Don't expect a wealth of manual controls here since the Camileo Clip is, after all, just a pocket camcorder. Zoom is limited to 5x digital and, with the exception of one alternate ISO setting, some preset white balance choices (no manual adjustment), and a few different video effects, you basically have no choice but to let the camcorder handle everything else for you.
But that's fine, because you don't need grid lines or zebra stripes or manual focus, exposure, or white balance adjustment. That's the point of a pocket camcorder: stupid simple settings that are handled automatically. So basically, all you need to do is point the camcorder and hit record.
As mentioned, what few manual controls the Clip does have are a bit of a hassle to get to and enable thanks to the clumsy interface. But for what it's worth, you probably won't need to access them all that often since they're mostly just gimmicky features rather than anything all that practical; how often are you going to shoot video with the "Negative" or "Classic" effects on? The point of a camcorder like this is ease and convenience, to be able to pull it out of your pocket and shoot spontaneously, and the Clip has that covered in spades.
I appreciate the fact that, given how small the display is, the HUD mostly keeps things simple and uncluttered so as not to take up what little real estate the screen has to offer. Information across the top of the screen tells you what your current resolution is, which mode you're in (photo or video), how many photos or minutes of video you can capture with your remaining memory, and a battery gauge (which is admittedly a little vague; no percentages, just a meter with a few different levels of fullness). And that's all you really need. It's not totally perfect, though; unfortunately, a rather intrusive bar with a timer and colored dot pops up at the bottom once you begin recording, taking up a bit of the screen.
The battery life, meanwhile, is a disappointment. After shooting 54 minutes and 27 seconds' worth of video (not continuous), the camcorder died on me while just browsing through the device's menus for a few minutes. In other words, the Clip can handle about an hour of shooting and a bit of standby time before dying. That's not very good for a pocket camcorder, and it doesn't hold a candle to the battery life of competing pocket camcorders like the Bloggies or even some of the ones from Kodak.
The sharpness of the Clip's video was one of the first things I noticed about it. Obviously it isn't going to rival that of a full-on camcorder or even video from a DSLR or compact system camera, but it's great for a pocket camcorder and definitely on par with -- if not better than -- most smartphones' video quality.
Colors, unfortunately, were noticeably oversaturated in the videos, and the auto white balance, while decent overall, still had a tendency to be a little off base at times. The auto exposure was not handled well, with sunlight washing out certain areas of shots all too easily. It adjusts eventually, but it's a slow process and even then, it doesn't always look great.
But other elements, like the camera's image stabilization, low-light shooting, and autofocus performed reasonably well. Don't get me wrong, there's obviously still plenty of camera shake when you're walking (or riding) around with the Clip attached to your clothing or backpack strap, but it's not as nauseating as you might think.
The real problem with the Clip, though, is that it's always going to be angled downward whenever it's attached to something, no matter what it's clipped to. Even in our sample video in which our editor clipped it to the crossbar strap of his backpack -- which was pulled as tightly as possible -- before going on a bike ride, most of the video was looking down at his handlebars and wrists.
And think about it: if you were to clip this on a shirt pocket or the like, the weight of the camcorder is obviously going to pull the fabric down and it will no longer be shooting straight ahead. It's an interesting idea in concept, sure, but the execution is flawed. The best solution here would have been for Toshiba to angle the lens upwards themselves, or perhaps include some sort of wheel or knob that allows users to physically move the lens and angle it however they feel is necessary.
Thankfully, the color saturation issues that are present in the video don't carry over to photos taken by the Clip. Outdoor shots are respectable and can even produce a decent picture when shooting in direct sunlight.
Unfortunately, the nice things I have to say about the stills end there; while low performance is decent in terms of the contrast of the picture, it seems to do something funny to the camera's ability to focus. Whenever I shot indoors with the camera or in mediocre lighting, all of the pictures came out in a soft focus (see sample image). The images also take a noticeably lengthy time to process, so much so that you need to keep the camera still for a full second or even two to ensure that the picture doesn't come out extra-blurred.
The audio quality in the Clip's videos is actually quite good for a pocket camcorder. Pocket camcorders have a tendency to pick up lots of background audio and ambient noise, but this wasn't the case with the Clip.
It did a great job of isolating voices, even in noisy environments; considering how the Clip is meant to be used, this was probably something Toshiba made a concerted effort to achieve. A test video in which one of our editors wore the Clip during a bike ride home captured his voice very clearly, rather than letting it be drowned out by the sound of traffic and passing cars. Even excess noises like the ruffling of his shirt (which was, of course, right behind the camcorder) and the wind were only picked up very, very minimally.
Operation and Extras
For a pocket camcorder, the Clip comes with a decent amount of accessories, including a CD with video/import editing software. It's just the same ArcSoft suite that Toshiba usually sends out with its camcorders -- and it's very basic -- but it's still good that it was included.
Since the Clip's onboard capacity is an extremely limited 128 MB, the camcorder ships with a 4 GB microSD card. Equally welcome is the inclusion of a microSD to SD card converter, making it easy for users with the appropriate slot to pop the expandable memory straight into their computers rather than having to connect via USB to move files. However, as mentioned, that option is available, and the Clip ships with a USB to mini USB cable (also the only means by which you can charge the camcorder).
Other accessories that users will find in the box include a lanyard and a microfiber cleaning cloth, though why you would need a cleaning cloth for such a dinky, non-touchscreen display is completely beyond me.
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