What is the Best Mini Camcorder?

Written by Antony Leather

January 14, 2010 | 08:36

Tags: #3g #3gs #camcorder #iphone #mino #video

Companies: #bit-tech #creative #flip #samsung #ultra

What is the Best Mini Camcorder?

Pocketable photo and video capture devices such as mobile phones are accounting for more and more of the digital content we see online and store on our PCs. This is mainly due to the fact they are so much more capable than they were just a few years ago.

Many mobile phones such as the Apple iPhone 3GS and Nokia N97 can take pictures and video that for many, are acceptable quality for their media collections. However there's still a pretty large gap between the quality the latest mobile phones can achieve compared to dedicated devices.

All-in-one gadgets are all very well, but they're often jack of all trades and master of none. Most of us have a dedicated digital camera for this reason. If you take a lot of videos on your mobile phone and yearn for better quality but don't want the bulk of a camcorder, the latest mini camcorders are definitely worth a look. We've picked six of the latest mini camcorders from £40 to £140 and put them through their paces compared to the iPhone 3GS.

You can download example clips for the 3GS here [59MB] to compare against those we've taken with the dedicated camcorders. You may need to use Quicktime to get them to play in the correct orientation.


Busbi Video

Manufacturer: Busbi
UK Price (as reviewed): £39.95 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): N/A

The Busbi looks like something Mickey Mouse would be proud to own, thanks to its large plastic casing. However, after switching on the Busbi we noticed an even more serious flaw – it’s only able to use USB 1.1 to transfer video to your PC. This is so slow that transferring video to your PC takes longer than shooting it in the first place.

The Busbi uses SD cards for storage and comes with a 1GB card in the box, which is enough to store 60 minutes of video. A mini-jack-to-phono cable is included, so you can connect the Busbi directly to a TV. Power is provided by two included AA batteries, which last about an hour. With the batteries in place, the Busbi is fairly hefty, weighing close to 135g, although it’s not as clunky as the Flip UltraHD we'll take a look at in a minute.

What is the Best Mini Camcorder? Busbi Video and Veho Muvi What is the Best Mini Camcorder? Busbi Video and Veho Muvi

Click to enlarge

Although the Busbi is very simple to use, with large, obvious power, record, playback and delete buttons, the fact that it captures video at 320 x 240 means image quality is pretty dire. Most modern mobile phones, including our reference iPhone 3GS, walk all over it. For example, the Busbi struggles severely in direct sunlight, and the resulting video lacks any kind of detail.

It can’t cope with dark indoor scenes either, producing video with massive noise and overbearing contrast, which just looks awful.
Despite its low price the Busbi is simply not worth buying. Several years ago it might have been reasonable, but the lack of USB 2 support, pitiful resolution and child’s toy appearance mean you should definitely look elsewhere

  • Features
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  • 2/10



Veho Muvi

Manufacturer: Veho
UK Price (as reviewed): £79.95 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $79.96(ex Tax)

We were quite shocked by two things about the Veho Muvi. The first was just how small it is: it’s just 55mm long and little bigger overall than your average USB stick, yet it can record videos at 640 x 480 – twice the resolution of the Busbi Video (above). However, despite its small size – or perhaps because of it – it seems quite heavy at 50g, although this just makes you feel as if you should have a Walther PPK in your jacket pocket and be good at poker.

What is the Best Mini Camcorder? Busbi Video and Veho Muvi What is the Best Mini Camcorder? Busbi Video and Veho Muvi
Click to enlarge

The second worrying point is a comment on the box that reads ‘pinhole camera – easily hidden’. We can assure you that our testing didn’t involve anything illegal or requiring an 18 certificate. The real problem with the Muvi, though, is its lack of a screen, which leaves you guessing about what you’re actually filming.

Its controls are basic, with a start/stop button, power and audio on/off switches. The Muvi records video to Micro SD cards, and a 2GB card is supplied in the box. This should be sufficient for around 90 minutes of recording, although the Muvi can read cards of up to 8GB. The integrated rechargeable battery will last for 180 minutes on a full charge. Also included is a belt clip, a soft case, a wrist strap and a mini-USB to USB adaptor.


Sadly, the quality of its video is poor both in low-light conditions and outside, with the Muvi responding very slowly to changes in light. It also struggles in direct sunlight, and the quality of its recorded sound is very poor. Although its tiny size might make the Muvi ideal for mounting on a radio-controlled aircraft or inside your lapel as a 00 agent, as an everyday camcorder it’s next to useless thanks to its terrible image quality.

  • Features
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  • 4/10
  • Video Quality
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  • 3/10

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