Zoom Q3: Finally A Flip-Type Pocket Cam With Decent Audio

Our Battlemodo showed that while cheap pocket camcorder video quality has come a long way, audio quality is usually abysmal. The Zoom Q3 aims to change that with TWO directional microphones that can be focused much like a lens zooms.

To be sure, the Zoom Q3 looks like it neglects video quality in favour of audio: Its paltry 640x480 resolution is sure to look outdated next to the true 720p offered by the Flip UltraHD and others. But the Q3 is all about audio, and we're pretty impressed with what Zoom packed into it. You can see in the picture above that it's got two mics to give true stereo sound, and they can be aimed both manually and with the camcorder's automatic presets. It looks pretty easy to get correct levels as well, with several modes to help get the best possible sound. As for audio formats, it'll do 44.1/48kHz 16/24-bit Linear PCM WAV or MP3 up to 320kbps, which is slightly limited but should do fine.

At the basic hardware level, it's got a 2.4-inch LCD, takes SDHC cards for memory (a 2GB card is included, but you'll want to upgrade that pronto) and runs on 2 AA batteries. It'll cost $US250 when it ships in September, which is a little pricey; the Flip UltraHD costs $US180 at Amazon. We're not totally sold on the entire package, either: If the Q3 packed HD video as well as this level of audio, we'd be really excited, but we think video is probably more important for most pocket camcorder users than audio. Still, it's definitely a unique product and hopefully we'll see the product line develop more. [Zoom]