Friday, February 4, 2011

Cool Technology of the Week

I'm a late adopter when it comes to camcorder technology.   Over the course of my life, I've see VHS, 8mm, Hi-8, and MiniDV camcorders revolutionize the market, only to be replaced by completely solid state storage (SSD, Compact Flash, iPod, etc).

Since I've only purchased 2 camcorders in my life, I've been insulated from all this change.   I had an 8mm simple camcorder (a water resistant "Sport" model) from the late 1980's and a MiniDV from the early 2000's.

My daughter lives in the Facebook generation and she recently asked me about the best way to connect our MiniDV camcorder to her Macbook, iMovie and YouTube.  The answer is - time to retire our tape based camcorders and purchase and under $200 a "Shoot and Share Camcorder".

A quick survey of the market suggests that Cisco's Flip UltraHD/MinoHD, Kodak's Playsport/Playtouch/Zi8, and Sony's Bloggie are the market leaders.

Each of these is pretty cool - 720p or 1080p HD video in a smartphone sized package under 5 ounces for $100-$200.

After reading the reviews,  I got the sense that the Sony is the most full featured, the Kodak takes still photos, is waterproof and outdoors-friendly, and the Flip is the easiest to use.

After briefly looking at these at Best Buy, my sense was the easiest to use and support was my chief requirement, so I did further research into the Flip.    A few of my colleagues in Corporate Communications/Public Affairs use Flips to create web content and seemed happy with their functionality, video quality and value.

The UltraHD 8G (avoid the 4G which lacks many features) and the MinoHD 8G have the same features and performance.  The only differences are that the UltraHD is a bit larger with a removable battery and tactile buttons while the MinoHD is a bit smaller with an internal battery and capacitance (touchable) buttons.

I found the user interface of the UltraHD more intuitive and liked the idea of removable/replaceable batteries.

When you purchase a Flip Ultra, you'll likely want to purchase the power supply to charge the battery when the Flip is not connected to the computer and a micro HDMI cable  (note this is not the standard Flip HDMI cable which is a mini-HDMI)

A pocket sized, easy to use, less than $200 camcorder with excellent video quality that works well with modern video editing tools and online video posting sites.   That's cool!


Anonymous said...

John, late adopter of technology?? Didn"t you have a chip with your medical record inserted under your skin?? Jay Deady

John Sam said...

I pretty much totally agree in John's research of the camcorders. Yet I decided to use my iPhone, primarily because I can upload on the fly to YouTube. (great for testimonials, news, and the Y generation)

Although this upload is of lower quality; when I get back home, I can download in HD quality; and use my iMovie, Final Cut, or MS applications to produce a quality HD video.

I believe you can buy an iPhone without a calling package. Thus you would use Wi-Fi for the upload.

Stay tuned for the new iPad with camera, and on board iMovie edit system, then for sure you will not need the calling package.

FYI, the iPhone has the iMovie app available for those who must trim...

John Farrell said...

I've had the Flip HD since June 2009. It records colors (believe it or not) better than the Zi8 according to one of my video colleagues. It also imports nicely into iMovie HD and Final Cut (if you have the correct presets). My one gripe about it is that it does not have a jack for an external mic. I hope the next rendition does....