Short version: A fun device but rather critically flawed: wherever you can shoot video, you can’t show it, and vice versa. It’s a hell of a lot to pay for a pocket cam, too.
- Takes 720p video
- Built-in 14-lumen 640×480 projector
- USB and HDMI out
- Micro SD slot
- MSRP: $299
- Fun idea
- Video is comparable to other pocket cams
- Simple operation
- Low brightness and low sensitivity
- Bulky for a pocket cam
3M makes a nice pico projector — which isn’t saying too much since the field is pretty limited at the moment, but the fact is that their MPro line is a pretty decent buy if you know what you’re getting into. However, on the announcement of their new projectors and the pocket cam I am reviewing, I felt they might be slipping a bit. The lumen increase on the MP180 is nice, but it got pretty chunky. And this camcorder — well, it’s here before its time, let’s put it that way.
The Shoot ‘n Share is a compromise — a unique compromise at the moment, but a compromise nonetheless. It is, of course, both a pocket cam and a pico projector. In a way, they go together, but in the end, it’s a bit like putting wasabi on your ice cream. These things are both delicious, but they don’t go together well.
It’s not an ugly piece of hardware, exactly, but it isn’t particularly attractive, either, and compact it ain’t when compared to a regular Flip or Kodak pocket cam. It’s surprisingly light, though, and yet feels very solid. That is, except for the little flaps covering the ports and micro SD slot. Those things feel like they’ll break off with the slightest touch.
The controls are little touch-sensitive glowing buttons, which do look cool, and are very responsive, but seem a bit inelegant. Why is there a back button on the right when you already have a left arrow? Simplicity is the word here, 3M, and you have fully ten buttons on the back of your device. At least the interface is clear, although the LCD is rather low-rez.
Video quality is pretty much what you’d expect from a pocket cam. Mediocre, lots of jelly-motion, but certainly no worse than your average $150 Flip. Ahh, don’t listen to me. It does its job, and the video is just fine.
The projector is about the quality of the original MPro 120: 12 lumens on battery, 14 plugged in, a nice short throw, and good color, though this picture doesn’t really show it off:
In fact, that picture is terrible. Don’t look at it. Look at this one and imagine that instead of the MPro 120, there’s the Shoot ‘n Share:
About like that. And the Shoot ‘n Share does have a tripod mount, so it’s handy in a pinch for a regular projector as well. You can run RCA through its little AV port and it does a decent job of showing SD video.
So it does its two jobs decently, though not as well as its single-purpose contemporaries. And the issue really is that there’s not a lot of reason to have both in one device. After all, if it’s bright enough to shoot video, it’s too bright to share. And if it’s dim enough to share, it’s too dim to shoot. And with a battery life of about two hours, it’s not really an ideal travel companion either.
I don’t want to be too hard on this little guy, because it really feels like more of an experiment than a bold entry to a new field. I have no doubt there will be more and better of these, just as pico projectors and pocket cams themselves have improved quite a bit in just the last two years. I can’t really advise buying this thing, though its $300 price isn’t really asking that much. It’s just that I know they’ll get a lot better soon, and unless you absolutely must combine your pocket cam with your pico projector, this is too expensive of a lark to recommend.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Review: 3M Shoot ‘N Share Camcorder-Projector