on June 17, 2010
I do a lot of walking, typically 3 to 6 miles every day from my home to my work, or to nearby businesses. Like most pedestrians, I've had my share of close calls with inattentive and careless drivers. After recently being hit by a car (fortunately, I wasn't too badly hurt), I started looking for a small videocamera that I could wear to record what happened during my walks. The Veho MUVI seemed ideal, and I've now had a couple of days to use it. So here are my impressions:
(1) The MUVI is both smaller and heavier than I expected. It came with a rotating clip to hook to the front of my shirt, and a lanyard to wear around my neck. It looks and feels quite sturdy. I wouldn't want to bounce it off a sidewalk, but it definitely feels tough enough to endure normal handling, or being dropped a short distance. It does get warm to the touch while recording.
(2) Despite what the product photos on Amazon show, the camera must be mounted or carried vertically, not horizontally, with the lens on top for proper orientation. The video quality (640 x 480 pixels) is excellent given the lens size, and the Muvi quickly adapts between outdoors and indoors lighting changes, and gives very good results with both.
(3) As many others have pointed out, the 2 GB card that comes with the MUVI is simply inadequate. Buy yourself an 8 GB microSDHC class 6 card. The MUVI requires about 2.6 GB per hour of recording, so the 8 GB card will provide sufficient capacity for about 3 hours of video, which should be more than enough given the battery life of the MUVI.
(4) Despite what the instructions say, you cannot record while the MUVI is being recharged. On the other hand, with two MUVIs, four 8 GB SDHC cards, and a USB auto charger, you could record an entire 12-hour road trip by charging one MUVI while recording with the other.
(5) My Macbook mounts the MUVI exactly like a USB thumb drive whenever it is plugged in. Videos can be easily dragged and copied, or dragged and deleted. The MUVI does not support high-speed USB data transfer, so I recommend that you get a high-speed SDHC card reader if you want to copy off movies quickly.
(6) Audio quality is adequate but not very impressive. The voices of the people I talk to actually sound clearer than my own, and are understandable as long as you don't have a lot of background noise. You could probably understand a conversation recorded in a quiet room, in my opinion, but I wouldn't gamble on it in a large crowd.
(7) Best of all, the MUVI doesn't look like a videocamera. I've had lots of people look right at it and not realize what it was. I'm guessing they dismissed it and assumed it was an MP3 player or some sort of Bluetooth earpiece. It is ideal for discreet recordings, especially if you find yourself dealing with government authorities and want a video record of your interactions with them. (First make sure to review the wiretapping laws for wherever you live.)
So what would I like to see for a future version of the MUVI? Full HD quality recordings, longer battery life, better audio, and true optical stabilization would be a nice wish list, although fitting any of them into the MUVI's form factor would require a lot of engineering effort. Nevertheless, the MUVI is still an amazing little videocamera for its size and cost, and I'm looking forward to using it extensively in the coming months.
on March 4, 2012
The Veho Micro DV Camcorder (henceforth called "MUVI" in this review) is a very nice tool for taking good quality video in situations where you you don't have the luxury of holding a regular camcorder, or where small size is critical.
First off, I need to clarify that this item being sold by Amazon is NOT the "Pro" model. At least at the time of writing this review, there is nothing in Amazon's product description to indicate whether the item being sold is the regular version or the 'pro' version. The regular version is model number VCC-003-MUVI-BLK, while the 'pro' version is model number VCC-003-MUVI-PRO. Amazon just lists the part number up to the MUVI part, and does not include the suffix. I have reported this to Amazon, so maybe the description will be fixed by the time you read this. I also petitioned Amazon to include a note in the technical description area to further clarify this. In case you are curious, the two products seem to be basically the same (according to Veho's own website) with the exception that the regular version comes with a 2 GB micro-SD memory card and lists a frame rate of 20-25 fps, whereas the 'pro' version comes with a 4 GB card and lists a frame rate of 30 fps. Reviews on other websites suggest that the frame rate is dictated by the speed of the memory card, and that the regular version of this product comes with not only a smaller card, but also a slower one. This might explain the slower frame rate, but by extrapolation, it might also mean that if you put in a larger and faster memory card, the regular version would become identical to the 'pro' version. In other words, the actual camcorder might be the same product, with the only difference being the memory card that comes packaged with it. ****Clarification as of March 5, 2012: Veho tech support advised me that there IS a minor difference between the regular (BLK) and the PRO version; the PRO version includes a firmware change so that it records timestamp data into the video....this was apparently due to requirements by law enforcement for their applications of the MUVI.
Anyway, on to the actual review. You get a lot for your money with the MUVI. It is a surprisingly heavy device, and the case is metal, not plastic. It has a high quality look and feel. It is about the same dimensions as the average adult human thumb (the part that extends from the hand). It is thicker in the lens area, and thinner for the rest of its length; at its thickest it is about the thickness of the average thumb. Length is approximately 2-1/8", width 13/16", maximum thickness about 3/4". Weight is 1.5oz (42g), not counting the optional clip and lanyard, 50g with those accessories.
It is also very easy to use. It has a sliding power switch, but it has some ability to power down and/or go to sleep after a while if not recording. Whether it turns off or goes to sleep depends on how much charge remains in the battery. Once turned on, you press a tiny button to start recording, and press it again to stop recording. There is a slide switch labeled "VOX", and this turns the voice activation feature on and off. According to the manual, any sound louder than 65dB will cause the MUVI to record. If the sound level drops below 65dB and stays there for 2 minutes, the MUVI goes into standby mode. When the sound level exceeds 65dB, it comes out of standby and resumes recording. There are no other controls besides the ones mentioned above.
The MUVI has a single LED indicator. In my opinion, this is the weakest aspect of the device, because it can be somewhat difficult to remember all the color and flash combinations. To give you some idea, steady blue means power on, slow blue flashing means low battery, fast blue flashing means memory-to-computer data transfer, steady green means memory is full, slow green flashing means recording, fast green flashing means no SD card installed, steady red means charging, and LED off means either fully charged (if currently plugged into USB) or device is off (if NOT plugged into USB). But it is not so bad as it seems, because operationally you are most likely to just be worrying about the green colors, where a slow flash is good, and anything else means you are not recording.
While I have not tried it, the manual states that the MUVI can serve as a webcam (the VOX switch must be on).
The MUVI records video and monaural audio. Video is 640-480 pixel resolution at 20-25 frames per second (fps), recorded in the AVI file format, takes 1 GB of memory per 45 minutes of recording, so with the included 2 GB micro-SD card you can record for 1.5 hours. Maximum SD card capacity is 8 GB, so you could record for up to 6 hours. There are no settings to change any aspect of the recording quality; it "is what it is". Because the file format is AVI, the video quality is somewhat better than that taken by some other inexpensive cameras, and you should not have any trouble using the video file(s) because this format has fewer issues (perhaps NO issues) with codecs that some other formats (e.g. MOV) suffer from. NOTE: While the Veho website says that the video fps is 20-25, the actual manual states that it is 'up to 30 fps'. Considering what I wrote above in the paragraph that compares the regular and the 'pro' versions of the MUVI, this seems to reinforce the idea that the two products are actually the same (see clarification above), and the fps is dictated solely by the speed of the memory card you plug into the MUVI; i.e. the somewhat slower frame rate advertised for the product can be improved by replacing the included SD card with a faster one.
Pressing in on the edge of the micro SD card with your fingernail, it will be released and will pop out (normally the edge of the card is flush with the side of the MUVI). You can insert the card into any card reader that accepts the micro-SD size. You can also connect the MUVI to your computer using the included cable, and the computer should immediately recognize the MUVI as an external memory device, allowing you to access the SD card without needing to remove it from the camera.
The MUVI does not come with any software. None is required for accessing the memory, and according to the manual, it is 'plug and play' for use as a webcam.
The internal battery is apparently lithium ion, just like in your cell phone. It appears that the battery is not user-replaceable, although it looks like the metal case can be opened by removing screws, so perhaps the battery can be changed. However, I suggest that you consider the battery to be non-removable, non-replaceable. It charges in less than 2 hours, using any USB power source (most likely your computer). The battery, when fully charged, lasts for 2 hours; this means that you should be able to record for the full capacity of the memory before the battery runs down. NOTE: According to the Veho website, the 'pro' version of the MUVI still has the 2 hour battery usage limit, so that is a gotcha considering that model comes with a 4 GB SD card, with a recording time of 4 hours.
An important limitation of the MUVI, and one that is not mentioned in the manual, is that for the camera to record, it MUST be operating on battery power. If you have it plugged into a computer and turn the power switch on, the MUVI insists on going into webcam mode, and does not respond to the record button. However, if you use it in webcam mode with software that can record its video stream, you could theoretically record forever (i.e. the MUVI itself would not be doing the recording).
The optics of the MUVI are fixed. The CCD image sensor is 2 mega pixels, the viewing angle is 72 degrees, minimum illumination is 1 lux. Focal aperture is 2.8, focal length is from 2cm (approx. 1 inch) to infinity.
There is no viewfinder.
Veho's advertising claims that this product takes high quality video, which many readers these days would assume to be something a lot more than 640x480 resolution, and they claim that it is the smallest of its type. Both definitions are subjective, but their claims are no doubt somewhat unfounded. Still, this is a very nice product.
The MUVI comes with:
- the MUVI camcorder
- 2 GB micro-SD memory card
- cloth carrying pouch with drawstring
- lanyard (the lanyard attach point on the MUVI is solid metal)
- snap on belt clip (can be used to attach the MUVI to other clothing and objects)
- USB B-mini adapter plug
- USB cable
- printed manual in English, Italian, German, French, Spanish
Some likely uses:
- helmet camera for workers, athletes, extreme sports, etc
- recording random events with no warning; since it is key-chain/pocketable small, is instant-on and instant record
- recording traffic stops and other security actions (police, etc)
- baby sitter monitoring
- spy camera
- use on things like remote controlled aircraft, cars, boats, helicopters (I put mine on a Blade mQX quadrotor helicopter to take aerial videos)
- model rocketry