Customer Reviews: Creative Labs Vado Pocket Video Camcorder (Pink) OLD MODEL (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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on May 29, 2008
Creative Labs Vado Pocket Video Camcorder (Silver)
I did a comparison of the Vado vs. the Flip Ultra, and I'd say the Vado beats the Flip in every way, except the mic. The mic recorded lower for me on the Vado than the Flip when I tested the two of them at the same distance.
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Color: Silver|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )

I wanted to find out if the new Creative Labs Vado Pocket Video Camcorder (Silver) was better than the Flip Video Mino Series Camcorder (Black) or the Flip Video Ultra Series Camcorder (Black). I myself am surprised by the answer I came up with. The real answer may be, "none of the above."

While all three are *good* devices for what they do, I am still searching for my perfect digital camcorder to come out at the right price. The short answer is the quality of video and audio on the Flip Mino is noticeably better than the Creative Vado, even when it's at its highest setting. However, for most users, the Creative Vado will probably meet your expectations at a much better price than the Flip Mino. The Mino's recent price drop makes the decision slightly harder, but there's still enough of a price difference to make the Vado attractive.

+ Video quality is ok on the Vado (similar to the Ultra) and much better on the Mino - Advantage, Mino
+ While the Ultra worked with removable batteries and the Mino has a built-in rechargeable battery, the Creative Vado has a rechargeable battery that is user changeable and can be easily swapped for extended recording - BIG Advantage, Vado
+ The Vado gives you the option of recording in SP for longer record times, and the quality difference is minimal - Advantage, Vado
+ The microphone sensitivity is below average on the Vado and slightly better on the Mino - Advantage, Mino
+ The low light performance is subpar on all three units but slightly better on the Mino - Advantage, Mino
+ Both the Vado and the Mino are easily recharged by USB connection, but the Vado includes an option for quick-charging - Advantage, Vado
+ Both include ports for AV out connections to TVs, but the Mino comes with the cable and the Vado does not - Advantage, Mino
+ The included software is self-contained on both units and seems to work fine, but the Vado requires much less to be installed - Advantage, Vado
+ Ability to zoom seems weak on both, though the Mino does perform slightly better - Advantage, Mino
+ Both have a screw hole for attaching a tri-pod or similar stand, but the Mino's is centered and the Vado's is off-center (on the lower right) - Advantage, Mino
+ In terms of looks, the Vado's body is thinner and wider, and the Mino is slightly thicker but not as wide; the Mino definitely looks slicker, though the black plastic will attract finger-prints; Also, the Vado comes in different colors - Advantage, Mino
+ Nice indicator shows when either unit is capturing video - Draw
+ The buttons on the Vado are real tactile buttons that have nice feedback; The Flip Mino controls are touch sensitive (except for the record button) - This is a matter of preference, and both are nice, but I prefer the real buttons on the Vado; The Mino seems to have a lag when pressing the controls - Advantage, Vado
+ The Vado's screen is slightly larger and wider than the Mino's - Advantage, Vado
+ The built in speaker on the Vado is not nearly as good as the dual speakers on the Mino - Advantage Mino
+ The Price on the Vado is much better (just under $90, depending on color) while the Mino sells for much more (listed for $180, sells for about $150)

- The USB dongle on the Vado is flexible but has a tab that sticks out from the body, while the Mino has a slick USB connector that tucks into the body and is released via a tab - Advantage, Mino
- Users who want to use a dedicated microphone are provided no jack on these devices for that purpose - Draw
- Neither unit has a headphone jack for checking audio playback on recorded videos - Draw, but the weaker speaker on the Vado makes this hurt the Vado more
- Still has some software issues that will hopefully be fixed with updates - Advantage, Mino
- The Vado requires you to install the XVid codec to use the built-in software - Not a huge deal, Draw
- Not as much support for Mac users in terms of software
- The Vado comes with no carrying case or dongle included, while the Mino comes with a cheap pouch and a dongle - Advantage, Mino
- Vado packaging definitely seems cheap, while the Mino is presented in a box that is reminiscent of the packaging of Zunes and iPods - Advantage, Mino
- The Vado's on screen menus are definitely not as nice, and the Vado Central software is not nearly as good as the Flip Video Muvee software - Advantage, Mino
- Neither of these has slots for any kind of memory card - Draw
- Neither of these will compete with some of the high-definition flash memory camcorders that are on the market, such as the Sanyo Xacti - Draw


I will post some pictures and video samples shortly.

While both of these units are ok, I am in the higher demanding category of users who is only going to be satisfied with the features offered by HI-Def flash camcorders like the Sanyo Xacti. The high price of those units make them prohibitive for now, though the CG9 models are in the ballpark at around $250. Hopefully the price will come down, or competing units will come out to combine the best of both.

But if I have to draw a conclusion, as of now I would say that the Mino is definitely better in terms of quality. But is it better enough to warrant the much higher price than the Vado? I would personally choose the Mino, but I think most people would choose the Vado in most cases. The fact that they made it easy to buy additional or replacement batteries and swap them out yourself is a HUGE plus. And since this is still a point and click camcorder, saving a nice chunk of change doesn't hurt either.



Note: The sample video was recorded in my friends living room at point blank range (less than 8 feet away from the TV). As you can see, even after turning up the volume up very high the microphone on the Vado still captures audio very faintly. In addition, the video is set to HQ yet is somewhat grainy compared to the Flip Mino.

For a video sample of the Flip Mino, please visit my review of that product. Even though I filmed that sample on the Mino under much more difficult night-time conditions, the video and audio quality is noticeably better. I will eventually update these with more pictures and improved samples.
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on January 24, 2009
I spent many hours reading every blog and user review to decide between Creative's Vado and Flip's Mino. As my indecision continued I realized where the reviews went wrong. People watch movies because they tell a good story, not because they have slightly better quality. I'd much rather watch interesting characters in low-def than boring ones in high-def. To put it another way, the quality of the camera comes from the person pointing it, not the lens the light passes through.

Unfortunately, reviews confuse buyers by focusing on the the camera's technical aspects and irrelevant differences in video quality. "Technically" there is nothing wrong with this. Differences, after all, exist between different cameras. However, consider how reviewers review: shoot two identical scenes, one with the Vado and one with the Flip to compare aspects such as lighting, detail, color reproduction. Then, you compare them side by side and mark your preference. As a result, most reviews tend to favor the Mino in the side by side ranking. (On a side note, Creative released a firware update to improve Vado's quality and almost all the user reviews never updated their post to reflect the improved quality.)

The side-by-side method is wrong.

I started thinking I should purchase a Mino because of the reviewer's high marks. After all, the Mino got an A- while the Vado got a B. And then it hit me. All the reviewers have the wrong perspective. They are examining features because they are easy to examine rather than because it needs to be examined. Let me clarify the last sentence. Is video quality important? Of course. However, here is the problem, reviewers tend to make a big deal out of small differences in quality. The marginal difference in quality is NOT great. On a 1-10 scale (10 = $1,000 camera) the Mino and Vado rate a 5 and 4.9 respectively. In other words, there IS a difference in video quality between the Mino and the Vado. Unfortunately this difference is only apparent when the Mino is the reference point. There is NO difference in quality when a $1,000 camera is the reference point.

The lack of marginal difference in quality brings me to my second point, and the title of my review, "Don't be Hollywood, be Cannes." Hollywood is often criticized for putting special effects above the story. It is as if huge explosions and high-speed car chases make up for a weak story and uninteresting characters. Movies that do well at Cannes, on the other hand, are often nothing more than two people talking--no loud "booms" or flashy Austin Martins. Don't choose these cameras because they produce suburb video. Instead, choose a camera because it will help you share the magic of your child's birthday party to your friends. Small cameras are great because you can easily capture the every day moments that big cameras are, well, too big for. Your friends will enjoy your movie because it tells a good story--not because the Mino has a minuscule edge in quality. Trust me.

This brings me to my second point. Why did I choose the Vado? I choose the Vado for two reasons.

First, the Vado has a wider angle lens. Only one review mentioned this. ([...] They list the Vado at 49 degrees and the Mino at 38 degrees. What does this mean? In short, the angle of the lens is a measure of how much you can fit in the frame. For example, if you stood 5 feet from your subject, the Vado captures more of the scene than the Mino. To put it another way, you can stand closer to the subject and capture the same area with the Vado as with the Mino. This is important because better films are produced when you are closer to your subject. Not only is being closer more "intimate" it also improves sound quality because better sound drastically degrades the farther you get from your subject.

The second reason I choose the Vado is the price difference. The Vado is half the Mino's price ($80 v. $160 at the time of this post). The Mino is not TWO times better than the Vado as the price would suggest. The Mino, is at most, 5% better than the Vado and I would buy the Mino at $100, but not at $160. Don't let other reviews and blogs trick you into thinking that the Mino is worth twice the Vado because the quality is "slightly" better.

Remember, you are buying this camera to record memories and make stories--moments that last for generations. Video quality is good, but remember, it plays second fiddle to what's important, memories and a story.

So, what can you do with the extra $80? Since your family will appreciate better movies, not slightly better quality, I suggest leaning about camera angles and shot direction by purchasing "Shot by Shot" or "Setting Up Your Shot" (search Amazon). Another thought is purchasing the Gorillapod tripod, which will let you position your camera anywhere to record a scene. By using a tripod YOU can enter the scene. I cannot count the times I wish I was in the scene but wasn't. Don't erase yourself from the moment, get a tripod. Lastly, $80 worth of beer for a local film student goes a long way for private, personalized movie making lessons.

To sum up my review: there are no material differences in quality between the Vado and the Mino. Both cameras have 640 x 484 resolution, 2GB memory, 60 min high-quality recording time. Become a better film maker than relying on "better quality" to make your movies more interesting. I enjoy movies because they are "good" rather than because they have greater "quality."

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on May 24, 2008
My kids gave me a Vado for my birthday, and I've had some time to play around with it a little since I got it. The first thing you need to keep in mind is that this isn't a replacement for a high-end video camera. It's meant to be small, inexpensive, and easy to use, and it certainly is. Just a few buttons on the unit (see the product description for info) and yes, it pretty much does look like a cell phone without the phone. I walked around New York City yesterday afternoon with it in my jeans pocket and it was certainly easier to carry than a "full-blown" dedicated video camera or even a small still camera with video mode.

There's 2x digital zoom (I haven't played with that much so I really can't comment), and it's capable of up to 2 hours of recording in standard quality, or 1 hour in "high quality". I did a little comparison of a short scene in my backyard and the HQ version did seem to be better quality. Remember that this is shooting in 640 x 480, so if you blow this up and try to show it on your 52" plasma HD TV you'll probably be disappointed, but for personal use on your computer screen, it looks just fine.

Small, lightweight = extremely portable.
Easy to use not only for recording, but also for importing videos to your computer (but easiest for PC users; built-in software launches when you plug device into your computer)
Rechargeable battery
Decent video quality

Built-in software not (currently?) available for Mac users, but you can still use it like a USB connected disk drive
You need a computer to recharge (via the USB port) unless you buy the optional stand-alone charger.
The audio seems a bit low both when recording and when playing back on the device.

Overall, particularly when taking into consideration the price, I think this is an excellent value and would recommend it to anyone in the market for a point-and-shoot video camera.
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on June 11, 2008
It won't record the 35 minutes it takes to document for myself a daily bike ride. It shuts off sometime and saves no file, during that interval.

If I stop and restart the recording every 8 minutes, it works okay, but that isn't much use if it's clipped outside the vehicle, for instance.

It must be some battery-saving feature or other that enables itself even when recording. Anyway it won't work for you if you're thinking of long recordings. I don't find any documentation at all anywhere.

I don't like to be ungrateful - the size and price and what it does is amazing, just not what it seemed to claim, exactly.

ADDED: It seems to record 35 minutes okay on the desk. Just not on a bicycle (I tried it three times), unless it's in short segments.

I wonder if the battery shakes and loses contact. Something's killing the recording. But that doesn't explain why it would work in short segments.

ADDED ADDED: I have a successful 35 minute bicycle recording by being very careful to limit handlebar jarring as much as possible, picking smooth pavement, holding on tightly, and going slower. Apparently the battery contact guess is correct.
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on August 21, 2008
Color: Silver|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
For this price range (under $100) this tiny video camera is a really fun toy that you might give to a teenager, use as an emergency backup, or use when you're just too afraid you might break or lose your better equipment (on a roller coaster, in a kayak on a river, etc.).

Very lightweight, portable and compact.
Easy to use.
Files easy to download. I have an Intel Mac and I just plugged it in the USB port and dragged and dropped. No software is required to do this.

VHS quality at best. Not much more can be expected at this price point.

Zoom function is very choppy. It's not smooth as you go back and forth and it looks like it's stopping at various increments.
Audio is acceptable at best. It's a very general mic that seems to pick up a lot of ambient noise.
The size and weight of the device can actually make it harder to have a steady picture.

One of the things I try to do with reviews is compare the item to your other options. I own a 6MP Canon S3 point and shoot camera that also shoots VHS quality video. You can currently (2008) get a quality used S3 for about $250 or a Canon S2 with 4MP (which has almost just as good video) for as low as $125. The Canon's video is far superior in all ways. The audio is focused, clear and adequately loud. The zoom is smooth. And you're only limited in length by the size of your SD memory card. If it were me making this purchase, I'd probably go the route of having both a digital camera and a video recording device all in one. It's not that much more expensive and the quality is simply better.

Still, the Vado has its major advantages. It's smaller, more compact and more easily carried around in your pocket. As a result it's a video camera you'll be able to use when discretion is paramount. It's less expensive and thus more expendable - better if you're giving it to a teen. It's far easier to use so it would be great for someone who needs things as simple as possible.

So I recommend the Vado with reservations. Know your needs and what you'd like to get out of your equipment. For some this will be a great item, for others who could use better video and more versatility it will be worth it for them to spend a little more for something like a Canon S2.
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on June 28, 2008
Color: Silver|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really like this little video camera, it's pretty cool and takes some rather good quality video. 200 megs of video equals about 00:07:30 or video (7.5 minutes). The device is a 2Gig unit that always you about 1.8 gigs for video as some of the storage space is sucked up with programs and of course 2 gigs is actually 1.91 gigs of usable space.

*Compact: I like how it's so small but does a rather good job.
*Simple: It's so simple to use it's ridiculous, just hit the big button and record (would be better if the button was Red instead of white it would be more easily recognized as a record button).
*Video quality: for as small as this item is it's rather good at taking video, clean for the most part (I've noticed that it tends to have a decent amount of grain though is average lighting), smooth when you are moving the camera, no jumping of frames, at least not very noticeable.
*Flip out USB connector: I like this but I think it's poorly placed IMO.
*Fast charging: I really liked how it only take a max of like just over 2 hours to charge and there is a fast charging option that is easily activated, just push the play button until the battery with the lightning bolt shows on the screen and it's now going to charge really fast. During this mode you can't access any info on the cam, it will only charge it, but this is a great feature as then you don't have to wait as long if you are going to be leaving in a little while for some occasion.

*USB connector placement: it's right next to the tripod connector. So if you have it on a minipod you have to take it off in order to hook it to the computer. I think making it so it flips off from the side would be much better so that it can be easier to get to the plug if you just want to leave a minipod hooked to it.
*The lens cover is easily scratched, I have a couple small scratches on mine already just from going in my pocket that had nothing else but this in it.
*Power button: while I do like it's placement on the side and how it's integrated into the devices style it's a little hard to push with big fingers like mine. Maybe the line that it blends with could be a little wider to accommodate people with bigger hands.
*Record button: a record symbol or it being red would be a good idea. friends that tried to use it had a hard time figuring it out.
*Screen: while I do like the size of the screen I do not like how you can't view it from the sides at all, a wider viewing angle would be great as you can't have your eyes directly in line with the LCD to be able to view it at all times.

*VOLUME*: all around poor, I noticed that it doesn't really pick sound up all that well. You have to talk directly to toward it and in a little bit of a loud voice in order for it to come across clearly. Also, the on board speaker doesn't play back well at all IMO, you couldn't hear anything from it if you tried. In loud volume situations though the mic is overloaded and just can't handle the audio so it reproduces an annoying noise on the video. Whispers are pretty much not heard unless you turn the volume on your PC up as loud as possible.

I think for this to be a rather successful product the last 2 issues really need to be addressed more.

One thing that I would think would make this worth a lot more is if it had the ability to be hooked into the computer and used the computer to record and change setting on the camera through the software that comes installed on it, basically a full frame rate webcam that wont have the jagged/jumpy side effects that even high quality webcams have.

On the first couple of videos there was a DIVX logo brand but now there isn't IDK what the deal is now, but I like it a lot more without the branding on my video. IDK if this is just something that it does on the first couple or what, but I'm much happier it's gone now.

Edited: 08/01/08

EDITED: 11/30/08
There is an update out for the Vado's firmware as well as the software that it uses on your PC, it helps a crap load!!! Although the focusing is bit of an issue close up still it does fine farther away from the subject.

main things in the update are better quality video, less fuzz, better sound quality, and much faster start up time.

to access the update plug your vado into your computer then when the program launches select the little button in the top left corner, you'll see an option for updating. Do that and select both the software and firmware updates. It makes a huge difference in the performance of this device. Also make sure that you follow the instructions throughout the process so you can be sure you don't run into any issues.
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on May 21, 2008
My wife picked up the Vado last weekend and so far we are absolutely thrilled with it. The Vado has allowed us to capture video of our children that we never would have gotten with our HD camcorder. The Vado is unbelievably simple to use and it looks and feels great. The one button upload to online video sharing sites is a fantastic feature. The Vado also has a rechargeable battery (good for the environment!)

I can't imagine anyone not being happy with the Vado. It's not meant to be a super high quality camcorder. It's designed for ease of use. It gives you the ability to capture all of life's spontaneous moments and easily share them with friends and family.
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on September 15, 2008
Its specs have been exhaustively reviewed here already, so I won't go into all of that. You take it out of the box, turn it on, press the record button. To upload, you connect the onbooard usb to your computer, the onboard sw starts up and then you click on whatever video you want to upload to YouTube, PhotoBucket, or without fuss and not much thinking. This device sits between a bonafide camcorder/camera and phone camera/camcorder. It's small and light like a phone cam but delivers much better video then any phone cam I own.

Little things that stick out to me are the rubberized coating on the case which gives a decent grip. The short usb cable was clearly designed to connect to a laptop or a usb port on a keyboard. It's somewhat disconcerting to see the camera dangling from the usb port on my desktop pc. The uploading sw is on the device itself which is handy - no need to download client software to different pc's - just connect and upload. Of course, in true Creative fashion, you can also navigate to the device in My Computer and open the video folder and drag the contents out to wherever. The on/off switch is thin and requires a push, but then again that keeps it from getting turned on accidentally.

All in all a device that does what it is suppose to do well and at a very competitive price.
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on August 4, 2008
I purchased this for my 11-year old who has shown an interest in creating videos. This product is simple to use, well-made, and inexpensive. The software is on the camera, so you have no disks to loose, and can install it on the fly. Although it might not work for Spielberg, it is a wonderful creative tool for children. I am quite impressed with the video quality.

For the price, and the intended market - I have done a lot of research - this is the winner!
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