Although it was the Flip Video which introduced the Internet video camera format to the world, in the UK Creative beat Flip to market. Now that attention is turning to high definition, Creative has yet again usurped Flip. Before we have the Mino HD in our hands, here is Creative's Vado HD, although Kodak's Zi6 beat them both by a few months.
Like the Zi6, the Vado HD only raises the bar to 720p, so it shoots at 1,280 x 720 rather than the 1,920 x 1,080 of Full HD. It still operates at the not-so-European-friendly 30 frames per second, but the top data rate has been doubled to 8Mbits/sec, which is reasonably decent for 720p video. The H.264 version of MPEG-4 compression is now used, further squeezing extra quality. Audio remains 16-bit, 44kHz mono, and the data rate has been increased here, as well, to 177Kbits/sec.
To cope with the increased data rate, the amount of onboard storage has quadrupled compared to the Vado, to 8GB. This is enough for about two hours of HD footage at the top HD+ setting, and four hours in standard HD mode, which halves the data rate to 4Mbits/sec with a very noticeable drop in quality. The Vado HD also supports VGA recording like its predecessor, and can store as much as 8 hours of footage in this format.
The method for changing shooting modes isn't immediately obvious, as there is no specific button assigned. Instead, you press Play and Delete at the same time when the Vado HD is in camcorder mode. You can then change the recording format, plus settings like time and date, or the frequency for anti-flicker (to guard against AC lighting pulsation). However, there are no traditional camcorder settings here, so no opportunity to change shutter, iris, and focus, or even apply scene modes. The Vado HD is intended for point and shoot alone.
As before, the lens is fixed, but this time it sticks out of the device a little more, which hinders pocket friendliness slightly. There is no optical zoom available, just a 2x digital one. So the image does get a little more blurry when zoomed, although this isn't quite as noticeable with 720p HD footage as it was with the original VGA format.