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|Dec 19, 2009, 7:15 PM||#1|
Join Date: Nov 2009
Technaxx C5000 review (purple snowstorm inside!, need firmware)
My 2nd Technaxx camera has arrived, and it is as crappy as the other. I had bought on eBay a Technaxx C5000 camcorder with defective Li-ion battery (and made my own battery compartment). Despite many features and initial retail price of 149€, this wannabe camcorder with MP3 behaves even worse than my Aiptek PocketDV T100LE. It is so full of bugs that it is almost unusable. The C5000 was also released as Olimpica DV 3683 and Olimpica DV 3683.
- horrible colours
Worst is that the picture has always an extreme purple tint in medium or low light conditions; the 'tungsten' (incandescent light bulb) mode even looks like 100m underwater - it replaces any dark picture areas (even in bright light) with such an extremely dense blue snow that any black completely disappears. The fluorescent mode looks violet instead. Only in 'sunny' mode and bright daylight the colours look halfway realistic. (I first thought the green RGB channel was dead, but it does show green LEDs despite dark picture areas looks like made from solely red and blue.) The colours in video and photo mode are generally horrible (although not as pitch black as my Aiptek T100LE) and the automatic mode seems to adjusts them poorly and too slow. Only photos with flash or in daylight sometimes have acceptable colours.
- gibberish menu
Regarding that this purple nurple had an initial retail price of 149EUR, I consider the Technaxx C5000 almost a fraudulent scam product, because when switched on, it plays a jingle and proudly displays a splash screen "12.0 MEGA pixels" despite the optical resolution is only 3 megapixel. It boasts to have everything but does nothing right.
The menu e.g. is in a really gibberish Engrish language and the German menu is even so full of word mess that they are almost impossible to understand what this Chinese firecracker wants. E.g. instead of 'Nein' (no) it writes 'Ein' (on), thus 'on' and 'off' work basically wrongways! (selecting either 'yes' or 'on') The photo crop function is named 'Saatbestellung' (seed mailorder!), logo on/off is named 'Starten' (starting) and photo rotation is named 'drehen Sie sich' (spin yourself!). The 'cloudy' mode is called 'trüb' (which alternatively translates to 'blurred'...), 'Löschen' (delete) is misspelled 'Läschen' and so on. Also the manual contains some gibber, although nothing extreme. (You can at least disable the embarrassing 12MP splash screen by setting 'Animation off'. Set 'beep off' to get rid of the jingle, which disturbs when you intend to silently take pictures.)
Seeing the menu gibber, I expect that also the horrible colours are result of lousy alpha release firmware, which gamma curves were apparently not properly adjusted to the employed image sensor. In the menu there is indeed a firmware upgrade mode, however I have no clue if any updates exist. (My firmware version is displayed as "2368F3620AQ113-D".)
- poor sound quality
The mono microphone seems to be worse than with my T100LE; video sound has much static. The built-in loudsqueaker is very quiet and distorts. There is also a voice recorder built in, and an MP3 player which I haven't tried yet.
- fragile plastic case
The silver plastic case is bigger than the T100LE, but in no way better. At first touch it doesn't feel overly flimsy, but some parts are poorly made. E.g. the tripod screw mount appears very fragile; it is of plastic and sits at the front corner; inside there is no supporting structure to distribute force, but only a tiny screw. This is particularly annoying because the camcorder tips over when you attempt to stand it on a flat surface with screen extended to the side. (Only my heavy homemade battery box prevents this.) Unlike the T100LE at least there is a front glass to protect the lens, but it has no LED video lamp.
The package box shows a specimen with green 'play/pause' button on screen frame. Mine is silver, but the Olimpica DV 3683 I saw on eBay had a green one, the Olimpica DV 368 a black one.
- strong magnets
Annoying is that also this camcorder employs not only 3 unnecessarily strong magnets to detect the screen position, but even the carton box contains 2 magnets instead of velcro to hold the flap.
With magnetic radiation there should be a general code of minimization to avoid damage to property and health. So the magnetic switches constitute a completely unnecessary hazard.
- many buttons & features
Nice is that the case has many individual buttons. Unlike T100LE it can e.g. zoom during photo playback and switch between the 4 main modes (camera, audio, pc, playback) with each a button. The menu is navigated here with 4 direction buttons + ok button, and the frame of the nice 2.5 inch swivel screen has even additional zoom, menu (mine was dead), display and play/pause buttons. However the button layout and assignment is not logical. Unobvious is e.g. that menus items those change the icon have to be confirmed with ok button to take effect, while others are simply selected with up/down. When you zoom into taken photos, you have to press 'DISP' to switch between horizontal scrolling and stepping through the photos.
The 8x digital zoom is faster than with the T100LE, but it zooms smoothest only when nothing is recorded. But even in webcam mode I here managed to zoom by switching into camera mode. Photos have 4 scene modes (auto, landscape, flower, night), exposure can be adjusted from -2 to +2EV in 0.5EV steps and file size can be set to 3 qualities. It also makes file date stamps, which I consider crucial for documenting things. The macro mode is sharp at 30cm and also the screen can be turned off to save battery.
- no nightshot mode, no stabilizer
Unlike T100LE there is no special nightshot mode. The light sensitivity of the C5000 seems to be slightly better than the normal T100LE mode; it makes snow instead of black, which is generally a proper way to handle this. Unacceptable is that the snow and picture is always completely blue or purple instead of grey by the lousy firmware. Unlike T100LE there also seems to be no stabilizer and generally video seems to jerk somewhat more despite it supports VGA and 320x240 in each 15 and 30fps. The reason for this may be that the CPU is COACH 7, while the T100LE has the successor COACH 8.
- faulty Chinese piecework electronics
I have taken the thing fully apart to see why colours are so bad. With my specimen I found out that on the back of the image sensor PCB ("3301-000043-001, DV351 SENSOR VER1.9, 20050929") a tiny SMD ceramic capacitor (1 by 0.5mm size) was shorted and almost crushed by the head of a screw holding the plastic objective mech. because the capacitor is placed too close to the screw hole. After objective removal I discovered some authentic Chinese fingerprints and dirt grains on the image sensor, lens and front pane back (those I cleaned with isopropanol and cotton swab). I carefully resoldered all suspicious looking SMD caps (possible hairline cracks can not be fixed this way) and made a washer of thick plastic foil to keep the screw away from the capacitor (screwed in with very little force to avoid crushing it). But this did not fix the poor colours.
Caution: The screw on the back of the image sensor PCB that shorts and crushes the SMD capacitor is likely a serial fault of the C5000 that damages also other specimen.
The TFT screen apparently employs the same kind of magnetic field sensors like in the Aiptek T100LE to detect screen position and orientation. There are 3 strong magnets in the case and frame for this. It hangs on a bunch of thin individual cables soldered to a foil cable; mine was likely plugged in poorly, so the menu button first didn't work. The screen PCB ("3301-000035-005, DV368 TFT VER 2.0, 20050830") has an IC "NOVATEK, NT39376FG/E, 0637, ML7CC, TPG038E".
The main board ("3301-000059-008", DV351 MAIN VER1.1, 20051109") is dual sided SMD. It is based on a square CPU that seems to be "ZORAN, ZR36451BGCF, B4 U5CM0536DS, COACH-7M". There is a flash ROM(?) "hynix KOR, HY2/US08561A, TPCB 545A, M8SF01411" (label was partly overwritten) and RAM(?) "Samsung 537,K4D551638F-TC50, H5616 YAG669A2C". There are also a some small ICs and many discrete components. Behind the "2.5'' LPTS TFT" sign are empty solder holes a LEDs; these may be either indented for a video lamp (like in the T100LE) or an IR sensor for remote control.
With my specimen after once using the flash, the previously too blue picture turned red. On the mainboard the flash capacitor (DANGER: 300V high voltage - I discharged it with test leads through my hotglue gun mains plug) had a scorched solder joint, which possibly was cracked and spilled highvoltage arcs into ICs, so I resoldered it to prevent further damage.
I later found out that in tungsten mode the flash always seems to turn the blue snow of 'tungsten' mode into purple, and the next flash shot back to blue and so on. In this mode it also alternately toggles between shooting a too red, a too blue and again a too red photo and so on, so this seems to be a really odd software bug. With no flash the 'tungsten' mode photos stay reddish until you manually enter the 'White Balance' menu again or switch to a non-camera mode (or such things), which turns it back to blue.
- dead Li-ion battery
My specimen came with a dead Li-ion rechargeable battery (3.7V 1000mAh) that had only 0.8V left, so the camcorder did not turn on even with the USB charger connected. I discovered that the camcorder works when I remove the dead battery and connect a 4V DC power supply to the prongs in the battery compartment. So I made my own battery compartment (3x AAA 1000mAh NiMH cells) that fits into the original battery compartment. It sticks out 8mm so the lid doesn't fit anymore, so I added an imitation leather lid with velcro to keep it shut. When connected to USB or its charger, the camcorder charges the batteries with somewhat brutal 300mA while turned off, and about 150mA when on. I don't know if it can properly detect when to stop charging (it was designed for Li-ion and seems to be a pulsed algorithm), so I wouldn't recommend to let it charge unattended. AAA batteries should be better taken out and charged separately, so initially I had installed a schottky diode to prevent charging, but it had too high resistance and caused preliminary "low energy" warnings, so I removed it.
The camcorder itself consumes 300 to 400mA (during a crash even 700mA), which is quite hefty. It seems to empty my homemade battery back fairly fast, but I still prefer it over starving in the poisonous burn residues of a Chinese lithium explosive charge.
It seems to be a general problem of mini camcorders that they can not be turned on anymore once the rechargeable battery is dead or removed. On eBay I found many people complaining this defect. Too empty or loose batteries make my C5000 crash; the battery has to be removed for a minute to restart it.
The Technaxx C5000 looks like faithlessly hacked together without any effort of fine tuning and bug fixing. Despite it has a lot of features, there are so many severe flaws that I consider it almost a scam product, regarding the initial retail price of 149€. Such a thing without optical zoom should cost maximum 30 to 40€. I paid 7€ for my defective specimen and would not want to pay more for that picture quality. The Aiptek T100LE was ment as a cheap product - it performs poorly but does not boast things it can not do (unlike that bombastic "12 megapixel" startup screen) or drown the user in gibberish Engrish menu mess. This IMO makes Technaxx even a magnitude worse than Aiptek, which urges me to consider Technaxx the 2nd worst camera brand straight after Canomatic (the fake plastic poop from Ouyama, not Canon). Here is a German language rating of the C5000.
According to various forum complaints, other Technaxx camcorders (C6000, C7000) seem to have very similar flaws than my C5000. Particularly fast dying brand new Li-ion batteries and gibberish translated menus seem to be very common with them.
Is there a firmware upgrade?
The funky coloured blizzard and gibber on Technaxx C5000 looks like result of unfinished alpha grade firmware. Has anybody a newer or hacked firmware for it? My firmware version is "2368F3620AQ113-D".
Last edited by CYBERYOGI =CO= Windler; Dec 21, 2009 at 9:03 AM. Reason: tech/menu info added
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