Dead Tools

Creative Labs Vado HD

Pocket-sized HD video

The Vado HD by Creative Labs is an incredible gadget to have. With dimensions similar to an iPhone, the Vado’s an HD camcorder that is easy to slip into a pocket and take anywhere, always ready to take high-res videos wherever I go. I do carry an iPhone, too, though I rarely use it for video, as the quality is decidedly less than stellar. The Vado records twice the amount of video as its main competitor, the Flip MinoHD, for about the same price. And the Vado’s screen is 2 inches where the Flip’s is only 1.5.

With a slightly rubberized plastic housing the Vado feels grippy. It’s light, but the build is solid. Upon pressing the power switch, it’s ready to record video in less than a second and a half. The interface is simple, too. After powering the unit on, just press the button in the center of the control pad to start recording, and once again to stop.

The unit comes with 8GB of on-board flash memory, storing approximately 2 hours of 720p footage. Grabbing videos off the Vado is a breeze, too: just pop out the built-in USB dongle concealed in the bottom of the unit, plug it into a PC or Mac, and drag the files across. Video is recorded in H.264, and there is software preloaded on the unit itself that you can run directly off the camcorder when it is plugged into your computer to view, edit and create movies.

Creative Labs also offers some decent accessories, such as a waterproof pouch that will let you record up to 15 feet underwater, spare batteries and an external battery charger. They also include a silicon sleeve, which gives a little extra grip for the hands or some extra bounce if it’s dropped.

The only minor complaints I have are that the rocker buttons in the main keypad are a tad too sensitive, and the lack of optical zoom is disappointing. I’ve always messed around with helmet cams and such for filming road biking, mountain biking and snowboarding, and the Vado HD has me very excited about the upcoming snow season.

-- Josh Cain 09/9/09

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