We loved the original Creative Vado camcorder. It was cheap, and it offered instant video recording for all those moments that would normally just pass you by.
So when we got the call that Creative wanted to send us its new Vado HD, we were pretty excited. A pocket sized point-and-shoot camera which films at a resolution of 1280x720? Yes please.
Physically, it's virtually identical to the first Vado. It's about the same size as a candybar mobile phone then, but it's lighter than a phone but still nice and robust. The only main differences from the original model are that its matte finish is black and not grey or pink, while the larger lens sticks out slightly more from the body of the camera.
There's also 8GB (up from 2GB in the original) of internal memory to be found, which is good for two hours of HD recording, as well as eight hours at 640x480 (VGA).
There's a flip-out USB connector which makes connecting to your computer very easy, and the Vado HD also comes with a USB extension as well as an HDMI cable for plugging into an HDTV.
The great thing about the Vado is that it's exceedingly easy to use - it gives you almost no options to change. There are no confusing menus or buttons. It's literally point-and-shoot, with just a basic menu available for changing the time and date, as well as the quality of the video you're shooting etc.
You shoot by pressing the red button. And you playback by press the play button. That's all – it's idiot proof in the extreme.
At more than £200 though, you'd expect the Vado HD to significantly improve on the original VGA Vado which can now be yours for as little as £62.
Sadly though, we were extremely disappointed. While the 720p images are nice and high res, the frame rates are poor and the colours are more washed-out than vivid.
The whole point of using a camcorder over a stills camera is that it records moving images – but the Vado HD does not like moving images one bit.
In order to get a clear image you need to hold it extremely steady – with your subjects staying as steady as they can – especially if they're less than 10 feet away, the Vado HD then focuses well and the results are ok.
Start panning, though, and you're in trouble. The picture quickly descends into a blurry mess of washed out colours. And even the steadiest hand won't be able to eliminate wobble unless you use a monopod. The slightest movement of your hand while filming introduces the most horrific motion judder and makes the resulting video almost unwatchable.
On the upside, the portability of the Vado HD is clearly a massive plus point. And it's great to be able to have something in your pocket that can film in HD literally seconds after you pick it up.
If you've just bought a new fluffy kitten, the Vado HD would be ideal to film it while it chases its own tail and then runs dizzily into a wall. But at more than £200, that's an enormous price to pay. And for that money, there are other products that could do you a better job.
We'd advise picking up the original Vado, which at £62 on Amazon is a bargain in exactly the same way that the Vado HD isn't.
EDIT: as of April 2009, the Vado HD has come down significantly in price, and because of this the Vado HD is now a much more attractive option.