The Creative Vado HD Camcorder Review: Good for Business?

The Creative Vado HD Camcorder Review: Good for Business?

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Grant Crowell of ReelSEO reviews  the Creative Vado HD digital pocket camcorder – is it good enough for serious business use, online video marketing and video seo? Watch our YouTube playlist and see us put it through a full battery of tests,  learn about the advantages and limitations of  the Vado, and hear Grant’s special tips for Video SEO with pocket camcorders.

Pocket digital camcorders have held the advantage over their larger brethen for creating large amounts of content quickly and  at an affordable price, which you can more easily put online. Now the latest models from several companies are advertising the ability to capture high resolution video.

Advantages of a pocket camcorder a standard camcorder

  • Price (lower)
  • Size (smaller)
  • Weight (lighter)
  • Video capture (easier)
  • Video Compression (faster)
  • Recharging (quicker)
  • Uploading (simplier)
  • Extra parts (none!)

Are pocket camcorders ready for serious business use?

As there are many reviews out already of these models (including the popular Flip mino HD camcorder we’ve reviewed here earlier), at ReelSEO we focus on testing these pocket hd camcorders out for typical business applications. I define “business use” as a clearly defined commercial, marketing or promotional objective. I.e., more than just for recreational or personal use.

Previously I reviewed the Flip mino HD – currently the most popular “high defintion” digital camcorder (not true high def, but better than standard image quality and pixel size). The Flip mino has the lowest learning curve and may be best suited to complete newbies to digital video. That is, if you’ve never operated a camcorder before in your life, and have no video editing software of your own, and have never uploaded videos to YouTube or a video sharing website before!
For those of us to have at least basic experience in any of these areas, using a Flip mino HD will be very limiting. So I went out and purchased a camcorder that I consider to be step up (albeit a small step): The Vado HD Pocket Video Cam from the company, Creative.

creative-vado-grant-2Mini overview on the vado HD (from Creative)

  • Originally reviewed in December 2008
  • Available in January 2009
  • PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice award
  • Retails for $230, roughly the same price as the Flip mino. (You can get it on Amazon for $200)
  • Recording time of 2 hours. (Same as the Flip mino)

Feature advantages of the Creative vado HD

Many reviews online have touted the comparable image and audio quality of the Creative vado HD versus the Flip mino HD. (Some reviews will tout one model as slightly better than the other.) Here are the features where I find the Creative vado HD stands out in terms of features applicable for business use:

  • Larger LCD screen
  • More storage space (8GB)
  • Wider lens (much easier for fitting in your subject material at close range).
  • Larger file export. (Vado’s highest export is 1280 x 720 pixels;  comparatively, the Flip mino’s export reduces the size down to 640 x 480 pixels.)
  • More compatible for post-production. Automatic conversion to .avi files (standard for professional post-production) allows you to edit footage directly in most any  video editing software, from a low-entry one like Quicktime Pro to Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere.
    The Flip mino export format is horrendous by comparison; on the Flip mino, I had to to first go through its unwieldy export system (and not on its standard export menu command, which doesn’t even allow for videos to show up on YouTube if you upload them after exporting them that way!) While the vado export is seamless and automatic, on the Flip mino HD, exporting videos through its “Share > Online > Other Web sites feature can take a very long time if you have a lot of videos – we’re talking hours!

Video marketing and SEO advantages of the Creative vado HD

creative-vado-grant-3The Creative vado HD is the clear winner here over the Flip mino for several important factors – speed, flexibility,  features, and export quality.

  • Speed – much quicker! Files are all ready to upload to YouTube, either singularly or batch upload, as wel as any video sharing site or other website. (You don’t need to do an “export” feature like you are required to with the Flip mino, which is a real pain.)
  • No in-between setup for setting up video for online. (Flip requires you to go through a”share your videos online feature, which is not only very limiting for uploading footage to YouTube, but has a wholly unnecessary “save to other websites” feature – all this does is just export it to your desktop, and very slowly and lower image quality at that.)
  • Multiple quality of video content. The vado has much better export quality over the Flip mino HD – not just for YouTube, but for other websites including other video sharing sites. (Highest data rate for exporting videos on a Creative vado HD is 8.46 MB/sec, compared to Flip’s 1.691 KB/sec data rate on export.)

Limitations of the Creative vado HD

While the Vado is definitely more Video SEO-frienly than its more popular rival Flip mino camcorder, it still has many feature, image quality and audio limitations that make it far from ideally suited for professional-grade video marketing, especially without being in environments when you don’t have complete control of your subject material, sound and lighting:

These limitations of the Creative vado all can pose problems for doing serious online video marketing for business purposes:

  • White balance and color saturation can be off sometimes, and adjusts itself during a video recording.
  • Doesn’t work well in low light.
  • No moving LCD screen
  • No mic port
  • No headphones. (Can’t hear what you’re recording while you’re recording.)
  • No ability to adjust audio level
  • Only 2x optical zoom
  • Doesn’t allow for focusing on foreground subject.
  • Video SEO limitation: No plug-in for direct upload to video sharing sites, or FTP upload to your own site.

Verdict on the Creative vado HD

I do find the vado to be the best pocket digital camcorder best suited for business professionals still looking for an entry point to digital video marketing, and using it mostly in controlled environments, like an office space or event with minimal competing image and audio, and shooting from close up. The only circumstance I would recommend the Flip over the Vado for business purposes, is for someone who is totally new to online video marketing, has never used a camcorder, and they don’t have someone who can teach them.

Pocket digital camcorders are great for quick footage and surveying, but still limited in their image quality and features. Simulating high definition can’t make up for poor lighting, poor white balance, poor audio, poor saturation, and no ability to focus on your foreground subject – and all of these things are important for online video marketing and video SEO as well.

Tips on using a pocket digital camcorder for online video marketing and Video SEO

The main thing to focus on is how well you control your recording environment:

  • Get up close to your subject material
  • Have your subject speak clearly and loudly
  • Have your subject stay in place  (not move around)
  • Keep your background simple (not too much detail)

Recommended video marketing and SEO features for your next digital camcorder

  • Get one with a mic out port
  • Hard drive USB transfer or SD card. (Quickly transferable.)
  • Quick encoding
  • Works well in low light

Next-step camcorders for consideration

Here are some models worth serious consideration, if you’re willing to spend an extra an extra $400-up

  • Canon’s Vixia HF S10, available in April 2009.
  • Sony HDR-SR11 60 GB hard drive  camcorder

Video tests

And finally, check out our YouTube video playlist on the Creative vado HD camcorder. Here you can see me testing it out  in multiple environments typical of business applications, and you’ll be able to listen to my own comments and tips in each of the videos.


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