VTech Kidizoom VideoCam camcorder
The VTech Kidizoom VideoCam will be featuring on LOTS of Christmas lists in 2010 – it’s great fun with lots of cool features for kids to explore.
Available from August
Initial thoughts: When we first opened up the VTech Kidizoom VideoCam, I was interested to see how – well – grown-up it seemed. Yes, it’s cute and rubber and child-friendly but this camcorder for kids aged 4 and over has a zoom button, various leads and controls and a seriously thick instruction manual. Gulp! Flea, on the other hand, was just excited to start taking pictures and films and thought the camera was great because you can also play space games with it – it does have something of the look of a laser gun. Oh, and as with all these toys, it’s available in pink or blue.
We liked: There’s a lot to recommend the VTech Kidizoom VideoCam. It’s light and simple for kids to start using – with enough features to keep older kids interested, too. The rubber coating means the camera won’t break if dropped, which saves me nervously watching Flea using my Flip camera. The image quality is pretty good, and the sound quality in particular was a lot better than I was expecting. Having reviewed the Kiddizoom static camera and been less than impressed, the quality of this camera really did impress me.
The VTech VideoCam isn’t just a video camera for kids, either – there’s a ‘film’ mode for recording and watching regular clips, then a director mode which lets you film using animated borders and special effects, as well as a ‘camera’ mode for static photos. Oh, and there are three video games, too! I was concerned about how hard it would be to get film off the camera but it’s actually really simple – just attach the USB cable to your PC, and it imported the clip as a regular MPEG file. Here’s a short clip made by Flea to give you an idea of the quality:
We weren’t keen: I had a couple of small niggles with this. First, if you’re holding the camera like a gun, it’s almost impossible to reach the zoom button – so you will need to use two hands to operate the camera, especially if you are left-handed like me (the zoom is on the right-hand side).
Really, though, I think the camera is pointlessly complicated. Flea picked up my Flip camera and knew how to work it within five minutes. She can do everything she needs with four buttons – on/off, start/stop, play and scroll. After a week with the VideoCam, she still needs me to set it up for her, and guide her through the steps involved in using it.
It’s possible we’re a bit on the simple side, but here’s an example. If Flea wants to watch a clip she’s recorded, she needs to switch the camera to film mode (there are 3 modes), and then turn it on. She then presses the ‘home’ button to bring up the main menu and uses a joystick button to scroll through 6 options (record, playback, edit, games, settings, volume). She presses ‘okay’ to select ‘playback’ then the joystick to scroll through options, and ‘okay’ to choose the clip she wants.
If she wants to add titles to the clip, she needs to press ‘home’ and this time select ‘edit video’. She then scrolls through clips but this time doesn’t press ‘okay’to select the clip she wants – this time she has to scroll across the screen to highlight a ‘tick’ and THEN press ‘okay’. She then has a sub-menu of editing options to scroll through and select by pushing ‘okay’. You can see how this might get confusing, right?
Overall: The VTech Kidizoom VideoCam camcorder is a fantastic idea for families who aren’t happy handing a Flip camera to their kids – at £60 this is considerably cheaper than those cameras, and is designed to withstand the odd bang and bump. The additional special effects and video games make this lots of fun for children, and I think the editing features mean that older children would still be pretty happy to play with this – it doesn’t seem ‘baby-ish’. For that reason, I expect the VTech VideoCam camcorder to be featuring on LOTS of Christmas lists in 2010 – but I’d say Mum and Dad will need to be on hand to support younger children in learning how to use it.
[Sally, Who’s the Mummy?]