When it comes to shooting video, there are three modes on offer: 'HD' at a 1,280x720-pixel resolution, 'TV' at a 640x480-pixel resolution, and 'Web' at a 320x240-pixel resolution.
Unfortunately, HD video is compressed to a rate of less than 1MBps, which is low even by the standards of the H.264 compression used here. The low bit rate is quite noticeable, as there's a good deal of tearing and jerkiness evident when you shoot quick action shots or pans. Also, the camera's sensor tends to overdo colours, with the result that videos look slightly cartoon-like. As the pin-hole lens is fixed, if you want to zoom, you have to rely on the 5x digital zoom, which is very jerky and not really worth bothering with.
The HD520 can also be used to capture still images at resolutions of up to 11 megapixels. However, the camera only has a 5-megapixel sensor, so pictures at resolutions above this are interpolated. Snaps taken at the native 5-megapixel resolution are of passable quality, but compromised not just by the poor lens but also by the sensor's tendency to overdo colours. As a result, pictures tend to be more like those of a camera phone than even a cheap compact camera.
Along with the video and photo features, the HD520 can also be used as an MP3 player (it's got a standard-size headphone jack), ebook reader and portable media player, although you'll probably never use these features, as it's too big to act as an MP3 player and the screen is too small to make it useful as ebook reader or PMP. You can, however, output videos to a screen via the AV lead.
Battery life depends heavily on how you're actually using the camcorder and what mode you're shooting in, but, on the whole, you can expect to get about an hour's worth of footage from it before it gives up the ghost. We don't think this is too bad, considering the low price tag.
The Genius G-shot HD520 may be cheap, but it's far from a bargain, due to its plasticky construction and less-than-impressive video and stills performance. Those after a decent budget camcorder that can shoot in HD would be better off spending a little more money and getting something like the or Flip Video UltraHD.
Edited by Charles Kloet