Toshiba Camileo S20 – Review

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Name: Camileo S20 (Toshiba)
Type: Ultra-compact camcorder
Specs:
Camera: 16 Megapixel CMOS image sensor, 4x digital zoom and digital image stabilsation at resolutions below 1080p
Recording media: 128MB built in memory, SD/SDHC Card (4GB provided)

Screen: 3″ Colour LCD
Video Recording: HD (1080p): 1920 x 1080 (30fps) , HD (720p): 1280 x 720 (30fps), WVGA: 848 x 480 (60fps), VGA: 640 x 480 (30fps), QVGA: 320 x 240 (30fps)
Video Format: AVI
Still image quality:Ultra High: (16MP), JPEG Format
Connections: HDMI out (Mini), AV out, USB 2.0 (Mini)
Battery: Removable Lithium-ion rechargeable battery

Price: Circa £150

Toshiba’s Camileo S20 compact camcorder certainly looks the part. Available in 8 different colours including off white, blue, brown, orange, pink, red, silver, and black, it looks like the sort of camcorder Honda’s ASIMO robot would capture his flicks with. Measuring just 106 x 59 x 17mm, it’ll fit easily inside a jacket pocket and at 115 grams (not including the removable Lithium-ion rechargeable battery) it isn’t too weighty either. A 3 inch LCD screen folds out so that the camcorder is used in a pistol-grip fashion, and while it may not be the most robust of pocket cameras, its smoothed edges certainly get full marks for looks.

A few hardware buttons fall down the back edge of the Camileo S20. A start/stop record control is at the top, with click-able zoom control directly underneath, along with a button to change the video capture quality and another to switch the camcorder’s LED light source on or off. The S20’s right side houses controls to switch between still and video capture modes and on the left sits the pre-record function that allows 3 seconds of footage prior to your hitting the record button to be stored. The Camileo S20 is comfortable in the hand, with each button responsive and well placed.

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The back also has a hidden flap, underneath which lies a mini-HDMI connection, a mini-USB port and a 3.5mm Composite video out. It’s a generous range of connections on a camera so svelte, and Toshiba have been equally generous in bundling in a mini tripod, an analogue AV cable and mini-to-full-sized HD cable converter too. Whatever your set up, you should have no problem outputting video to most TVs.

The Camileo S20 records video in AVI format. There are plenty of recording options and modes on offer ((HD (1080p): 1920 x 1080 (30fps) , HD (720p): 1280 x 720 (30fps), WVGA: 848 x 480 (60fps), VGA: 640 x 480 (30fps), QVGA: 320 x 240 (30fps)), including time lapse, image stabilisation at modes below full 1080p HD and slow-motion capture.

However, video quality isn’t as great as we’d have liked considering the great start the camera gets off to. 1080p videos are nowhere near as sharp as you’d expect, which becomes very noticeable once outputting to a HD TV. Without a good light source images get very noisy, and while the LED illumination performs far better than you’d expect, it often isn’t enough to clean up the images. While colour levels performed reasonably well even in low light, often the cameras auto-exposure would bail out on us, resulting in very dark images, and using the Night mode only sacrificed fidelity for a low boost in contrast levels. Likewise, the 16MP still images taken lacked the detail a dedicated still camera of the same quality could produce.

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The camera’s Macro switch for close up video fared much better. From a range of 20cm or less the S20 took sharp images, with the focus almost always finding the right subject. Like most compact camcorders, the built-in mic picked up a lot of extraneous environmental noise, but proved rather clear in more subdued situations. It’s also worth noting that the camcorder only has 128MB of on-board memory, so you’re going to have to purchase an SD or SDHC card if you plan on filming anything but the most trivial of movies with it.

We really liked the look of the Toshiba Camileo S20. It’s sharp design and relatively full feature set looked to set it apart from the increasing pack of ultra-compact camcorders available. Sadly, its full HD recording just wasn’t up to scratch, which means it has to drop a mark or two.

3/5

Related | JVC GC-FM1 ultra compact camcorder review

Gerald Lynch

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