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Author Topic: Creative Vado HD Pocket Camera Review (by ebc!)  (Read 3332 times)

Offline ebc

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Creative Vado HD Pocket Camera Review (by ebc!)
« on: March 20, 2009, 03:32:50 PM »
I was watching the recent Intel Extreme Masters Finals webstream and during a break they were pimping this Creative Vado Pocket HDcam. I'm not usually suckered in to this type of advertising but I am a fan of cool gadgets that do cool things and this really caught my eye, so I decided to look around for some more information on them. I managed to find a few demo vids on youtube and I was really impressed by the video quality.
Unfortunately there weren't any decent reviews around and there was a lack of technical details that I would have have liked to have known before I bought one. So that's why I decided to write my own review.

So what is the Vado HD?
It's a small videocamera about the size of a phone and it takes h.264 video in 720p  :w00t:
At the moment it comes in 8gb capacity but I think there will be more models in the future with higher capacities. It's also got a USB plug built in so you can plug it straight into your computer and it picks it up just like a USB thumbdrive. It also uses this USB plug for charging the battery.
What makes this really handy though is that the video is able to be uploaded straight away without needing to re-encode it. (although the files are kinda large and you could probably re-encode with mencoder to get smaller files and without losing quality)

Here are the specs from the Creative website


I bought mine from an ebay shop, this is probably the cheapest option especially in Australia because the retail price is quite insane when compared to the US retail price. That and I couldn't find any local retailers who had them in stock yet.

First of all here's what you get in the box.


As you can see it comes with a silicon cover for protection, a usb extension cable and it's own HDMI cable, so you can plug it straight into a TV. It actually outputs at 1080i although the video is only 720p, but more on that later.

Here's some comparison pics of the size


Pull-out USB plug


HDMI cable


Switching it on, it takes about 4 seconds to start up and you can begin taking video.


Vado's Menu
It's extremely basic, there isn't very much you can change. You access it by pressing the Play and Delete buttons at the same time.


Video Quality is where you choose between VGA, HD and HD+
Instant Record is well I'm guessing it starts recording automatically when you turn it on I never actually tried it.
Anti-Flicker lets you choose between 50hz and 60hz so you can sync with any flickery light sources.
TV System - NTSC or PAL for the TV out, this doesn't change the actual framerate of the video from 30 to 25 though.

My first thoughts were that they have definitely put some thought into making this thing. When I put it side-by-side with my Sony HDR-SR1 HDcam there are 2 major differences that I think are a real plus for the Vado.
Firstly the colour with the Vado is tweaked nicely for low light situations and secondly the Vado has a wide angle lens so it can be close to something but capture a lot more than other cameras. This is good for situations where you are taking video of yourself or somebody else up close because it shows more of them. Here are two screenshots from video I took showing the difference. I took the video with both cameras from the same distance, about 1m.

Creative Vado on the left and on the right is from the Sony HDcam


Of course the Sony has a much clearer image due to it's large lens and higher quality video compression but that's expected from a much more expensive camera.


Video Quality

retail price is quite insane when compared to the US retail price. That and I couldn't find any local retailers who had them in stock yet.

First of all here's what you get in the box.


As you can see it comes with a silicon cover for protection, a usb extension cable and it's own HDMI cable, so you can plug it straight into a TV. It actually outputs at 1080i although the video is only 720p, but more on that later.

Here's some comparison pics of the size


Pull-out USB plug


HDMI cable


Switching it on, it takes about 4 seconds to start up and you can begin taking video.


Vado's Menu
It's extremely basic, there isn't very much you can change. You access it by pressing the Play and Delete buttons at the same time.


Video Quality is where you choose between VGA, HD and HD+
Instant Record is well I'm guessing it starts recording automatically when you turn it on I never actually tried it.
Anti-Flicker lets you choose between 50hz and 60hz so you can sync with any flickery light sources.
TV System - NTSC or PAL for the TV out, this doesn't change the actual framerate of the video from 30 to 25 though.

My first thoughts were that they have definitely put some thought into making this thing. When I put it side-by-side with my Sony HDR-SR1 HDcam there are 2 major differences that I think are a real plus for the Vado.
Firstly the colour with the Vado is tweaked nicely for low light situations and secondly the Vado has a wide angle lens so it can be close to something but capture a lot more than other cameras. This is good for situations where you are taking video of yourself or somebody else up close because it shows more of them. Here are two screenshots from video I took showing the difference. I took the video with both cameras from the same distance, about 1m.

Creative Vado on the left and on the right is from the Sony HDcam


Of course the Sony has a much clearer image due to it's large lens and higher quality video compression but that's expected from a much more expensive camera.


Video Quality



This is not re-encoded or changed in any way just taken straight from the camera and uploaded, as you can see it's in an avi container which is handy because it'll open straight into virtualdub.
Info from Media Player Classic states the following
Video: MPEG4 Video (H264) 1280x720 30.00fps [Stream 00]
Audio: MS ADPCM 44100Hz mono 177Kbps [Stream 01]

The video does have a bit of noise from compression. I'm using the HD+ setting which is the highest and on this setting you can take about 2hours of video with the 8gig of space.
At HD+ it uses around 8400kbps total bitrate, which is quite high for h.264 at 720p. If you were to re-encode the video using mencoder you could get the size down quite a bit without losing much quality, and you could probably make it look better with some good avs filters if you were keen. But the Vado is really designed for quick and easy recording with the ability to pretty much upload straight online.


Audio Quality

The audio was a little more disappointing to be honest.
It does sound ok and most reviews say it sounds better than other pocket HDcams. But I have a few issues with it, the first is there is this kind of distortion that happens in the highs, usually when someone speaks it's very noticeable. So I think the mic is over sensitive to this frequency which I guess it needs to be to be able to be so small yet pickup peoples voices from a distance. The other thing is that it's only mono, which isn't a huge issue because you're not going to get much stereo effect from the tiny mic but it is something that could have been done just for the sake of being normal. Here are some examples of audio I extracted and you can hear the distortion noise, these are re-encoded to mp3 but that's not going to make a difference.

Audio Clip 1 - no change from original
Audio Clip 2 - heavy hiss reduction
Audio Clip 3 - stereo effect (basically what it would sound like if it recorded in stereo rather than mono)


Outdoor Performance

It doesn't have an optical zoom so don't expect to be able to shoot much at long distance. But it does have a small digital zoom feature which comes in handy if you want focus on something. But expect the image to be a lot less clear as you'll see in this next demo vid.

Intel Extreme Masters Finals webstream and during a break they were pimping this Creative Vado Pocket HDcam. I'm not usually suckered in to this type of advertising but I am a fan of cool gadgets that do cool things and this really caught my eye, so I decided to look around for some more information on them. I managed to find a few demo vids on youtube and I was really impressed by the video quality.
Unfortunately there weren't any decent reviews around and there was a lack of technical details that I would have have liked to have known before I bought one. So that's why I decided to write my own review.

So what is the Vado HD?
It's a small videocamera about the size of a phone and it takes h.264 video in 720p  :w00t:
At the moment it comes in 8gb capacity but I think there will be more models in the future with higher capacities. It's also got a USB plug built in so you can plug it straight into your computer and it picks it up just like a USB thumbdrive. It also uses this USB plug for charging the battery.
What makes this really handy though is that the video is able to be uploaded straight away without needing to re-encode it. (although the files are kinda large and you could probably re-encode with mencoder to get smaller files and without losing quality)

Here are the specs from the Creative website


I bought mine from an ebay shop, this is probably the cheapest option especially in Australia because the retail price is quite insane when compared to the US retail price. That and I couldn't find any local retailers who had them in stock yet.

First of all here's what you get in the box.


As you can see it comes with a silicon cover for protection, a usb extension cable and it's own HDMI cable, so you can plug it straight into a TV. It actually outputs at 1080i although the video is only 720p, but more on that later.

Here's some comparison pics of the size


Pull-out USB plug


HDMI cable


Switching it on, it takes about 4 seconds to start up and you can begin taking video.


Vado's Menu
It's extremely basic, there isn't very much you can change. You access it by pressing the Play and Delete buttons at the same time.


Video Quality is where you choose between VGA, HD and HD+
Instant Record is well I'm guessing it starts recording automatically when you turn it on I never actually tried it.
Anti-Flicker lets you choose between 50hz and 60hz so you can sync with any flickery light sources.
TV System - NTSC or PAL for the TV out, this doesn't change the actual framerate of the video from 30 to 25 though.

My first thoughts were that they have definitely put some thought into making this thing. When I put it side-by-side with my Sony HDR-SR1 HDcam there are 2 major differences that I think are a real plus for the Vado.
Firstly the colour with the Vado is tweaked nicely for low light situations and secondly the Vado has a wide angle lens so it can be close to something but capture a lot more than other cameras. This is good for situations where you are taking video of yourself or somebody else up close because it shows more of them. Here are two screenshots from video I took showing the difference. I took the video with both cameras from the same distance, about 1m.

Creative Vado on the left and on the right is from the Sony HDcam


Of course the Sony has a much clearer image due to it's large lens and higher quality video compression but that's expected from a much more expensive camera.


Video Quality

retail price is quite insane when compared to the US retail price. That and I couldn't find any local retailers who had them in stock yet.

First of all here's what you get in the box.


As you can see it comes with a silicon cover for protection, a usb extension cable and it's own HDMI cable, so you can plug it straight into a TV. It actually outputs at 1080i although the video is only 720p, but more on that later.

Here's some comparison pics of the size


Pull-out USB plug


HDMI cable


Switching it on, it takes about 4 seconds to start up and you can begin taking video.


Vado's Menu
It's extremely basic, there isn't very much you can change. You access it by pressing the Play and Delete buttons at the same time.


Video Quality is where you choose between VGA, HD and HD+
Instant Record is well I'm guessing it starts recording automatically when you turn it on I never actually tried it.
Anti-Flicker lets you choose between 50hz and 60hz so you can sync with any flickery light sources.
TV System - NTSC or PAL for the TV out, this doesn't change the actual framerate of the video from 30 to 25 though.

My first thoughts were that they have definitely put some thought into making this thing. When I put it side-by-side with my Sony HDR-SR1 HDcam there are 2 major differences that I think are a real plus for the Vado.
Firstly the colour with the Vado is tweaked nicely for low light situations and secondly the Vado has a wide angle lens so it can be close to something but capture a lot more than other cameras. This is good for situations where you are taking video of yourself or somebody else up close because it shows more of them. Here are two screenshots from video I took showing the difference. I took the video with both cameras from the same distance, about 1m.

Creative Vado on the left and on the right is from the Sony HDcam


Of course the Sony has a much clearer image due to it's large lens and higher quality video compression but that's expected from a much more expensive camera.


Video Quality



This is not re-encoded or changed in any way just taken straight from the camera and uploaded, as you can see it's in an avi container which is handy because it'll open straight into virtualdub.
Info from Media Player Classic states the following
Video: MPEG4 Video (H264) 1280x720 30.00fps [Stream 00]
Audio: MS ADPCM 44100Hz mono 177Kbps [Stream 01]

The video does have a bit of noise from compression. I'm using the HD+ setting which is the highest and on this setting you can take about 2hours of video with the 8gig of space.
At HD+ it uses around 8400kbps total bitrate, which is quite high for h.264 at 720p. If you were to re-encode the video using mencoder you could get the size down quite a bit without losing much quality, and you could probably make it look better with some good avs filters if you were keen. But the Vado is really designed for quick and easy recording with the ability to pretty much upload straight online.


Audio Quality

The audio was a little more disappointing to be honest.
It does sound ok and most reviews say it sounds better than other pocket HDcams. But I have a few issues with it, the first is there is this kind of distortion that happens in the highs, usually when someone speaks it's very noticeable. So I think the mic is over sensitive to this frequency which I guess it needs to be to be able to be so small yet pickup peoples voices from a distance. The other thing is that it's only mono, which isn't a huge issue because you're not going to get much stereo effect from the tiny mic but it is something that could have been done just for the sake of being normal. Here are some examples of audio I extracted and you can hear the distortion noise, these are re-encoded to mp3 but that's not going to make a difference.

Audio Clip 1 - no change from original
Audio Clip 2 - heavy hiss reduction
Audio Clip 3 - stereo effect (basically what it would sound like if it recorded in stereo rather than mono)


Outdoor Performance

It doesn't have an optical zoom so don't expect to be able to shoot much at long distance. But it does have a small digital zoom feature which comes in handy if you want focus on something. But expect the image to be a lot less clear as you'll see in this next demo vid.



This time I re-encoded the 40mb file down to 14mb using megui with x264 Unrestricted 2pass HQ profile at 3000kbps and audio as 64kbps aac.
There is no noticeable difference in quality between the original and the re-encoded file even though there is a noticeable amount of compression happening this is in the original file as well.

You'll notice that when I pan the camera quickly at the end, the framerate seems very jumpy. I guess this is just a problem the Vado has, so it's something you have to keep in mind when you're taking video and try not to move it too fast. It's fine if the camera is held still though and I'd say that's really what it was designed for.
Which brings me to my next point about holding the camera, it's actually very hard to keep still. Unlike normal video cameras which have image stabilizing so your slight twitching movements don't show up. The Vado can seem quite shakey when watching video back, even though you were trying your best to keep your hand still. It does have a tripod mount hole on the bottom but if you don't have a tripod you're stuck with trying to hold it still because you can't stand it up on any flat surface. The bottom of the Vado is taken up be the pulltab for the USB plug. So you'll just have to use some Macgyver skills and prop it up with something.




HDMI Output

I mentioned at the beginning about HDMI so you can plug it into a TV, well let's have a look at that.



It's pretty straight forward, you plug it in and everything that was on the Vado's screen is now on the TV. That includes the ability to watch yourself on the TV live from the camera which was kinda scary as I haven't shaved in awhile.
On the bigger screen at full HD res, you can see pretty much every gritty detail so it's best not to sit too close. From a good sitting distance though, it's fine and looks like footage from any normal HDcam.
You can also get a cable for normal AV output, it has the output just above the HDMI plug.

One last thing, the battery is removeable so you can eventually change it when it dies.


Conclusion

It's excellent for what it's designed to do and apart from the slight audio distortion I think it does it's job perfectly and you can't ask for more. It's super portable and that's why most people will want buy it and because of it's small size it can possibly be used for naughty things.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2009, 10:02:23 AM by ebc »

Offline shirenuファクトリー

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Re: Creative Vado HD Pocket Camera Review (by ebc!)
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2009, 01:08:07 PM »
That's an epic review if I've ever seen one! HARDCORE
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Offline thatonezombie

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Re: Creative Vado HD Pocket Camera Review (by ebc!)
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2009, 02:26:58 AM »
Sweet review! May consider it, I do like the naughty stuff
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Offline daigong

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Re: Creative Vado HD Pocket Camera Review (by ebc!)
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2009, 03:06:44 AM »
HOLY SHIT!! KICKASS Review ebc!

Have you done the "Vado in Pants" stress test yet? I hope they sell them here, else I gotta git it online!!

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