As a media professional in training, I thought it would be a good idea to obtain a pocket camcorder in order to film video blogs and such. As a student I didn’t want to part with my money, especially for something that is course related. ;D
I found the reasonably priced Vivitar 410HD DVC at Argos for £29.99 (April 2011 price). They had the one item in stock, lucky me was my first thought; oh how wrong I was.
Being of the sensible kind I obviously forgot to look at whether I needed batteries and a memory card whilst I was shopping. On returning home I found it requires 3 AAA batteries. The kind that all kids toys and remotes want but there is never any in the house. Thankfully I had the recommended 4gb memory card in my digital camera, so I just used that.
As soon as I took the DVC out of the box it felt like a plastic child’s toy. The 180 degree spinning screen is practical but from the first turn I had a fear it would just snap off. It doesn’t lock as such into position and is a real weakness to the machine.
The USB slides out of the top, hidden under a rubber protector like that on most contemporary phones. I have a memory stick that works the same, when you plug into the computer it can push the USB back, but just holding onto the button will stop this. It isn’t a disadvantage to complain about and it keeps it protected.
The screen size is 1.8inches. This is absolutely fine for filming (the kind of filming you would use a pocket camcorder for) but it made the instructions and descriptions of buttons too small for me to see, and I have pretty good sight! Setting the time and date was fine, and the menu is very easy to navigate. In that aspect Vivitar have a very good simple layout and software system. However the hardware left me unamused.
The up/down buttons felt chunky and clicked loudly when I used them and the left/right buttons were so light it didn’t feel like you were pressing them except things moved on screen. Well, things moved to the right on screen, whether I was pressing the left of right button.
Zooming to 2.0 was easy using the right arrow button, but zooming out took me a while, in the end I had to use my thumb nail to press into the lower half of the left button to get anywhere.
I recorded a practise 5 second video of nothing, the sound quality was very reasonable for the inbuilt microphone, and the HD quality was ok. Although for best results it is recommended to stand a metre and a half away.
I was able to delete my scene on the camera, but when I had it took me straight back to the viewing menu and showed an ‘error’ screen at me. This can panic some people, especially if they are not used to technology. It was just that the camera had nothing to view, by deleting all the data it confused itself. All that was need was to change the menu, but most cameras automatically take you to a different menu if one is empty.
Ameera and I then attempted to film outside with the camera. Acquiring this.
The quality of the film, for a £30 DVC was surprisingly good. The sound was quiet but really we should have expected it from an inbuilt microphone when outside.
In conclusion, although the camera is affordable and the quality of the end product is satisfactory, I would rather put in an extra £20 to get more reliable hardware. The Vivitar is rather ugly and I can’t get over the extremely plastic shell that is so light I wonder if it’s empty.
3/10 Cheezburgah rating.