Mention Creative and video recorders are not exactly the first to come to mind. Despite that, Creative has recently launched their Creative Vado Pocket Video Cam in an attempt to capture a share of the casual, hobbyist videographer market. Targeted especially at video bloggers, the Creative touts the Vado as a light but high quality video camcorder. So let's see if that is true, or just fluff.
With its outer body made entirely out of plastic, the Creative Vado is about as light as camcorders get - it's only 84 grams. Creative also touts the Vado's intuitive layout and one-button recording function and it works. It fits snugly in the palm of your hand and can be used single-handedly - every button is within easy reach.
The camera, if you are wondering, is at the back. Fear not however, as there's enough space beneath the small camera to accommodate your hand such that while holding it, your fingers won't block the picture. Start-up is relatively fast at around 3 seconds after pressing the Power switch.
The user interface is basic; you can adjust the Date/Time, 50Hz or 60Hz shooting, Menu Language and two Video Quality settings of Standard or High. What we would have liked to see improved was the very short length of the USB cable. Measuring less than 10cm long, it is ridiculously short. What this means is that when plugged in, the Vado will be snuggled right next to your PC.
Despite the short cable, our first impressions of the Vado were positive and as such, we were eager to test the Vado's video recording capabilities. Overall, we found that sound capture was good but the visuals didn't match up. On our standard resolution chart tests, the Vado on its high quality setting only returned a 200 LPH vertical and horizontal resolution and on the color test, we found the colors to be washed out and plain.
We had expected the videos to be in low resolutions. Even so, the Vado had a nasty tendency to over-expose its shots, even while indoors and on overcast days. Since Creative boasted about the light sensitivity of the Vado, we thought that a hidden advantage of this over-exposure might be better night shots but shooting at night still gave us dark footage with objects mostly in the shadows.
Under daylight, we also saw what looked like the auto white balance shifting in and out of the same scene, causing the image to look blue-tinted one moment and with the correct warmth the next.
As for the Vado's zoom function, as it's completely digital, it returns images that are so heavily pixelated that we advise against using it completely.
There's a coronary to hiding your manual controls and making a device as simple to use as possible: you better make sure your device is clever enough to handle the auto settings well. Unfortunately, the Vado doesn't. As such, there is little or nothing that users can do to improve the quality of their shots. So while the Vado scores high points for its slim and user-friendly design, its video quality is at best, just slightly better than what you'll get from a typical mobile phone camera.
If Creative had managed to fix the glaring over-exposure problem, this would have been a great product to bring around for fun, low-resolution videos. Sadly, its tendency to over-expose shots, resulting in poor video quality, makes it difficult to recommend.