Video enthusiasts and semi-professionals, look away now: the Toshiba Camileo P30 isn't aimed at you. Easier to use than a toothbrush, it's a cheap and cheerful camcorder with an entry-level asking price of around £150. And, with the promise of 1080p high-definition video, the P30 has got to be pound-per-pixel the best-value camcorder we've seen so far. What's the catch?
The P30 falls into the relatively new 'pocket camcorder' category, as exemplified by Sanyo's small, lightweight Xacti models or the Flip Video range. Indeed, the P30 even mimics the Xacti pistol-grip design. In fact, it does it so closely that we wouldn't be surprised if Sanyo's chief designer had been moonlighting in the Toshiba labs. In the P30's case, the design certainly makes for jacket-friendly weight and dimensions.
In addition, you don't need the technical know-how of a budding Stanley Kubrick to make movies with the P30. Quite the reverse, in fact -- the P30 is about as 'point and shoot' as they come. There are a handful of menu options to choose from ('resolution', 'stabilisation', 'scene', 'exposure' and 'white balance' are the main settings), but, in reality, operation is as straightforward as inserting an SD card, flipping open the LCD screen and pressing either the 'movie' or 'photo' button.
Technically speaking, the P30 has the edge on many of its competitors at the budget end of the market. While many other pocket camcorders have a 720p or even standard-definition resolution, Toshiba claims the P30 has a 1080p resolution, plus 8-megapixel stills. On closer inspection, the actual top video resolution turns out to be 1,440x1,080 pixels, rather than the 'true' 1080p resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, and the higher photo resolutions can only be achieved with software interpolation (the image sensor's true resolution is only 5 megapixels).