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Creative has learnt a little from the Vado, and now includes more accessories in the box. Where the original version required you to pay extra for a TV cable, Creative includes one with the Vado HD. This is only for digital output, however, in the shape of HDMI. The camcorder incorporates a Mini HDMI port, and the cable converts this to a full-sized connection. So you can hook the Vado HD straight up to an HDTV and watch the results directly. But if you want an analogue connection, you will still need to pay £10.99 for the accessory.
Creative also bundles a USB extension cable, and a condom-like silicone protective sheath. This looks a bit like the result of a snake shedding its skin, as it matches the external appearance of the device. It's quite hard to put on the Vado HD, and even more difficult to remove, but the snug fit means it doesn't impede functionality once installed. Nevertheless, a little pouch wouldn't have been remiss, as the sheath doesn't stop pocket fluff getting caught on the lens.
The first Vado didn't exactly bowl us over with its image quality, although we weren't expecting it to be a particular revelation considering its price and target audience. A later firmware update did improve things considerably, and the Vado HD is another step in the right direction. In good lighting, the colours are quite faithful. In HD+ mode the detail is better too, although there is some artefacting on diagonals when viewed on an HDTV. We were also pleasantly surprised at performance in lower light, which showed grain but not the extent of discolouration of the previous model.
The main selling feature of this class of camcorder is, of course, the integrated USB port and onboard software. When you first plug the Vado HD into a new computer, the device is detected and a compatible video codec is installed. Then Vado Central loads automatically. Without further ado, you can upload straight to YouTube or Photobucket, and now Box.net has also been added to the options. Uploading HD to YouTube also means that your footage will be presented in its native resolution, since the recording format matches YouTube's recently added 720p option.
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