Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
Average, small, portable
on 2 November 2015
I've been on the hunt for a small pocket video camera for quite some time. It seems that a lot of these handheld pocket type cameras are discontinued and no longer made. This is most likely due to the quality of smartphone cameras improving, but having a separate device for recording can be advantageous, particularly for battery life.
The Vivitar 'iTwist' DVR986HD is a cheap and somewhat cheerful pocket video camera. Given the cheap price point, I was concerned at how well it would actually record and had several questions as to how this camera would actually be. There are barely any reviews online or YouTube videos for this camera, so I had many concerns about this when ordering it. Here are some of the main questions I had and how the camera fared:
How is the build quality?
The camera is actually very nice looking. It's small – smaller than almost all phones these days by a long shot, and has a glossy finish. When the screen is pulled out, it feels stable enough but I wouldn't really want to drop it when I have the screen folded out. I'm not sure how strong that hinge is if dropped and I don't want to take any risks with it! For everyday use, it should be fine.
How is the quality of the recording?
I guess 'okay' is the most appropriate word. My phone has a 12mp camera and can record HD as well, and I definitely get a much sharper and crisper quality recording on that compared to this camera. The main failing of the quality is under low light conditions - you'll get grainy pictures and videos at best with some blurred motion (if there's a lot of movement in what you're recording). Even for daylight recordings, it's 'okay' but not amazing. Don't expect to get amazing crisp clear HD recordings with this. I've mainly settled for average video, as I record events / lectures where audio is more important than the video.
How big is the file of the recording?
Seems like a pretty normal HD file size – I recorded around 20 minutes and the file ended up being a bit over 2GB, which is about normal for HD video files. The output is saved as a *.avi. Worth pointing out that if your memory card is formatted as a FAT drive, then your video recordings will get cut into separate files when over 4GB (single file limit of about 4GB on FAT drives). You won't notice this when recording though, only when looking at the files after.
What memory card does it take?
The description was a bit confusing, as it apparently accepts multiple card sizes. My suspicions came true however, it simply accepts a normal full sized SD card, and you can use a micro SD with a converter.
What's the maximum capacity memory card it can take?
I've tried a SanDisk 32GB microSD card (with converter) and it worked perfectly fine. I originally thought that maybe a 16GB card may be the maximum capacity card this could accept, but thankfully I was wrong. I've not tried anything bigger than 32GB, so there's a chance that 64GB+ memory cards may be incompatible. The instruction leaflet states that a minimum Class 4 memory card is required.
How is the HDMI output?
Unfortunately I wasn't able to test out the HDMI functionality since the port on the camera is actually a Mini HDMI port, rather than a full sized HDMI port. This wasn't mentioned either on the description online nor on the box nor in the instruction leaflet that I saw. This is something to bear in mind – you'll need to purchase a Mini HDMI to full HDMI converter if you want to output it to a TV / monitor.
How long does battery life last?
Battery life seems decent, you can probably record a full hour in HD, 'Fine' settings with a little battery to spare. The battery itself seems to be the same as the old Nokia phone batteries, so you could probably buy a bunch of batteries from online as backups.
Can you take still images while recording?
I read somewhere online that you can take pictures while recording. False. This just doesn't happen, even though there's a separate button for taking pictures. Pressing that button did nothing for me whilst recording.
On the whole, for the price point, it's a decent camera. As I've mentioned, don't expect crisp clear quality recordings because you just won't get that with this camera. If you're happy with average quality video and a small form factor camera to just get the job done, then this would be a good option.