Zoom Q3 Handy Video Recorder

May 1, 2010

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.








gp0510_gearzoom0343Operating 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.









gp0510_gearzoom0344I 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 jack.









Superb audio quality in a variety of formats. Easy to use. Good video quality.



CONCERNS Standard-definition video only. No external mic input.

Zoom/Samson, 631-784-2200;

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