The Toshiba Camileo X100 is a full HD camcorder capable of capturing 10Mp photos and of taking still shots (at a lower resolution) while in video capture mode.
A smart black and silver model with a 3in flip-out LCD that can be rotated through 270 degrees, the Toshiba Camileo X100 has a smooth zoom that effortlessly sidles up to the action with little jerkiness. It then focuses in on whatever you throw at it. We used it to shoot a walk in the park with an excitable dog and to zoom in on a kids' football match. It's comfortable to carry and to use, with a firmly-attached grip handle and a body you can easily grip in your palm. At 273g, it's a lighter camcorder than some similarly-sized ones we've tested, but we had no complaints about its build quality.
The Toshiba Camileo X100 automatically fires up whenever your flip open its LCD. Focusing isn't the snappiest of actions: you need to wait a good second for it to get the measure of its surroundings, both when it first springs into action and when you've zoomed in for a closer look at something of interest. Keep the zoom rocker on the top of the camera body pressed hard right to zoom in and in again.
Local sounds are picked up clearly - Toshiba has sensibly sited 2cm, almost square microphone/speaker on the top on the main body, enabling it to record the user's on the fly narration as well as whatever's said directly to camera. This sounded rather disembodied, however, so we'd be inclined to use it to verbal note-taking and add a soundtrack later unless you were deliberately addressing the camera. We were also able to distinguish the conversation between players in the football match we were observing at a distance with not too muffling. An onmidirectional microphone would be a useful accessory if you intend to record narrative regularly.
We'd also be inclined to use a tripod as the jerks as you pan around are very noticeable when capturing footage with this amount of detail. Panning is effective and the Camileo is quick to turn its attention to different objects in the frame as you sweep around. Despite some difficult backlighting in our indoor shots, there was little purple fringing or object bleed. However, we did manage to fool the autofocus with our fragmented mirrors when trying to get it to focus on itself as refracted in the surface of a glitterball. Perhaps that was a little unfair. When we pulled back a little, it soon made sense of what was required as focused in sharply.
Another test of the Toshiba Camileo X100's abilities came with the bright shafts of sunlight we asked it to deal with as we tracked around the landscape. It fared badly in very bright, direct sunlight and there was a fair amount of purple halo effect around trees and people when shooting towards the sun. Few camcorders are able to adequately compensate for this, however.
Toshiba has taken a tip from Sanyo when it comes to siting the photo/video buttons. Positioned just above the red record button on the back, these allow you to switch between recording modes at literally the press of a button. However, a twist is that you can also take a still shot while video recording is in progress. The current mode is indicated by the appropriate camera, video camera or playback icon being illuminated.
The Toshiba Camileo X100 records to its own 4GB internal memory, so you only need to remember to take separate media cards with you if you're planning on shooting hours' worth of footage. SD and SDHC cards slot in crossways next to the controls end of the camera body. You can easily adjust the recording settings to drop down from the top 1920x18080 true HD resolution to a more pedestrian 1280x720 at either 60fps (frames per second) or 30fps. For webcam use, there's a 640x480 VGA mode. Similarly, you can adjust the camera to take High quality 16MB shots (4608x3456 pixels); Standard 10Mp (3644x2748 pixels) or Low (3Mp, 2048x1536 pixels).
Still shots seemed balanced across the screen with only the very furthest objects blurred. When zoomed in, however, the camera provided a nice depth of field with very close up objects blurred in front of mid-distance ones. As with the video capture mode, there was noticeable fringing around objects where light struck them.
To view your footage, you plug in the Camileo to a PC using the supplied USB cable. The device should be seen as a separate drive, but you may need to install Toshiba's tools disc and the ArcSoft software it contains. Make sure you deselect the annoying extras on offer, in particular, the ones to make Ask.com your default web page and so on. We had to repeatedly unselect these. For Windows 7 and Vista users, there's software that allows you to preview your footage.
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