The Camileo Clip is a semi-ruggedized pocket camcorder from Toshiba whose main attraction is its build-in clip, which allows the device to be attached to clothing, straps, or other surfaces for hands-free operation. Meant for shooting on the go, the Clip shoot full HD (1920 x 1080p at 30 fps) video and snap 16 megapixel photos. It is currently going for $99.99 on Toshiba's website and is available in a variety of colors, including white, red, light blue, and dark blue.
We originally laid eyes on the Clip earlier this year back at CES, and now we've gotten to spend some time with the final product. Does Toshiba succeed at creating the perfect pocket camcorder for your active lifestyle?
Like a pocket camcorder should be, the Camileo Clip is incredibly small, measuring only 3.1" x 1.8" x 0.6" and weighing in at 2.5 ounces. It's about as compact as camcorders can get and perfect for pocketing.
The Clip's build utilizes a mixture of materials to create a somewhat ruggedized device, with the front and sides coated with a matte finish, while the edges and parts of the back are rubberized. The little bumps that cover the edges and the back part of the camcorder's clip are a nice touch too, providing some extra grippiness to the device.
I was also happy to see that the clip well-implemented too, as far as the build goes. It doesn't stick out too far, which keeps it from being intrusive or giving it a clunky shape. In fact, it's very tight and close to the body of the camcorder, allowing it to clip snugly onto all but the thinnest of materials.
The rest of the build is very standard fare, with the microphone and speaker on the left and right sides of the lens on the front of the camcorder. On the top edge is a secondary record button, as well as an LED indicator light, while the back of the device plays host to just about everything else. Back here, you'll find the 1.5-inch display, a four-way d-pad surrounding the primary record/confirmation button, a menu button, and a button to switch between photo and video.
The power button is located on the right side of the Clip, while an attached rubber plug covers the microSD, mini USB, and HDMI ports on the bottom of the camcorder. Also down here is a hook for a wrist strap and a tripod socket.
I really missed the inclusion of a built-in USB dongle here, which eliminates the need to carry around an extra cable for file transfer or viewing purposes. I suppose it just wasn't possible given how small the Clip is, but it was still a pain for me to have to hunt down a USB cable whenever I needed to plug it in (and a mini USB cable, no less, for a port size that is becoming increasingly uncommon). The only other issue I had was with the microSD card slot, in which the memory card got jammed on more than one occasion during my time with the camcorder.
Ergonomics and Controls
As I mentioned when I got some hands-on time with the Clip back at CES, the rubberized casing on the back of the device wreaks hell on the controls. The d-pad is squashy and doesn't even issue any sort of click or response when pressed. Thankfully, the menu, photo/video, and confirm buttons click, but they still require a rather deep depression before it registers.
Button placement is generally very good, however, with the Clip easily operable with a single hand. It's small enough that all of the controls on the rear of the device can be reached with your thumb, as can the power button on the right side. The smartest design choice, given the nature in which the Clip is meant to be used, is the inclusion of the secondary record button on the top edge of the camcorder. That way, when users already have it clipped to something and the primary button is therefore inaccessible unless the device is unclipped, they can instead just press down on the top of the device to begin recording.
As is the case with many pocket camcorders that aim for a truly compact form factor, the display on the Clip is painfully small. The LCD screen measures a mere 1.5 inches, and combine that with the black bars that line the top and bottom of the display to create a "widescreen" effect and you're dealing with barely enough real estate to frame a shot.
The display's diminutive size isn't its only issue, either. The image is surprisingly gritty considering how small the screen is; you'd think with all the pixels squeezed into such a small space, that wouldn't be possible, but somehow Toshiba managed it. The viewing angle isn't great either, and -- perhaps most importantly, given Toshiba's encouragement to use the Clip in outdoor situations -- the display's brightness and ability to counteract glare leave something to be desired.
Menus and Modes
The menu set up on the Camileo Clip is something I bemoaned after experiencing it at CES, namely because it has two separate sets of menus for the video and photo modes. So if you want to see your photo gallery (or change photo settings) while you're in video mode, for example, you need to completely back out of the video mode menus, switch over to photo mode, and re-enter the menus. It's not only clumsy and awkward, but it makes it difficult to keep track of which settings are where. The only good news is that some setting adjustments carry over, like the video and photo effects of scene setting, filters, and white balance.
Equally frustrating is the actual navigation of the menus. I don't know about you, but my natural instinct was to use the menu button as a back button, so if I was in a sub-menu, I would hit it to go back one level. Unfortunately, this is not how it actually works on the Clip, as a press of the menu button while in the menus closes them entirely.
Instead, you need to use the d-pad to navigate the marker to the top of the screen to a back arrow. It's not like it's impossible to get used to, but it's a little unintuitive and allowing the menu button to serve as a back button would have been more desirable, especially considering you never need to go more than a 2 or 3 menus deep.
But there is a decent amount of both video and photo options at your disposal with the Camileo Clip, which include:
The setting options on the Camileo Clip are very basic, including turning chimes on and off, selecting TV format, choosing the language, setting the date and time, formatting the memory, and restoring default settings.
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