I lauded the Camileo H30 for its bright and saturated colors and I was hoping the S20 would offer the same picture quality. In fact, it doesn't. The footage appears washed out. It's almost like there is a haze lingering over the scene, which negatively affects detail level.
I don't want to be too harsh, though. The S20 may not impress, and is especially poor in low light, but most pocket camcorders fall into the "good enough" category. The Camileo S20 is good enough, but not by much.
The fact is that smartphones are catching up to pocket camcorders in terms of video quality, so it may be time for the Flip, Bloggie, and S20 to up their game.
Cue the dancing skunk!
Here is how the Camileo S20 performs under constant light. Notice the lack of detail in the skunk's fur. Please be sure to turn on full-screen mode and enable HD to view the accurate S20 output.
Here is how the S20 performs in low light -- about the equivalent of a bar setting. Once again, other pocket camcorders struggle at this light level. The Camileo S20 falls just below that pack. Again, please enable HD for an accurate glimpse of the S20's low-light performance.
Still Image Quality
Toshiba claims the Camileo S20 shoots 16 megapixel stills. It only has a five-megapixel sensor, so how can that be? The answer: interpolation. I'm guessing the S20 adds the extra pixels after the still is snapped.
Looking at the stills, you can clearly see the image is large, but the details are lacking. Enlarge the image to 100 percent, and the grain is salient. Again, the same hazy quality seen lingering in the video footage is apparent in the stills.
With no external mic input and no dedicated mic controls, the S20's audio pickup is on par with other pocket camcorders (with the notable exception of the Kodak Zi8), meaning it's acceptable at best.
Operation and Extras
If there is an area in which Toshiba excels, it's value. As with the H30, the S20 ships with all necessary accessories and a few excellent extras. Here's the rundown:
The HDMI cable and tripod are extremely noteworthy. The S20 is the only camcorder I know of that ships with both. Also, the carrying case is thick and durable. It's a huge step above the flimsy pouches that may ship with other pocket camcorders.
The ArcSoft software that ships with the S20 is bulky and awkward, but better than nothing. This is typical of prepackaged imaging programs. Also, it's automatically set to install useless toolbars and other bloatware. While disabling these features is as easy as unchecking the programs during the install process, it's an unwelcomed hassle.
The S20 produces AVI files, which can easily be dragged and dropped from the device if you want to avoid the ArcSoft experience.
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