Why Creative's Vado HD 3rd Gen is our latest A-list pocket camera

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This article appeared in the July, 2010 issue of CRN magazine.

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Why Creative's Vado HD 3rd Gen is our latest A-list pocket camera

It's been a few months since the last action in the pocket video camera sector, but now we have two to test. The first major player to show its cards was Creative, with an update to its excellent Vado HD.

It's very different from the first Vado HD: it's brightly coloured (with different colours available), smaller, slimmer and lighter at a mere 92g. Slotting it into a pocket is easier, as there's no longer an awkward protruding lens housing. Other changes include the addition of a motion-sensor mode and touch-sensitive controls instead of standard buttons. On a negative note, the original's 8GB storage has been cut to 4GB.

Elsewhere, the Vado HD retains the hallmarks of the Vado range. It has a built-in USB cable, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and Creative also bundles an HDMI output cable. The onboard Vado Central software is still among the best around, offering simple editing and upload tools in a lightweight package.

First impressions suggest video quality has improved too. 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 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 isn't the case here; the new Vado HD renders graduations smoothly and accurately.

Recording indoors in low light produced usable footage, with low levels of noise. But in trying to give balanced output in bright areas, dark zones in otherwise well-lit scenes can look dingy. An exposure control lets you compensate, but it's difficult to see onscreen when you need to use it.

This is enough to put it behind the new MinoHD (see below) when it comes to all-out quality, but Creative's aggressive pricing goes some way towards rectifying its faults. At a mere $250, it's cheaper than the new Flip, and the HDMI and lighter software help it pull alongside its rival.

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