CAMERA

Toshiba Camileo S40 - A Small Pistol-Grip Camcorder

8/12/2013 11:45:47 AM

Poor image quality, but it’s a cheap and fun alternative to using your phone to shoot video on a night out.

The Camileo S40 is a small pistol-grip camcorder with a 1/3.2in CMOS sensor, 5x digital zoom (10x if you use resolutions lower than 1,920x1,080) and a color touchscreen. It’s more of a ‘fun’ camcorder than an enthusiast’s tool, so it lacks some high-end features we’re used to seeing on camcorders, such as Wi-Fi. It also uses micro SD cards to record video and store photos rather than a regular SD card, and it lacks an optical zoom. Even so, we can forgive such omissions or irregularities, given its price.

Toshiba Camileo S40

Toshiba Camileo S40

It does, however, have a 3in touchscreen display, which is a good size for such a cheap camcorder, and the Camileo S40 is very slim when the display is folded away, making it easy to carry in your pocket or a bag.

Angle grinder

Sadly, the touchscreen isn’t up to the same standard as more expensive camcorders. It has poor viewing angles, so you’ll have some difficulty seeing what’s onscreen unless you look at the display straight on. Also, the large low-resolution icons are a constant reminder that this is a cheap camcorder. Of course, it is a cheap camcorder, but we still found this disappointing. We were also disappointed by the amount of flicker shown by the monitor as we panned, as it made viewing uncomfortable.

“The Camileo S40 has a 3in touchscreen display, which is a good size for such a cheap camcorder, and is very slim when the display is folded away”

We were a little happier with the menu system. It may be low resolution but it’s colorful, and the large, bright icons make it easy to find the option you need to adjust. This could be because there aren’t that many options, but you can choose from a variety of white balance presets, enable face tracking and slow motion and select the video resolution. The touchscreen isn’t particularly responsive, but you can navigate the Camileo 540’s menus fairly accurately if you’re patient and careful.

“The Camileo S40 has a 3in touchscreen display

The Camileo S40 has a 3in touchscreen display

Physically, the Camileo S40 has few buttons, with just a power button on its side, a Record trigger button and a zoom slider. You have to use its touchscreen to perform other functions. You can access the micro SD card slot by opening a cover on its top panel. Installing a micro SD card in a device is typically an easy process, but the Camileo S40 makes it a little frustrating as the cover gets in the way. Another cover conceals the Mini HDMI and the Micro USB output. Also included in the box is a neat mini tripod with bendy, adjustable legs. The tripod is especially handy if you’re using the Camileo S40 as a webcam.

At just 141g, the Camileo S40 is very light, so you should be able to hold it for protracted periods of time without your arms becoming tired. However, unlike some other pistol-grip camcorders, such as Panasonic’s HX-WA30, the 540’s grip is smooth. As a consequence, our index finger kept sliding into the shot, ruining our footage. This may be less of a concern if you're using the Camileo S40 on a night out in place of an expensive smartphone, but it's not too good if you’re recording an important event.

Toshiba Calimeo

Toshiba Calimeo

The Camileo S40 can record video in a variety of resolutions, from a low-resolution 640x480 to a high-definition 1,920x1,080. It records video in the heavily compressed MP4 format at an approximate bit rate of 12,650Kbit/s. This means your footage doesn’t consume as much storage space, but it also means that they will suffer from compression artefacting. Although the bit rate varies, it’s still a little lower than we'd like it to be.

In our test footage, we saw a tremendous amount of mosquito noise on our indoor and outdoor footage. Objects had jagged edges and looked blocky, even when we weren’t using the digital zoom. Speaking of which, the digital zoom is pretty much useless because it quickly renders footage unwatchable thanks to heavy pixelated and mosquito and Chroma noise. To make matters worse, there was a lot of flicker during pans, even slow pans.

Keep on going

On a happier note, the Camileo S40’s battery lasted one hour and 41 minutes in our battery test, which is a pretty long time for a camcorder such as this, and it means it should last most of a night out, assuming you’re not trying to document the entire evening.

It’s easy to say the Camileo S40 is irrelevant given the ubiquity of the smartphone, and that is partly true. However, it’s also a lot cheaper than a good smartphone and losing it wouldn’t be as bad as losing your smartphone, as the latter also has your personal data on it. The S40’s image quality is poor compared with more expensive camcorders such as Canon’s Legria HF R48 or Panasonic’s HX-WA30, but it’s not bad for a camcorder that costs less than $153. It’s also not bad for simply recording video for the web. If you want a cheap and relatively disposable camcorder for fun nights out or for a young family member, the Camileo S40 could be for you.

Specifications

·         Assessment: 3/5

·         Price: $143

·         From: www.pixmania.com

·         Sensor: 1/3.2in CMOS

·         Storage: MicroSD

·         Zoom: None

·         Display: 3in LCD

·         Pc connections: Mini HDMI out, Micro USB

·         Av interfaces: None

·         Dimensions: 113x56x18mm, 141g

·         Warranty: One-year RTB

·         Part code: PA5074E-COV

·         Details: www.toshiba-europe.com 

 

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