Forget that the all-conquering iPhone can’t do video; aside from Samsung’s i8910 HD phone (which offers 720p HD recording), does any mobile phone offer movie making options above novelty quality? Step forward this pocket-sized HD shooter from Toshiba, which is one of a clutch of new products, that claim to put the new era of high-def at your fingertips and in your pockets.
Capable of shooting in Full HD as well as taking 5MP digital photos from within an 18mm-deep frame that’s little bigger than an iPhone, the S10 nevertheless seems like a short-term investment. After all, phones like Samsung’s are surely in the first wave of a tide of Full HD phones.
For now, a spend of £150 doesn’t sound too offensive, especially since the S10 can easily fit in a trouser or jacket pocket, and compares favourably with the likes of the Vado HD, Mino HD and Kodak models.
Its small size, however, does impinge on its ambitions. Yes, it offers Full HD (as well as standard definition) filming, but its 128MB internal memory is rather restrictive. Used in Full HD mode, that accounts for around two-and-a-half minutes of video; better to invest a few quid in as large a SD card as you can afford - the maximum size the S10 can accept is 32GB, which will store roughly 8 hours of HD.
The compact design also means a narrow lens, making it difficult to get much into the widescreen picture. That lens also lacks optical zoom. There is a limited 4x digital zoom (and only 2x for Full HD video), but this introduces softness and is also slow - and slightly jerky - to use.
The 2.5-inch LCD screen itself is excellent. Clear and with easy to understand onscreen menus, the screen is super-supple - it can be folded both outwards and turn clockwise, so you could easily film yourself doing a piece-to-camera. That said, the narrow lens does mean you need to stand quite a distance from the camcorder if you want film the background.
Hooking-up the S10 to a HDTV using its mini HDMI cable is a cinch, though the tiny LCD screen’s content is then blown-up to many times its size. The graphics in the corner now look decidedly low-res, while manually selecting exactly which photo or video you want to display requires using various controls.
It’s a process that is less than intuitive and takes a while to master - a rudimentary remote control would be useful here. At least the HD results - which can be transferred to a PC or Mac as .MOV files - are impressive, especially in bright conditions, though a lot of movement brings blur and footage is not always as sharp as it should be.
Taking 5-megapixel stills, in JPEG format, is a relatively smooth process with decent results, but what you see as a preview on the LCD screen isn’t what you get, making the S10 merely rudimentary as a stills camera. It’s also not possible to take stills pictures while you’re filming video in either HD or SD.
Measuring just 18mm, the S10 is compact enough to slip into any pocket, but it is the clever design that makes it an option. Although it’s got problems with its lens, with focusing during close-ups and with blur over movement, it does make watching your own videos on an HD Ready or Full HD 1080p TV a lot more bearable than from SD cams. It compares reasonably well to other pocket camcorders on the market, but the S10 remains resolutely at the budget end of camcorders despite its high-definition ambitions.