View Full Version : Mini-Review: I-Joy MobiDV H12 Digital SD Video Camera
I-Joy MobiDV Digital SD Video Camera
Ok, so mostly, this site is dedicated to gaming hardware, and rightfully so, as this is an nVidia fansite. However, being the gadget-oriented person that I am, I'd like to give an overview of a very recently purchased product.
As a working father with 2 kids (Lily, age 6, and Jack, 9 months), I am always trying to do fun stuff with my youngins. Memories of these times are important, and my old Concord Eye-Q 3042AF has helped, as my hard drive is chock full of over a year's worth of well-organized 3 MegaPixel pics.
One thing that has always been absent in my household however is a video camera. One with audio. So this year I finally set out to get one, focusing mostly on pure SD Card-based cameras which use no tape and record directly to the card. I'm all about SD because my Concord digital camera uses SD, and my Handspring Treo90 PDA also uses SD.
After making the mistake of purchasing a DXG-301V SD based Digital Video Camera ( http://tinyurl.com/4kox5 ) at Radio Shack for $199, I went on a web-based expedition trying to find the most cost efficient digital video camera that had decent audio and video. The DXG camera gave me a taste of what the crappy products are like: The display was not visible in sunlight, the buttons were almost too small for my fingers, the 320x240 video was shoddy, the 640x480 video was only at 15fps, the white balance was terrible, and the audio was completely muffled and of terrible quality. This is not how I wanted my family memories saved.
After visiting some forums keen on the subject, someone had mentioned something about a "mobiDV" camera that reortedly could do 25fps at high resolution. After some searching I found out what camera they were talking about. And I was sold (knowing full well that it may not in fact be able to do 25fps @ 6x4). I promptly trudged to ebay and found one. My luck was good last week, as I won the bidding and got one for $255 shipped.
Just yesterday, my package came in the mail, and with the zeal of a kid at Christmas time I ripped open the box to see my new toy (which I bought NIB, by the way).
The box was simplistically styled, featuring pictures of the black and white varieties of the camera. I opened it to find:
Wow, is this thing ever tiny!
Here it is compared in thickness with my Handspring Treo90, which I do believe is the smallest and thinnest Palm OS4 device:
Under the camera in the box I found the rest of the bundle:
... Ok, so I've been vague about this product, a little bit. So what does it do?
4MP Digital camera (2MP with digital interpolation)
Digital Camcorder (320x240 & 640x480)
MP3 Music Player
Sensitive Voice Recorder
High Brightness LED Spotlight
MPEG4 Digital Video Player
Mass Storage Device
Versatile, yes. But sometimes products like this are so versatile that they cannot be proficient at their main task, or sometimes even the "accessory" tasks. Let's see how it fares.
Here's what's included in the package:
128MB SD Memory Card with carrying Case
USB File Transfer/Recharging Cable
AC Adapter (for power and recharging)
Driver CD (for Win98 PC's)
Let's take a quick view of the camera itself:
Front (with lens swiveled to the front):
Visible on the front is the swiveling lens side-knob (sounds like a cool band name, I know) :p, the speaker, and the button on top which is used to open the camera up for battery installation (and storage of a spare SD card).
The backside features the 1.5" LTPS (Low temperature Poly Silicon, visible in bright light) LCD screen, the navigation and enter buttons, a menu and display button, and, uh, yeah, there's that knob again. that's right. The lens can swivel 230 degrees, so you can view yourself on the viewfinder if necessary, like if you want to have a conversation with yourself or something. :p This is also a cool feature because it allows you to "park" the lens out of the way to avoid getting dust/grime on it.
This side features the lens knob, the SD card slot, and right under it is a rubber swiveling cover that covers the headphone/AV jack and the USB connection.
This side is simple, the power button and a mode button.
Before I go into the performance of each feature, let me first speak of the user interface. Turning the unit on results in either a main menu screen, or it goes straight into the function last used. The main menu merely features an icon for each function, and the directional keys and the (let's call it the) enter key are used for navigating and selecting. The UI features a unified feel, as hitting the menu key pulls up a menu bar that becomes quickly familiar and easy to navigate. The display button is useful for playback, eliminating all the information onscreen so one can merely see what's going on. So basically there's just the right number of buttons, and the UI is simple and easy to use.
Now for the evaluation of each feature:
DV Video Camera
The primary function of this device is that of a video camera. With normal tape-driven camcorders hovering around the $200-$300 mark, the MobiDV has some good standards to live up to. The DXG-301V which I previously owned had terrible white balance and color problems, and I was afraid of running into the same problem with this unit. Not so. The options menu features tons of adjustments for shutter speed, exposure, white balance, presets and ISO settings, and also includes some effects (Sepia, blue, red, green, b&w), making this camera completely usable in any light setting. Already impressed, I tried another situation out later in the day: complete darkness. A unique feature of this camera is the ability to utilize the high-intensity LED's as a spotlight. This feature is completely functional and useful, especially when the camera is set to "night shot" preset. The output varies from 15fps to 25fps depending on the shutter speed setting, and one can generally achieve 25fps in any lighting condition provided that the settings are done right. When set right, the colors are accurately represented, the detail is just fine, and the results are satisfying. Mind you, most recording would need to be done at the lower resolution setting, as 640x480 does kick down to 15fps. However, for "home video", 320x240 is just fine.
Audio clarity is completely impressive. After hearing the tinny muffled audio on my DXG camera, I was again scared of the results I'd get with the MobiDV. I was blown away at the quality. I'd have to say that the audio is of higher quality than tape-driven campcorders, as it features no tape motor buzz and is of digital quality... High digital quality to boot.
sample video frame
Digital Still Camera
Featuring almost the same image quality adjustments as the Digital Video Camera mode, output of digital pictures is dependant on how well everything is set. I haven't taken too many pictures with this unit, but I can say that once again, color representation is great, and the output is definitely tolerable. Owning a 64mb, 128mb, and 512mb SD card, I have no reason to set image quality at anything less than the best, and the results I've seen so far are just fine with this being a secondary feature of the unit. The flash does it's job when needed, however there seems to be no closeup setting to increase detail when up close. I find this to be a shortcoming, but a small one. Also, the 12x digital zoom feature on this camera appears to be more effective and blockiness-free than most lower-end digital cameras.
sample digital picture
MP3 Music Player:
Able to play 2.5 hours worth at a time, the mp3 playback function is simple to use, but slightly limited in options. There's no way to view file names or play in shuffle mode. However, the playback quality is great both through my home theatre reciever and the included bud earphones, which sound better than they look. You can even playback through the internal speaker if you wish, which kinda turns the unit into a cheap radio. :p So I guess this unit can't really replace any old compact mp3 player, but if you have a spare SD card, you could throw some mp3's on it, stash the card in the spare card slot and save it for sometime when you might need some tunes.
Sensitive Voice Recorder:
As mentioned before, the audio quality on this unit is superb. Using the same UI as the mp3 player, voice recording is very simple to do, and the output is completely usable. This feature is definitely functional and useful.
High Brightness LED Spotlight:
This cannot replace a maglite or a coleman flashlight, but the LED's are pretty bright, so I guess the MobiDV could function adequately as a car key finder at times.
MPEG4 Digital Video Player:
It is claimed that this unit can store and play back MP4/ASF files. I'm currently having trouble figuring out what format these files need to be in to play back properly, because I'd love to put a couple Simpsons episodes on my 128mb card and watch them either on the unit or use the MobiDV as a video player hooked to a TV. If anyone is well versed in MP4/ASF file formats/bitrates and conversions, please contact me, as I'd like to properly utilize this feature if indeed it does work.
Mass Storage Device:
Not a lot of hoopla behind this function. It serves as an SD card reader.
I can ALMOST say this is the best $250 I've ever spent. Pretty much all features work great, the ergonomics of the unit are quite impressive, the battery life is tolerable, the size is diminutive yet the buttons are easy to press, I'm happy that I can charge the unit with the usb cable OR use the AC adapter... I can't really complain at all about the I-Joy MobiDV H12. It is a great device which I will use to record what will surely be some good memories.
I hope this mini-review sheds some good light on this unique product, which currently can only be found in the US through eBay. A MobiDV H10 is also out and about, and it appears that the H10 only has a 4x digital zoom, whereas the H12 utilizes a 12X. There may be more differences but that's all I could find.
Feedback is (finally) welcomed in this thread. :)
02-09-05, 08:15 AM
Nice... would get one if i had the oodles of spare cash...
02-10-05, 09:07 AM
rich sOb..... :p
Look at your sig ffs...
Nice review rage .. i'm in the market for a new digital camera & i'll keep my eyes for this one .
BTW that sample digital pic was taken in a bright place , can you post another one in a darker place ?? .. like inside a computer case or something ??
I'll be sure to post pics of some "darker light conditions" footage. :)
Whoa, another gadget review bump from HELLLLLLLL!!!!! :firedevil
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