Customer Reviews: Creative Labs Vado HD 8 GB Pocket Video Camcorder, 2nd Generation (Black Gloss with Maroon Accents) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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VINE VOICEon October 21, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is Creative's latest entry in the pocketable portable solid state video camera market. This is a hot segment of the market right now, with hot selling competitive models from Flip (who broke open the segment), Kodak and Creative, among others. This is Creative's higher end product, with more memory (8GB) and capable of taking "HD" high(er) resolution video.

In truth these pocketable video cameras are competing not only with each other, but also with other multi-purpose devices that can also take video, particularly digital cameras and portable phones.

Before proceeding, it's worth stating one absolute about all of these ultra portable video cameras: The selling point is portability. They are very small and light, and therefore you can slip one in your purse or jacket pocket and forget it's even there. That makes these video cameras great for impulse pictures.

If the portability is not a big selling point for you, then stop reading right now and get yourself a standard video camera. Even the lowest end standard video camera is capable of MUCH better video than any of these ultra portables. (And the higher end HD standard video cameras simply wipe the floor in terms of quality and extensibility).

Alrighty, you're still reading. So you the portability must be a selling point. So now the competition becomes a ultra slim digital camera that can also take pictures. There are dozens of such cameras now on the market. For the review that follows, I'll take as comparison the video that can be taken on a Sony DSC-W220, a ~$160 digital camera that sits in the middle of Sony's line and features 4x optical zoom, 640x480 30fps video, and image stabilization.

This particular video camera is being marketed as a "new version" of the Creative Vado video line. Let's make it clear what that means, because it means very little. This VADO differs from the previous " version" in only two ways, one insignificant, the other possibly important to you. The first version of the second generation Vado came in only one color (black) and did not come with Macintosh compatible software. This "version" comes in two new color schemes (White/Green, Black/Maroon, in addition to all black) and now comes bundled with Macintosh compatible software.

That's it. End of differences. If you already have the previous second generation Vado and if you were wondering whether it's worth's not.

So what are the good, bad and ugly?

The good: Very small, easily pocketable, very light. Comes with a rechargeable battery that can easily be replaced by the user, and which can easily power the camera long enough to fill up the memory (2 hours in HD mode). Very simple and minimalistic controls mean a very modest learning curve. Charges via any standard USB cable. Image stabilization built in (works OK). HDMI connection (easy attachment and viewing through modern TVs). Ample 8Gb memory included. Ability to switch between HD (2 hours) and VGA video (8 hours). Built in speaker for reviewing videos (low quality, but better than nothing). Good video possible in good light.

The bad: Low light performance is subpar. No optical zoom (only 2x digital zoom). Built in microphone is extremely weak and not well suited to picking up unamplified sounds at a distance. The USB connector is at the bottom of the video recorder, and includes a pull tab that extends outside the bottom of the case and that makes it very difficult to place the camera on a surface and not have it result in tilted video. (I can't believe they didn't fix this in this new "version"). No way to add additional memory.

The ugly: The included software. The software is installed and accessed when you attach the camera via the USB plug to your PC. This brings up a Vado control center that allows you, in principal, to view and edit the videos on your camera. On two Windows computers, one running XP Pro, one running XP Media Center, I have NEVER been able to successfully edit a video using the included software. Any attempt to edit the video eventually results in the program crashing. Freezes and crashes also occur sometimes when just viewing the video through this utility. Fortunately, you can copy the videos from the camera (the camera looks like a standard USB storage device to your PC) and edit/view them with stable software from other manufacturers (Adobe Premier Elements, etc.) But the fact that the software is so buggy, even after multiple updates, reflects very poorly on Creative.

So there are pluses and minuses. But how does it compare to the Sony digital camera, which is only slightly bigger?

In a nutshell, for video quality alone, the Vado loses handily: The Sony camera takes comparably good video in good light, and SUBSTANTIALLY better video in low light. The Sony has a MUCH better built in microphone. The Sony uses user-supplied flash memory which can be expanded. The Sony has a 4x optical zoom, compared to the 2x digital zoom on the Vado. (Though on the Sony the zoom cannot be modified once video capture is started).

The two places where the Vado clearly beats the Sony are video compression (the Vado can store a lot more in the same amount of storage) and (somewhat) better resolution. One more arguable advantage of the Vado is that the controls are much simpler (and more limited). If you are technologically impaired, or if the camera is going to be used by those who won't have time to become familiar with it (kids, friends at parties, whatever), then the simpler control scheme on the Vado is a definite plus.

Obviously, there are MANY MANY other digital cameras available that also take video. I chose the Sony DSC-W220 for comparison 1) because I have one on hand; 2) because it is almost the same size; and 3) because it is competitively priced to this Vado.

As someone with no technological phobias, I would have to say that the Sony would be my go-to choice in many circumstances. I think the only reason I'd opt for the Vado would be if I needed two hours of video (8 hours in VGA mode, but I can't imagine using that mode), and a battery that would support extended recording (the Sony battery is inferior). It should be added that that's not necessarily a trivial difference. The peace of mind that comes from not having to worry your camera is going to go dark or run out of space while you're recording a special even shouldn't be underestimated.

In the end, this is a decent product, really good in some circumstances (good light, audio not critical, long recording times essential), and bettered by a good comparably priced digital camera in others.

Whether it's worth adding to your own arsenal of digital toys will be a personal choice.
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on October 15, 2009
I rate this Creative VADO HD a five-star performer. Why? Because I bought it for my 70 year old mother [a complete technophobe] who wanted a video camera to keep me up to date on her gardens and her life. With virtually no guidance, Mom was Video-documenting her daily life. If her 10 year old Volvo had a strange noise, I was suddenly sent a Volvo video from Mom asking my advice. If the dog was sleeping close to the mangy cat - I was sent a "isn't this cute" video. When the city decided to change an intersection, Mom was there documenting the shoddy work to show/email the city supervisors. Spectacular sunsets on the beach? Mom's got her VADO in her pocket. As an aside, Michael Moore and Francis Ford Coppola probably shouldn't be worried about the competition. ;-)

The video quality is pretty good [even with Mom's Parkinsons]. The colors are rich, the adaptation to different lighting is good. The sound quality is not bad [for such a tiny device]. The huge amount of video that can be shot is staggering [We had to increase Mom's bandwidth on her DSL line because of all the video she is shooting/sharing].

Mom likes the Vado so much, she bought me one. While we live on opposite coasts [Mom on Cape Cod and my wife and I in Santa Cruz], we often swap sunset videos. Vado brings us closer. And that's worth many times more than the few hundred dollars that Vado costs.
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If I'm going to spend more than a hundred bucks on an item or somewhere around there, I do extensive research first to know I got the best bang-for-the-buck and, consequently, dodge any potential future buyer's remorse.
I've realized that the time I spend doing my product comparisons is often time that others don't have so I may as well share what I can.

I'll start by saying that you'll see my "Verified Amazon Purchase" on the Flip HD Ultra Camcorder review because, obviously, that's the one I wound up buying and I'll share with you why. But what I like in a camcorder may not suit your own needs so I'll break it down and let you decide what's best for you via what I found out:

Here are the pocket camcorders I compared:

Flip UltraHD (will be referred to as "F")
Flip Mino HD 2nd generation (Will be referred to as "M")
Creative Labs Vado HD 8 GB 2nd generation (Will be referred to as "CL")
Kodak Zi6 Pocket HD (Will be referred to as "K")
*SONY DSCW220: note: I have since had people ask me about the Sony dsc w220. I did look into this one but ruled it out for a finalist in my shopping because it is mono not stereo, it is NOT a point and shoot camera.--You have to select different modes prior to filming rather than the camera figuring it out automatically for you, it was not rated as well by the experts compared to the Flip UltraHD ( The Sony was rated "very good" as compared to "excellent", While it does have a optical zoom in photo setting, this can't be used in video setting, and the sound wasn't as good. So, while I did look at this in the end, it never made the final cut.

Why HD cameras only? Brighter colors and better images, wider images

F: 120 minutes.
M: 120 minutes
CL:120 minutes
K: 25 minutes with batteries they included, 120 minutes if you buy an SD card

HOW CNET's editors rated the cameras:
F Excellent
M Excellent
CL Very Good
K Very Good

F: 8 GB
M:8 GB
CL: 8 GB
K: internally only 30 MB recording space but it has 32 GB expandable SD/SDHC card slot. Because it comes with such small recording space you really need to buy an SD or SDHC card to maximize its potential, but the potential is really good and this will increase your ability to shoot longer.

All are 720p which is excellent, just one step below the top 1080p format.

F: Stereo
M: Mono
CL: Mono
K: Mono

F:Premier AAC audio. Best sound quality but still not great in winds
M:Good sound; not great in winds.
CL:Poor sound quality; had issues with sound and picture not being in sync.
K:Poor sound quality

F: 2x
K: poor quality zoom on the one I tried but I still think it's 2x. It has a great macro focus for very close-up objects if, for example, you see a bumble bee and want to shoot it on a leaf a few inches away! Kinda cool.

F: 4.3x2.2x1.2 4 oz
M: 3.9x2x0.6 3. 3 oz
CL: 3.9x3x0.6 3.5 oz
K: 5.5x2.5.0.9 5.6 oz

F: 6.2 x 3.1 x 3.1 inches ; 11.2 ounces
M: 2 x 0.7 x 3.9 inches ; 1 pound
CL: 3.3 x 7.9 x 6.3 inches ; 11.2 ounces
K: 4x 5x 2.5" 2.4 lbs

F: USB cable pops out of the back so you don't need to keep up with a separate cable. Comes with Flip Video rechargeable AA battery pack (recharges when connected to USB); also supported by standard AA batteries. Note: Some sets come with the HDMi mini included and others come with the rechargeable battery pack on Amazon. Looks like one or the other but of course if you need both you can buy the other.
M: USB cable pops out of the back on this one as well. Has child safe button to prevent accidental deletion of videos. Internal lithium ion battery recharges through built-in USB arm
CL: USB in camcorder. Included in box are HDMI cable (nice), USB extension cable,(nice)silicon skin (cool) & rechargeable battery.
K: Included in box are HD and AV cables and wrist strap and rechargeable batteries and battery charger. Has built in USB arm.

F: 30 frames per second.
M: 30 frames per second
CL: 30 frames per second
K: choice of 30 frames per second or 60 frames per second.

VIEWING SCREEN: All 2" except the Kodak was the largest at 2.4"

F: Best low-light performance for the mini cameras (though not perfect at all) and least amount of blurring and dropped frames in my opinion. Best color. Only one with stereo sound. You can get an underwater case for this one! Though that may sound crazy for a Texan, we use the camera non-stop on vacations and even when we aren't IN the water, we are around the water...on boats, in the sand with sea mist, etc. Then we can dive in and record the fish. Comes preloaded with flipshare software...just plug in to computer and it pops up.
M: Colors don't appear as good on the Mino as the other cameras. Thinnest camera. Make sure you get the one that only comes in the color aluminum or brushed metal. If it comes in any other colors it is the 1st generation MinoHD and they improved upon that one in the newer models. Great audio. Better shooting in low light than most mini cameras. Camera comes preloaded with FlipShare software. Can get still images through flipshare software.
CL: Decent filming in low light but not anywhere near as good as the Ultra or Mino; Software is preloaded in camcorder. This has an optional underwater case too!
K: This is the only camera that I compared without the built in image stabilizatin which corrects for shaky images. What appears to be metal in picture is actually a chrome colored plastic. That said, this had the largest viewing screen of all of them. 2.4" Very poor in low light and seemed to have far more shaking and blurring. It also takes still pictures but they are really really poor quality...same as a lesser-quality cell phone pictures but good in a pinch if you want a still shot and have no cell or camera I s'pose. Heaviest for a pocket camera. Software is not preloaded in camcorder but a cd comes with it.

And, finally, the reviews of the Flip from experts swayed me quite a bit:
Fast Company: "Flip Ultra HD is Pure Digital's "Best Pocket Camcorder Yet." 6-09

USA Today: "New Flip Ultra Video Cameras Might Flip Your Switch" 4-09

Business Week: How do you Invigorate a Recession? Look to i-phone, Flip, Kindle, and Zip Car For Answers

There were lootttts more I came across when researching the Flip Ultra HD but those are some of my favorites.

CONCLUSION: Clearest picture and sound was important to me, expert reviews that pointed to the Flip UltraHD as well and I liked the built in software and the case I can get to shoot underwater. It is the number one selling camcorder as well. So that was my personal decision-making process. However, keep in mind that if you need reading glasses none of that will matter if the 2" screen is too small for your viewing the shots easily for playback in which case you may wish to get the Kodak if that's important to you..

Also: No matter which one you get, you will probably want a mini tripod if you ever want to be in the shot yourself do don't forget those.

Also note: It's confusing because when these manufacturers make changes in the camcorders, they do not change the names on the new versions, nor do they change the names if it's an HD version or a non-HD version so be sure you look for the "HD" after the brand name and look for "2nd generation" or "newer version" on the Mino and Vado if you like one of those better so you don't get the older models.

Hope my obsessive comparing and contrasting for my own purchasing assistance helped you as well even if what you wanted in a camera was different from me. :-)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon October 24, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
 While other brands may catch more headlines the Vado HD is the small portable video cam for you. It combines portability, ease of use, quality with features that are not found on competing models. One thing that separates the Vado for the competition is its ability to record in standard definition, HD and HD+. Why is it important to be able to video quality options? Some medias do not need HD quality - when you upload videos to Facebook or YouTube HD videos take significantly longer to upload. However, there are times when it is great to record in HD... vacations... weddings... and so on.


- The ability to record using three levels of video quality.
- Great capacity! 2 hours of HD and 8 hours of standard definition
- Comes with a replaceable rechargeable battery
- Very large viewing screen, especially for the size of the camera
- Comes with a rubberized case
- Very simple to use - works great with both a Mac and a PC/Windows
- Smaller than a typical cell phone
- Comes with a HDMI port and cables - this allows you to plug the Vado HD directly into your HD television

Final verdict - A great camera that offers a significant amount of recording flexibility. The only real area for improvement is some sort of image stabilization capability , however to my knowledge, none of the cameras in this class offers this feature. My recommendation, buy with confidence!

5 Stars
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VINE VOICEon November 8, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Although many state the only difference between the 1st generation of Vado vs. this "new" 2nd generation Vado is only aesthetics (rubber feel vs. glossy finish), that is simply NOT true.

I shot with both cameras simultaneously in different situations and the way it handled the colors were consistently different between the two (see video at around 1:45 for comparison):

Vado 1st Generation footage has a more yellowish/tint lighter contrast look.
Vado 2nd Generation footage has a more red/bluish slightly more contrast look.

I think the 2nd Gen gives a slightly more natural look. However, if you already own the first Vado, is it worth the upgrade? I honestly don't think so. As far as sharpness goes, they are pretty much the same.

Some more test footage with the Vado 2nd Gen from 3:20 to 4:55 (mostly low light/night shots).

Low lighting is not great, but it's not the worst either. Despite this being 720p, I can say that this pocket size camera overall produces better image than the "full-size" HD camera Sanyo TH-1 claiming it to do 1080. The wide angle lens is definitely a plus.

- The menu is still the same.
- The silicon cover/case that comes with the 2nd Gen is much thicker than the one that came with the 1st Gen.
- There is still no option to disable the annoying start-up/shut-down sounds.
- There is no option to disable the red recording light.
- Time display is only available as 24H (no AM/PM); date display is only DATE/MONTH/YEAR (but I prefer MONTH/DATE/YEAR)
- 2x digital zoom is pretty useless.
- Will not playback on the PS3 (Vado uses their own codec; however, it does playback on Western Digital TV Live Media Player!)
- If you have the quick recording mode on (not shut off completely), it will eat up the battery quite a bit (and the unit gets pretty warm).
- Macro focus is still bad (but most pocket HD cameras are)
- The rubber(for USB) still sticks out on the bottom, which I've always disliked.

Walking while holding/fast panning still causes horrible image smearing/warping - it's the horrible poor CMOS sensor effect, if you know what I mean... makes my standard definition point-and-shoot digital camera still better in that regards. It could definitely use an image stabilizer or better sensor.

I was hoping Creative would release a 1080p or SD card support, since Kodak/competitors started releasing 1080p pocket cameras with those features, but it seems they'll try to milk the 720p Vado series as long as they can. I'm also hoping for an external mic, or for them to use a more common/flexible video codec (playback on the PS3). It would also be nice to have macro focus capability and a simple exposure lock.

Like I said in my previous review (for the 1st gen), if you expect 1080p quality from this pocket camera or plan on watching it on your 50"+ HDTV, and have unrealistic expectations, you will be disappointed. This camera is perfect to have around for capturing unexpecting moments and then sharing it on YouTube, Facebook, family, or other social networks.

Unless you want to wait an eternity (roughly 8 hours) for it fully charge, you'll want to just stick to the Fast Charge mode by pressing the "Play" button when it's charging (USB symbol) and the icon will change to a lightning bolt.

Overall, I still give a 3 1/2 stars like in my first review for the Vado 1st Generation.
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on October 13, 2009
I received this camera last week, very quick shipping by the way, and just love the little thing... yes its a bit shaky if you are not conscience of how you are holding the camera while filming, but just add a second hand to it and its that easy to get smooth shots. One great feature I like is it doesnt matter what PC you plug it into, the video software is on the camera and loads as soon as you plug it into the USB port. (Mac users can go to Creative's site to get a free copy) All in all its an excellent entry level HD video camera. For under $200 bucks you can't go wrong. If you want something better, go spend another 2-3 hundred dollars. This thing even has an HDMI connection right from the camera so you can watch your daily clips on your wide screen HD tv... cool huh! Don't let the first reviewer fool you, this thing is fun and easy with fine results. Enjoy!
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on October 18, 2009
The Vado HD Rocks!!! Easy to use, compact and priced very well. I have been that guy at the recital, Bday party, or wedding with the 35mm around his neck and the cam corder on the hip holster ready for anything. I was set for the planned events but missing out on the more important Spontaneous things my 4 year old is doing on a daily basis. I carry the Vado HD around like a cell phone(same size) and my wife and I are always able to capture our daughter's sweetest and funniest moments. No Brainer on a great stocking stuffer for family and friends this year.
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on November 26, 2009
Buying a Vado HD camcorder is equivalent to buying a great car that has no wheels. While the camera itself serves its purpose well, the extremely poor software that comes with it is deplorable.The included software, called Vado Central, does allow you to watch your videos on your computer screen but that's all. Its editing and sharing capability is useless. It takes a lot of internet searching to find how editing can be done, but even with that information you need to be pretty technically-minded to figure things out. Also you will need to spend money on additional software.
To add insult to injury, Creative's website indicates there is a significant upgrade to Vado central. What it fails to tell you is that if you have the original version you cannot upgrade to the newer one. It will work only with cameras that already have the upgraded version. It's not an upgrade at all, but rather a back-up if the cameras with the new version run into trouble and need to re-install the programme.
So, just like a good car with no wheels, the Vado HD camera's software doesn't allow you to go anywhere when it comes to working with your video content. Creative should be ashamed of short changing its customers in this way. I mean how hard is it for such a large company to develop software for the Vado that is actually useful to the consumer? Because of this the product gets a two star rating, when with suitable software I would rate it at a four or five.
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on September 3, 2011
I bought this product in May 2011. At the beginning, everything works properly until one day, suddently, the on/off button does not work. It happened when I watched the vedio, I have to remove the battery to stop it. The problem was fixed for a while. One month later, the on/off button does not work when I try to turn it on. I only have this product for less then 4 months.

I am going to see if I can return it and get a replaced one.
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VINE VOICEon November 19, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It's virtually impossible (as so many of the other reviews for this product demonstrate) to discuss the Vado without drawing some comparisons to the ubiquitous Flip. However, that's been done within these pages, and done well, so I'll limit myself on that front to saying that I own both and it's the Vado I find myself grabbing when I want to catch a brief clip.

At first blush, I have to admit that I was concerned about the design of the camcorder, particularly the lens casing which protrudes about a quarter of an inch out from the otherwise compact body of the unit. I imagined this getting caught on things, making the lens itself more susceptible to scratches and debris -- and that just hasn't been the case. While the unit itself is attractive enough, it ships with a white/cloudy silicone sleeve that fits the unit perfectly. So perfectly it can be a little difficult getting it on. Worth the effort however, as it provides a better grip, worthwhile shock and scratch protection and (by my taste) an improved aesthetic, all without compromising access and ease of use.

There are aspects of the device I wonder about over the long haul. I can't say they'll be problems because I just haven't had it long enough (I've been using it a month), but they're issues worth mentioning. The USB adapter, for example, pulls out from the bottom. When you pull it down and out, you're actually bending the L shaped curve through which it is attached to the unit. Which is to say that it just feels like something that over time is either going to be less willing to just spring back into place (to be fair there's a relatively powerful magnet that hold it in place), or worse, this may be a point of structural failure as the plastic used could conceivably weaken, split and even break over time. That may never happen, it may be a bit of flawless engineering, I can't say -- it was simply an observation I felt worth noting. As previously mentioned, the lens itself sticks out a quarter of an inch, rather ungracefully. Imagine a stack of ten to twelve dimes sitting on top of a narrow deck of cards. In contrast to the Flip (something I opened saying I'd try to avoid, but here we are) which brings the lens outwards with smooth edges that flow back into the unit itself, the cylindrical lens encasement on the Vado meets the body with hard corners, which (again) can and do catch end edge of pockets when being tossed back in. As far as the video quality itself, I think this unit (as all of the current 'microcams' tend to) struggles at times to adapt to light contrasts within a given frame, as well as both high and low light situations.

These are not particularly noteworthy complaints, if they're complaints at all, which is in of itself positive commentary about the unit. While I've seen people cite the audio quality as a negative, I find it exceeds my own expectations for this sort of device. It picks up small sounds and background noises in quiet settings, and in the presence of a dominant source (a conversation, a television set, etc.) does a good job of directionally focusing itself on that.

Battery 'life' is what I want to close with, because I think this is where and why the Vado is so much more appealing for me than the competition. No batteries to deal with like the Flip (I know, 3 times now), it charges through the USB connection (and even offers a fast charge mode, although I have yet to use it) and I suspect that a full charge will hold you almost as long (or perhaps a bit longer) than the 8gb will allow you to record in 720p. That's convenient, efficient and a more desirable power solution, and it's why I've chosen this to be my "go to" pocket camcorder -- one that I happily recommend to others.
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