Creative Vado HD review
Improved quality and a very attractive price helps the new Vado HD catch up with its main rival
Review Date: 4 Mar 2010
Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray
Price when reviewed: £110 (£129 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
It's all gone a little quiet on the pocket video camera front of late. We haven’t seen a major release for a while, but the approach of spring means the stream of cameras should start to increase soon. The first major player to show its cards is Creative, with an update to its already excellent Vado HD.
After the debacle that was the Genius G-Shot HD550T, the new Vado HD comes as a welcome change of scenery.
As with the best video cameras around, there’s no attempt to ape the form factor of standard camcorders. The Vado is brightly coloured, small, slim and light. Slotting it into a pocket is much easier than with the first-generation Vado HD, as Creative has helpfully removed the awkward protruding lens housing, and it rivals our current favourite – the Flip Mino HD – for portability.
Other changes include the addition of a motion-sensor mode, touch-sensitive controls on the rear, instead of mechanical buttons, and manual exposure compensation - for when the camera's autoexposure isn't producing the results you want. On a negative note, the 8GB storage of the first Vado HD has been slimmed down to a mere 4GB.
Elsewhere, the new Vado HD retains all the neat touches that made the original VGA Vado so good. It has a built-in stubby USB cable, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that charges over the USB connection, and in the box you get an HDMI output cable for instant playback. The onboard Vado Central software is still among the best around, offering basic editing and upload tools in a lightweight package.
First impressions suggest video quality has improved. Considerably less detail is lost to compression and noise, while footage seems much sharper and cleaner than with the previous version. This is also apparent in areas of gradual colour gradients.
Cloudy skies, for example, proved a problem for the previous Vado HD, showing obvious, sharp transitions between subtly different areas of colour. That’s not the case here; the new Vado HD renders graduations smoothly and accurately, with colours that look far more accurate.
Recording indoors in low light produced usable footage, with remarkably low levels of colour noise. And side-by-side comparison with footage from the Flip Mino HD reveals that the new Vado HD has a wider-angle lens, which makes it a more useful party camera.
The downside is that, in an attempt to produce a balanced output in bright areas, dark zones in otherwise well-lit scenes tend to look dingy. You can compensate for this using the manual exposure controls, but it isn't always easy to see on the screen when you need to do this.
This is enough to put it fractionally behind the Mino HD when it comes to all-round quality, and we’re none too keen on the removal of the rubber tab from the USB cable. You now have to push the USB plug in to pop it out, which feels like an unnecessary complication.
Creative’s aggressive pricing, however, goes some way toward rectifying these faults. At £110 exc VAT it’s considerably cheaper than the Flip Mino HD, and the HDMI output and lighter software offering help it pull alongside its rival.
Author: Jonathan Bray
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