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Customer Review

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Recording stops randomly - Alesis won't fix/admit problem, November 21, 2011
This review is from: Alesis VideoTrack Handheld Recorder (Electronics)
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?
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 21, 2011, 1:08:22 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2011, 1:11:18 PM PST
TheGnz says:
Hi. Some days ago I ordered this camera and I really hope not to have the same problems as you.

I've done some research and there was a guy who did the same tests as you, and he found that the problem wasn't in the card but in the battery!

It seems the battery is defective or something. I don't know which kind of battery it uses as anybody has taken a photo of it. It is supposed to be repleaceable but I'm not sure.

So, maybe you could try with a new battery and post your results.

Regards.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2011, 1:52:33 PM PST
Hi, Thanks for your suggestion, but it does not seem battery related to me. The battery is removeable, but has no brand or model number on it. It says "Li-ion Battery 3.7V 1050mAh" (and then all the typical battery warning statements). It is about 2-1/8" x 1-3/8" x 1/4" thick with three small contacts on the top edge. But I suspect with no model number, it is probably a custom battery for this device... good luck finding one unless Alesis provided it.
As I stated before, my device would stop recording while stationary on a tripod with plenty of battery life remaining. Also it did the same thing with two completely different units (with different batteries). I also don't think is could be loose battery contacts either because no one was touching it.

If I had to guess, it seems like a software or microprocessor bug, like maybe when its cpu gets overloaded trying to compress video and audio on the fly... it just "stops", don't really know. But that is PURELY a guess on my part, no evidence whatsoever to prove it. Or maybe it is truly a "random" bug, though that is not really logical. Anyway, good luck with yours, I hope it works out for you.
Regards.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2011, 11:31:43 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2011, 11:44:11 PM PST
TheGnz says:
Hi. I got my VT last Friday and tested it on Saturday and Sunday with my band. It didn't stop recording after almost an hour, thanks God. Sound was good, basses and highs are present (just a little distortion on some highs but I was recording with mic gain in High, probably if a lower the gain, it will be better). The battery seems to be like one used by a Nokia cell phone. I will check that with a friend who has a cell phone store.
Recording OK, but I have notice that sometimes it freezes after 5 minutes when in Playback mode.
Other thing is that my VT has many scratches in the screen, I think they are just in the screen protector film, but I'm not sure if there is a film or not. I don't want to think the store (Tie Photo & Electronics) sent me a used item.
I will let you know about the battery as soon as I get any news, so maybe you could try and see if it works for you. Who knows, maybe you can find a solution. Regards.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2011, 10:47:30 AM PST
TheGnz says:
Ok my friend. The compatible battery is Nokia BL-5C. It is 3.7v, 1020mAh (Alesis is 1050mAh but this just means that Alesis' last a little longer). I've recorded a short video with this battery and everything is OK. Videotrack even told me that the battery needs to be recharged (showed just one line of battery life). I will ask Alesis guys to verify if I safely use it, but I doubt they will answer me as more than a month ago I contacted them and never got a response.

Posted on Apr 2, 2012, 1:56:40 PM PDT
cell21633 says:
found a way to check the firmware on the unit.. hold down + while powering on the deice. should bring you to a service menu. and any scratches on the unit is probably on the protection film they ship with the unit. it peels right off.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2012, 2:11:49 PM PDT
TheGnz says:
That way of checking the fw version also gives you more options like battery test, lcd test, etc. interesting but I don't dare to try them yet. Thank you very much for the info.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012, 10:54:42 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 3, 2012, 10:55:27 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 11, 2014, 2:18:09 AM PDT
JACKY DUPORT says:
hi, i'm happy to find your message after 2 years of doubts about my videotrack.
your comment is the answer of my problem (recording stops randomly).
but i come late on the problem and the firmware 1.46 seems to be hard to find.
on the alesis forum, only found a post with a dead dropbox link .
so if you're still informed of new posts on this topic, maybe you will help me to find
something useful.
thanks a lot for any kind of information!
best regards
J.Duport

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 11, 2014, 6:03:58 AM PDT
I have not used the VideoTrack much even after the firmware fix, but I still have the 1.46 firmware file originally supplied by the Alesis link. As I stated in my previous review, Alesis seems to NOT want this device to work, as they are making this firmware very hard to find. I know this link is only temporary, but I'll try to share it using a free service. Please copy this into a browser and see if you can download. ge.tt/2XblRuq1/v/0?c

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 11, 2014, 6:48:39 AM PDT
JACKY DUPORT says:
got it.
thanks a lot for the link !!
i hope this will fix the stuff also for me .

it's not a geat camcorder but the sound is not so bad, with the new functions (sound only)
i can find it useful in some cases.
regards
J d
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