A cheap pocket video camera
- Slim, cheap, nice screen, antiflicker modes
- No headphone jack, video quality
Despite the Creative Vado's drawbacks, it's a really well-priced device that's good for capturing off-the-cuff video clips. If video quality is important to you, you should steer clear. But Creative's pocket camcorder is serviceable and inexpensive.
Creative's Vado Pocket Video Cam is a pocket video camera that's slim and relatively inexpensive, and holds plenty of footage.
But while the Creative Vado has a generous feature-set and a nice display, the Creative device's video quality isn't all that good. That might not be a deal-breaker for price-savvy YouTube moviemakers, however, because the Vado has a lot of other things going for it.
The Creative Vado is a tiny, bare-bones camcorder with a flip-out USB connector; you use it to upload your clips to YouTube or Photobucket with one click. High-def fanatics, check your 1080p dreams at the door: this iPod-size device is built for sticking in your pocket or bag, shooting video on the go, and then easily uploading your low-quality footage. On that front, mission accomplished.
The Creative Vado's 2in screen is a nice size. Contrast is sharp, colours are bright, and the display is vibrant enough for you to see what you're shooting and to play back videos in bright sunlight. But that impressive LCD is both a blessing and a curse, as videos look much better on the device than they do after you upload them to YouTube. After upload, we noticed much more pixelation and murkiness than we expected.
Operating the Creative Vado is pure simplicity. The four-way directional pad below the device's display lets you zoom in or out by pressing up or down, and the left and right directional buttons scroll through video clips during playback. A button in the middle of the D-pad starts and stops recording. One side button switches between the recording and playback modes, and another button below it deletes clips. Holding down both of those buttons takes you to the menu screen.
To connect the Creative Vado to a PC, you just flip out the camera's built-in USB connector. Plugging the Vado into any Windows computer's USB port (the device's on-board media-management software doesn't work on a Mac) launches the simple Vado Central app, which lets you upload clips to YouTube or Photobucket in a matter of clicks. (Plugging the Creative Vado into a PC also charges the unit.)
The Creative Vado's 640x480-resolution video quality isn't exactly terrible. Although the Creative Vado is certainly good for quick-and-dirty clips, make sure to keep the lights on wherever you shoot. Lacking white balance and additional lighting, the Vado won't work well in a dark room.
Not all of the Creative Vado's extra features are as impressive as they seem on paper. The Vado can zoom in on subjects, but its 2X digital-only zoom is choppy.
You can also toggle between two antiflicker modes on the Creative Vado, one at a 50Hz refresh rate and the other at a 60Hz refresh rate. The latter is especially good for capturing footage of a monitor screen or television; you can match the refresh rate of the monitor you're shooting to avoid producing the scrolling lines that sometimes result when you videotape content on a TV or monitor.
The Creative Vado camera has the ability to toggle between standard-quality and higher-quality (HQ) video modes; in standard-quality (SP) mode, the Vado stores up to two hours of video on its 2GB flash drive, while in high-quality mode, the device holds 1 hour of footage. But here's the thing: we didn't see much of a difference in the quality of my YouTube clips recorded in each mode. You may as well use SP mode at all times and capture two hours' worth of mediocre-looking clips.
The Creative Vado also doesn't feel sturdy. Its plastic body and buttons, though lightweight, suggest that it might not be able to withstand a year or so of punishment. In addition, you can charge the device only via a USB connection to your computer, not with a standard electrical plug.
Not everyone will love the flip-out design of the Creative Vado's USB connector, either; though the rubberised connector's flexibility will delight some users, plugging the very short connector into a desktop's USB ports makes the Vado dangle awkwardly in midair. The connector was clearly built with a laptop in mind, and it works great in that capacity.
We have another beef with the A/V-out jack on the top of the Creative Vado. Although it's a nice touch, Creative doesn't include the required cable with the device. The cable is sold separately, of course, but information about it was hard to find on the company's website. A headphone jack would have been much more useful; the audio recorded on the device is decent, but gauging how well the camcorder is picking up audio is difficult without listening to it through headphones.
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