and producing videos files using MPEG4 compression in an MP4 container. It uses the XVID MPEG4 flavor and saves everything in an AVI file container. The audio stream is stored via a PCM audio codec. What does this mean in English? If you watch downloaded videos, you’ll be able to just copy files off the camera and watch them on your system.

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The controls on the back are laughably simplistic, taking videos are a matter of turning the thing on by holding on to the power button on the side…

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After a short startup tune and 2 seconds later, the camera is ready for recording and then you hit the big white button on the middle of the DPad to start recording.

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It’s a simple process which probably anyone can do, so if you have someone who’s gadget illiterate but you need them to take videos but you don’t want them mucking around with any settings. This would be the camera to give them.

When recording you can choose to zoom in and out using the up and down buttons on the cursor pad, but that just ends up cropping your relatively good video so I wouldn’t bother with it too much.

Pressing the big white button stops recording and then after that you can press the playback button (the top right one) to enter review mode so you can review what you have recorded so far.  And since there’s no index view you’ll have to navigate through all the clips you’ve recorded one by one. The trashcan button (lower right) deletes the current clip, and the holes below that is the speaker… while it works.. it might not be a perfect representation of what’s recorded.

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The 2” screen is nice and bright and does a good job of being the viewfinder and playback viewer.

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Hidden under the camera via a rubber pull tab is the USB connector. Yes, they intend for you to plug this directly into a USB port so you might want to get an extension cable or a hub if your port’s in a hard to reach place or if you rather not have the thing dangling around. Plugging the camera into your PC makes the contents show up as a new drive so taking stuff out is a matter of just copying the files out from the folder. Plugging it in to a USB port is also how you charge the camera cause Creative didn’t include any external chargers in the package.

For the technophobes, Creative included a Vado Central program on the camera which you can just run off of the drive (no installation necessary, but you still need to install the video codecs to view the videos) And help you upload videos to YouTube if for some reason you decide not to just use YouTube’s own upload page.

There’s a tripod screw mount as well should you ever feel the need to mount the Vado on a tripod for recording.

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There’s also a video out port located at the top of the Vado, it’s wired differently than normal mini jack to composite jack cables… And Creative didn’t include the cable in the box. But since the cables for my Zen Vision work on it I was able to test the video out, and my comments on the feature? Well… if you really MUST output the video onto a TV, I guess it works…

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The battery is hidden underneath the front cover. It’ll supposedly give you 2 hours of recording time on a full charge, surprisingly the on board 2GB storage will also only give you a maximum of 2 hours when you record on standard quality and 1 hour on high quality. So… which came first? The battery or the onboard storage?

So… why did I get the Vado even though I already had a video camera? Well I wanted something that was more portable than the SR60 something that I don’t need to think about wheter or not I should take with me, and since the Vado is small, the price was right and the quality good enough I decided to get it.

Can’t I just use my HTC Diamond to take videos? Yes but that quality of the videos the Diamond takes makes the Vado look exquisite!

On a side note, I’m glad that I got the one that’s NOT PINK!  :P


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