The latest Gmini camcorder is a multimedia jukebox, based around a 20GB hard drive and a surprisingly non-widescreen 2.2in colour screen.

The interface is palmtop meets games console, and offers decent quality MP3 and video (MPEG, AVI, WMV) playback, plus gaming and still/video capture through a tiny camphone-style lens on the back. The screen, although a bit dim for framing in bright sunlight, refreshes quickly.

No substitute for a camcorder

There aren’t many camcorder features on board. In fact, once you’ve chosen resolution (up to 640x480 pixels) and bit rate, all you can do is tweak exposure and white balance settings. But what really hurts is the lack of an optical zoom – a slow 2x digital zoom is absolutely no substitute.

After such a weak features line-up, you might be pleasantly surprised by the colourful MP4 clips: they’re low on detail and high on grain, but have a solid, almost cinematic feel, like old-fashioned Super 8 film.

The recorded audio level is whisper-quiet – how apt for a camcorder you won’t want to shout about. This is a great-value jack-of-all-trades, but certainly no master of movie-making.

Stuff says... 

Archos Gmini 402 review

A cheap jukebox, behind the competition in video quality and only slightly ahead of camphones