Zoom Q3HD Handy Video Recorder: Review and comparison with iPhone 4 video

TUAW by Steven Sande

Podcasters and broadcasters have used the Zoom H2 and H4n digital audio recorders from Samson Technologies with great success for a few years. These very portable recorders are perfect for capturing high quality stereo sound in digital formats that can be easily edited by a variety of Mac audio apps. Now they've added HD video capture to a small handheld device, the Zoom Q3HD Handy Video Recorder (available through online retailers for about US$299). Since it's the beginning of the Northern Hemisphere summer vacation season, I thought it would be a good time to review this new device and compare its audio and video quality with another compact video recorder a lot of you may own: an iPhone 4

For many people who might want to capture HD video on the run, the iPhone 4 is perfect. You have it with you all the time, and you can edit the video on the device using iMovie. Zoom appears to be marketing the Q3HD to Mac owners who are looking for better video and audio quality than the iPhone 4 can offer. How does it do compared to the video capture capabilities of the iPhone 4? Read on for a full review and actual video clips for your comparison.

Design and specifications

The Zoom Q3HD is fairly compact and isn't a huge burden to carry around. Weighing in at 5.4 ounces (153 grams) and filling a volume of 2 x 7/8 x 5-1/4 inches (5 x 2.2 x 13.3 cm), it's perfect for popping into a jacket pocket or beach bag for those vacation videos you want to shoot.

Zoom's audio recorders are known for their high quality of sound reproduction, and it's obvious the company wanted to make that the differentiating feature of this handheld video camera. The Q3HD has two studio-quality condenser mics mounted on top in a 120-degree X/Y pattern that provide excellent stereo imaging and depth. As expected on a device from Zoom, the audio capture specifications on the device are fairly impressive: 44.1/48/96 kHz 16/24-bit WAV or AAC up to 320 kbps. read more...

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