Unfortunately, there's a serious lack of video-recording applications for Android that build on the features of the stock app. Perhaps its because there are so many devices with so many different cameras, or perhaps its because the stock camcorder app does things so well. In any event, we found that the stock camcorder app offered the most control over the camera and got the job done with the least hassle or setup.
- Preinstalled on all Android devices running 1.6 and higher
- Can record video in full HD if your hardware supports it
- Allows you to tweak video recording quality to save space if necessary
- Supports tap-to-zoom and can use the phone's flash for continuous light while recording
- Supports video stabilisation and other effects (depending on hardware)
This is one of those situations where the stock app is the best because it gives you all of the access to the features available on your Android device and because it's pre-installed. The stock camcorder app won't blow you away, and on most devices it only comes with the minimum required to quickly record and share video on the go, but that's enough for most people and it gets the job done. Part of the issue is that app developers can't inject features into a camcorder app that a specific handset doesn't support, so it's difficult to come up with camcorder apps that really enhance the recording experience without just adding software effects.
The biggest drawback of the stock camorder app is that it's tied to the stock camera app as well. There are plenty of other great camera apps out there for Android, but to use the camcorder app, you have to launch the default camera app, or at least install a camcorder shortcut that will let you jump right to the video side of the app. Additionally, the fact that features vary in the camcorder app so greatly depending on the version of Android you're running and the ROM you're using means that some devices have solid, feature-rich camcorder apps with image stabilisation, shooting grids and brightness and contrast settings, while some budget Android devices have little more than a viewfinder with a record button.
Qik Video (free), like most of the alternatives in this field, aren't so much alternatives but alternate interfaces for the camcorder that upload video directly to their services or allow you to share your video directly with a specific social network. Qik is a great option though, and provided you sign up for an account, the app can cut down on the wait time between shooting your video and having it posted on the internet where your friends and family can see it.
YouTube (free) is another alternative, but on most devices the YouTube app simply interfaces with the built-in camcorder app and makes it easy to post your video directly to YouTube when you're finished recording. If your web video world revolves around YouTube, you may bypass the stock camcorder app entirely and just open the YouTube app to record and upload your videos in one stroke.
Sadly, this is a category where the richness of Android apps and the diversity of its development pool simply hasn't caught up. There is, however, a cottage industry of apps in the Android App Market that are designed to let you record video from your phone without being noticed, or record video from your camera while you use other apps on your phone's screen, turning your Android device into a spy-camera, but that's a different category entirely. Do you know a great camcorder replacement for Android, or an alternative that we couldn't find? Let us know in the comments below.
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