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Creative Vado HD (3rd Gen) review

Seth Barton
9 Mar 2010
Vado HD 3rd
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
129
inc VAT

The latest Vado is a mixed bag, with good video quality but aggravating touch sensitive controls.

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Specifications

CMOS (size not disclosed) sensor, 640x480, 1,280x720, 0.0x zoom, 93g

After a minor update to the original Vado HD mini camcorder, Creative has now released this entirely revamped 3rd Gen edition. It's tiny, even by mini camcorder standards, measuring only 99x58x16mm and weighing just 93g – both smaller and lighter than its predecessor. There's no silicon sleeve provided, as with the original, so the glossy finish could be easily scratched.

That glossy finish covers pretty much the whole front and rear fascias. This is because Creative has opted to use touch-sensitive controls. This decision, we think, is disastrous. The only dedicated button on the rear is the record button, but this is nestled amid a minefield of touch sensitive areas. These controls are far too sensitive, and we regularly found ourselves zooming in, adjusting the exposure or switching to playback mode when we didn't mean to. We sincerely hope Creative goes back to the old controls on the next model.

One impressive point is the speed at which it starts up. Press the power button on top and you're shooting in around two seconds. The two buttons on the side are for deleting files and switching between video and camera modes (with the latter being limited to a resolution of 1,280x720). These buttons could easily have been assigned to more important tasks, such as exposure level.

Internally, there are improvements in certain areas and cut backs to others. Creative hasn't disclosed the size of the 1,280x720 CMOS sensor, but we'd guess it was the same 1/4.5in used in the vast majority of mini camcorders. Video quality has improved in this new model; we complained of poorly judged exposures from the last model we tested, but there's none of that here. In addition there's loads of detail and accurate colours, even low light performance is improved with less noise apparent.

A stereo microphone has also been included, bringing the Vado in line with the Flip UltraHD. You can further improve upon the acceptable sound quality by adding an external mic via the 3.5mm jack (which also acts as an AV output and headphone socket). We can't see many people doing this when out and about, but it could be handy to boost audio quality when talking to camera for video diaries.

On the downside the amount of internal memory has been cut in half, from 8GB to 4GB. Based on our test footage, in the maximum quality HD+ mode, the Vado records video at around 8Mbit/s. This is fairly typical, but with only 4GB of memory, it'll only hold around an hour of video – half that of the Flip UltraHD.

The internal battery lasts for up to two hours, so no problems there given the limited memory, and charges conveniently over USB. The USB connector folds out from the bottom of the Vado, making it easy to connect to your PC for file transfer and editing. A USB extension lead is provided, plus a mini HDMI to HDMI lead for connecting the Vado to your HD TV.

The 3rd Gen Vado is a case of three steps forward, two steps back. The video and audio quality is improved and the microphone input is a great idea; however, the reduced storage capacity and touch sensitive controls are unwelcome changes. By blending the best of the first and third generation models, Creative could have a Flip beater on its hands, but for now we'd stick with the UltraHD.

Basic Specifications

Rating****

Recording

Optical zoom0.0x
Digital zoom2x
SensorCMOS (size not disclosed)
Sensor pixels960,000
Widescreen modenative
LCD screen size2.0in
Viewfinder typenone
Video lampNo
Video recording formatAVCHD
Video recording mediaflash memory
SoundAAC 48KHz stereo
Video resolutions640x480, 1,280x720
Maximum image resolution1,280x720
Memory slotnone
Mermory supplied4GB internal
Flashno

Physical

Digital inputs/outputsUSB
Analogue inputs/outputsAV, mini HDMI
Other connectionscombined microphone/headphone
Battery type3.7V 1,050mAh
Battery life1h 56m
Battery charging positioncamcorder
Size99x58x16mm
Weight93g

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£129
Supplierhttp://uk.creative.com/
Detailswww.creative.com

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