The Pocket DV2 camcorder from Aiptek really is a little gem. ~~~~~~~~ Introduction ~~~~~~~~ I have never owned, and very rarely used, a camcorder before this one, which I acquired about few months ago. But even I can see that this isn’t a standard sort of camera. The obvious difference from a standard camcorder is size. This one fits snugly into the palm of my hand. Dimensions are a miniscule 8cm tall, 8cm deep (front to back) and only 4cm wide. Despite its mini size, it still manages to incorporate a 1.4 inch LCD screen like the one that you’d usually find on a digital camera. Plus it only weighs 123g (without batteries) – less than an orange. Well, less than the orange I just weighed, anyway. See what I do for you guys? ;o) It’s also digital – the DV stands for digital video – so doesn’t use video tapes like a standard camcorder. Instead, it has 16 MB onboard memory, which can be expanded by inserting a Compact Flash (CF) card. This means that you can download your videos straight onto your PC to edit. Expanding the memory with an external CF card really is essential, since only half of the onboard 16 MB memory is actually available for capturing video, which only gives you around 2-3 minutes of recording time. Fortunately, CF cards are both plentiful and cheap, and many people already use them in digital cameras. The next reason it’s not like a standard camcorder is the quality of video it takes. It’s only 10 frames per second (fps). For comparison, TV footage is shown at 25 fps, and films (at the cinema) are shown at 24 fps. As you can imagine, having only 10 fps makes the video seem grainy, and slightly jerky. In addition, the video resolution
is only 320 x 240 pixels. When you play the video back through a PC, this makes the picture small compared to the size of the monitor (usually at least 800 x 600 pixels, often 1024 x 768). When played back through a TV screen, however, the picture appears at full-size. Due to the lack of tapes, you have to play it through the camera, which can eat the batteries. When used as a webcam, the resolution is better, at 640 x 480 max, and for taking stills it’s an almost respectable 1.3 mega pixels. Finally, you don’t see many camcorders available for the rock-bottom price of £79.95! The price really reflects the fact that this really isn’t a camcorder for serious amateur film makers, it’s more of a toy, a bit of fun and a gadget. The price varies considerably too, so it’s worth shopping around. Although we paid £79.95 for ours (from www.firebox.com), I have since seen it for sale at The Gadget Shop for £50-ish, and around the same from Amazon Marketplace. ~~~~ Looks ~~~~ As well as being very small, the camera looks pretty funky. It’s a matt silver colour all over, with a flip-out LCD/viewfinder on its left side – this might make it difficult for left-handers to use. The Aiptek logo is on the back of the LCD screen, and is quite discreet, much like the whole camera. Once the LCD is extended, you will find next to it the LCD on/off switch (very useful for conserving batteries) and a short set of instructions and key to the symbol on the menu. The rear of the camera is where you will find the CF memory slot, the on/off and menu button, the video (record) button and a space for a USB lead or AV cable to be connected. Each of these is relatively well labelled, although as the labelling is moulded onto the ca
mera and in the same matt silver colour, some people might find it difficult to read. The speaker and battery compartment is on the right side of the camera, the button to take still photos is on the top and the small but surprisingly good microphone is on the front, underneath the lens. ~~~~~~~~~~~ Using the Camera ~~~~~~~~~~~ I have only used the camera for taking video and stills, not for audio or as a webcam. Turning the camera on is not all that intuitive – you have to hold down the black menu scroller/wheel for 2-3 seconds. So long as you’ve looked at the key hidden under the LCD, you should be fine though. It’s impossible to miss when the camera comes on, since it plays you a short jingle and the LCD screen flashes. Turning the camera off, again you need to hold down the menu scroller for 2-3 seconds, and again it jingles at you. The jingle does get quieter if you cover the speaker with your hand, but it’s still noticeable. ~~~ Stills ~~~ Taking stills with this camera was for an experiment rather than actual need – it was never something we intended to use it for, as we already have a Canon Ixus V. However, for the few snaps we’ve taken, the quality was surprisingly good. The pictures are more than adequate for use on a website, although probably not for printing off and keeping. The focusing ability of this camera is, quite frankly, rubbish, although of course you can always use digital zoom on your PC instead of through the camera. Since there’s no integral flash and no support for an external one, photos also have to be taken in good light (ideally outside). There’s basically two options with the focus setting, which is manual: close up – the flower symbol – or infinity – the mountain symbol.
9;ou have to focus the camera manually, which to start with we found quite difficult (partly due to flaky eyesight!). According to Aiptek, the focal length is 20cm to infinity, but we found close-ups tended to be rather blurry. ~~~~ Video ~~~~ This is the main reason we bought this camera in the first place. To begin recording video footage, just press and release the button that says video – it’s as simple as that (and there’s no beep). There’s a timer that pops up on the bottom of the LCD screen when recording starts, but it can be difficult to see in very bright light. If moving around when taking video, it’s important to move *really* slowly – I don’t think it’s possible to emphasise this enough. It’s incredibly easy to ruin a shot by turning or moving forward too quickly, even more so than with a standard camcorder because of the difference in quality. It’s also a completely manual zoom process – ie, if you want to zoom in on something, you’ll have to get up and move! Focusing seemed easier when taking video than it did when taking stills, and the quality of the audio is actually very good considering the camera as a whole. There was some wind noise picked up when filming outside, but really not very much – although it wasn’t an especially windy day. When you stop recording, the camera beeps at you – not very discreet again, but quite helpful. Using the viewfinder both for photos and video may take some getting used to – it’s not one that you can bring up close to your eye. In strong light it can be difficult to see clearly on the LCD, so it is worth spending the time on making sure you’re comfortable with it though. ~~~~~ Uploading ~~~~~ We use a card reader (about £20 or so), so we ca
n just remove the CF card, insert it into the reader and see all the files through Windows Explorer. Connecting the camera via the USB port is almost as simple, although you may need to install some drivers. Again, once connected you should be able to see all the files through Windows Explorer. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Editing/Manipulating Files ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I haven’t yet edited any of the video we’ve shot, however suitable software for editing both video and stills is provided as part of the package. There are examples of videos people have made with their DV2 and provided software on the firebox site (although there seems to be a Star Wars theme to many of the clips…). It’s useful to view these clips as examples of just what the camera is capable of. The software that comes as part of the package is: Cyberlink PowerDirector Pro Cyberlink Media Show SE Cyberline VideoLiveMail Ulead PhotoExpress Ulead Photo Explorer Microsoft NetMeeting Camera Manager and Drivers ~~~~ Power ~~~~ The camera is powered by two AA batteries. Aiptek reckon one set of batteries provide around 30 minutes of continuous filming, so if you’re planning to use it a lot, it might be wise to think about rechargeables. It doesn’t seem to eat batteries too badly – even with the LCD screen on. We’ve taken around 2-4 minute films plus some photos over the past few weeks, and we’re still on our first set of batteries, which I think is pretty good. There’s a battery power indicator on the LCD screen, but it can be hard to read a
nd you may not use the LCD screen, of course. There’s no mains power adapter with this camera, and no support for one either. If you’d have to watch your footage through a TV, that could be an issue since the camera has to be on for that to work. One good feature on this camera is the automatic shutdown. After 30 seconds of inactivity, the camera will turn itself off in order to conserve the batteries. You may find this annoying, but at least it means you won’t leave it on by accident and drain the batteries – if that happens, you lose everything stored in the onboard memory (although not the stuff stored on the CF card). ~~~~~ Memory ~~~~~ 16 MB onboard memory is very little, especially when 6-8 MB are available for storage, the rest being used for software. This makes an external CF card essential, in my view. Fortunately CF cards are cheap, and it’s possible to pick up a 128 MB card for under £30. Aiptek publish a list of compatible CF card brands on their website (www.aiptek.com), however neither of the makes we use are on the list and we haven’t experienced any compatibility problems. Apparently there is a particular issue with Samsung branded or Samsung chipped cards. ~~~~~~~ Further Info ~~~~~~~ www.aiptek.com (choose USA rather than Europe as the location unless you speak German). Customer support is available by emailing email@example.com, or by calling 0870 080 1945. As we haven’t had to use it, I can’t comment on the speed or helpfulness. There’s a small tripod (table top size) included with the camera. Limited Mac compatibility. Runs best on Windows 98 or above, not compatible with Windows
95 or NT (because they don’t support USB connections, however if you install a card reader it should be fine). ~~~~~~~ Conclusion ~~~~~~~ The Pocket DV2 is a fantastic camera if what you’re looking for is a light, compact, highly portable, fun, digital camcorder. There’s not much functionality (focus or zoom, for example), but at around £50, it would be hard to expect more. If you want a camcorder that gives you a high quality image that you can watch over and over again on your video, then this probably isn’t the gadget for you.
The camera is great value the Pocket DV I supports functionailty to act as a digital camera, video camera, voice recorder and webcam! The value camera provides great results as a web camera, however the digitial camera/video camera produce less pleasing results. However taking the price into account the results are good value and this camera would be great for someone wanting to do a few short home movies and take the occasional quick snap. Thinking about it, the camera would be great for accident investigators or people who require a video camera in a compact package. The camera certainly is small, weighing about the same as a moden mobile phone and fitting in the palm of your hand it could help a budding director investigate some unusual shots with artistic flair. The only reason i wouldnt buy this product myself (it was a present) is because Aiptek released the Pocket DV II which has a foldout LCD screen, better resolution and more memory. I cant review that till I have seen it, but again its very competitive on price and they're bound to sell. As a bonus however many stores have discounted the Pocket DV I to clear (about £20) so they're a snap up if you can find any left on the shelves.
This digital camera made by aiptek has a good standard of construction.It is small and light which allways helps when taking photo's of things especially if you are moving.The lightness and small size are also useful if you want to store it in your pocket.But having a small and light camera comes at a cost of something else,and that something else is it's strength.This product is as weak as an eye because if you put anything on top of it or even put it inyour pocket (BAD IDEA) then it will squash and end up looking more like a meccanno set and less like a digital camera. This camera is feature packed.It ius 4 in one which is a definate no:1 feature.It can be used a digital camera, stating the obvious,and a web-cam which is good if you haven't got one yet and it can take 'mini clips'whichis a feature that is starting to become more common on the newer digital cameras. So in conclusion I think that this product is a good thing for people who are looking for a space saving camera that is multi-functional that they can take with them where ever they go.