The Coby CAM5000 is a pocket camcorder that records 1280 x 720 high definition video at 30 frames per second. The $100 camcorder features a 2-inch LCD display, a 5-megapixel CMOS sensor and 128MB of internal flash memory with an SDHC card slot.
Coby CAM5000 At a Glance
The Good: Low cost, lightweight, simple to use.
The Bad: Uneven video quality.
Uneven Video Quality
The CAM5000 features 1280 x 720 resolution video recording using a 5-megapixel CMOS sensor. There are a pair of lower quality settings as well, with resolutions of 640 x 480 and 320 x 320. Now that YouTube supports high definition uploads, these lower quality settings don't make much sense. Unless you're fanatically trying to conserve hard disk space, it's better to record at the highest quality setting.
As for video quality at 720p, it's about what you would expect from a $100 camcorder - inconsistent. It takes decent Web-friendly video, provided the scene is brightly lit, but barring that, I found a fair amount of digital noise. Without really good lighting, you likely wouldn't be pleased with the results (see this sample). There are, however, a few functions to help improve quality at the margins, including the ability to adjust white balance and exposure. There is also a small LED video light, which is a nice (and unusual) touch for a low cost pocket camcorder.
The CAM5000 also features a 5-megapixel still camera mode, but unless the subject is rock-still, most of the images were too blurry to be much use. You'll also find a 4x digital zoom but it won't do much besides crop your video.
Like all models in its class, the CAM5000 has a no frills, straightforward design. Even inexperienced users won't have any trouble getting up to speed very quickly. You'll find a red record button at the center of a four way controller, plus a pair of buttons that can either advance video during playback or enter the menu and change shooting modes. The on-screen menu is easy enough to master as well.
It's lighter than some other models in this class and about the size of the full-sized Flip Ultra and a bit boxier than Kodak's Zi8. Like the Flip, it includes a flip out USB plug for easily connecting to PCs.
Limited Memory Capacity
Like the Kodak Zi8, the CAM5000 packs a paltry 128MB of internal memory - barely enough to for a few seconds of HD video. There is an SDHC card slot for longer recordings, but the CAM5000 only accepts SDHC cards up to 8GB in capacity (they're available up to 32GB) - enough to store about four to five hours of HD footage. In truth, that's probably more than enough capacity for your average pocket camcorder user, but it's a capacity limitation not found on some other models.
Some Added Value
You don't expect a $100 camcorder to offer much, but the CAM5000 does provide some nice extras not found on more expensive models. For one, it can double as a Web camera and it includes an additional USB cable to help you better position the unit - a useful addition. It also includes an HDMI cable, for viewing video on an HDTV.
The Bottom Line
As pocket camcorders go, you'll find ones that take better quality video than the CAM5000, but they'll cost you more - anywhere from $50-$100 in some cases. If that is a bridge too far, the CAM5000 can serve as a Web-friendly pocket camcorder, provided you understand its limitations. The video quality is spotty indoors but serviceable outdoors or in very well lit environments. You will find a several features not available on more expensive models, such as a Web camera function, which certainly makes the CAM5000 an even better value.