Seemingly undeterred by the arrival of the first hi-def shooting phone – Samsung’s Omnia HD – pocket HD camcorders just keep on coming. Until now, they’ve maxed out at 720p and followed the ‘mobile phone’ form factor, but now Toshiba’s Camileo S10 is threatening to tear up their tiny rulebook.

On paper, the S10 represents stunning value for money. Its 1080p, 30fps video eclipses its rivals, as does its ability to snap 5MP stills. The Camileo also trumps the Kodak Zi6 with a 2.5in LCD screen, 4x digital zoom (which goes down to 2x magnification in 1080p mode) and bundled extras like a mini tripod.

Featherweight friend

While it doesn’t have the Mino HD’s shiny, polished, tactile design, the S10 does have similarly minute dimensions – it’s just 17.9mm thick – and is an absolute featherweight on the scales, giving the chunky Zi6 a weight complex in the process.

Like its fellow Camileo, the H20, there’s a rudimentary 128MB internal memory, so hi-def movies and 5MP stills are recorded to SD or SDHC cards (pretty much the only thing that isn’t in the box).

This lack of built-in memory keeps costs down – the Vado HD and Mino HD feature flash memory and bigger price tags – and allows you to decide how much to invest in storage. Using a 4GB SDHC card (£15 approx) would give you around 60 minutes of recording at the highest quality.

Fiddly controls

As the popular Mino HD shows, it pays to keep controls simple on pocket camcorders – and this is where the S10 starts to disappoint. Its fiddly array includes separate movie and photo record buttons and a zoom that’s obviously got a sweet tooth, it’s so sticky.

Much better is the almost immediate ability for PC users to upload videos to YouTube. The supplied ArcSoft software makes this effortless and efficient with an intuitive interface that stays just the right side of cheesy.

Scared of the dark

Where the Camileo H20 felt light on features, the similar set on the £50 cheaper S10 feels more suited to those who want to shoot and share fast. There’s a 20cm macro mode, as well as white balance, exposure settings and a night mode for grabbing – very grainy – images in low light.

Its less than ergonomic, rectangular corners don’t give it the same design kudos as the Mino HD or Vado HD, and it struggles to surpass either for video quality, too. While HD pictures are relatively detailed and the autofocus is fast, they’re a bit soft and quick panning and motion results in some judder.

Then again, none of the S10’s foes can serve up passable 5MP stills, and the 2.5in LCD means you’re not struggling and squinting at the screen the same way you are with the Creative and Flip. It also offers unrivalled versatility for the money – but there’s just a feeling its overly ambitious spec list leaves it a bit too compromised.


Stuff says... 

Toshiba Camileo S10 review

Stunning value for money and versatile for its size, but awkward controls and middling performance hold it back