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Recording stops randomly - Alesis won't fix/admit problem
on November 21, 2011
First, let me say I like Alesis. They have created some great and innovative products for great prices. I own many.
Now... I bought my VideoTrack in Dec 2010 from another retailer, but what I have to say here is about Alesis, not the retailer.
Overall impressions, the video quality is pretty bad, but I was ok with that. The device design is ok, and the stereo audio is pretty decent. All those things were fine for the price point... and if the device worked, I probably would not be writing this.
I noticed immediately that the recorder would stop recording randomly. Could be 5 min, could be 30 min. I tried with the supplied 2GB card and also a high quality 16GB card for video that might go longer than 45 min (like a whole band set). There were problems on both memory cards.
I actually lost valuable gig recordings more than once because of this (I know, I know ... crazy that I actually used it as intended...).
I went to Alesis' website and located the firmware update. I am a computer support person, so I am capable... and despite my exact performance of their steps. The device told me "incorrect FW" every time and refused to update. I can only guess that I already have the latest firmware, but there is no (known) way of knowing
since they don't tell you how to find it on the device screens and I couldn't find it myself either.
I sent at least two detailed emails to Alesis support and never even got an acknowledgement. After several months, giving up and frustrated with the VideoTrack.. I decided to call Alesis directly. I spoke to a rep that acted like he never heard of this problem before (yet I see it all over the web on even in these Amazon reviews). After instructing me that they would RMA the device (RETURN SHIP AT MY EXPENSE!) I agreed. I spent over $10 to ship this piece of garbage back. I waited over a month... no communication. I emailed the tech support contact and he replied "shipping soon".
Well the device arrived about another week later. I immediately inspected the "new" device and was already disappointed to see that it had a serial number LOWER than the one I sent back (I kept a copy of my original serial number)... I know this was not proof of anything, but did not instill confidence. Seems like they must have a stockpile of old ones.. not surprising to me given my experience.
Anyway, to wrap this up... I unpacked, charged the unit overnight, setup and set on a tripod to record (pointed it at a movie playing on my computer screen for some non-still recording). Recorder stopped after 5 min. Test 2 seems like it made it until the battery ran out, but not sure because apparently if the battery runs out it does not save any file. Argh. Recharged. Test 3 stopped after abour 40min with battery bars clearly visible.
I tried the whole firmware update process AGAIN...same results as original recorder.. "incorrect FW". Same problems...I am done wasting my time!
I think Alesis has made a lemon and they are just hoping to sell these units to people who will eventually just give up trying to get them to work reliably. I am way past the point of getting a refund from the retailer, and RMA's just cost me MORE money in return shipping. I am done throwing good money after bad.
Thanks a lot Alesis... I will remember this next time I have to to between you and a competitor. I guess I can still use this for 5 minute movies of things that don't have to record reliably (????).
Don't get burned... I did twice on this thing... avoid the VideoTrack at all costs... there are others way more deserving of your money even if you have to spend a bit more it will be worth it.
UPDATE AUGUST 2012:
Well, my unreliable VideoTrack was in the box for months since I had given up on it. I happened across a post where some people had found a firmware update 1.46 that actually worked for them. I located it on one of the Alesis support boards, and was pleasantly surprised that it actually loaded (where previous firmware updates had all failed with "incorrect FW" messages). I verified the FW was indeed updated to 1.46 and also saw the new AUDIO ONLY mode. I then tested several hours of recording both with battery and while connected to USB power. The "intermittent recording stop" seems to be cured. I seem to be able to record about 4 hours on battery power before it shuts down, but I also successfully recorded over 6 hours on USB power without a glitch. I think the battery indicator may be a bit misleading because it seems after 3-4 hours of recording it still shows 2 bars right up until low power shutdown. I thought maybe the recording problem was back... because it still showed 2 battery bars at shutdown and when I powered it back up, But then I realized it quickly goes to "no bars" and shuts down. OK.. I can deal with a misleading battery indicator. Anyway, I thought I would share my experience to maybe get some usable life out of my VideoTrack and maybe you can too with firmware 1.46. I only upped my star rating to TWO stars however, because my overall experience was terrible and Alesis support remains inexcusable... More evidence? The official Alesis support webpage still has the old firmware (1.24?) posted and customers have to fend for themselves to find this fix. C'mon Alesis.. you actually have a fix and you can't even update your support page?