Octave Systems, Inc. Multipod 5 in 1 Review

Product Requirements:
Web Cam mode: USB port, MS
Windows 98SE (install USB driver), WinME, Win2000, WinXP OS with DirectX 8.1 or
    Graphics Adapter capable of 800×600 resolution, 64k colors
    Pentium II 266, with 64MB RAM (Win 98/ME), or 128MB RAM
Pen Drive Mode: MS Win 98SE, WinME, Win2000, WinXP

Updated 02/07/05 – new comments are in red and

How many times have you seen something that you wished you could take a photo
of, but your camera was back at home? Or how many times have you wished that you
had a video recorder with you as you watched something unusual happen? While
it’s not very likely that many of us will ever run into a
Sasquatch while out hiking (unless you live
in Skamania County, Washington, that is), there are plenty of everyday things
which occur that we later wish could have been captured – whether as a photo, a
video or as a voice recording.

I know as well anyone that just because I own a great camera does not mean I
will always tote it along. There have been plenty of times when I have been out
running errands, carrying just the basics, when I would see something that would
make me instantly regret that my Olympus was at home next to my desk. What I
need to keep in my purse is a tiny camera which weighs next to nothing, takes up
little to no space, and that will take a decent picture in natural light.

When I was approached by Octave Systems Inc.
about reviewing their

Multipod 5 in 1
, I was game but I honestly didn’t expect much. First of all,
the name threw me off – Multipod. I knew it was supposed to be a camera of some sort,
but my first thought was that it must be yet another attachment for the iPod –
in this case a camera. I read the Multipod’s description on Octave System’s
website and found out that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Photo courtesy of the Octave System’s website

The Multipod 5 in 1 is a tiny little gadget that measures approximately 3�"
long x 1" wide x �" thick and weighs in at just 0.7 ounces. Included in it’s
Lilliputian measurements is a gadget that is capable of the following:
Video Recorder
– Capture up to 12 minutes of full motion
video with sound (640 x 480
pixels @30fps)

Digital Camera
– Take up to 3,000 pictures (320
x 240 pixels)

128MB of Data Storage
– Use it as an external drive for
your PC or Laptop. Great for moving files about.
Web Cam
� Connect with others far away.
Voice Recorder
� Record notes or an entire meeting at

The packaging includes the Multipod 5 in 1, a flexible metal USB extension
cable for the web cam, a necklace storage pouch and a software CD.

The necklace storage pouch is handy for those times when you are out and
about without pockets and without a bag, but you don’t want to be without a
camera. The metal extension cable allows the Multipod to be propped up to film
the user – provided there is a USB port at their head’s height. This should work
very well with laptops, as well as PCs like my Dell 4600C, which place the box
on the user’s desktop.

The skeptic in me is very wary of devices that claim to be a convergent end-all be-all,
especially when they are only a little bit bigger than the size of my pointer
finger. Once I received the Multipod, I played with it for a little while and
then began to seriously put it through its paces. While I would never expect any
one little gadget to replace five dedicated devices, I wanted to see if
the Multipod could be a good solution for someone that needed the most portable
5 in 1 device, well the only 5 in 1 device, that I’ve ever seen.

When the Multipod is first unwrapped, it will need to be plugged directly
into a free USB port for at least two and a half hours to charge the internal
lithium battery. When plugged in, a green light will glow and a long high
pitched beep will sound. Next will come the ubiquitous USB recognition tones.
There is no indication when the battery is full, but when the battery gets lo,
L6 will be displayed on the tiny LCM display.

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The software CD should be run, installing the Web Cam Driver and the
eDVR.Create software. This might be a good time to also take a look at the
manual, as there are a lot of little LCM indications that the user should
familiarize himself with.

To power on the Multipod, the user should press the Mode/Power button for a
second. The green LED will glow, and a long beep will sound. dn, 0n,
HI then dc will flash on the LCM as a long beep sounds. This lets
the user know that everything is working properly and the Multipod is in
hi-resolution digital camera mode. In this case, hi-resolution is 640 x 480
pixels, versus low resolution which is 320 x 240.

Video Recorder: The video recorder is activated by turning on the
Multipod. Once it has run through its start-up routine, the user should press
the Mode/Power button until du is displayed. Next the Snap button is
pressed to start the recording and an amber LED will glow. When finished, the
Snap button is again pressed. At this point, the screen will flash PP,
then go back to dc. There are actually two video record settings –
HI, which is the default setting. It records at the rate of 30 FPS with an 11KHz
audio sample rate. The user can also select Lo, which records at the rate of 15
FPS with an 8KHz audio sample rate.

It would be great if videos could be played in their native format directly
from the Multipod, but they must first be converted from their STJ format.

This is done by installing then running the running the eDVR.Create software
included on the disk. I have the program set to grab the STJ movie files
directly from the Multipod, convert them, deposit the newly created ASF files in
My Documents folder, and then delete the old files from the Multipod. These ASF
files will play in Windows Media Player.  If a conversion must be done,
then this is a pretty efficient way to accomplish it.

You can see some great

clips that other users have uploaded on the Octave Systems website.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the vocal quality and the video
smoothness. While the indoors video that I took was quite grainy, the ones I did
during the day, in natural light, were much better.

Obviously this video recorder is not meant to replace your thousand dollar
handheld, but I have yet to see a skier tape one of those to their
goggles before heading downhill, as one of the user videos shows in the Octave
collection. Be sure to watch the video of Sophie, the yellow lab wearing her
snow booties – she is precious!

Digital Camera: Similar to the digital picture that you can get with a
typical mobile phone or camera enabled PDA, the Multipod will take pictures in
hi-resolution (640 x 480 pixels) or low resolution (320 x 240). Here you can see
a picture taken at 5:30 pm on a cold winter’s day. The sunlight isn’t the best,
and I was probably shaking from the cold, but the picture came out remarkable
clear and just about as gray as the day was.

This picture was taken inside, with unnatural light at approximately 6:00 pm.
As you can see, the Multipod does not do as well with poor light. If the user
remembers that there is no flash, and that natural sunlight creates the best
lighting situation, pictures like this will be avoided.

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I am a little bit concerned about the lack of cover for the camera lens. I
realize that it would be a pain to always have to remember to remove one, but it
seems like it would aid the life of the lens if there were a way to protect it.

128MB of Data Storage: When the Multipod is plugged directly into a
USB port, it shows up as a removable disk. Up to 125MB total is available for
storage of files, pictures, digital movie recording, etc. No special driver is
needed for the Multipod to serve this purpose, so this means that on top of
everything else, the user will now be able to carry and move files back and
forth between computers. There is no encryption, so be careful what type of
information is stored if you wouldn’t want it to fall into the wrong hands.

Web Camera: Well, I did not have good luck with this feature of the
Multipod. Yes, I installed the driver and restarted my computer, but the CA
option on the Multipod, which is supposed to indicate the Web Cam was never
offered to me. In fact, when I plugged the Multipod into the flexible metal
extension cable, Hd for Hard-drive showed in the LCM, but not CA as I was
hoping for.

With the Web Cam properly installed, I went ahead and tried to run the Direct
Cap software included on the CD, which enables streaming audio and video – but
no dice. As you can see by these pictures, when I hit the option button for
Video device, none is shown. It should offer the option of "NMS Video Camera

I did have the audio option when I hit the button.

So, for me – using the Multipod as a Web Cam was a bust.

Updated 02/07/05: I found out what the problem was!
The Multipod must be turned completely off, then the Mode/Power button
must be held until there is a long beep. At this point, CA will be
displayed in the LCM and the web cam will be functional.

Voice Recorder: To record audio clips, power on the Multipod and then
cycle through the modes until you come to Rc, which actually looks more
like Ac. Once in this mode, you press the snap button, and the green and
amber lights will glow together – looking somewhat yellow. When you are done
recording your deep thoughts, press the snap button again. The resulting file is
saved as a WAV file, which will play without any conversion.

I suppose that the Multipod 5 in 1 is some might call a "jack of all trades and a master of
none," which is not necessarily a bad thing. It does everything that it is
supposed to do remarkably well when its size and price are considered. It’s not
the best camera or video recorder, but it small enough that when you don’t want
to carry its full size counterparts, you will at least be ready should something
amazing occur. If you
should ever find yourself hiking in a Washington forest and the Sasquatch should
come streaking by, you will be quite glad that you had it with you.

Here is the Online Manual
for those that would like to review the Multipod 5 in 1’s features and

Price: $149.99

Five in one device that allows the user to take digital photos, record movies,
record voice memos, use it as a webcam and as a 128MB flash drive
Takes very good photos in settings with good natural lighting
Takes very good videos in settings with good natural lighting
Excellent voice recording capability
Handy USB Flash drive
"It’s a jack of a trades…

…but only a master of some"
No cover for the camera lens
Takes the best pictures only in settings with good natural lighting
Takes the best videos only in settings with good natural lighting

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Product Information

Manufacturer:Octave Systems, Inc.
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