Compared with even a lousy DV camcorder, SiPix's StyleCam DV100 can't compete, but at least it costs a whole lot less. This inexpensive, tapeless mini cam offers three AVI video resolutions, takes 1.3-megapixel photos, and works as a voice recorder and a Webcam. While the DV100 offers a fair feature set for the money, expect to make serious compromises.
Weighing 6.6 ounces with a pair of alkaline or rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride batteries installed, the DV100 is light enough to take just about anywhere. The side-mounted hand strap doesn't work well with the camera's 3.9-by-2.9-by-1.4-inch dimensions, but it's fine for small-handed users. Maneuvering among the well-marked control buttons is easy, and the plastic case feels sturdy, though it probably wouldn't survive a fall to the sidewalk.
The case may not betray this camera's price tag, but the maddening menu system does. The only video-recording settings let you choose between 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120 resolution; operate the 2X digital zoom; select one of the four white-balance options; and enable the antiflicker function to get better results under fluorescent lights. Furthermore, the interface is inconsistent: the Menu key and the four-way controller call up two different sets of menus, and each has its own navigation and exit buttons.
As you might expect, the DV100 doesn't offer a lot of extra features. The 1.6-inch flip-out LCD is 0.1 inch larger than those of some other mini cams, but the difference didn't help us much outside. The screen is very hard to see in direct sunlight. Viewing problems aside, the 10-second self-timer is handy for self-portraits, and an A/V output lets you send your footage to a TV or a VCR.
Switching among the various recording and playback modes isn't instantaneous. Ironically, the slight lag we experienced when changing exposure levels actually worked in the DV100's favor. The slow pace smoothed out differences in contrast that occurred when we panned between light and dark areas. Some of our exterior video shots exhibited intermittent but very noticeable compression artifacts.