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Aiptek i2 3D HD review

Verdict

A fun little gadget that's guaranteed to raise a smile

Review Date: 30 Sep 2010

Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith

Price when reviewed: £170 (£200 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

The Aiptek i2 is a handheld HD camcorder - like a chunkier Flip Mino HD - with two lenses, enabling it to record true stereoscopic 3D. It even features a 2.4in parallax-barrier LCD panel, enabling you to view your 3D footage directly on the device without glasses.

That screen, without a doubt, is the i2's unique selling point. The illusion of depth is quite captivating, and although the image seems blocky and somehow unrea,l it's hard to tear your eyes away from even the most humdrum scenes.

If you want to use a larger display, though, things become awkward. There's an HDMI port for direct connection to a TV or monitor, but your display will need to know how to turn a side-by-side video stream into a stereoscopic display. The alternative is to move your footage off the device altogether and play it through a PC-based 3D system such as Nvidia 3D Vision.

Those without 3D displays can use the bundled ArcSoft HDCam software to convert their video files to anaglyphic red/cyan 3D (you even get a pair of 1980s-style glasses in the box). However, the effect is pretty dreadful.

Aiptek i2 3D HD

A big screen also brings out the shortcomings of the Aiptek's video quality. Details are soft, and although the i2 is advertised as a "3D HD device", the 1,280 x 720 resolution is available for 2D recordings only: 3D mode splits the stream in two, giving an anamorphic 640 x 720 recording.

Worse, although the camera produces 30fps H.264 video files, many frames in our test recordings were duplicated, giving an actual frame rate closer to a jerky 15fps. That makes the i2 an unsatisfactory choice for anyone at all serious about their home videos.

The i2 does redeem itself a little in 3D stills mode. With no flash or focus controls it's a rudimentary snapper, and the JPEG compression is rather heavy-handed, but with a resolution of 1,296 x 1,444 (stretched out to a 4:3 aspect ratio) it gives quality comparable to a decent phone camera.

In all, while the Aiptek i2 isn't a serious media device, it's a lot of fun if you're happy viewing your recordings on the little built-in display - or through YouTube's experimental 3D player - and takes usable 3D photos as a bonus. It's pricey for a toy; but Christmas isn't far off, and although the Aiptek i2 has its shortcomings, it's guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Author: Darien Graham-Smith

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