Product Reviews February 23, 2011

Mobile Video - does the 'Muvi' Micro Camcorder cut it?

Weakness

Imagine the scene. You're at a bike show. There's loads of high tech bikes, general cycling paraphenalia and gadgets about. You're feeling weak. What's going to happen? Well the chances are you're going to buy something. The question is, what? 

Gadgets

This situation is exactly where I found myself at the Last Cycle Show event in October last year. I knew I could not get away with coming home with a bike (though I was close to buying the single speed anyway), but walking round there, my credit card was steadily burning a hole in my pocket. In short, I was vulnerable. I'm not saying the Muvi stand was a truimph in marketing...but it wasn't far off. An all female manned stand, lots of footage taken from a Muvi on show, the various grades of gadget on display. It was bound to get a significant amount of attention from the mainly male attendees. Predictably myself and Ranger Dave joined the throng. The footage was indeed impressive. My pulse quickened. This was it. I had found it! My 'Cycle Show' gadget! So about £70 later I was the proud owner of a Muvi. Next challenge - using it. 

To be precise, the Muvi is a Micro DV Camcorder. It can be attached to almost anywhere on either your person or the bike, the idea being you take action footage of where ever you're going. Brilliant. The footage being shown was of a Mountain Biker in the middle of doing Dirty off-road stuff, so it must be ok for bikebritain, right? It jacks into your PC using a USB port, from which it charges it's battery and download your videos. Very simple to use, drag and drop. It comes ready to go and uses a micro SD card enough, apparently for about 90 minutes worth of footage. Sounds good, doesn't it? 

A Good Idea?

Unfortunately, there are a few flaws to the system I feel compelled to share with you. It's not quite as good as it looks. That's a shame because the image quality is pretty good. The main problem is the audio. The microphone seems to be especially vulnerable to wind noise. It's very sensitive - good - but to the point where often your voice is completely obscured by wind interference. Another issue is the battery life. I am quite sparing with mine, but I have yet to have the Muvi last a full ride, and that's with me turning it off and on. The buttons are small (well the unit is tiny), but if you are wearing gloves that's a real pain. Finally, mounting the camcorder is also troublesome. Because it's so sensitive the camcorder is prone to any type of movement. Consequently, if it's not on a surface that is stable it feels as if you are in a high speed Blair Witch project. Again, it defeats the object. I have tried many different permutations and have eventually mounted it on my visor. That works quite well. The straps supplied in the action pack simply did not hold it steady enough - a further waste of £10. Perhaps it's because my first (ill-fated) outing with the camcorder was around the BMX track which resulted in (a) me falling off my MTB and (b) smashing my Blackberry to smithereens (although that was a blessing in disguise and thanks Vodafone for the iPhone upgrade). Nevertheless, as you can tell, I've just not got along very well with it. 

Recommended?

In summary - I would not recommend this system. I have returned to using the video mode on my cameras (although one advantage at least is I can take footage from each other and splice it together in Windows Movie Maker. No such luck if you try blending iPhone video with any other media). It 'flatters to deceive'. Yes, the image quality is good, but that's not much help if the audio is obliterated by wind-noise and it's susceptible to shake. Afterall, the idea of the camcorder is that it's used when you're mobile.....you can buy a Muvi from Amazon. But I wouldn't bother.

For the technical details on the Muvi, see www.veho-uk.com

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