VTech Kidizoom Video Camera – Review

I’m not sure how many years it’s been since the first generation Kidizoom Cameras came out, but it seems like it’s been top of Thomas’ Christmas for the last 3 years at least.

I’ve been seriously considering it every Christmas too, but are always a bit put off by reviews complaining of bad picture quality, and have decided against it for another year.

So when I received the brand new Kidizoom Video Camera to review I was excited to put it to the test, but also preparing myself that it wasn’t going to be up to much.

Well I’m pleased to report that my fears were unfounded and that the Kidizoom is actually amazing quality for a child’s toy. In fact the pictures and video are much better than the ones I could take on my mobile phone I had only 3 years ago.

If I’d have received my very own video camera when I was younger I would have been amazed! I used to run round the garden with my uncles broken old cine film camera that didn’t even work and that impressed me, so I know how much I would have loved this.

The Camera

Just like all of the Kidizoom range, the Video Recorder is made of tough kidiproof plastic, so there’s no worrying about the kids getting too rough and the camera falling and breaking, This camera can handle it!

The Kiddizoom Video recorder has 4 different modes, Video mode, Director Mode, Camera Mode and Games.

In Video mode it’s just like a normal camcorder, just point and shoot up to 15 minutes of video at a time. A chunky button on the side activates the Zoom function. Kids will have no problems getting to grips with filming, it’s just one button press and your away. It couldn’t be simpler.

The Director Mode is where the fun really begins, and where the Kidizoom shows off why it’s the best camera/video camera for children.

In Director Mode you can choose from a set of 5 interactive backgrounds. There’s a Birthday, Seaside, Outdoors, Spooky alien and Magician themes to choose from.  With the Kidizoom Face Tracking technology, your children will have great fun making the pictures appear to come alive.

Each background has a set of 4 interactive elements, which are activated by pressing the directional buttons on the Kidizoom whilst filming. The clever Face Tracking will have Kids amazed as crabs pinch them, funny Hats appear on their head, Octopuses squirt them with ink…and much more.

Birthday Theme press the four directional buttons for a

  • Birthday Cake in the face
  • Kisses
  • Party Hat and Streamers
  • Blowing out Candles

Seaside Theme

  • Waves splashing sound and Waves splash over picture
  • Crab walks across the screen and pinches claws
  • Sun comes out and beads of sweat down face
  • Octopuses appear and spray ink over the face

Outdoor Theme

  • Bongo drums play and you get an Indian mask on the face
  • Spider comes swinging down and spins web over the face
  • Bee flies across screen and stings the cheek
  • Rainbow appears

Spooky Theme

  • Alien pops up and gives you one big alien eye
  • UFO flies across screen
  • Ghost floats across and sticks his tongue out Licking your face

Magician Theme

  • Puffs of smoke come out of the boxes and turn your face into a pig
  • Rabbit come out of boxes and juggle carrots which end up on your ears
  • Shooting stars fly across the screen
  • Birds fly out of boxes with flowers which land as a hat on your head

The Directors mode is so much fun, and incredibly easy to use. It was so funny watching Thomas’ face as he filmed his little brother getting stung by a bee, which he thought was hilarious. Thomas had no problems at all getting the hang of the controls, I only showed him one of the directional buttons, and he got it straight away.

Next up is the Camera mode. Either use it as a regular point and shoot camera, or add some fun effects to your pictures. Whilst in the camera mode by pressing the directional buttons forward you can scroll through a huge array of funny effects to make your pictures even better.

Choose from Dame Edna style Glasses, a Musketeer hat, Pink hair in bunches, a Lion face, Sailors hat, Bunny face, Hippo’s head, Knights helmet, Albert Einstein moustache and glasses, Minnie Mouse bow, Cake over the face, Bandaged head, and Elton John style star glasses.

There’s also some great photo frames which really make a picture special. Choose from an Artist’s Easel, Airplane, Dinosaurs, Rock star, Shark, Hearts, Dracula, Film star, and Newspaper.

Editing

Video editing on the Kidizoom Video Recorder is obviously child’s play. Just navigate to the video editing option on the screen and you can cut and edit your videos instantly. You can also add one of 3 opening scenes to make your movies look even more snazzy and professional. Here’s a sample of one of the option below:

I’m still a bit paranoid about putting pictures of the kids onto the website, so I took this picture and the video using a photo of Thomas from when he was younger that I have on the wall, just to show you how the effects work. The Face Tracking was still able to work its magic, and I think they look great.

To show you how good the picture quality of the Kidizoom is in Camera mode, here is a photo I took of my sons new favourite toy Buzz Lightyear. I think you’ll agree he looks pretty good, and amazing when you think that this is only a child’s toy.

The Camera comes with a USB lead for hooking up to the computer, and a Video out lead for setting it up to view the photos on the TV.

Using the USB lead to download photos from the Kidizoom is simple and painless. It works with both PC and Mac. I am a Mac user, as soon as I plugged the USB lead in It started up iPhoto and my pictures were on my screen in minutes. I also hooked it up to the TV and that was easy as well. It’ll be nice for the kids to see their movies and videos up on the big screen.

You’ll probably want to invest in an additional SD card for the camera, although I’ve found the internal memory enough so far I haven’t let them totally loose with it yet. I’m sure it’ll be filled up in no time with movies of action figures fighting and Thomas doing Karate moves.

Games

For a little bit of extra fun there are 3 inbuilt games to try out as well, Photo Swap, Hide and Seek, and Crazy Kitchen. The games are very easy and wont keep an avid gamer used to the delights of the DS and PSP busy for long, but having your own face and photos in the game does make them something more interesting.

Photoswap is one of those moving the tiles around games. I really do detest those games, but this one is fun because it’s more at my level (as in it’s for the kids and is quite easy). What makes the PhotoSwap game special is that as well as some stock photos of animals and things your own photos get added to the game too. Run out of photos in the game? Just snap some more!

Hide and Seek is a simple game where you press the directional buttons where you see the rabbit appearing from.

Crazy Kitchen is an extremely cute little game. You start by using the Face Tracking to take a photo of your intended subject in a chefs hat and outfit. The game then consists of different ingredients falling down from above, and you moving left and right to catch them in your big pan. Another simple idea made very funny thanks to the ability to be in the game yourself.

Review Sum Up

I’ve been extremely impressed by the Kidizoom Video Camera, and so surprised by how great the video and photo quality is. Sometimes big claims about backgrounds, graphics and face tracking are made and then disappoint, but the Kidizoom is different as the face tracking technology is integral to it’s success (and it really works) There are so many things to add to your pictures, that it’s much more than just a camera/video recorder, it will really set your children’s imagination alight.

The backgrounds and images are so amazingly well done that I’m even considering buying the new VTech Buzz Lightyear Digital Camera as Thomas is totally enamoured with Buzz Lightyear at the moment, and being able to take pictures of himself with his Toy Story hero’s in the pictures would make him so happy.

It would also mean that we’d have two cameras in the house, and the boys can finally stop arguing about who has it first!


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