The U.S. camera market is already flooded with affordable HD camcorders, but Toshiba thinks consumers can do with another, especially one that sports features typically found on devices costing twice as much.
That's what we have with Toshiba's H30, an entry-level device wedged between the higher-end X100 and pocket-sized S20 in its new Camileo line of HD camcorders. For $250 at launch, the 1080p Camileo H30 may run with the Flip and other pocket camcorders in price, but with a 5x optical zoom and picture controls, it laps them in specs.
In appearance, the Camileo H30 resembles a traditional camcorder. But what about performance? Is the low-cost Camileo a great value that shoots great video? Or is the H30 budget bin bound because of cheap and choppy video performance? Read our review to find out.
BUILD AND DESIGN
The Camileo H30 looks and feels like a standard camcorder, the kind you balance in the palm of your hand and secure with a Velcro strap that runs length-wise across the device. Under the lens at the front of the H30 is a flash for stills (there is no external light for video) and a red LED that blinks when the device is recording. On top and just behind the lens is the speaker for playing back videos, and there are two sections of microphone pinholes on the front of the flip-out 3-inch LCD touchscreen. Weighing about nine ounces, the Camileo H30 is on the smaller end in terms of standard camcorder size, ideal for purses and backpacks, but too large to fit in a pocket.
It comes in one color palette: a traditional metallic silver and black with a plastic glossy finish that doesn't hide smudges and fingerprints well. Toshiba packaged a microfiber cloth with the H30, but based on the cloth's small size, it's probably intended to keep the touchscreen LCD clean. I expect you'll have the cloth performing double duty, wiping the touchscreen along with every other part of the H30 you touch.
Ergonomics and Controls
Most of the H30's controls are accessed through the touchscreen, but there are also a few dedicated buttons on the device, each easily accessible and labeled appropriately. The tele/wide button that controls the zoom is where you expect it: on the back top of the H30. A playback button, mode button for selecting stills or video, OK/record button for choosing menu items and taking pictures/recording, and a rolling wheel for navigating the menus are all located on the back panel. There are also three points on the rolling wheel that when pressed, either toggle the LCD display's icons and information, delete footage or turn on/off the flash and digital light option.
Hidden under the LCD are a dedicated power button and the pre-record/YouTube Direct button, which allows users to record footage 3 seconds before actually hitting record (the H30 retroactively grabs what was in frame before the record button was hit) and directly upload videos to YouTube when connected to a computer via the USB.
A slot opens on the palm-side of the H30 to reveal the AV jack, mini-HDMI out and USB port. Underneath the H30 are a tripod socket and flip-open covering that hides the battery and SD card slot.
With its size, the H30 likely fits nicely in the palm of most hands. However, Toshiba situated the Velcro strap low on the device, and it's is still very loose when secured at its tightest point. As a result, the H30 wobbles in your hand unless you arch your fingers to support it, which can lead to discomfort and cramping. Also, the detached lens cap, when secured with its short cord from the Velcro strap, hangs very close to the lens. Move the camera too quickly and the cap will swing wildly, make unwanted cameos in footage and knock against the camcorder casing.
Menus and Modes
The H30 has four shooting modes: 1080p/30fps, 720p/30fps, WVGA/60fps (wide-screen SD resolution) and VGA/30fps (4:3 SD resolution). For stills, the Camileo H30 offers 16 megapixels, 10 megapixels and 3 megapixels. According to Toshiba, the H30 has a 10 megapixel CMOS sensor, so there is some interpolation with higher-resolution stills.
For a $250 device, the H30 has a surprising number of menu controls. Between still and photo mode, the options are familiar, with choices for resolution, white balance, scene, effects (including stabilization and slow motion), and basic camcorder settings like language and date/time. Everything is preset; for example, white balance is limited to auto, daylight, fluorescent (lighting) and tungsten so users can't tinker and manually adjust it. But Toshiba has most shooting situations covered and the Camileo H30 offers much more with picture control than other devices in its price range.
Switching to playback mode and the touch menu loses a lot of its responsiveness. Cycling through files in both still and video is frustratingly slow, and the rolling wheel doesn't fare much better as an alternative to the touchscreen. In addition, selecting specific files to play back is an exercise in aggravation. The H30 rarely responds on the first finger tap, and sometimes cycles through the thumbnails instead of playing back the specific file.
The Camileo H30's 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD display flips out 90 degrees and rotates 180. Menu items can be accessed and controlled on the touchscreen with a finger tap or short slide. It's reasonably responsive and the 3.0 inches offer enough real estate for large icons and easy-to-read fonts. However, there are no controls to adjust brightness, making the screen difficult to see in direct sunlight.
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