Toshiba announced two new pocket camcorders yesterday, the Camileo Clip — which was originally revealed at IFA late last year — and the Camileo Air 10. The two camcorders are ruggedized and Wi-Fi enabled models, respectively, and come hot on the heels of Sony’s unveiling of their Bloggie Sport and Bloggie Live, so I decided to check them out on the CES floor to see how they stacked up.
The Camileo Clip has respectable specs for a pocket camcorder, including the ability to shoot 1920 x 1080 HD video, and it’s equipped with a 5-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor. It features both mini USB and mini HDMI ports on the bottom, and it’s expandable via a microSD card slot, giving it an edge over the Bloggie Sport, which is not expandable.
The Clip also takes a slightly different approach to being a camcorder for active types than the Bloggie Sport does. Rather than being big and beefy and sporting what amounts to basically a bumper surrounding the edges of the device like the Sport does, the Clip is actually very diminutive in size — its measurements are 3.1″ x 1.8″ x 0.6 and it only weighs 2.5 ounces — and settles for just having a rubberized texture coating the entire unit. But such concessions make for a unit that isn’t quite as tough, as it isn’t even advertised as being waterproof; Toshiba describes the Clip as only being “splashproof.”
Its name is derived from the fact that it has a plastic clip that surrounds the 1.5-inch display on the back, allowing users to clip it onto their shirts or pockets for hands-free recording during their adventures. And for those who are into aesthetics, the Clip is available in blue, red, white, and yellow color varieties.
Personally, I’m not crazy about what the rubber coating does to the controls on the Clip, as it makes button presses feel unresponsive and squishy. Granted, at least the menu and record buttons on the back click, but the different directions on the d-pad (as well as the power button) tend to just squish down and your presses don’t always register. What I did appreciate about the controls, however, was that there was a large, secondary record button located on the top of the unit, so users can easily start recording without having to unclip the camcorder.
The operation of the Clip was a little hit or miss. I appreciated the slew of different viewing modes during playback, which included your standard viewing gallery, a preview gallery (when using this for videos, the clip would automatically play previews of the clips in your collection as you sifted through them), slideshow functionality for photos, and the ability to edit video on the camera itself. But on the other hand, I wasn’t crazy about some of the menu design choices, like the fact that they would change based on what mode (photo or video) you were currently on. In other words, you can’t access your photos or photo settings if you’re in video mode; you have to exit the menu, switch over to photo mode, and then go back to the menu.
The camera also struggled while I was attempting to navigate the menus and play back some of my content, as it actually got hung up and crashed twice during my time with it. I would write this off as being a problem with an early model of the Clip, but Toshiba doesn’t have a ton of time, as it’s due out in February for $99.99.
The Camileo Air 10, meanwhile, is a larger size than the Clip, but is still surprisingly light (unfortunately Toshiba could not provide precise measurements and weight for this model). I enjoyed the Air 10’s ergonomics, as the large, plastic buttons were all well-placed and reachable; it’s obvious that the Air 10 is going for comfort and easy use, not sleekness (though it is extremely glossy on the back and subsequently prone to some serious smudging). There was enough room on the back of the device for two of the large buttons to be dedicated to shooting videos and photos, which I really appreciated. So instead of having to switch modes to shoot one or the other, there’s just one standby mode and users can just press the respective video or photo button to take either.
And then on the side, there are dedicated buttons for turning Wi-Fi on/off and for instantly uploading media to predetermined social media outlets. Toshiba was advertising that the Air 10’s live streaming video capabilities (at 1080p, an improvement over the Bloggie Live’s 320 x 240) via Wi-Fi could be done through the online video service Ustream, so I asked a representative if this was an exclusive partnership, like how Bloggie Live users can only do streaming video through Qik. He said that while the Air 10 has only ever been tested on Ustream, they do not have an exclusive deal with the service and could, in theory, work with other outlets.
In addition to that freedom of choice, I enjoyed the fact that signing in and setting up one’s Ustream account could be done on either the camera or the PC. If you choose to do so on your computer, all you need to do is connect the Air 10 and sync it, and the camcorder saves the settings and you’re all set to live stream. The Bloggie Live only lets users sign into their Qik account on the camcorder itself, which could be a bit of a hassle between navigated its somewhat convoluted menu set-up and the fact that you had to use an on-screen virtual keyboard to input all your info. I like that with the Air 10, you can bypass that headache by just signing in on the computer and syncing up.
Like the Clip, the Air 10 can shoot full HD video at 1920 x 1080 and features both mini USB and HDMI ports. The Air 10, which can take 16-megapixel stills, is also expandable, but via full-sized SD cards. And, unlike the Clip, the Air 10 has a user-replaceable battery, which I thought was a nice touch.
I may take issue with Wi-Fi enabled camcorders — as I explained in my Bloggie Live review, the lack of omnipresent Wi-Fi limits your locations from which you can live stream to a handful of places — but at the very least, Toshiba isn’t charging as much for this premium as Sony. Scheduled to be released in February, the Air 10 will have a launch price of $149, so customers won’t have to break the bank if they want to check it out.