This handheld has hi-def video and audio.

LESS-THAN-DESIRABLE SOUND is to be expected of most video recorders. Which is fine for some projects, but if you really need the sound to be as quality as the picture — e.g., shooting live music, festivals, etc — it’s a drag to have to use a separate audio recording device.

Enter the ZOOM Q3HD recorder — the only handheld camcorder on the market that records HD audio as well as video. A few stats to start with:

  • Captures video in 1080 at 30 FPS or in 720p at both 60 and 30 FPS
  • 5M pixels CMOS lens
  • 2.4 inch QVGA LCD screen
  • Jacks for line input, phones/line output, DC5V, TV, HDMI
  • SD/SDHC card slot
  • 3 lighting settings (auto, night, concert) and larger aperture
  • Built-in stereo condenser mics with 120 degree X/Y configuration
  • Uses up to 32 GB SD card for 7 hours of movies
  • Built-in USB cable
  • Widescreen option (just flip it)

I’m married to a musician and am one myself, so I see a lot of live shows. The concert setting is a great option on the ZOOM — it adjusts automatically for the erratic flashes and sudden changes from bright to black that come with most musical performances, particularly in clubs.

The ZOOM is extremely easy to use right out of the box, with a “Menu” button, play and trash buttons, as well as record, zoom, and volume control. As you record, the screen displays your sound levels so you can adjust accordingly. HandyShare editing software accompanies the recorder, but you can also use your own program, such as iMovie or Final Cut.

This camera is small and light, allowing you to go into stealth mode. For example, when you’re touring a gorgeous church in Quebéc and the organ player decides to practice a little Bach.

A tip I learned in mega-windy Quebéc: if you’re going to take video outside, slap a windscreen on this thing. (One is available, along with a soft case, AC adapter, HDMI cable, AV cable, and tripod, in ZOOM’s accessory package.)

Price (sans accessory package): $299

This contest is closed.

And the winner is….Joeva Rock!

Stay tuned for more Goods giveaways.