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Toshiba Camileo X100 Camcorder Review

A budget camcorder

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Toshiba Camileo X100 Camcorder Review

Image courtesy Toshiba.

Toshiba's Camileo X100 is an HD camcorder that records 1920 x 1080p video in the H.264 format. It features a 3-inch touch-screen LCD, 4GB of internal flash memory, a 10x optical zoom and 10-megapixel still photos. It retails for $399. The official specs can be found here. Video samples from the X100 can be found here.

Toshiba Camileo X100 at a Glance

The Good: Good feature set for the money, easy to use, light weight

The Bad: Poor video quality, clumsy menu, slow focusing

X100 Video Quality

The Camileo X100 is one of a growing number of low cost traditional camcorders offering 1920 x 1080p video recording. It does so via a 10-megapixel CMOS image sensor. It offers a pair of 1080p frame rates: 60 frames per second (fps) for capturing fast action as well as 30 fps video for less active moments.

The X100's video quality is definitely not on par with more expensive 1080p models. Outdoors, the video was over-exposed (see here) and there was pixelation. Dropping the video resolution down to 720p improved the quality somewhat, although over-exposure was still a problem outdoors. Indoors the X100 held up better than expected: the colors don't exactly pop but you're not swamped with noise either.

You can also record video at 720p at either 60 or 30fps or at VGA resolution (although why bother, really).

The X100 performed surprisingly well in the still camera department, taking nice crisp shots even in dimmer lighting with no flash. It offers fairly sophisticated set of still photo options as well: you can shoot in three quality settings 16-megapixels (via interpolation) 10-megapixels and 3-megapixels. You can choose from six scene modes in addition to setting ISO and white balance. There’s also a flash to aid in low light photography.

Internal Memory

The X100 packs 4GB of internal flash memory, which can store roughly an hour of footage at the highest quality setting. There’s also an SDHC card slot which supports cards up to 32GB for extra capacity. There is no relay recording, so the camcorder won’t automatically switch between internal memory and the card when one is full.

Optics

Boasting a 10x optical zoom lens, the Camileo X100 has a decent zoom for the money. There is digital image stabilization (which can be turned on or off), but not the more effective optical image stabilization. At maximum telephoto its absence isn’t very noticeable. That's the good news.

The bad news is that the lens is a bit sluggish to establish focus - both at start-up and while filming and zooming. Often while zooming, your subject will blur slightly. This is by no means a problem unique to the X100 but it occurs enough that you'll need to be mindful of how fast you try to zoom (i.e. slower is better). Even when zooming slowly, the lens can struggle to keep up. See an example here.

There is no automatic lens cap, but a cap is included in the box.

Good Feature Set

The X100 doesn’t have any manual controls for focusing or aperture, but there are a few nice feature touches along the way. Among them is a slow motion mode. Like most slow motion modes, the quality of the video gets significantly degraded (see a sample here) and it's best to stay as close to your subject so as to keep the video as crisp as possible. Keeping those limitations in mind, it's still a pretty cool feature.

There’s a pre-record too, which saves a few seconds of video before you hit the record button. There’s also a time-lapse recording function, which takes video clips at a choice of three intervals: one, three and five seconds. I'm not quite sure what you'd really do with time lapse, but more creative minds than mine might find it attractive.

You'll find six scene modes in addition to white balance settings, a macro mode for up-close focusing, but oddly no exposure control.

Simple Design

The X100 is well designed with few external buttons to navigate. On top there's a zoom lever. Drop to the back, a pair of buttons are available for playback and to switch between video and still camera mode. Below that, a four-way scroll wheel lets you adjust the flash, delete files and turn on or off the info display on the LCD (that's right, only three controls on a four-way control wheel). In the center, there's your record button. Pop open the LCD display, and there is a button for pre-record and power along with an SD card slot.

Since it records to flash memory, the X100 is light weight (9.5oz minus the battery) and compact at 2.4 x 2.6 x 4.8-inches.

Menu Needs Improvement

The Camileo X100 has a 3-inch touch-screen LCD display – a rarity for a model in this price range. The screen itself is quite responsive, but the menu is a bit clumsy. To make any menu adjustments you have to use a virtual scroll wheel, but its hard to switch between items because they're bunched tightly together. It takes much longer to find the setting you need than it should.

1080p on a Budget

The Camileo X100's most immediate competition comes from other budget 1080p models like DXG's A80. While the A80 is a full $100 cheaper, it has a shorter zoom lens (5x vs. 10x), no internal memory and fewer features than the X100. That said, the video quality from the A80 is superior to the X100.

On its own, the X100 is a mixed bag: the video quality isn't on par with higher-end 1080p models and the lens is a bit too slow in the focusing department. On the plus side, it's outfitted with a good feature set for the price and a simple-to-use design.

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