Hot Wheels Video Racer pictures and hands-on

We have to admit we were giddy with excitement when we first saw the Hot Wheels Video Racer camera system in January at CES in Las Vegas, and now 10 months on we’ve got the system in the office.

But are we still excited, and more importantly should you be excited? Read on to find out.

First a quick recap. The Hot Wheels Video Racer is a matchbox sized Hot Wheels car available in black or white that has a build in video camera, LCD screen and the ability to record 12 minutes of video to watch back either there and then, or on your PC or Mac thanks to the included USB cable.

The idea is simple. Press record, set it off on the track you’ve built and then watch back the action as if you were sitting in the miniaturised drivers seat.

The bad news? The car costs £65.

Get passed the price and what do you get? As we’ve said you get the car, which looks a tad like the Bat mobile, a handy protective case, and a wrist band so you can wear it on your wrist taking it with you where you go (we knew that bit would win you over).

For those that like stats, the Hot Wheels Video Racer records at a resolution of 640 x 480 (VGA) and saves files in the .avi format. The camera does record sound, however you can’t listen to your recordings on the car, only on a PC. That LCD screen is good enough to enjoy instant playback, but really only good enough to share the moment quickly rather than be the main viewing screen.

In our play we tested it on one of the latest and greatest Hot Wheels track called Sky Jump that sees some daredevil stunt action (flying cars). The video we got was shaky at best with the car actually going too fast to take in any of the action probably.

Still that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, it is just the set we first tried it on was too fast. Too fast for the recording to be anything but a blurry mess.

Not put off by silly trivial things (the things we do for you dear reader), we set about making a video just messing around in our garden, and anywhere else we could find.

And that’s the beauty of it for kids, you don’t need a Hot Wheels track for this to work, just an imagination.

Once you’ve recorded your footage you can either play it back sans sound on the bottom of the car itself on the very small screen (parents will have to squint) or on your PC or Mac having connected the accompanying USB cable into its boot.

Video is stored in the standard .avi file format and that means you can either upload it to the Hot Wheels web editor or just do it in your own editing package like iMovie on the Mac. What you do with it from there is up to you.

Think of this as a video camera with wheels rather than anything more and you can see that your 5 – 15 year old is going to have great fun making recordings.

Where the Video Racer fails however, is that beyond that it is rather limited. If your kids really are excited about making movies there are better options out there delivering better quality resolution and recording functions for the price.

The downside to those though is that you won’t be able to send them down your bright orange Hot Wheels track and for many kids that’s going to be the must have.