Could be maybe almost 3 stars , February 5, 2005
Reviewer: Peter Saflund
I researched a lot of inexpensive tapeless cameras and bought this one
from Axes for around $150. For that price, it's an OK camera. I'm a Mac
user so right away there were problems with the movie files - the camera
identifies as a mass storeage device so you can get the movies out of it,
but they're not quite really MP4 compliant files. The're actually ASF (MS)
- an MP4 variant that plays in Windows Media Player for Windows, but not
for Mac. The bundled software is Win Only (which I knew) but is quirky in
XP. For Mac, Mplayer (from Sourceforge) will play the movie files with
decent rendering, and ffmpeg (also from Sourceforge) can convert them
(needs 2 passes) to real MP4 files that will import to Quick Time or
iMovie if you have a G4 or better Mac. The movie quality is only fair -
visible blocking even on stills and pixelation when panning - but about
what you'd expect for a camera in this price range. 30 fps is only
available in 320 X 200 mode. VGA size captures at 15 fps so fast motion is
jerkey. The still photos are good for 3.2 MPixel, but saturation sets in
early. Almost any 3 MP still campera will do better on stills, if that's
what you're after. Invest in a set of four 2000 ma/hr rechargable
batteries - it chugs alkalines like a thirsty welder swigs beer, speaking
of which, for the price of a couple of bottles of Lager the folks who
market this camera could have ported the Windows movie file extraction and
conversion software over to Cocoa so it would run in OSX. For a cheap,
very small unobtrusive tapeless video camera, this one has a nice feel and
fair quality. If you're a Windows user and don't mind software that
mysteriously quits or freezes once in a while, the bunlded aps are OK and
there's always Media Player if you just want to watch and not edit. Mac
users can get it to work if you know what you're doing with ffmpg and
Mplayer (free open source apps) but it ain't easy. If you have a NTSC to
DV converter, you can play the files right off the camera using the video
output, but you can't get rid of the data display, so you're stuck with
the battery indicator and duration timer on screen. Also the audio
rendering from the NTSC output is very distorted - a result of the
camera's crummy audio CODEC. Too bad, since the audio quality of the video
files is actually pretty good. I travel with this camera and use it
casually in my consulting work -- I wanted something I wouldn't get too
upset over if it got stolen. Nonetheless, I'm saving up to buy a Fisher
Good for what it is., June 6, 2005
Reviewer: S. Peterson
The most important thing to remember is this: What are you really
expecting? You won't be getting a high quality do-all camcorder for $150.
This is an interesting little gizmo that can store about 90 minutes of
video on a 512MB card at 320X240. It's running about 25-30 frames a
second, and the quality is somewhere between that of a camera phone and a
low end tape camcorder.
If you that's all you're asking of the 301V, you'll be happy with it.
The controls take a minute or two to get used to them, as essentially you
have one menu for setup controlled by one button, and another button for
the camera function menu. Take the time to preset the focus range and
white balance, it makes a difference.
It fits in your hand fairly comfortably, and it is recognized on a PC or
Mac as a mass storage device to copy files over. They do record in an .asf
format, which works with no problem in Windows but takes a few hoops for a
Mac. (See the reviews below.)
A few things kept me from rating it higher: (And remember I rated based on
what I expected, a cheap and semi-expendable video gadget)
There's no lens cap.
It has some knurled rings that look like focus/zoom controls and beg
twisting or turning yet don't do anything. Somebody will break it trying
to turn those.
It is built out of REALLY thin plastic.
Still, the LCD display isn't half bad and I can live with the video
quality. I think the Musteks are more popular, but this one fits in your
hand better (Comes with a grip strap and a carrying case) and it kind of
grows on you after awhile.
to DC DXG-301V Digital Video Recorder