Google (s GOOG) has added video recording capabilities to the HTC G1 through an update of its Android operating system that was sent out wirelessly to T-Mobile customers this week. Android version 1.5, code-named Cupcake, also features video sharing via YouTube, email and MMS. Bruce Lidl did a great first write-up of the new features earlier this week, but we couldn’t resist giving Android’s video recording a shot as well.
First the facts. The G1 records 3gp videos encoded with the h.263 video codec. There are two recording modes: High-quality offers you a resolution of 352×288 and a 360 Kbps bit rate while the low-quality setting comes with a resolution of 176×144 and a bit rate of 192 Kbps. How does all of that look? Well, see for yourself.
This is from a quick car ride around my neighborhood I took earlier today. As you can see, it’s a bit of a cloudy day in Los Angeles, and the G1’s camera clearly doesn’t deal very well with low-light situations. That’s always been a problem with photos, and it doesn’t make the videos look any better. The frame rate for G1 videos seems to be anywhere between 12 and 19 fps, so you can expect some jumps when shooting from a moving car. The audio quality may sound more muffled than it actually is, since I had my radio turned down. The video is shot in high-quality mode, as are the following ones.
Here’s another video with street footage; this time it’s me waiting for a green light and everyone else moving. Not really much of an improvement.
Here’s a little bit of indoor footage (in which I out myself as a complete dork that collects random stuff). Indoor light is also a major challenge for the G1, but one can see that this might work for recording well-lit situations without too much motion.
Here are a few screenshots of the video recording UI:
Sharing is possible via MMS, Gmail and YouTube.
Speaking of YouTube: The integration of the video site is really well done. Sharing videos with YouTube is literally a three-click experience, with Android automatically naming the video after the date and time of recording.
However, you can also change its name and add a description as well as tags before the upload.
My final take? Android video recording is only as good as the hardware it’s running on, and the G1 camera is nothing to write home about. However, I could see this work well for live-streaming situations in which immediacy trumps picture quality. We should expect to see Qik and others pop up the G1 and other Android handsets soon.