Vado Pocket Camcorders Now Work with Macs
Alan Zisman (c)
published in Low
September 16, 2009, Zis
Last week, Apple added a video camera to
its hot-selling iPod nano music player; afterwards, Steve Jobs told the
NY Times' David Pogue: "I'm sure there will always be dedicated
devices, and they may have a few advantages in doing just one thing,"
he said, "but I think the general-purpose devices will win the day,
because I think people just probably aren't willing to pay for a
While Pogue had been asking Jobs about Amazon's
Kindle ebook reader, the comment was could just as easily be comparing
the new video-enabled nano to small pocket-sized digital camcorders,
which have become increasingly popular over the past year or two. Pure
Digital's Flip line of pocket camcorders currently has about 20% of the
camcorder market, for example.
Jobs has a point -
certainly lots of people are taking lots of videos and still photos
with the cameras built-into their mobile phones. I have no doubt that
the video nano will be popular.
Mobile phone cameras
(including the one in Apple's iPhone) are convenient, but dedicated
digital cameras are still big sellers, offering better picture quality
and resolution and more features than mobile phone cameras. Similarly,
while pocket camcorders are one more gadget to tote around, they
provide a better video-shooting experience than mobile phones - or the
If you're going to be happy with a few
minutes of low-resolution video, pretty much anything will do - and
certainly huge numbers of clips uploaded to YouTube fall into that
But if you want to shoot something longer,
your mobile phone probably doesn't have the storage. And while an iPod
nano's 8 GB of storage theoretically will let you store a lot of video,
it's probably going to be full of music, leaving much less room for
video storage. If you know you want to shoot, say, an hour's worth of
video, the nano may not be up to the task.
nano shoots standard definition - 640 x 480 pixel - video clips. So did
the first generation of pocket camcorders. But the current generation
of pocket camcorders all shoot 720p HD (high definition) video: 1280 x
720 pixels. Kodak's new Zi8 model offers the higher 1080p resolution.
any of the dedicated pocket camcorders, the video nano offers a set of
16 video effects, ranging from Sepia to Kaleidoscope, but frankly,
while fun, I can't really get excited about those. And like the special
effects built into many digital cameras, I think this sort of thing can
be done better after downloading content onto a computer.
while the nano's new video camera will be a popular addition to what is
already a popular Apple product, there will, I suspect, remain a market
for dedicated pocket camcorders occupying a middle ground between
video-capable mobile phones and MP3 players and much larger (and much
more functional) full-featured camcorders.
Flip line (from Pure Digital, now owned by Cisco) pretty much created
the pocket camcorder product category and remain best sellers. I've
tried out Flip models along with Kodak's Zi6 (but not that company's
newer Zi8); my favourite pocket camcorder is Creative Labs' Vado HD,
The Vado HD has 4 or 8 GB of storage
built-in, offering up to 2 or 4 hours of 720p recording; the Flip Mino
provides half the storage. The Vado has a somewhat wider-angle lens and
arguably better video quality. It has a larger LCD viewfinder than the
A big hit against the Vado, however, is
that Creative Labs is best-known for its Sound Blaster series of sound
cards and devices; the company has a long history of working with PCs -
and virtually no experience making its devices compatible with Macs. In
general, it hasn't much cared.
Vado HD produces Windows-style AVI video clips; both Flip and Kodak
save files in QuickTime-friendly MP4. Mac users can view the Vado's
video by downloading the free Perian QuickTime add-on (highly
recommended whether working with a Vado or not).|
trying to work with Vado-produced video clips on a Mac has been
somewhere between a pain and impossible. Even with Perian installed,
iMovie doesn't like the Vado's AVI files and refuses to import them;
even converting them to MP4 with the HandBrake video conversion
utility, iMovie remains unconvinced. As a result, I've ended up editing
my Vado video clips in (gasp) Microsoft Vista's Windows Movie Maker.
all changed, however.
On September 7 - ironically,
just a couple of days before Apple announced its new video-capable iPod
nano, Creative finally released a Mac version of its Vado Central
software. This is available for download by owners of Vado HD and the
original (standard definition 640 x 480 pixel) Vado model. It will be
built-into new Vado HD (2nd gen) 4 GB and 8 GB models, which retail for
$180 and $200 respectively.
Vado Central can be
installed onto your Mac or - for owners of current Vado or Vado HD
camcorders - copied onto the Vado for use with whatever Mac is
available. It's a humble 836 KB (yes, kilobytes) and a universal app,
so it should work on both Intel and PowerPC Macs.
such a small file size, you might think you're getting a pretty minimal
application, and you wouldn't be far wrong. This isn't Final Cut Pro or
even iMovie, but it doesn't try to be.
When run for
the first time, the software will ask permission to download and
install a FLV2iTunes "transcoder application" needed for video export
to iMovie. Let it.
|Vado Central offers just a few features: Buttons
on the bottom let you play a video clip, with fast forward and rewind
buttons that jump to the next or previous clip. You can transfer
selected video clips to your Mac's Movie folder or other location, or
add them to an iMovie event, optionally opening iMovie at the same
time. Doing so automatically converts the Windows-friendly clip to an
iMovie-friendly MP4 format.|
You can delete or rename
a video clip on the Vado - though since the Vado opens up as a disc on
the Desktop, you could do this in the Finder. (Note - pressing Delete
does not move the video clip to the Trash - it's gone for good).
iMovie icon duplicates the iMovie functions of the transfer button,
converting your file, adding it to an iMovie event, and opening iMovie
with that event loaded.
FlipShare Mac software - aside from being built into every
Flip model sold - has more features, along with options to view and
organize video clips. You can use it to email video clips, publish
clips to popular destinations like YouTube, capture stills from your
video clips, create a DVD, and more.|
never been enamored of FlipShare - all these features can be done
better with software already on most Macs.
Vado Central doesn't do very much, but what it does is just what I
needed - provide a way to use Creative's pocket camcorder hardware with
Thank you, Creative.