HD Camcorder for Under $200? No Way!

Mar 20, 2010 (Updated Mar 20, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Small and inexpensive.

Cons:So lightweight can be hard to take steady videos without a tripod.

The Bottom Line: For a small lightweight camera that does both video and stills, this camcorder is hard to beat. Especially for the price.

Yes way! 

Every now and then you run across a product that you think just couldn't possibly be as advertised.  When I read about the Aiptek HD camcorders I thought how in the world could this be a serious camcorder.  So looking first at the 720p version it was under $100 at amazon, so I bought it.  I was so impressed with it that I gave it to my son and ordered the 1080p GVS version.

What You Get and Don't Get
In the package you get the camera with rechargeable battery, USB cable, USB power supply for charging the camera battery, A/V (Red-White-Yellow) hookup adapter cable, Component (Red-Green-Blue) video adaptercable, a credit card sized remote control, a short tripod, a users manual and a CD with software for playing the files on your computer. 

What you don't get is a SD memory card.  I find a 4 GB memory card provides more than enough memory for most events.

One very nice feature of the GVS is it will in addition to taking video at several different HD resolutions, it will also take digital photos. It will also double as a player for your videos and/or displaying your photos.

Shooting Videos
The operation is much like any other camcorder for video you just point and shoot.  The swing out LCD monitor display will turn the unit on when the LCD is opened.  Then with a push of the record button the unit begins recording.  Each time you stop the camcorder and restart recording will create a new file, so having a player that will play files one after another from a play list or equivalent is required to provide a continuous playback like would occur with a tape based camcorder.  Of course if you use the camera to play back the files via the outputs it will take care of that for you.

The GVS can be set to several different resolutions: 
   * 720p at 30 frames per second
   * 720p at 60 frames per second
   * WVGA at 60 frames per second
   * 1080p at 30 frames per second

When the 720p/60fps and the WVGA/60fps is selected the image stabilization is engaged.  I find the stabilization necessary for all hand held shots and even then you need to be careful to try to hold the camera as steady as possible.

The 720p files are 1280x720 pixels whereas the 1080p files are 1440x1080 pixels.  They are stored using the .mov file type.

Taking Digital Photos
The GVS is capable of taking stunning high quality digital photos as well as HD videos. The photos are 5 megapixel with a resolution of 2592x1944 pixels. They are stored using the .jpg file type.

I find indoors the photos are much better if you supply additional light although the built in flash does a pretty good job.

Picture Quality
The video quality of video taken with this camcorder is as good as broadcast HD served up by satellite or cable providing you use a tripod.  The hand held shots are as good as the steadyness of the hand holding the camcorder.  The video quality is far better than my daughter's JVC tape based digital camera that shoots only in standard definition, for example.

Probably the best thing about this camcorder is it small size considering the quality of the videos it takes.  It comes with a nice belt holster that makes it easy to take anywhere.  With this camcorder you never need to miss a memory again.

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