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This review is from: Creative Vado HD 8GB High Definition Pocket Camcorder with 2" LCD and integral HDMI Cable (Electronics)I was immediately impressed with the Vado HD when it arrived. I was looking for a low cost, pocket camcorder that I could take anywhere, and take videos when on holiday, at the park with my daughters, and more specifically, being a professional magician, record videos of myself performing moves and sleights so I can play them back quickly and easily, and make sure I am performing new moves correctly.
The Vado HD is a perfect replacement for a bulky, traditional camcorder. The quality of the video is excellent compared to my previous camcorder, a JVC MiniDV model. The picture is very sharp, the camera functions well in bright light, ordinary light, work brilliantly indoors, and also in low light conditions. The video quality, plugged directly into your TV via the included HDMI cable is excellent.
Another useful feature is the ability to change the video quality. There seems to be very little noticable difference on screen between HD+ and HD mode, so you've got 2 hours at the highest quality, or 4 hours at normal HD mode, which would (hopefully, for those watching) be more than enough for the average holiday video. Even the VGA mode, on my 32" Samsung HD TV, looks good. If you're close up, you can see that it is a bit pixilated, but from a normal distance, the picture quality is excellent for such a low resolution, and perfectly usable.
The sound on the camera is not fantastic, but better than I expected for such a small unit. The sound quality when you play back on the unit itself is low and tinny, but transferred to a TV, and again, it's perfect for a holiday video, or presentation, or just for taking quick videos of your kids falling over and getting their heads stuck in things.
Another great feature is that it is so easy to upload the videos to your PC. You can just upload them directly to any PC with USB, as the software and drivers are on the camera itself, not the PC. What I would say however, is that the camera does not seem to work with the default Windows Movie Maker, but works PERFECTLY with Windows Live Movie Maker (the new version you can download free from Microsoft on their Live website). You can drag and drop clips, and music and titeles, and crop unwanted bits out, before creating an HD video file that you can burn directly to DVD, transfer to Windows DVD Maker, or upload directly to YouTube or Facebook. I know very little about video editing, but even this simple, free utility works brilliantly.
What put me off using a camcorder before was having to carry it around. A normal size camcorder is bulky, the batteries are heavy and expensive to replace, but this is the size of an MP3 player, fits in your pocket, and only takes a few seconds to start up. Finally, I've not noticed any major problem with wobbly footage, if you hold the camera securely, it's not at all shakey, and my hands aren't the steadiest. You only really notice any wobbling if you're walking at the same time as filming. If you're standing still it's fine.
Now, the disadvantages:
1. Digital Zoom. The zoom isn't the best - 2x digital zoom gives a small zoom, with a noticable drop in video quality. Best to keep things up close.
2. Battery life - initially a little bit less than 2 hours I think, may be worth buying a spare (only £10)
3. The USB connector on the bottom is handy for plugging into a PC, but there is a little rubber nubbin at the bottom, meaning that you can't rest this camera standing up, as the bottom of the unit isn't flat. A small flexible tripod is ok, but if you have a larger traditional tripod, this nubbin will get in the way of fixing on the tripod. You need to extend the USB adaptor before putting it on a larger tripod, which may or may not be possible depending on how large your tripod is.
4. Connectivity - easy to play on your TV if you have an HDMI socket, but if you don't, or you want to plug into a DVD recorder, then you're going to have problems. Connection to a PC is a breeze though.
5. Charging only via USB, you can buy a seperate battery charger, but it is quite expensive, so you're going to have to take a laptop with you if you're taking it on holiday, unless you fork out for the charger. I would have much prefered to have the option of a USB mains charger, like my mobile phone.
6. No expandable memory - but given that you can film 4 hours in HD or 8 hours in VGA, you don't really need it.
Overall, the few flaws above don't effect the video the unit takes, and any disadvantages can be instantly forgiven simply becasue this camcorder is so portable, and takes such nice video for a camera of its size, weight and price. Totally impressed, and have already recommended to several friends who were looking at similar things.