Zoom Q3 HD February 2011
Zoom Q3 HD audio and HD video recorder
We road-tested the Zoom Q3 HD audio and video recorder by taking it to a live music event. We were impressed with the audio recording, but rued the lack of an optical zoom when stood at the back of the gig. We haven't lab tested the Q3 HD yet, but here are our initial impressions
The Zoom Q3 HD is primarily an audio recorder, but it also captures HD resolution video. It's an upgrade to the Zoom Q3 - a similar product that could shoot 640x480 resolution video clips, and which we looked at in October 2009. The Q3 HD goes a step further and can shoot 1080p quality videos.
We were really impressed with the Q3's ease of use and audio recording quality, and the new Zoom Q3 HD didn't disappoint either. What's more, the video clips are noticeably better - although the lack of an optical zoom was a shame when we were recording a video of a band playing from the back of the room.
Zoom Q3 HD first look video
Want to compare HD pocket camcorders? Read our HD pocket camcorder reviews for in-depth reviews and comparisons.
HD video recording
Alongside the USB arm, which is a little short for our liking, is a mini HDMI port so you can bypass your PC and play the clips directly on your HD TV. You'll have to buy the mini HDMI cable separately, though.
Videos are saved as MP4 files to an SDHC memory card. The Zoom Q3 HD comes bundled with a 2GB memory card. The Zoom Q3 HD can also record audio only files and shoot 5Mp still photographs.
Basic editing software is available on the Zoom Q3 HD that allows you to trim the video and audio files that you've captured. This is particularly useful if you're running low on memory space, or you have to upload or email the clip.
Portable HD and audio recorder
The Zoom Q3 HD gas a 2.4-inch LCD and is powered by two AA batteries. It's very portable, and weighs in at around the same weight as a smartphone.
What it lacks in terms of video quality when compared to a dedicated HD camcorder, or even pocket camcorder, it certainly makes up for in terms of audio. In terms of video, the clips lack great contrast. In the test clip we shot, there was little definition in dark areas. What's more, edges lacked sharpness.
The audio recorded, however, is very pleasant and full of colour and range. This device hasn't been tested in one of our labs, however, so a definitive comparative judgment is still to be made.
The Q3 HD is available to buy for around £200, however the standard definition Zoom Q3 can still be picked up for around £70 less. The video on the HD model is superior to the original Zoom Q3, but if you're concerned about video quality, then you are likely to still be disappointed with the new HD model. If capturing clear audio is your primary reason for shooting, then the Zoom Q3 may just be for you, but there's not exactly a gulf in quality between the Q3 and the Q3 HD models.
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