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Old Sep 14, 2005, 12:13 AM   #1
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Review of Digilife DDV-V1 aka DDV-810

Rather than repeat the bulk of the text from the review of the similar DDV-720, this post only describes the differences from the 720.

These differences extend to almost every detail of the camera, since the internal components are from Zoran, as opposed to the OmniVision components in the 720.

If you go on eBay, and do a search for "mp3 pmp camcorder", you will find a seller called "queenofglitter" selling the DDV-V1. Meanwhile, http://www.vublue.com has raised the price for their DDV-720 to $320cdn. queenofglitter also has the DDV-M1 and other hybrids such as the 720. Due to the way they title their ads, you won't find them by searching for "Digilife" or "DDV-V1".

Build Quality

The first impression is that the V1, unlike the specs would imply, is larger than the 720. It's the size of an Aiptek DV4500. Since I'd listed the V1/810 at the same size as the 720, I had to measure both. Sure enough, the 720 is 200 cu cm, while the V1 is about 270. This means the Ispan specs are wrong.

The V1 feels like it has lots of hollow space, and has a plastic "look and feel". The plastic case is so thin it makes noise as your fingers move on the surface. The control buttons look and feel cheap because they're loose and unattractive. No one will mistake this for a camera from a first-tier brand name.

The lens opening is not centered in the lens-size-exaggerating bezel typical on these cameras.

Something was rattling around inside it, and soon a small blob of solder fell out. Good thing it fell out before I powered on. Not impressive. I have my doubts about the durability of the awkward memory card door. The paint job looks cheap also. They've elected to paint the parts of the camera most subject to wear, such as the corners, while the more protected parts are unpainted black plastic.

It's important to note that this is the third camera I've had from Digilife, and all worked flawlessly.

Video Capability

A quick indoor test of the two cameras videoing the same scene revealed:
The V1's sound volume recorded was 10 times more sensitive than the 720's, so it didn't require the amplification the 720 needs, which boosts background noise to unacceptable levels on the 720.

The V1 had less blur when panning. The 720's video was brighter, but had vertical colored lines from sensor gain. The V1's video did not have those lines. The 720's video looked a bit sharper, but if it was, it wasn't by much. The 720's video was more blue than the V1's.

The 720, and even worse, the S670, had a black screen delay which was recorded onto the starts of their video clips. On the V1, this is reduced to almost nothing.

There is still no control for the zone for the AE metering during videos, but an improvement is that changing the white balance is available on one of the buttons, during filming. Given a choice, I'd prefer an AE control, and available during filming.

I took a couple of test clips, of a large orange ball being thrown through a shot of a backyard. Comparing them:
- The .asf filesize from the DDV-V1 is a little larger than the .avi file from the DDV-720.
- The .avi seems to have slightly brigher colors, but it's hard to tell for sure because the .asf was shot at a slightly lower angle, and the auto-exposure was a little dimmer.
- Both shots were done with image stabilization on, and the V1's .asf clip removed much more of the shake from me throwing the ball. Maybe I threw it more gently that time, but in general the video is steadier than from the 720.
- Both shots have about the same field of view.
- Of the two, the .asf is noticably sharper, and shows less distortion along horizontal lines in the subject matter.
- Doing stop-motion on the playback reveals that the ball was far less blurred on the .asf from the V1 than the .avi from the 720.
- I couldn't tell any difference in how they handled contrast. Both had featureless black for areas in deep shadow, and areas with direct sunlight on light colors were blown out.
- On the .asf, the mic picked up the sound of the ball hitting the ground, but it was delayed a bit. You can't hear the ball in the .avi.

So the judgement has to be that the V1 takes better video than the 720.

Stills Performance

While the 720 had a 3-choice zone control for the auto-exposure for stills, the V1 has no such control at all. Odd and unfortunate.

The V1 appears to have about the same capability to handle contrast as the 720.

The Ispan site says "Voice-added function while playing the picture". So far, I can't find this feature, and it isn't mentioned in the manual. No big loss, other than credibility.

There is no multisnap mode. The 720 does have this. For the DDV-810, Ispan's website says: "Continuous Shots: 5 pictures"

Video - In Mode

Works as advertised. You plug the provided cable into the OUT jacks of a tv, vcr etc, and plug the other end into the camera. Turn the camera on, and it will display the signal coming from the a/v device. Press the video record button, and it records like any other video clip. Presto.

Startup Time, Time to Switch Modes


Changing between videos and stills is immediate, using the separate stills and video recording buttons. I tested the V1 with an almost-full memory card, and compared using the internal memory. Unlike the 720, startup time was the same either way, and fairly quick at about 5 seconds. The 720 gets slower the more full the memory card.

Screen

The V1 has a 2.4" screen compared to the 720's 2". It appears this has been done by spreading out the pixels, since it isn't as crisp as the smaller screen on the 720. Possibly this avoids the higher power consumption you'd expect for a larger screen.

The on-screen control icons are presented in white with black shading, so they tend to show up against a variety of background colors. There is a control in the menu system that allows you to brighten or dim the screen. I don't see much reason to dim it other than to save the battery.

The screen seems to refresh faster than on the previous cameras, so there's less lag when panning.

Outdoors, the V1's screen was not quite as bright as the 720's. In direct sunlight, it fared even worse than the 720's. Indeed, at one angle the V1's screen was completely unreadable, appearing like a solid silver-colored panel. I thought maybe it's a different type of panel, but the specs say they're the same. (But then, are the specs correct?)

For a very cool (or garish) decoration, the Digilife logo on the outside of the screen is illuminated with a blue led while the camera is on. This is unnecessary complexity, volume and power consumption, especially in the light of features this camera lacks.

The screen has controls on the panel that allow you to navigate playback. This is especially handy with the screen reversed and folded into the camera for playback as a "console".

The slide show function seems to get mixed up when you have a mix of stills and videos, and unfortunately you still can't get the slide show to start anywhere except the first image, and you can't shut off the screen icons during a slide show.

The Ispans site says: "Remaining Memory / Recording Time Management" for the 810. So far, I have been unable to observe or find this function on the V1. It does tell you how many video clips and stills (combined) you have taken, but that's utterly useless compared to knowing remaining capacity.

It has a "histogram" display available. After I figued out what this was, I realized it's sufficiently important to open a topic just on the histogram. Suffice it to say here that it's a way of judging the color saturation, variety and contrast issues before taking a still or video. It has to be turned on for each use, requires some study to make use of it, is not visible during video (hence useless for panning shots), and is not visible during playback. Looking for over/underexposure etc. in the screen largely covers what a histogram does, but it does open up attractive possibilities for the many professionals who we know love these cameras.

Unlike the previous models, the screen has nothing to get a grip on to open, so you almost have to use your fingernails to pry it open. This is an odd design oversight.

Lens

The on-line specifications in the Ispan site refer to a "Twin Photography (diaphragm)" lens. There is nothing to explain what this means, and I can't find the term on the Internet. Among many other errors, the 810's on-line brochure claims it has autofocus. The V1 certainly does not.

There is still no on-screen indicator for portrait mode. So you can accidentally leave it out of focus for distant shots. The button to change focus range has a very sloppy feel to it, compared to the 720's snappy button.

The lens itself is still the same tiny opening.

Although a Digilife brand lens cap appears in many ads for this camera, there was no lens cap in the package. I was really looking forward to having a lens cap. I got a tripod instead, I guess.

Digital Zoom

The V1 has a 10x digital zoom, compared to the 720's 8x. Not that even 8x is of any use. The camera allows a 10x zoom for taking stills in native 3.1 megapixel sensor mode. It allows a 4x zoom while in 5Mp extrapolated mode. In 10Mp extrapolated mode, no zoom is allowed.

But that's all for stills. When you go to take a video, no zoom is allowed if the camera is set for 10Mp. For both 5Mp and 3Mp modes, zooming in video will go out to 4x, but no farther. The zoom can't be pre-set. When you press the video button, whatever zoom has been set is cancelled, and you start at 0x zoom. So you can't do a reverse zoom out from a subject without first zooming in.

Now, I have to wonder about something. Since my understanding is that video uses only a 640x480 portion of the sensor, and does not use extrapolation, why those limits would apply to videos. I have no idea. It means that if you want to use the zoom in video, you'd better not have the stills set to 10Mp.

Oddly, I was able to do a 16x digital zoom when viewing stills. Which made the subject matter a muddy mess.

The zoom now works in video mode with motion stabilization turned on, unlike the 720. However the 720's icon to show that stabilization is turned on is missing from the V1. This makes a difference because when you begin videoing with stabilization on, what happens is like doing a 15% zoom. So it would be nice to know if the stabilization is on so you can account for that when framing the shot. Or think to turn it off if you don't need it.

Exposure Control

As mentioned above, the 720's 3-zone AE metering control is gone. Another step farther back from the Aiptek DV4500's immediately accessible 4-zone system. There is a 5-setting white balance control, which is an improvement on the 720's 3-settings.

Screen Icon Shutoff

It looked like the screen icons couldn't be turned off for playback. Further investigation showed that there is a very clumsy way to shut off the screen icons while recording. Why anyone would want to do that is beyond me because then you'd have no idea what the camera was doing.

But there appears to be no way to turn most of them off during playback on the screen or to a tv/vcr. Fortunately, they don't show up at all on the output to a pc. This is very odd compared to having a simple control to turn them on or off.

Controls

The V1 is quite different from the S670/720. When you open the screen, the camera does not power on. You have to hold down a small button hidden under the screen, and I consider this a step back. Even if you wanted to operate the camera with the screen closed, you still have to open it to turn it on. To shut it off, you either use the button, or close the screen and let it time out.

There is an extra speaker volume button beside the speaker, which is nice to have. It doubles as the zoom button. Like the other controls, it has a flimsy feel to it. But it works only during video playback, and not for mp3. Which is the opposite of what you'd expect. Oh well, at least you can control the volume during video playback now, because you couldn't on the S670/720.

Whereas previous models had no control over the auto-shutoff timing after 3 minutes, the V1 has several choices, including always-on. Presumably needed for watching movies.

If you use the forward/back screen buttons while a video is playing, you get a fastforward/fast reverse action.

When a video clip ends during playback, the clip holds displaying the last frame, unlike the previous models, which annoyingly went back to the opening frame when clips ended.

Digilife has indeed fixed the problem of being unable to mix videos and stills during playback. Now, both end up in the same folder, and the camera is smart enough to tell which is which. I'm impressed that they fixed this.

As mentioned before, there are led's on the front to indicate the camera's mode. In addition, the jazzy led's behind the main control button have been further souped up, giving an overdone micro-lightshow while filming in video mode.

You can switch between playback mode and camera/video mode anytime by pressing the picture camera shutter button. While in record mode, you can to to playback mode by pressing and holding the center button on the screen. Both of these avoid the awkward and time-consuming need to go back to the menu system to change modes.

Flash

You can force the flash on, for instance to do fill-ins. But since it's still not an LED flash, it can't be used during videos. There is no control to turn anti-redeye function on and off. It appears to operate in anti-redeye mode all the time. Odd.

Date/Time Function

No changes.

Battery / Life

The battery cannot be charged inside the camera. It has a separate battery charger stand. This is an improvement for charging spare batteries, but a step back for charging the battery in the camera since you have to remove the battery from the camera. And one more thing to carry around if you're travelling.

The Ispan specs say the provided NP-60 battery is a 1000mAh, while the one provided is an 850mAh. The manual lists it as a 850-1100mAh. Previous models came with a 1000mAh.

The disappearance of the internal battery charging means that unless you create a mock NP-60, there is no longer any way to provide external battery power to the camera via the USB/charging jack.

Secure Digial Memory / Memory Use

Though the camera has doubled the internal memory from 16Mb to 32Mb, there is only a marginal improvement from 4Mb to 8Mb available for the user. Presumably the additional memory has been used to provide some of the functions missing from the earlier cameras.

File Format

The V1 takes videos in ASF format. I was pleased to see that it will play videos from my old Aiptek DV4500 without converting them. So I was glad I never got around to converting them to AVI in order to play them in the 720.

The V1's ASF test file was about 20% larger than the 720's for the same recording time.

When I first tried out the camera, I was unable to play AVI files. However, as I switched a memory card back and forth between my 720 (avi videos) and the V1 (asf videos), I realized I was seeing videos from the 720 on the V1. The 720 also will play .asf videos shot on the V1.

So I have to note the fairly remarkable improvement that the V1 plays AVI's from the 720/S670 plus ASF's from the Aiptek DV4500. Not bad.

MP3 Player

While using earphones to listen to mp3's on the V1, I had the startling realization that the music was in MONO. I tried different earphones, still no stereo. I even tried the V1's earphones on the 720, using a jack adaptor. Beautiful, loud stereo music from the 720. The V1 sounds like junk by comparison.

Now, given that the mp3 function is a major reason why some buy these cameras, this is a serious flaw. Even more so because the product literature doesn't mention it. In fact, the manual uses the words: "Full Function MP3 Player". This also means that if you should want to use the camera as an mp3 tuner for your home stereo, the music will be in mono. Some rather strong words come to mind about this, like "ripoff". There are going to be some very angry buyers when they discover this, including me. Unless, of course, this is just a defective camera.

Even with the screen closed and off, there are still no less than 6 led's lit up. While those may please people who appreciate stereo systems with control panels that resemble light shows, the wasted power drain could be significant.

There are still no tone controls. The display in mp3 mode is unattractive, and still does not show how long the chosen song is. You still can't skip ahead or back within a song.

Two significant improvements are that the V1 displays the names of the songs, and, hurray, you can delete individual songs. This means that if you need memory space for images, you can make space by deleting songs "in the field". Just watch out for mp3 files that have the delete inhibit property turned on.

The speaker sounds impressive for such a small one, and there is more than enough volume. With earphones, the volume is just adequate and you certainly don't have to worry about damaging your hearing. There are no soft pads for the earphones.

When you delete an mp3 song, the mp3 goes back to the start of the playlist. So then you have to scroll through to where you left off. If you have many songs on it, and are doing a lot of deletions, this is tedious.

Voice Memo / Audio Recording / Speaker / Microphone

It appears the microphone is very sensitive. In fact, I was a bit startled at what it could pick up, like people talking some distance away. This means less system noise due to amplification. The 720's mic is a piece of crap by comparison, and the S670 is even worse that that.

I haven't checked wind noise yet, but I expect it will be bad as a consequence of the sensitive mic.

An advantage of the non-snappy buttons is that they are less likely to make noises on the audio track of videos.

The earphone jack is now the larger and more common mini size, which is an improvement because it's stronger and compatible without using an adaptor, as was needed on the 720.

Remote Control

The main led on the front of the camera appears now to be used for the self-timer countdown only. Below that on the front are three other led's, which display whether the camera is in video, mp3, or playback mode. They are rather small and dim. Only the video indicator is of any use while using the remote, and it needs to be larger and brighter to be visible outdoors. Like, why is there a very bright blue led to illuminate the Digilife logo on the screen, but a puny and weak led to show the camera is recording? This doesn't make sense.

The remote controller is an excellent idea that could be better executed. Due to ambient IR, it doesn't work well outdoors in sunlight. Unfortunately, that's where you're most likely to be at its distance limit. And because it won't control the camera predictably in those conditions, combined with the fact it is so difficult to tell what the camera's doing due to the lack of sounds and proper led's on the front, it becomes an exercise in frustration. You certainly can't tell from 6m what's going on by reading the screen. So the remote would greatly benefit from a bright status led on the front.

The remote control is different from the one pictured in ads for the V1. It has far more buttons, and so promises to be a challenge to master.

Tripod

There is a small simple tripod included, with sufficiently long legs to be stable. The tripod socket on the V1 is metal, an improvement from the plastic threads on the 720.

Manufacturer Support

The printed manual is the same as the one on the CD, and neither says anything about using the bundled software. While the manual for the 910 on the Ispan site includes basic software instructions.

Nothing in the package, including the manual, mentions who made the camera or has warranty information. Just the word "Digilife" on the back of the manual.

IF the DDV-810 is the same camera, then the downloadable brochure on the Ispan site contains a large number of errors, the most serious of which is the false claim the camera has autofocus. I suppose the specs will inevitably change as new cameras approach production. But surely Life Technologies should have someone who is responsible for making sure the camera's features, the web pages, and the manuals are consistent and accurate. The price is customer loyalty.

Software

The bundled software includes Ulead Photo Express 5SE, upgraded from the 720's v 4.0. There is Ulead Photo Explorer 8SE Basic. There's a cd utility program called Cyberlink PowerProducer Express.

Best of all is Cyberlink PowerDirector for editing videos and creating movies. PowerDirector accepted stills, AVI's and ASF's without complaint, and offered a very easy interface for the most common editing tasks, while also having what looked like plenty of other functions. I'm not an expert on this software, so I won't say much about it. Director also has an output module that looks just like some of the freeware I've been using, and allows a vast range of output coding and compression. This isn't quite as handy as the conversion module of Ulead Video Editor 8 software descibed in the 910's on-line manual, but it's good enough.

Notes:

Digilife makes much of the PMP function of their latest cameras. While this use will be limited by time constraints resulting from battery capacity, it offers an interesting capability. Which is that if you have DVD, VCR or similar recordings from, say, an older camcorder, you can digitize those movies by running them into the V1. Now, if I could just plug a slide projector into it....

The included usb cable has the world's smallest usb jack on the camera end, and is different from the 720's, so you can't use the 720's cable. This cable also somehow doubles as the a/v cable, and I don't know yet if it works properly.

Final Say

I was a bit dismayed at the how cheap the V1 looked and felt, and I considered selling it and keeping the 720. Unfortunately it looks like Digilife is going to use the same basic case for the whole 9xx line.

The more I explored the V1, the more things I found that are both improvements on the 720's limitations, and surprising disappointments. Like a decent microphone, mp3 deletion, sound control during video playback, avi/asf support and playback mixing stills and videos. The video-in function would be important for some, but not me. On the downside are the cheap feel, poor OSD controls, no indication of remaining memory, no AE metering zone control, no bass control, use of .asf, and ugly menus, And please, where's that lens cap?

The sheer number and importance of the variations both from the previous model and the published information highlights the difficulty of buying such products over the Internet. You just can't trust the published information, and you can't check out the cameras at a store. Given that this is labelled as a V1, while the Ispan equivalent is an 810, it's possible they are different cameras. Which would explain all the variances between the specs and the camera. The Digilife global and Digilife USA sites list it as a V1, but don't provide enough specs for cross-checking.

The large number of dumb aspects of the V1 makes you wonder what's up with the people who design these cameras. Don't they actually use them? Still, the V1 comes out better overall than the 720. A camera that does so many things, as well as it does, for what I paid, is excellent value.
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 2:02 PM   #2
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Great review sgspirit! I also bought recently from the same queenofglitter seller on ebay. Good seller. But I got a ddv-7000 (aka ddv-720) instead of the V1, only a month ago from them.

I am curious as to whether the digital zoom on the V1 in movie mode utillizes the whole 3 megapixel cmos to make a clean zoom at 640x480, or does it appear to only make it uselessly pixelated like on my 7000. That is my only real problem with the 7000. Since the 3 megapixel cmos has 10x the number of pixels as the 640x480 video, one would think you can get a clean 10x digital zoom eh?

PS: I don't have any of the black delay in my 7000 you described at the start of filming. Everything is instantaneous too. Maybe a firmware upgrade since you got your 720? Maybe my 80x 1g card makes is faster? Interesting.
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 2:45 PM   #3
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Thanks for the personal touchy feely review, a good read. I sometimes wonder if specs are written by non-techie PR people, or perhaps badly translated from techie notes.Annoying when they try to pass"focus free" as "auto focus".

(maybe that little piece of solder wasthe key to"stereo" (just kidding))
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 3:48 PM   #4
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sgspirit, did you plug the earphone during the power was on or off when you are using the mp3 function and was the one side of the earphone in mono or stereo?

For my DDV-M1 in order to get sound on both channel I had to plug in the earphone before powering up. When I had it plug during the camera was on, I was only able to hear it on the right side and a buzzing noise on the left side.I hope thishelps out a bit. If not I don't know what could be the problem.

And one more thing, You think I should do a review for the DDV-M1?

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Old Sep 14, 2005, 6:43 PM   #5
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Greate review, sgspirit!

I had an order for a Mustek DV-9300, but cancelled when the vendor said it was on back order for 2 or 3 weeks. The "new" Musteks are all 6-in-1's, losing the PC Camera option, but have better fps rates than the old versions.The new are all cheaper than equivalent old versions.

I'm now looking at Digilife. Hopefully, the 910/920 will be have better designs.

Do you know who is selling the 910/920 models now?

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Old Sep 14, 2005, 8:17 PM   #6
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Ole h. that is good to know back order would havenot stopped my, but not having the webcamwould, also we all know a optical zoom oneday. let us know when you get one.
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 11:49 PM   #7
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morristhecat wrote:
Quote:
Great review sgspirit! I also bought recently from the same queenofglitter seller on ebay. Good seller. But I got a ddv-7000 (aka ddv-720) instead of the V1, only a month ago from them.

I am curious as to whether the digital zoom on the V1 in movie mode utillizes the whole 3 megapixel cmos to make a clean zoom at 640x480, or does it appear to only make it uselessly pixelated like on my 7000. That is my only real problem with the 7000. Since the 3 megapixel cmos has 10x the number of pixels as the 640x480 video, one would think you can get a clean 10x digital zoom eh?

PS: I don't have any of the black delay in my 7000 you described at the start of filming. Everything is instantaneous too. Maybe a firmware upgrade since you got your 720? Maybe my 80x 1g card makes is faster? Interesting.
Hi morristhe cat,

Welcome neighbour!

The only thing I didn't like about buying from queenofglitter was that the camera was shipped from Little Rock, Arkansas, while the ad said the cameras were located in Canada. So shipping took 11 days.

As far as I know, regardless of whether the hybrid has a 2mp, 3mp, 5mp or whatever sensor for stills, it uses only a 640x480 portion of that sensor for movies. So if you then do a digital zoom, it simply records an even smaller portion of that 640x480 area. The problem is that for, say, a ball in the middle of the screen, there is no way to "add pixels" to that area of the screen. An optical zoom overcomes this by spreading the image of the ball out over a larger portion of the 640x480 area.

This applies the same way to stills, except you can zoom in a lot more and still have a presentable image because you started out with so many more pixels. Sometimes if I feel compelled to use the zoom, I'll take a still instead of a video because I know I have some leeway and still get a good image.

And to finally get around to answering your question, these matters are exactly the same on all the hybrids, including the V1 and the 7000. So if you're not interested in taking stills, buying a hybrid with a high pixel count is a waste of money. This also why the esteemed Samsung Miniket's sensor is only 800x600. It doesn't need any more if stills are unimportant to the owner.

There are instructions in some other topic here about how to check the firmware version of the 720/7000. If you wanted, it would be interesting to see if the version matches mine.
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 11:50 PM   #8
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Bukgaggy wrote:
Quote:
sgspirit, did you plug the earphone during the power was on or off when you are using the mp3 function and was the one side of the earphone in mono or stereo?

For my DDV-M1 in order to get sound on both channel I had to plug in the earphone before powering up. When I had it plug during the camera was on, I was only able to hear it on the right side and a buzzing noise on the left side.I hope thishelps out a bit. If not I don't know what could be the problem.

And one more thing, You think I should do a review for the DDV-M1?
Hi Bukgaggy,

Thanks for the tip. I tried it and it didn't fix the mono mp3. I was hoping some V1 or M1 owners would check their mp3 function and post. I get sound through both earphones, so the music is "balanced" in my brain, but there's no stereo effects, and It sounds like it's both channels combined rather than one channel through both earpieces.

I'll email the seller to see what he has to say about it. And maybe Digilife, just to bang my head against that brick wall again. In case it's just a defective camera, I'll back off the rhetoric in the review until I know for sure.

As for a review of the M1, I'd enjoy seeing that. I'm not going to buy an M1, so someone else will have to do it:-) You could just note anything different from the V1. Such as, does it have a remaining memory function? It could be the only difference is the better sensor.
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 11:54 PM   #9
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Old HACer wrote:
Quote:
Greate review, sgspirit!

I had an order for a Mustek DV-9300, but cancelled when the vendor said it was on back order for 2 or 3 weeks. The "new" Musteks are all 6-in-1's, losing the PC Camera option, but have better fps rates than the old versions.The new are all cheaper than equivalent old versions.

I'm now looking at Digilife. Hopefully, the 910/920 will be have better designs.

Do you know who is selling the 910/920 models now?
Old HACer,

So far as I know, the only "new" Digilife for sale other than the V1/810 is the M1, which seems to be the 950. Bukgaggy has one, andrecently posted where he got it from.
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Old Sep 14, 2005, 11:56 PM   #10
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Corrections/Additions to the DDV-V1 Review

For the time being, I'll note here any changes/corrections I make to the review. There are substantive updates, and this will save you the trouble of wading through the review trying to figure out what's been changed. These cameras are so complex I can see discovering new things for a while, complicated by the fact the literature from the makers doesn't mention so many of them.

Zoom Oddities

The camera allows a 10x zoom while filming in native 3.1 megapixel sensor mode. This applies to both stills and videos. It allows a 4x zoom while in 5Mp extrapolated mode. Again, this applies to both stills and videos. In 10Mp extrapolated mode, no zoom is allowed.

Now, I have to wonder about something. Since my understanding is that video uses only a 640x480 portion of the screen, and does not use extrapolation, why those limits would apply to videos. I have no idea. It means that if you want to use the zoom in video, you'd better not have the stills set to 10Mp.

External Battery

The disappearance of the internal battery charging means that unless you create a mock NP-60, there is no longer any way to provide external battery power to the camera via the USB/charging jack.

Play AVI's

When I first tried out the camera, I was unable to play AVI files. However, as I switched a memory card back and forth between my 720 (avi videos) and the V1 (asf videos), I realized I was seeing videos from the 720 on the V1. So I have to note the fairly remarkable improvement that the V1 plays AVI's from the 720 plus ASF's from the Aiptek DV4500. Not bad.

Histogram

Originally when I came across the histogram feature, I didn't take it seriously. But this is a major innovation, so I've updated the review, and added a topic on the subject.

Tripod Socket

The tripod socket on the V1 is metal, an improvement from the plastic threads on the 720.

Undocumented Features

You can switch between playback mode and camera/video mode anytime by pressing the picture camera shutter button. While in record mode, you can to to playback mode by pressing and holding the center button on the screen. Both of these avoid the awkward and time-consuming need to go back to the menu system to change modes.

Remote Control Issues

The remote controller is an excellent idea that could be better executed. Due to ambient IR, it doesn't work well outdoors in sunlight. Unfortunately, that's where you're most likely to be at its distance limit. And because it won't control the camera predictably in those conditions, combined with the fact it is so difficult to tell what the camera's doing due to the lack of sounds and proper led's on the front, it becomes an exercise in frustration. You certainly can't tell from 6m what's going on by reading the screen. So the remote would greatly benefit from a bright status led on the front.

Video - In Function

Tested, and works as advertised!

MP3 Deletion Issue

When you delete an mp3 song, the mp3 goes back to the start of the playlist. So then you have to scroll through to where you left off. If you have many songs on it, and are doing a lot of deletions, this is tedious.

No Multisnap Mode

There is no multisnap mode. For the DDV-810, Ispan's website says: "Continuous Shots: 5 pictures"

Video Comparison

I took a couple of test clips, of a large orange ball being thrown through a shot of a backyard. Comparing them:
- The .asf filesize from the DDV-V1 is a little larger than the .avi file from the DDV-720. - The .avi seems to have slightly brigher colors, but it's hard to tell for sure because the .asf was shot at a slightly lower angle, and the auto-exposure was a little dimmer.
- Both shots were done with image stabilization on, and the V1's .asf clip removed much more of the shake from me throwing the ball. Maybe I threw it more gently that time, but in general the video is steadier than from the 720.
- Both shots have about the same field of view.
- Of the two, the .asf is noticably sharper, and shows less distortion along horizontal lines in the subject matter.
- Doing stop-motion on the playback reveals that the ball was far less blurred on the .asf from the V1 than the .avi from the 720.
- I couldn't tell any difference in how they handled contrast. Both had featureless black for areas in deep shadow, and areas with direct sunlight on light colors were blown out.
- On the .asf, the mic picked up the sound of the ball hitting the ground, but it was delayed a bit. You can't hear the ball in the .avi.

So the judgement has to be that the V1 takes better video than the 720.



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