Zoom has announced a smaller brother to the company's excellent Q3HD handycam. First shown at Frankfurt's Musikmesse 2012 in March, the new Q2HD shares many of the feature set with its bigger sibling, but sports something called Mid-Side stereo microphone technology instead of an X/Y pattern. Mid-Side stereo audio recording was first introduced in Zoom's H2n Handy Recorder and offers precision control over the width of the stereo field, allowing users to decide how much of the surrounding noise/ambient sound gets through to the recording.
The Q2HD features an upgraded 5-megapixel CMOS sensor, a new fixed-focus larger aperture (F3.2) lens and 4x digital zoom. As the name suggests, the handy video recorder is capable of Full HD video capture at 30 frames per second (fps) in MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 format, and both 30 and 60 fps at 720p and WVGA resolution. There's a 2-inch, 320 x 240 pixel resolution LCD screen to the rear of the unit, which can be switched between portrait and landscape views by pressing and holding the play button.
The Q2HD can automatically handle scene settings for you, or you can select a Night and a Concert Lighting mode, the latter usefully leveling out much of the glare caused by stage lighting bouncing off performers. Zoom says that the user interface has been given some attention and now features user-friendly, icon-based navigation, and there's in-device divide and trim editing, too.
To the top of the Q2HD are the built-in condenser microphones benefiting from Mid-Side stereo technology. The unidirectional mid microphone captures sound directly in front while the left and right get taken care of by a bidirectional side mic, with users being able to control how much sound is picked up by the side microphone by widening or decreasing the width of the stereo field in steps from 30 to 150 degrees.
An included low-cut filter can reduce unwanted background noise, and there's a mic gain wheel on the side of the unit for manual level control. Users can also choose between three presets and an auto mode, and audio meters are displayed onscreen.
Sound can be recorded to 16/24-bit Linear PCM (WAV) files at a sampling frequency of 44.1, 48 or 96 kHz, or as 64 to 320kbps AAC audio at 48 kHz for those occasions when you want quality sound in a smaller-sized file.
The Q2HD is SD/SDHC/SDXC media card compatible, benefits from both HDMI output for direct connection to a big screen TV and mini-USB to allow the device to be used as a quality USB microphone for portable devices. The handy cam also caters for live streaming through the USB 2.0 port via a connected computer/laptop direct to the internet, allowing users to broadcast a live performance to fans as it happens, or to make sure that everyone gets the chance to see a press conference at the same time.
The recorder runs on two AA-sized batteries that are said to offer two hours of video or four hours of audio before needing some attention, features a 400mW, 8 ohms mono reference speaker, a 3.5mm line out/headphone jack, and a tripod mount on the bottom of the unit.
The Zoom Q2HD will be available from August 2012 for US$199.99, when it will be shipped with batteries, a 2GB SD card and HandyShare editing and uploading software.