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GrandVision CoolDV J8
Digital Cameras/Camcorders | First Looks
Wed 21 Dec 2005



Have It Your Way In Six Different Ways

 
Battery and SD card compartment.

 
Easy one-handed operation.

 
External connections are all found here.

Established in July 1991, GrandTech, a Taiwanese company that deals in professional communication software and hardware has now released a 6-in-1 product that appears to be the only digital gadget most casual consumers will ever need. Marketed under its own GrandVision branding, the CoolDV J8 is a compact handheld lifestyle device boasting six highly integrated functions, bringing audio/video recording, native and external MP3/Stills/Video playback, webcam, SD card reader and USB mass storage to the table.

Easy To Handle

Granted that past experiences with products boasting a significant number of functions were not overwhelmingly pleasant, a sense of skepticism to the overall quality and execution of the CoolDV J8 was inevitable. Judging by its small frame and a light mass of just 138g, the first impression we get is of a device that is apparently designed for easy, one-handed operation. This will be immediately evident when one begins to wield the CoolDV J8. Buttons are positioned in a layout where the majority of advanced controls can all be easily accessed and activated using nothing more than your thumb. We find its light weight to be a major plus in the handling department of the CoolDV J8. However, because the entire body is constructed out of regular plastic materials, the build quality is only average at best.

6-in-1

A quick flick of the rotating 2.0-inch color LCD instantly powers on the CoolDV J8, which depending on the mode dial of operation, can be set to either snap still images, perform audio/video recording, read SD memory cards, function as a webcam, or as a USB mass storage device. The CoolDV J8 also shares many features that are commonly found on standalone digital cameras. Date stamp, red eye reduction flash, scenes, exposure compensation, white balance, color, sequence shots, and timer shot are all available. However unlike most compact digital cameras, the image sensor in the CoolDV J8 is a less advanced CMOS implementation and not a CCD variant. As such, the CoolDV J8 produces still images and video recordings of quality that is similar if not marginally superior than those from the current crop of camera phones with a caveat that it is used outdoors under bright conditions.

Field Tests
 
Video recording at its maximum VGA resolution (640 x 480 pixels) turned out to be generally smooth, but playback wasn't quite up to the quality expected from the rated 30 frames per second. Recording volume was also sufficiently loud, but again could have fared better if there was an option to increase microphone gain. No additional adjustments were available in audio recording mode, though the upside here was that recording length was only as short, or as long as permissible by the capacity of the SD memory card inserted. MP3 playback on the other hand was surprisingly good. Paired with an excellent set of Grado SR80 headphones with its vented diaphragm design, the CoolDV J8 sounded neither too bright nor too warm. Although resonance for bass notes was a tad on the soft side with a rather disappointing dispersed reproduction of lower frequencies, there was enough tonal clarity to enjoy 'Rock' and 'Pop' genres of music with gusto.
 
Accessories
 
It's a shame that dimensions of both the earphone and video-out jacks are of the 2.5mm kind and not the more commonplace 3.5mm versions. This means that converters will be required in order to pair the CoolDV J8 with other commercial earphones/headphones/speakers and external visual units such as TVs and projectors. Thankfully however, the US$238 6-in-1 handheld is accompanied by a comprehensive bundle, including 2.5 to 3.5mm converter, 2.5mm-RCA video cable, a stand, a pair of earphones, mini USB cable, charger, and even a protective pouch.
 
Our Thoughts
 
Given its handy set of popular functions, a decent showing of performance and portability, the GrandVision CoolDV J8 is quite a nifty all-rounder gadget to have around. Although the audio and video qualities were not as good as dedicated MP3/MPEG4 players, there is no denying the convenience factor it has to offer, particularly in casual, outdoor situations where it usually becomes impractical to burden yourself with multiple gadgets. If you haven't yet invested in dedicated function-based gadgets, the GrandVision CoolDV J8 might be worth a look for a simple all-round solution.

     

Product Specifications

  • 3.1-megapixel CMOS sensor (12.0-megapixel interpolation)
  • Video Resolution: 640 x 480 / 320 x 240 pixels @ approx. 30fps
  • MP3 Player
  • Voice Recorder
  • USB Mass Storage Device
  • PC Camera (640 x 480 / 320 x 240 pixels)
  • 2.0-inch TFT LCD
  • NTSC / PAL Video Output
  • 16MB Built-in Memory
  • Onboard SD Memory Slot
  • Supports JPEG, MP3 and MPEG4 Files
  • Multi-Language Support: English, Japanese, Chinese (Traditional/Simplified), German, French, Spanish, Italian
  • Li-ion Battery Powered (2 - 3 Hours)
  • USB v1.1 Connection
  • Dimension: 103 x 66 x 29mm (H x D x W)
  • Weight: 138g (without battery)
  • Accessories: Software CD, TV cable, USB cable, User's manual, earphone, pouch, Li-ion battery
  • Bundled Software: Arcsoft PhotoImpression 5.0 & Video Impression 2.0