The third-generation Creative Vado HD pocket camcorder offers top-notch 720p footage in low light and impressed us with its extra-wide lens.

As with the Kodak Zx3, you can do more than simply pressing record and hoping for the best. In-camera settings allow you to adjust the exposure and to place the Vado in motion-detection mode so recording starts when movement occurs in front of the lens.

Like the simpler Flip MinoHD, the Creative Vado HD records 720p Mpeg4 video. This model has 4GB onboard (the Flip boasts 8GB but costs £50 more); both recharge via a flip-out USB connector used to hook them up to a PC or Mac.

Neither have SD Card slots for additional storage. Other similarities between the two models are the 2in LCD screen, touchpad-initiated 2x digital zoom and excellent ability to cope with a range of lighting conditions. Both bright light and lack of light are handled well. We found we were able to see what was onscreen on and successfully compose a scene even in strong direct sunlight. The Kodak fared best here with its sunlight filter, however.

In normal indoor lighting, sample footage had vibrant but slightly oversaturated colours; images were sharp but not outstandingly so.
Low-light footage shot with the Creative Vado HD was a bit murky, but among the best of the bunch in the pocket-camcorder category. Colours seemed a bit brighter than those in the Flip Mino HD’s low-light footage, but the MinoHD’s footage was marginally sharper.

You can’t toggle between landscape and macro modes, but the widescreen more than makes up for this. Controls are via the central touch-sensitive navipad with the record button at its centre.

Occupying the edges of the device are three buttons and two ports: a power button, a video /still capture toggle button, a delete button, an external micrphone/headphone port on the top, and an HDMI-out port on the right side. Plug in some earphones and you can use these as an external (mono only) microphone pickup.

The Creative Vado HD is made of tough plastic and its build quality is not on a par with the ruggedised Kodak PlaySport or the metal-clad MinoHD. This third-generation model has noticeably sharper styling than previous versions.

 NEXT: our expert verdict >>

See also: Creative Vado HD review

Creative Vado HD 3rd generation: Specs

  • 720p camcorder
  • Widescreen Video Capture
  • CMOS
  • 2x Digital Zoom
  • AVI, H.264
  • 8GB Flash - integrated (soldered memory - 8GB)
  • 2in TFT active matrix, 640x240
  • built-in mono microphone
  • USB, composite video /audio output
  • HDMI cable, USB extension cable
  • Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • 55x16x100mm
  • 100g
  • 720p camcorder
  • Widescreen Video Capture
  • CMOS
  • 2x Digital Zoom
  • AVI, H.264
  • 8GB Flash - integrated (soldered memory - 8GB)
  • 2in TFT active matrix, 640x240
  • built-in mono microphone
  • USB, composite video /audio output
  • HDMI cable, USB extension cable
  • Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • 55x16x100mm
  • 100g

OUR VERDICT

If you don’t intend to put your camcorder through rigorous extremes, the Creative Vado HD is probably the candybar camcorder to choose. In particular, we loved its exposure control settings, wide-angle lens and ability to cope low-light levels.

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