COMPACT DIGITAL-AUDIO RECORDERS are all the rage—as are mini video cams
such as the Flip UltraHD—but the Zoom
Q3 ($249 retail) combines both functions
in a single product. The Q3 only captures
regular-definition/640x480 video, meaning
it can’t rival HD mini-cams, but it is
peerless when it comes to audio recording.
Besides sporting a nice-sounding
stereo condenser microphone, the Q3
offers an extensive choice of recording
formats, including 12 flavors of mp3
(ranging from 48kps to 320kps), 16-bit
or 24-bit/44.1kHz or 48kHz PCM, and
up to 24-bit/96kHz in audio-only mode.
There isn’t an external microphone jack,
however—a cost-containment measure
that limits the unit’s versatility.
Operating the Q3 is a breeze, and its
joystick master button and Play, Menu,
and Erase buttons will be familiar to
mini-cam users. There’s also a Mic Gain
switch with a choice of Low, High,
or Auto modes. Auto works well for
most situations, and you can tweak the
mic-input level using the joystick if
necessary. In addition, there’s a switch
for audio only, 1/8" jacks for headphone/
line-level audio output, and an included
cable that routs NTSC or PAL TV signals
to a monitor or VCR. A pop-out
USB connector and an SDHC card slot
complete the picture. The Q3 includes
a 2GB card for an hour of video, and
accepts up to 32GB cards.
I used the Q3 while covering the 2010
Winter NAMM Show with good results.
Audio quality was excellent, and the autolimiter
kept even the most cochlea-crushing
levels under control. Video quality was
more than adequate for Web streaming as
long as there was sufficient light—the clarity
decreased precipitously in darkened
spaces. This is a great device for any application
where audio is critical, although I’d
certainly be willing to pay more for HD
video capability and an external microphone
HANDY VIDEO RECORDER
KUDOS Superb audio quality in a variety of
formats. Easy to use. Good video quality.
CONCERNS Standard-definition video only. No
external mic input.
CONTACT Zoom/Samson, 631-784-2200;