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Veho Muvi micro DV camcorder review and test

A short review on the performance and quality of the Veho Muvi micro camcorder, a cheap and very small video camera that is no bigger than the average man's thumb. 24th March 2013


Overview

The veho muvi camera, bracket, and memory card

It was back in late 2010, when I was still fairly into the illegal rave thing, and found myself wanting to capture some of the fun and share it with the world. I had my expensive Fugifilm camera, but didn't want such a cumbersome item swinging around my neck all night. Nor did I want it to get nicked. I also wanted something small that I could whip out quickly, just in case I ever found myself witnessing an epic fail in the street. Enter the Veho Muvi micro DV camcorder.

I stumbled across it on Amazon one evening. Decided the reviews were good enough and shelled out the £40 for it. It arrived a few days later in far too much packaging, as is normal for Amazon ;-) The boxing was very nice and flashy, with the camera stored safely inside. It also came with a small wrist strap, a little case with a clip on the back, a USB cable and a small disk with some software on it. A generic looking 2Gb microSD memory card is included, but its been suggested a lot that you change this for a branded version, for better performance. The camera itself is very rubust, having a metal case.

I plugged the unit into my computer to charge the internal battery. There is no need to install the battery, as it is enclosed inside the metal case, and not accessible. On the front is the small camera lens at the top, allowing you to hold the bottom part. There are two switches, one on each side. On top is a small push button, and the micro USB connector is on the bottom. There is also a tiny little LED that flashes different colours to tell you what's going on. There is no screen or viewfinder, after all. The microphone is also located at the top.

If you are just planning to use this device as a camera, there is no need to install the software that comes with it. The device shows up just like a regular memory stick in Windows. The software allows you to use the camera as a webcam. I never tried it however, so don't know what it is like as a webcam.

Performance

Once charged up, I stuck the camera in my pocket and started videoing things. People at work, driving around, stuff at raves, and even my amateurish Parkour skills. Below are a couple of videos that you might like to check out yourself. Turn the volume down a bit though...

I found that the video quality was actually pretty good, providing the light levels were okay and there wasn't too much movement going on. When mounting the camera to a still object and capturing stuff moving, the results were very acceptable. Once the camera started moving around, things degraded a little bit. The main problem was "dropped frames", where a brief white flash would appear when lots of movement was going on. Very fast movement caused lots of blur, but this is to be expexted on any sub-professional camera. In poor light, there was very little to see at all. The footage become dark blue and black, with occasional silhouettes appearing. The camera outputs 640x480 at around 15-20 frames per second.

The sound quality was quite poor, and there seems to be nothing that can fix this. I would not recommend using this camera if you intend to capture high quality sound. You won't. This device is better suited for videos where you intend to put a finishing track over the edit, or have no sound at all. Loud music becomes horribly distorted, and high levels of bass frequencies cause noises that have been described to me as "ear rape". We have to remember that this device is something of the cheap and cheerful range though. It simply cannot be compared to the full size camcorders that cost a few hundred quid. For its tiny size and cost, it holds up pretty well.

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Usability

The small right hand switch turns the camera on and off. A steady blue light appears on top, and when you press the record button, it flashes a slow green. Press the button again, and it stops recording, and returns to steady blue. The left hand switch is labelled "VOX", and starts the camera when a certain amount of noise is heard. Sometimes this function worked well, but other times the camera would run continuously despite there being no sound to start it. When the battery gets low, the light starts flashing red. It goes a steady red when charging, and turns off when the battery is full. A full charge seems to take around two hours, and battery life is anywhere from two to four hours. I expected the camera to be a little difficult to use, considering its tiny size and lack of a viewfinder. But to my surprise, it was pretty easy to hold. So long as you pay careful attention to where you point the thing, you shouldn't end up videoing the sky for an hour.

The camera also came with a little bracket/case that has a clip on the back. This makes it even easier to hold, and allows you to mount it onto all sorts of things. There is also a "sports mount kit" available, that supposedly allows you to stick the camera to helmets, handlebars and all sort of other stuff. I never bought this extra, but it seems to make things a lot easier when you need to be hands free.

Final verdict

This camera is ideal if you want to stick it to a model plane, or to anything where its likely to get lost and won't have cost you too much. Its great for a spot of covert surveillance too. The tiny size allows you to hold it in broad daylight and very few people will ever realise what it is. It is extremely rugged, with a strong metal case. It can take some pretty big falls. Video quality is good, provided the light levels are also good. It does suffer from occasional dropped frames though. The sound quality is just awful, but the things most people want this camera for do not really involve capturing high quality sound. It is very reasonable for the £40 I paid for it, and is always handy to have tucked away in a back pocket. It will never match up to any full size camcorder, but then no one should really expect it to. An improvement from the old camera phone a few years back, but it wouldn't match the quality of a modern smart phones recording abilities.