CNET First Look
Zoom Q3The Zoom Q3 is a pocket camcorder that doesn't skimp on audio quality. Unfortunately, mediocre video performance makes it a limited recommendation.
[ Background music ] >> Donald Bell: Hey I'm Donald Bell Senior Editor for digital audio MP3 and today I'm giving you a first look at the Zune Q3 camcorder. If you're thinking why is the audio guy reviewing a camcorder it's because the Q3 is designed as a video camera for audio nerds. In fact if he knows him at all it's probably from the successful line of high end portable audio recorders. Ok so let's real off the specs. The Q3 carries a suggested retail price of $249 and takes a lot of cues from the flip style video cameras. There's a fixed lens on the back, and a 2.5 inch video screen on the front along with basic and intuitive controls for recording and navigation. Your videos are kept on removable SDHD cards here on the side and the 2 gigabyte card comes included. On the same side you have a composite video output and a built in USB cable. On the opposite side there's a power input, headphone jack, a switch for audio and video recording modes, game control and a power button. You also have a battery compartment under the lens here for 2 AA batteries plus there's a built in speaker but the main attraction here is a crazy honking microphone sticking out of the top which makes the whole thing look like some kind of alien laser gun. What it really is is a pair of stereo microphone capsules wrapped in a metal grill with some basic windscreen material. A full on phone windscreen also comes included if you really want to knock the wind distortion out of your recordings. To compliment the professional microphones Zune also includes a wide assortment of recording quality options ranging from a 48 kilohertz 24 bit audio quality setting down to a 48 kilobit per second MP3. Needless to say the Q3 makes fantastic audio recordings and if you're in a band and you find yourself recording a lot of concert footage the improved audio quality you'll get from the Q3 may just be enough to justify buying it or soon the more popular consumer camcorders such as the Flip or even the iPod nano. That said most people are expecting HD quality video results from today's cameras and the Zune Q3 just can't deliver on that front. Compared to the Flip Ultra HD we tested it against the 640x480 videos from the Q3 were consistently disappointing, colors were muted, contrast tended to be hazy and had a tough time giving us low light conditions. So that's the Zune Q3, an audio focus pocket camcorder that's worth checking out if you're a musician but mediocre video quality makes it a tough sell for most people. For more information along with audio and video samples you can read my full review. [ Background music ] >> For CNET.com I'm Donald Bell. ^M00:02:41 [ Music ]