Design and features
There can be no doubt that the Toshiba Camileo X400 is a beautiful camera. Its design is made up of a number of different textures, making it a delight to hold not only due to its aesthetic appeal, but also because it feels genuinely expensive in the palm of your hand. This is impressive, considering how cheap it actually is at AU$349. Toshiba has done a fantastic job of combining high-quality plastic and a wood-grain textured metal in a pleasingly minimalistic way. The downfall to these materials is the tendency for the camera to become sticky and marked by your fingers as you use the device.
The lens size is average, but Toshiba has designed the area around the lens to create the illusion of size. What they didn't consider enlarging, however, was the external microphone, which is on the bottom of the lens and appears to have been added almost as an afterthought. However, Toshiba makes up for it by including a microphone input so that enthusiasts can couple the device with an external microphone, although without a hotshoe, you might find yourself reaching for the duct tape.
The 3-inch LCD screen is ordinary; it comes across as a low-resolution screen that doesn't distinguish itself from other cameras in its price range. The quality of this feature is disappointing, as it doesn't quite live up to the rest of the camera's appearance. The screen seems, in fact, to be somehow cheaper than the outer shell, and even the impressive box that it's sold in.
One feature being promoted with great zest by Toshiba for the Camileo X400 is the in-camera touchscreen editing, which is great for trimming in and out points of your clips. However, this is a quick-fix function, and by no means a heavy-duty editing suite, so for more professional results, you're better off investing your time on the computer.
The functionality of the menu is puzzling. Most of the menu selections are solely picture icons, which would be unbelievably confusing to a first-time user unfamiliar with camcorders. It takes a while to familiarise oneself with the menu, which is not ideal for a point-and-shoot camera. While the menu looks impressive, it is not functional to access easily; one example being the cartoonish image of a snail used to denote "slow motion".
|Toshiba Camileo X400||Sony HDR-CX130||Panasonic HDC-SD80|
|120GB hard drive and SD cards||SD cards||SD cards|
|23x optical zoom||30x optical zoom||34x optical zoom|
Image and video quality
For a company that usually produces high-quality electronic devices, the video quality on the Toshiba Camileo X400 is appalling. For a camera that promotes its "HD quality", it is by no means high definition enough to be worth labelling it as such. The picture is soft, and more often than not it focuses on objects in the background instead of in the foreground. When you watch the video after the fact, you can clearly see the compression of the file, which is most noticeable when you plug the camera into a large, high-definition television. On a positive note, the files are a dynamic MP4 instead of .MTS, making it far easier to transfer film to other drives, as there is no re-encoding involved.
One good point in favour of this Toshiba device is the colour spectrum of the video. The colours are bright, warm and true to life both outdoors and indoors, although this aspect doesn't make up for the grainy quality of the image. The 23x zoom is also satisfying, as it has effective image stabilisation.
The Toshiba Camileo X400 should not be bought as a device for taking photographic images or stills. While all camcorders these days are created to take still images, they are certainly not designed well enough to be used solely as still-image cameras, especially considering that most modern phones would do a better job at photography. If you desperately want to take good photos, then buy another device.
Click each image for the full-sized version.
The overall appeal of the Toshiba Camileo X400 lies heavily in its aesthetic appearance and design, which make it seem like a far more expensive camera than it actually is. Underneath this impressive exterior, however, is a very poor video camera that is as underwhelming as it is frustrating. If you like good-looking devices with very little substance underneath, then this is the camera for you. You will gain more pleasure looking at the camera itself than at the video footage.