The DV4 is a camcorder, camera, voice recorder and an MP3 player and website Firebox is offering it for £229 with 256MB storage.
So has the budget video camera come of age?
Must admit to not being too impressed by the hard disk and flash memory based camcorders unveiled at the IFA show in Berlin in August. Panasonic’s SV-AV100 clearly has plenty going for it in that it can record MPEG2 video (DV) standard on to an SD card. But the bundled 512MB card only stores twenty minutes of MPEG2 and at £1000 the camcorder is hideously expensive.
Samsung’s IT Cam 7 which records on to a hard disk seems a slightly better option, but still it only has storage of 1.5Gigabytes, doesn’t record in MPEG2 and yet still costs around £500.
So is the best bet the DV4 from Aiptek distributed in the UK by Firebox. The small device, which looks like a cut-down version of a traditional DV camcorder, shoots moving images in the MPEG4 format at a rate of 20 frames per second. It has plenty of other facilities too including a two-mega pixel still image camera with a 4x digital zoom and an onboard flash. It will also play MP3 music files and can moonlight as a voice recorder.
So is it any good?
Well, build quality is also reasonable for a budget camera/camcorder, and the mini 1.5inch TFT LCD screen delivers fairly clear images. It’s a little tricky to work out how to operate all the features, but once you’ve read the manuals it all makes sense. Video quality is pretty good, certainly an improvement on over MPEG 4 camcorders we’ve seen. Still images aren’t quite in the same league – they are clearly better than VGA in terms of resolution but no match for a dedicated two-mega pixel snapper. We were slightly disappointed that it didn’t come with rechargeable batteries – although of course you can buy your own. Also the quote 12 hours battery life is a tad generous.
Still, it works as camcorder and reasonably well too. And for £150 on its own, or £229 with a 256MB SD card – way cheaper than its rivals – that makes it a bargain in our book.