Waterproof; shockproof; Full HD video; easy to use
Flimsy USB connector; fair image quality
This review of the GE DV1 digital HD video camera has turned out to be quite timely, given the recent demise of Cisco’s Flip series of cameras.
The Flips were small video cameras that recorded clear, high-quality movies and were so easy to use and share that they quickly found favour with bloggers and social networking fans.
Their manufacturer, Cisco Systems, pulled the plug on the range on 12 April. The Flip had been a surprising product for Cisco – a networking specialist – to release, but it was even more surprising for the company to abandon its dominance of the super-portable camcorder market.
This GE model was one of many Flip imitators which have suddenly taken on more importance, but what makes this one really stand out is its waterproof capabilities – down to 5m. It’s also shockproof for a fall of up to 1.5m, and dustproof.
The DV1 is the size of a point-and-shoot still camera (10.5cm x 5.5cm x 2cm). On the front is an f2.8 lens sending images to a 5.5-megapixel CMOS sensor.
At the rear is a 2.5in LCD display. As you hold the camera vertically, the whole of this screen isn’t used to show the image being recorded. Rather, the image is seen in a 2in window at the top, with settings data – such as resolution and frame speed – below it. (The display can be used in either landscape or portrait orientation when viewing playback.)
Below the screen is a big Record button surrounded by four function buttons. To the left are Shooting and Playback buttons, while on the right are Menu and Trash buttons. It’s all very neat and well thought out.
On the sides are an On/Off button and compartments for the built-in USB connector, Mini HDMI port and SD card slot. The DV1 has 27MB of onboard memory – enough for eight minutes of 1080p-quality recording – but it can add up to 32GB of memory via SD and SDHC memory cards.
To test this GE camera out, I gave it to my kids and their friends to have fun with in the pool. They didn’t need any instruction, and got some really good results.
The footage was obviously not professional quality (it is a sub-$200 camcorder, after all) and displayed plenty of artefacts and smearing when being waved around, but overall the results were pleasing – decent colours and saturation, and quite sharp both above and below water.
The camera’s 5-megapixel still images are passable, but lack detail in highlights and shadows.
When you plug it in to a Mac using the built-in USB connector – which is ridiculously flimsy – the DV1 is not recognised by iMovie or iPhoto. It does mount as an external drive, however, so your footage can easily be imported from there (File > Import > Movies).
You can also remove the SD card and plug that into a card reader or directly into a MacBook Pro. In this case, iPhoto recognises it as an image source, but iMovie imports must be done as above.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice.
Many analysts attributed the demise of the Flip to the improvement in video quality on Apple and Android smartphones, so the question is: Is there room in the market for super-portable camcorders?
Well, the GE DV1 is capable of taking 1080p/30fps or 720p/60fps video, which is better than the iPhone 4’s 720p/30fps. Add to this the GE’s underwater capabilities, and the answer is ‘Yes’.
At the price, the DV1 is a great video camera to take to the pool or the beach. Kids, especially, will just love it.