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Review of the Aiptek3D i2 Affordable Consumer 3D Camcorder

March 29th, 2011 · 11 Comments · Shooting in 3D

Aiptek3D i2 is an interesting and affordable consumer 3D camcorder that can take 3D videos and 3D photos, as well as normal 2D videos and photographs. It is most certainly not the best 3D camcorder out there, but for a sub $200 USD product you should not expect perfect quality and results and to tell you the truth for its price, the Aiptek i2 3D camcorder does pretty well for what you are paying for it. I’ve had one camcorder for about two weeks to play with and to test of course and I can say that once you get a hold of the specifics of the device you are able to get very nice results with it.

The Aiptek i2 3D camcorder uses an autostereoscopic 3D display for displaying 3D content, can record 3D photos and 3D videos in Side by Side format with half horizontal resolution (squashed). It features an HDMI output and can play the 3D content recorded with it on a big screen 3D HDTV using Side by Side output mode. The two CMOS sensors are 5 Megapixel and are with interaxial distance of 4 centimeters, below you can see what the exact specifications of the device are…

Aiptek3D i2 Specifications:

Sensor Type: 5 megapixel (2592×1944) CMOS sensor 1/3.2″
Video Resolution: HD 720p (1280×720), 30fps, 16:9
Still Image Resolution: 5Mpix (2592×1944), 4:3
3D File Format: AVC (Advanced Video Coding) H.264 (.mp4) Side-by-Side (squashed), JPEG Side-by-Side (squashed)
2D File Format: AVC (Advanced Video Coding) H.264 (.mp4), JPEG
Internal Memory: 128MB for software and e-manual (not for storage)
External Memory: SD, SDHC, MMC up to 32GB
Digital Zoom: 4x
Focus Range: 1m to infinity
Microphone: built in stereo microphone
Speaker: built-in speaker
LCD Display: 2.4″ (6cm diagonal) 2D/3D TFT display, 480×240 pixels
Display Technology: Parralex Barrier
Display Viewing Distance: best ca. 30cm
HDMI Connection: mini-HDMI, 2D or 3D output (Side-by-Side)
PC Connection: USB 2.0, embedded
Battery: NP-60 1200mAh Li-Ion rechargeable battery
Dimension: 118mm x 72mm x 33mm (L/W/H)
Weight: 120g (without battery)

Bundled with the Aiptek i2 3D camcorder you get a pair of plastic red-cyan anaglyph glasses that you can use to view the 3D photos and videos on pretty much any normal LCD monitor or TV set. Of course you will need a player that can have Side by Side input and display the 3D photos/videos in anaglyph format, as I’ve already mentioned the device records 3D in Side by Side format (squashed). Among the accessories you also get a USB cable for connecting to a PC as well as a mini-HDMI to HDMI video cable that you can use to connect the device to a TV set and preview the recorded content on a bigger display. Notice that the device has very basic set of controls that are easy to use, aside from the joystick that is not that convenient and you may need some time to get used to its specifics. The Aiptek i2 has a dedicated button to easily switch between 2D and 3D mode that can be used when preparing to shoot as well as when previewing content, have in mind however that when shooting 2D content you get only 2D images and videos and when in 3D mode you get only 3D content recorded.

At the bottom of the camcorder you get a plastic mount for attaching it to a tripod, something that you might want to do as shaking your hands while shooting with the device is not a good idea, there is no built-in stabilization and the camcorder suffers from the CMOS rolling shutter problem… you can see what I’m talking about in the demo video footage I’ve recorded. The other thing is a retractable USB port, something that is neither very convenient, not very practical, so I wonder why they’ve decided to use this approach… probably because Aiptek wanted to allow you to connect the camcorder to a PC even if you forget the extra cable, directly to a USB port, but due to the size of the device that is not possible is quite a lot of cases.

On this side of the device, Aiptek put the power button that is quite flimsy and you have to get the hang of it to properly pushing it, I personally got quite annoyed every time I needed to turn on and off the device, trying to push the button the right way. Also I’m not very happy due to the fact that the mini-HDMI port is very close to the power button, making it even harder to be pushed when the cable is connected. The openness of the SD card slot also worried me a bit at first, but there were not problems with that at all. One more thing that I did not like with this black version of the camcorder is that half of the plastic is glossy and that looks messy with fingerprints all over after you use the device for a while, meaning that you need to wipe it clean from time to time to make it look nice. When in 2D mode the resolution of the display is quite Ok, but when you activate 3D mode, the quality of the 3D isn’t very good due to the further reduced resolution of the autostereoscopic 3D display, because of the way it functions. But enough with how the device looks lets move to some sample 3D photos and 3D videos and more feedback on how the device handles in different conditions.

I’ve already mentioned that it takes some effort on the user’s end to make good pictures, but the resulting quality is decent enough for viewing even on a Full HD 3D screen. Sure having an additional light/flash and stabilization could’ve helped into getting better results, but enough talking; you better take a look at some of the test photos I’ve taken with the i2. The photos were taken in different light conditions, so you can observe how well the camera performs with good lighting, with no so good and even during in low light and dark conditions. I’ve uploaded the test 3D photos to the 3DVisionLive.com web portal, so you can directly view them through the browser if you have 3D Vision. The 3D photos are recorded in 5 megapixel resolution, Side by Side format with 4:3 aspect ratio, but they are with half horizontal resolution (squashed). The photos are not that great when you look at them at zoomed in to their full resolution which is quite high, but when you resize them to fit a full HD screen or even lower resolution the quality actually is very nice.

To the gallery with Aiptek I2 3D test photos at the 3D Vision Live Web portal…

Here is a short 5 minute video clip that combines multiple short test videos in 3D recorded with the Aiptek i2 3D camera. Although the camcorder suffers from the CMOS rolling shutter issue and you should not pan with it too quickly or shoot while moving as there is no stabilization, but you can shoot moving objects if the camera is steady and not moving. The low light performance is quite decent, unless of course you have no external light at all… for example you can shoot indoors with low light and still get decent results or even outside on the street in the night with just some street lights etc. You can watch the test 3D footage on the embedded YouTube 3D video above with a pair of anaglyph glasses or download a better quality Side by Side version from the links below to watch with 3D Vision to get better idea of the quality you will get. Have in mind that the videos are in Side by Side format with half horizontal resolution, so both left and right frames are compressed in a single 1280×720 frame which can lead to some issues like jagged edges of straight lines on some objects or some loss of sharpness in some areas, the resolution isn’t that high either to capture a lot of detail, but still the quality is quite decent.

So in overall I can say that the Aiptek3D i2 camcorder is a nice toy for capturing 3D photos and videos, not very expensive – sub $200 USD, portable – can fit in a pocket, great for learning to shoot in 3D, before switching to something better and more expensive and quite fun to play with actually. I’ve already passed this period a while ago however and I’m looking for something that can provide higher resolution and better quality, but also multiple times more expensive, but for beginners with 3D photo and video as well as not so demanding enthusiasts the Aiptek i2 3D camcorder can turn out to be a great starting point. Especially after you play a bit with it to get the hang of the specific things you should and should not do when using the device for recording in order to be able to get the maximum out of it.

And don’t forget to keep up your Aiptek i2 3D camcorder up to date…

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