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Concord DV2020: Jack of All Trades

Master of none By Charlie White

Concord DV2020 cameraDo good things come in small packages? Sometimes, but those things are usually exorbitantly expensive. Here's a device that comes in a small package and does many things, none of them well. But hey, it's cheap ($195 street) and it's a great toy. If you're looking for a trifle to play with, you might like the Concord DV2020, a PC- and Mac-compatible product that touts five capabilities in one, such as shooting/recording MPEG-4 video files like a camcorder, and also acting as a hard disk, MP3 player, 2-megapixel still camera, and a digital voice recorder.

The DV2020 does indeed come in a small package; its aluminum frame is about exactly the same size as a deck of cards. It's light, and will easily fit into a shirt pocket or small handbag. It has an adjustable LCD viewfinder that looks significantly sharper than most 1.5" finders. Like many camcorders, its finder can swing out and rotate for easy viewing while shooting at odd angles. It has a slot for an SD (secure digital) flash card, and also includes 16MB of internal memory.

Perhaps the best feature of the DV2020 is its solid state camcorder capabilities. Don't be fooled by the DV nomenclature -- the camera can't shoot any DV footage. Although it's not a pro-level broadcast quality camcorder, it's capable of 320x240 video at 15fps, and its MPEG-4 compression at its highest quality looks surprisingly good. Its footage can be easily imported into your computer and edited. We brought a few shots into Adobe Premiere 1.5, and even though they needed to be rendered before they could be output, the shots could be easily edited. The included 16MB of internal memory gave us slightly more than 3 minutes of recording time at the highest quality setting. This certainly means you'll want to spring for the largest SD card you can possibly afford if you're actually going to shoot video of any great length. But then, a big 1GB SD card costs around $180, nearly the cost of the camera. Even so, you could fit over 3 hours of this MPEG-4 video on a 1GB disk. Neat. It's great the way you can send all this footage from camera to computer extremely rapidly with its USB2.0 port, which can also be used to charge the camera's battery. But keep in mind, the video isn't good enough for any high-quality shooting, and I got the impression that this tiny, silent camcorder might end up being a favorite of the creepy up-skirt video shooting crowd, morons who get their thrills by sneaking panty shots with cameras strapped to their feet. That sordid scenario aside, the DV2020's quality would be acceptable for Web video, much of which is streamed in 320x240 resolution at 15fps anyway. So there are some circumstances where this camcorder could prove useful. 

As a 2-megapixel digital still camera, useful is not the word I'd use to describe the DV2020. It's a decidedly weak performer. Take a look at a comparison between the DV2020 and an old Canon Digital Elph PowerShot S100 (also 2-megapixel) we have lying around the Midwest Test Facility, and you'll see that the DV2020's picture looks like it was taken underwater compared to the crisp, clean Elph's output (see graphics below). Both cameras were shooting at 1600x1200. I'd say the DV2020 is not usable as a still camera under any circumstances. In fact, the camera-equipped cell phones we use around here, shooting at less than a megapixel, look a lot better than this. What were they thinking? I also was put off by how long it took for its auto exposure mechanism to react -- over two seconds, and the seemingly interminable seven seconds it takes for the unit to get ready for you to shoot your next shot. Laughably unacceptable.

[Click graphic for full-sized 1600x1200 enlargement] Here's an un-retouched still taken with the Concord DV2020. Looks like we're underwater!

[Click graphic for full-sized 1600x1200 enlargement] Compare that to this same un-retouched shot we took with our four-year-old, garden variety 2-megapixel Canon Digital Elph. Big difference.

The DV2020 also functions as an MP3 player, a task it does quite well, playing back MP3s with all the fidelity of which they're capable. Of course, it depends on how compressed the MP3 files are, but even though I'm no great fan of the MP3 sound quality the DV2020 played back MP3s that sounded very good. Its USB2.0 interface made quick and easy work of transferring the files onto its disk as well. But if you put 200 songs on an SD card, it starts to get awkward finding the song you want, and when you load it with much more than that, the usefulness of this product as a player is greatly diminished. Further crippling the DV2020 is its lack of fast forward or rewind capability, no shuffle play, MP3s only, and no way to use playlists. An iPod it's not, but it'll do in a pinch when you want to hear a few tunes on your way to your next up-skirt shoot. 

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Related Keywords:Concord DV2020, PC, Mac, shooting, recording, MPEG-4, camcorder, hard disk, MP3 player, 2-megapixel still camera, digital voice recorder, up-skirt

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