capsule review

RCA Small Wonder Pocket EZ205 Camcorder

At a Glance
  • RCA Small Wonder Pocket EZ205

    PCWorld Rating

    Nice design touches can't overcome this camcorder's shoddy performance.

RCA's Small Wonder Pocket EZ205 is one of three big-name pocket camcorders to be released recently; the others are PureDigital's Flip Mino and Creative's Vado. Unlike the other two, the Small Wonder boasts removable storage (via a microSD card) and a flip-out LCD screen--and it runs on AA batteries. Unfortunately, its image quality is mediocre at best.

Though the Small Wonder isn't as small as the Mino or the Vado, its slim, light design makes it easy to tote along everywhere. It's about the same size and weight as an iPod Classic, except a bit wider and deeper.

I tested the device by recording some musical performances (in varying lighting conditions) and some straightforward daylight tests. Video quality of the performances was fair, but video taken in bright daylight was significantly sharper. Also, sound didn't always sync up to my recorded video, and the microphone's location at the rear of the camera didn't help the audio quality.

The 1GB microSD card included with the unit is a nice touch. It holds up to 4 hours of footage at the lowest-quality setting, and you can expand the memory with your own SD or SDHC card of up to 8GB. I was disappointed in the camcorder's zoom capabilities, however: The 2X digital zoom just didn't seem to zoom all that much--and when it did, it didn't move smoothly back and forth. There was also a lag between when I pressed the zoom button and when the actual zooming action occurred.

The few still pictures that I took with the Small Wonder were nothing to write home about. And don't plan on taking still photos after dark; the Small Wonder doesn't have a flash, so all of my night shots were grainy and nearly useless.

I had no trouble plugging the EZ205 into my computer. The built-in USB connector swings out from behind the swiveling LCD screen. Like the connectors on the Mino and the Vado, the attached USB connector is helpful for users who tend to lose cords and cables.

After I plugged the Small Wonder into a USB port, the RCA Memory Manager software launched. Unfortunately, I found the application clunky and problematic. Trying to e-mail video files took upward of 10 minutes as each file first had to be converted from .avi format to .wmv format. When I tried to use the software to upload videos directly to YouTube, all I got was an error message; burning the videos to a disc also took several attempts.

Despite its handy design, the RCA Small Wonder EZ205 was disappointing. I can think of better ways to spend $100.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Nice design touches can't overcome this camcorder's shoddy performance.

    Pros

    • 1GB MicroSD card included
    • Handy, built-in USB connector

    Cons

    • Back-mounted microphone picks up background noise
    • Included software is clunky
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