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Toys Technology

A Tapeless Digital Camcorder For Your Pocket 182

Posted by timothy
from the record-everything dept.
spullara writes "I've been waiting a long time for a small, tapeless, easy to use digital camcorder. Tapes wear out, they require playback in realtime, and make producing ad hoc movies time consuming. Without these types of recorders you can forget about iVideoPodcasting. I found the Fisher FVD-C1 at an Apple Store last week and it was amazing, but it turns out there is a better one being imported from Japan, the Xacti DMX-C4 thats nearly identical, but better. You can read my review of it here (I have no association with any of these businesses). Wouldn't it be great if one of these devices had WiMAX to upload directly to the internet?"
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A Tapeless Digital Camcorder For Your Pocket

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  • before /.ers wake up (Score:5, Informative)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @03:26AM (#10562809) Homepage Journal
    The Xacti DMX-C4 is an amazing camcorder

    As you might have read, my wife and I are having our first baby. So, of course, we needed a video camera.

    One of the biggest complaints I have with mini-DV cameras is that you copy the data off them at the same speed you put the data on them. This is a nightmare. Additionally, tapes are terribly inconvenient to search, store, carry, etc. I was down at the Apple Store in Palo Alto on Tuesday of last week and saw a new camcorder there, the Fisher FVD-C1. It was amazingly small but easy to hold, used solid state storage, and had pretty good specs. At the store it was $800, so I wandered over to one of the Macs they have setup there connected to the internet and searched to see what the real going rate was. As it turns out, it cost about the same from Amazon. Later I did some more research and found a little company in California that imports Japanese only products into the US that had another version of the camera direct from Sanyo (Fisher OEMs their product). In addition to being the same size it also had 4MP instead of 3MP, a 1.8in LCD instead of 1.5in, and some improved software. Even better, it didn't come bundled with only a 512M card, instead it was $600 and you could buy a high-speed 1G SD card from them for an extra $120 (you can get them a little cheaper elsewhere, but i wanted it all to come at the same time).

    Everything about the camera screamed buy me, so I did. I chose their cheapest shipping option (they are definitely making a bit of profit on their prices) and ordered it and a 1G card on Tuesday night. It arrived on Thursday morning, way sooner than I expected. All the manuals are in Japanese, fortunately I don't read those. Amusingly, it also talked in Japanese until I figured out you could change it to English mode by navigating the helpful pictograms.

    Hooking it up to my Mac was trivial, it comes with a USB dock / recharging station that you just connect to your computer. It has a button on it to switch it between being connected and charging. I'm not sure if it is recharging when it is connected or not. Because it is also a still camera, when you plug it in and connect it, iPhoto launches and allows you to import any photos. Immediately I realized that I would need an efficient way to handle all the clips that I would be generating and I am a little bummed that there is nothing like iClips that comes with the Mac. I have some ideas about how that would work, maybe I should put something together. Instead of making a full fledged application, I instead did some applescript to get it setup with a Folder Action. So now when I plug it in, it immediately finds all the movies, renames them from their generic names to timestamp names, copies them to my Movies directory, and then if there are no pictures it ejects the camera and quits iPhoto all in one smooth motion. In the end I want to build something that lets me drop any of the movies onto a drop site and immediately reencode them for the web and post them to my website for consumption by the ever vigilant grandparents of our daughter to be. Speaking of photos, it does a pretty good job at those as well. Not as good as my Elph, but good enough.

    There is only one thing that tripped me up that I would like to mention about the camera. While transferring movies from it I found that it was much slower than USB 2.0 should be. As it turns out, although it is spec'd for USB 2.0, it is for "full" speed, not "high" speed. So you should see transfer rates just about 500K/s. It would be much better if it were faster than that as that can mean 2000 seconds for a full 1G SD. Its still way more convenient than tape. I blame the USB committee for allowing devices to be touted as USB 2.0 when, in fact, they are the same speed as USB 1.1.

    The movie/picture demo on their Yahoo store is pretty accurate and reflects the quality of the MPEG4/AAC recording that I have gotten while using the camera.
    • by mike3411 (558976) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @03:50AM (#10562884) Homepage
      What an awful review. The extent of interesting product details include storage capacity and transfer speed. How about image quality? Camera features like focus, balance, etc.? Battery life? Video storage capacity (how much time does that 1gb get you)? How about the size of the camera? How heavy is it? Does it seem poorly or well made? etc. etc. This review is very sparse on details, and does little more than summarize some of the features and confirm that the camera works, more or less.
      • by Awptimus Prime (695459) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @04:30AM (#10563003)
        Amen to that. I read this article with my jaw dropped.

        This part makes me wonder why he complains about tape transfer speeds:

        There is only one thing that tripped me up that I would like to mention about the camera. While transferring movies from it I found that it was much slower than USB 2.0 should be. As it turns out, although it is spec'd for USB 2.0, it is for "full" speed, not "high" speed. So you should see transfer rates just about 500K/s. It would be much better if it were faster than that as that can mean 2000 seconds for a full 1G SD. Its still way more convenient than tape. I blame the USB committee for allowing devices to be touted as USB 2.0 when, in fact, they are the same speed as USB 1.1.

        Okay, so copying a DV tape @ 720p over firewire is slower than this? Not. This sort of defeats his key point in the beginning of the "review".

        For $800 you can get an excellent DV camera with near-professional quality and will last for many years. I would suggest avoiding gadgets who's only reason for being on the market is the fact it uses SD ram instead of DV tape. Maybe in 2-5 years there will be real DV cameras with 100GB of storage on them, but now isn't the time.

        Personally, I suspect the author only had experience with VHS tape and had never used DV tape as a medium. Otherwise, he wouldn't be saying USB 1.1 speeds are better than "dealing with a tape".

        • Just how quick is SD flash anyway? Would real USB2.0 make any difference? IME it's pretty slow, but that could be down to the devices I've used. Better to use a mini HD surely.
          • "Just how quick is SD flash anyway?"

            The newer, "high-speed" SD cards are "up to 10Mbps" [kingston.com], roughly 2.25 megabyte/sec, much faster than USB 1.1's average 500 kbyte/sec. I have a "high-speed" SD card and I really do get 2+ mB/sec transfer rates.

        • by N Monkey (313423)
          Okay, so copying a DV tape @ 720p over firewire is slower than this? Not. This sort of defeats his key point in the beginning of the "review
          Agreed.

          The review also talks of the being inconvient to store - good grief - if he's going to transfer them to the computer, why worry?

          Secondly, if you're off on holiday and want to shoot a lot of video (and didn't want to lug a PC with you) then you'd still need a few flash cards - For the price of one 512Mb flash ram you could buy a bucket load of tapes. (shrug)
        • Just to give folks some kind of idea, it would take (2000/60) 33 minutes to download an entire 1GB. MiniDV tapes hold approximately 14GB on a 60 minute tape. You'll get you're GB of data faster from a minidv tape through firewire; not sure how the time stacks up, but if there's a difference, then quality must compensate.

          A couple of other advatages to tapes: You don't have to clog up your harddrive with data & Apple has this neat little program, I think it's called iClips(no, wait--iMovie), that lets you

        • I think $500 is the price point where the purchaser will refuse to admit that he made a mistake.
    • by xmas2003 (739875) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @04:04AM (#10562932) Homepage
      I blame the USB committee for allowing devices to be touted as USB 2.0 when, in fact, they are the same speed as USB 1.1

      The USB folk's naming and packaging recommendations [usb.org] actually discourage the use of "USB 2.0" since it is confusing as heck ... but I agree with the parent that they kinda created this monster by saying that there is a "Lo-speed" and "Full-speed" USB 2.0 that are the same speed as USB1.x ... so most consumers (myself included) see USB 2.0 and unless we look carefully for "Hi-Speed", then things aren't any faster than 1.x ... which is an issue for still photography and a BIG issue for video.

      BTW, have we ever seen a first post that has been so informative - mod the parent to +10 - nice work roman mir

      • by Pieroxy (222434) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @07:33AM (#10563446) Homepage
        A device that displays a USB2.0 and doesn't transmit faster than USB1.1 is a slow USB 2.0 device. Same as for a hard drive that is on an interface 100MB/s and can read its physical medium slower than that. It is still a drive with a 100MB/s interface.

        But the point I am trying to make is that a slow USB2 device still allows you to use other USB2 devices (at max speed) on the same hub. Where a USB1.1 device will switch all devices connected to itself to the USB 1.1 mode, hence slowing down the entire chain.

        That is a heck of a difference.

        So the label "USB2.0" should be read as "will not slow down your usb chain". The speed at which the USB2 norm is implemented in the said device is another question altogether. That is part of the device, and should be accepted like that.
    • So you should see transfer rates just about 500K/s. It would be much better if it were faster than that as that can mean 2000 seconds for a full 1G SD. Its still way more convenient than tape.

      I thought the thesis here was "get this camera because tape is too slow"? My Sony T1 stores 20 minutes of MPEG video on a 512MB card, so assuming you get 40 minutes on a 1GB card you're in for 33 minutes transfer time. For that 7 minutes you save you're in for $120 cards vs. $10 tapes, a more expensive unit to begi
  • Damn... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cyno01 (573917) <Cyno01@hotmail.com> on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @03:26AM (#10562811) Homepage
    Wish i had the money to drop on a real tapeless cam. Bought one of these [gateway.com] last week along with a 512MB SD card for parties. Mixed reviews, but the price is right for a poor college student.
  • by big ben bullet (771673) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @03:27AM (#10562814) Homepage
    Nah.. why can't they just put in a decent 20Gb harddrive (like the iPod)

    That's what i'll keep waiting for.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Such as the FireStore? http://www.focusinfo.com/products/firestore/firest ore.htm [focusinfo.com]
    • How about this?

      JVC Everio with 4GB Microdrive. To be released any day now...
      http://www.i4u.com/article2116.html [i4u.com]
    • "Nah.. why can't they just put in a decent 20Gb harddrive (like the iPod)"

      Price, weight, durability, longevity, and upgradability?

      • "Nah.. why can't they just put in a decent 20Gb harddrive (like the iPod)"

        Price, weight, durability, longevity, and upgradability?"

        Expensive? Those micro-sized 20gig drives aren't that expensive anymore, sure more expensive than just shoving a DV tape recorder in a camcorder but when size matters the hard drive will make up for it with longer videos: if 512meg fits 21 minutes of 640x480x30fps 3Mbps quality video [yahoo.com] then 20 gigs will fit 840 minutes (14 hours) of video.

        Weight? What weight? 20gig Mp3 p

    • Removable hard drive standard. Which could fit anything from a USB Flash Drive to a clam shell HD unit of your choosing.

      Granted the power consumption would be awsome, but there is room for a "Little" more weight here considering that the cam is toughted at the size of a cell phone.

      Now when can I expect to be able to write my own code for this thing [neurosaudio.com]?

    • by droleary (47999) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @05:09AM (#10563091) Homepage

      why can't they just put in a decent 20Gb harddrive (like the iPod)

      What I'm waiting for is someone (maybe Apple, maybe not) to put out a widget for connecting an iSight [apple.com] to an iPod [apple.com]. For basic home movies of the kids, something that that should sell quite well if you could package it all together at $599 or so. At the higher end, why not a camcorder that simply used an iPod mini as a "cartridge". It's only 4GB currently, but their form factor makes them a really attractive option. If the regular iPod was good enough to handle LoTR, aren't a few iPod mini (is mini the plural of mini? :-) good enough to handle my budget productions?

      • I always thought the plural of mini was mini.
        *BA DUM DUM*
        Thanks folks I'll be here all night.
      • I always thought the plural of mini was many.
        *BA DUM DUM*
        Thanks folks I'll be here all night.

        PS Note: I had less than one cup of coffee in me when I posted the last time.
      • I've been thinking that would be a great idea too. I t might be a fun thing to submit for the next "What Would Jobs Do?" [engadget.com] contest. Either that, or apple should just release an iPod with a color screen that can deal with the iSight directly.
      • Or just put a camera into the iPod. Or combine it all into a phone/camera/audio/video recorder/PC with 802.11XXX, Ethernet, and Firewire capabilities and be done with it.

        Jobs doesn't want to fracture market lines right now, though. And there is a huge tape/camcorder industry that, although it knows the future will be hard drive cartriges rather than tape, won't appreciate Apple jumping the gun before they can phase out their old factory lines and recoup their investment.

        Also, there is the good ol' we're-b
        • Or just put a camera into the iPod. Or combine it all into a phone/camera/audio/video recorder/PC with 802.11 XXX, Ethernet, and Firewire capabilities and be done with it.

          I see where you're going, but I'm not talking about convergence. I'm talking about a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Having an iPod + iSight camcorder is a nice modular solution, not a "jam it all together" solution. Both pieces have a distinct use outside being a camcorder, and that's exactly why it's a better so

  • storage size is always a problem with tapeless digital cam, I've eyeing on Sony's DVD handycam, one DVD stores 1GB, but the size of the camcorder is as big as a 8cm DVD.
  • No Thanks... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheMysteriousFuture (707972) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `erutuFsuoiretsyMehT'> on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @03:33AM (#10562834) Journal
    While these sound 'interesting', I wouldn't want one. What exactly am I supposed to do if I want to go on vacation and not haul along a laptop to download the video onto?

    Or I'm somewhere and the drive is full, and I want to keep recording. With a tape-based Camcorder I'd just run to (Costco/Walmart/7-11/Target) and pickup some more MiniDV tapes or whatever.

    With this I have to upload the video onto another device...

    And I have to worry about making sure to backup the device I download the camcorder's drive to. With tapes, while they are NOT indestructible, and they DO wear out eventually, and (with analog tapes) you can loose quality when you copy them, you don't have to worry about loosing all your recordings because the latest virus wipes your hard drives and you didn't have backups.

    _MOST_ people are NOT going to be cluefull enough to make sure to backup their video from their hard drive to DVD or some other medium.
    • _MOST_ people are NOT going to be cluefull enough to make sure to backup their video from their hard drive to DVD or some other medium.

      Clueful, no. But they'll want a copy on a DVD anyhow. Most people don't happen to enjoy watching videos on their computers, and the interface for finding and selecting DVDs is easier for most people than using a computer.

      So it works out.
    • _MOST_ people are NOT going to be cluefull enough to make sure to backup their video from their hard drive to DVD or some other medium.
      unless of course that video is of an ex-gf in a rather "exposed" pose. hey, it http://home.studieaccess.nl/wesse167/girlfriend_go t.wmv [studieaccess.nl]
    • Re:No Thanks... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MobiusClark (728561)
      Erm, why not just carry a couple of SD cards in your wallet? Sure they cost more than MiniDVs but they're tiny. Memory cards are the new tapes.
    • You buy a X'S-Drive. I think they have like 20-80 GB versions, and most of them have a slot for every time of card. I want to get one so when I'm hiking on a very long trip I don't need to carry around a laptop as well (which is light in comparison to some of my photography equiptment but it'd still be unecessary if I had one of these X'S-Drives.)
    • Re:No Thanks... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NanoGator (522640) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @04:20AM (#10562973) Homepage Journal
      "While these sound 'interesting', I wouldn't want one. What exactly am I supposed to do if I want to go on vacation and not haul along a laptop to download the video onto?"

      Use the right tool for the job? Seriously, there are some things that Mini-DV is a pain in the ass for. Others, it's great for.

      I'll give you a quick example: I have video taken from my cell phone (of all places) of my dog teasing my cat. The video quality is crummy and all, but it was at my side, and ready to go. I have that funny moment now. If I had run to my video camera, I would have had to check if the tape was ready to go, power the silly thing up, and hope the animals co-operate. Okay, this isn't apples and apples, but there's something to be said for tapeless devices.

      They're not perfect. Niether is Mini-DV. That's why both are on the market. Lighten up.
    • Re:No Thanks... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by timpaton (748607)
      Somebody needs to...
      invent (or hack) an iPod-like-device to act as a portable hard disk for all these flash-RAM-hungry devices.

      I've thought of it many times for my still camera. Unless I buy lots of (expensive) flash cards, or lug a laptop with me, I can only shoot as many photos as I have room for...as we all know and have dealt with for many years already.

      What I need is a pocket-sized, battery-powered intermediate storage device. When my camera (or voice recorder or tapeless video cam) gets full, I cou

    • I have an older JVC DV camcorder that I bought used off of ebay and I love it. It uses DV tapes, which while more expensive than VHS tapes (4 for $24 is typical), I wouldn't trade them for solid state.

      As the parent stated, it's much easier to run to a 24/7 dept. store or convenience store and buy a pack of tapes than it is to try and find a place with a good deal on solid state flash RAM.

      A co-worker just borrowed my camcorder to take to Hawaii for his wedding and he shot 37 minutes of video with my camer
  • Many thanks! (Score:1, Redundant)

    by DaneelGiskard (222145)
    I've been looking for user experiences/reviews on this little gadget for weeks. Many thanks!
  • WiMax? (Score:2, Funny)

    by nev4 (721804)
    "Wouldn't it be great if one of these devices had WiMAX to upload directly to the internet?"

    Yes, because my local electric car recharging station now has a WiMax hotspot...
    • WiMax [wimaxforum.org] is not a hotspot replacement. It's for Metropolitan Area Networks, not for your laptop. I'd suggest you pine instead for UltraWideBand [uwb.org], for fast short links to your local server.

      For internet access, WiFi outstrips DSL, Cable, and even Corporate T1s. I'm more concerned about getting honest Broadband (100 Megabits/sec or more) to the home. Cordless internet is fast enough for now.

      --Mike--

  • Mirrors (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheMysteriousFuture (707972) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `erutuFsuoiretsyMehT'> on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @03:35AM (#10562843) Journal
    Site's getting slow...

    Coral Cache link [nyud.net]

    Mirror Dot link [mirrordot.com]

  • by Kerhop (652872) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @03:38AM (#10562852)
    I'd rather spend $1000 on a Sony DCR-DVD301 [sony.com] (Google'd info [google.com]) that records directly to Mini-DVD's.
  • Points in article. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by evilviper (135110)

    Tapes wear out

    And hard drives work perfectly, forever? At least you can easily swap tapes, they are fairly cheap, and most importantly, they handle shocks pretty well.

    they require playback in realtime

    Tape-based digital camcorders can do better than realtime playback.

    and make producing ad hoc movies time consuming.

    I don't believe it's merely the camcorder that makes producing movies time-consuming!

    Wouldn't it be great if one of these devices had WiMAX to upload directly to the internet?"

    GOD NO! I

    • I COULD see a reason to connect a cam to the internet, but would it not be better to just have the networking in it like the Dlink cameras and the Axis webcam's? Once you have a network connection on it, the need for on board storage is minimal. All you would need is some flash rom to store a OS of sorts on the cam so it can handle all of hte nasty stuff like the networking.
  • wimax? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrSpiff (515611) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @03:39AM (#10562856) Homepage
    "Wouldn't it be great if one of these devices had WiMAX to upload directly to the internet?"

    Wouldn't it be better if it had 802.11a/b/g so you could actually use it in the near future?
  • Samples (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaneelGiskard (222145) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @03:41AM (#10562859) Homepage
    Please put some sample movies / pictures online. Specially showing the optical/digital zoom capacity. And maybe some low light movies to see its performance there?

    I also have a question:
    It got 5.8 times optical zoom and 10 times digital zoom. In video mode the camera only uses 0.3 MP of the available 4 MP (probably a bit more for the image stabilizer?). Anyways, when using digital zoom in video mode, will it simply use the remainder of the MP to do the digital zoom and thus provide a "loss free" digital zoom? Or is it similar to image shooting using digital zoom, where the resulting picture is blurred?
    • Re:Samples (Score:5, Informative)

      by ohdawg (773768) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @03:49AM (#10562882) Homepage
      Here's a direct link to a sample from the Sanyo Xacti DMX-C4 page mentioned in the article:

      4.35mb sample [64.60.113.123]

      Thats assuming it still works by the time you see my reply (and it hasnt been slashdotted)

      • Re:Samples (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DaneelGiskard (222145)
        Thanks, I've known this sample for some time. A friendly guy over at dpreview.com provided some more samples in the forum (I won't link them directly or he'll probably be mad).

        But what I'm looking for are examples showing the strengths and weaknesses of this camera. Show me the full range of optical and digital zoom and how the picture gets worse with the digital zoom. Show me a movie in low light or artificial light conditions.

        This is the first "review" of this camera which I have encountered and I have
    • There is no 'loss free' digital zoom. The optics provide so much zoom and thats that. Any more and you are just using algorithms to enlarge the already captured image. You will lose quality.

      The problem is not that the picture gets more blurry really..although it may look like that. When a picture of say 0.4 MP is enlarged to 2MP or similar..the processor has to intelligently 'guess' on what colour pixel should be between the pixels it already has information for. The information just isnt there.
      • I think you're misunderstanding his question. He is asking if the 640x480 video images can be digitally zoomed from the 4MP camera resolution rather than digitally zooming from the original 640x480 video images. ie, when taking pictures at 640x480 resolution and the camera can handle 1280x960 images from the capturing, and digitally zooming 2X to produce a 640x480 image, if it would resample the image "losslessly," since it would only be saving to 640x480 anyways. It certainly isn't producing the pixel info
        • Hmm not sure i understand what you're saying. Taking a pic at 640x480 then zooming 2x to 640x480 ?

          The thing is..you take an image at a certain resolution and if you wanna make it bigger, you have to get the information from somewhere. Nothing can help that.
  • Fisher Price (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @03:45AM (#10562870) Homepage Journal
    When I saw Fisher my mind went immediately to Fisher-Price. Yes, completely different, but does anyone else remember that Fisher-Price actually made a video camera at one time? It was called the Pixlevision [freeuk.net] and recorded to audio cassettes! The quality was poor, but just poor enough to look really cool [ttu.edu]. As I recall, they didn't stay on the market long.
    • I actually used it for an art class I was taking when it came out and one of my friend's younger sibs got one... they were intersting I suppose.

      BTW... You are a freak if you like the IT colour scheme!

    • Re:Fisher Price (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tonsofpcs (687961)
      The PXL-2000 has a sort of cult following.
      They actually used footage from some of these in some movies:

      Slacker [imdb.com] (1991)

      Naja [imdb.com] (1997)

      Links:
      The Pixelvision Home Page [rowan.edu]
      Pixelvision (includes tecnical details) [michaeloreilly.com]

    • Re:Fisher Price (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eclectro (227083)
      Unbelievably, Fisher Price also made 110 and 35 mm film cameras. Normally you think of toys that a one year old would pound on and make noises, not a line of cameras.

      That's what was so amazing about the Pixlvision - that it would even make it all the way to market and actually work.

      What I loved about it is how it used a standard audio tape at high speed to produce 5 minutes of video.

      Quite strange (but cool) when you think about it.
      • What's even more amazing about the PXL is that it made it all the way to 2004 and still works! I _SO_ wanted one of these when I was a kid... the better version with the little black and white TV monitor, of course :)

        Nowadays - they're pricey because they are so rare but you can still find one new in the box every so often on Ebay.

        I think someone even made a plugin for Premiere to PXX-ize video.

        • It's amazing how they have held their price well considering that it is a toy.

          Of course there is a large following to the toy cameras [dianacameras.com] now, exploring minimalist photography. I remember when the Dianas littered the landscape, hated by all. How times have changed!

          I would have done quite well if I had of put a box or two of those away.
  • by melekcrescent (697332) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @03:46AM (#10562871) Homepage
    "I blame the USB committee for allowing devices to be touted as USB 2.0 when, in fact, they are the same speed as USB 1.1."

    I think that we should actually blame the company, who is putting labels on their product which overstate the technology. Compliance laboratories are worked pretty hard to my knowledge, and it becomes increasingly difficult to weed out products which poorly meet the specifications. I want to support a company which produces high grade equipment, not one who works just hard enough for the selling point.

    • I think that we should actually blame the company, who is putting labels on their product which overstate the technology.

      A couple of years ago, I purchased a Linksys USB 1.1 ethernet adapter, and it really bothered me that it was labeled as being 10/100. It's somewhat misleading since USB 1.1 tops out at 12Mb/s. I find it difficult to believe anything I read on the packaging of most computer products.
  • Sony is rolling out their Professional Disc line of professional video equipment. The central part of their XDCAM [sony.com.hk] tapeless system is a 'Blu-ray' disc, storing approximately 24 Gigabytes of data. Professional cameras and VTRs supporting XDCAM can use multiple formats, including DVCAM [DV25] and MPEG-IMX.
    Sony already had support for XDCam from AVID [sony.com.hk] at the National Association of Broadcasters converntion in Las Vegas in April, one of the big names in Non-Linear (computer-based) video editing systems (NLEs).
    Sony plans to make computer drives able to read and write XDCAM discs, allowing Non-Linear Editing without re-capturing.

    Links:
    XDCam FAQs (pdf) [sony.com]
    MPEG-IMX White Paper [v2] (pdf) [sony.com]
  • for best quality.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by ezonme (671218)
    I use a MiniDV camera and record directly to a 30GB firewire harddisk. No need to use tapes, no need to capture. Sure, it costs a lot more, but it's a pro solution able to store two hours and half of video (DV CODEC).
  • by Skal Tura (595728) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @04:00AM (#10562923) Homepage
    Mustek DV-4000, see it at http://www.mustek.com/html/prod_camra/dv4000/dv400 0.html [mustek.com]

    I had one of those, it was really nice, i'd like better light sensitivity, but you can't get everything.

    It had quite good image quality, one socket for SD card, battery, in-build recharger etc. Night mode and other juicy features.

    It costed around 380-420euros here when i got one, altho i didn't pay that much.
    It was really great for the price, and with 512mb sd card you can shoot over 2hours of video. encodes also MPEG4/AAC.

    Only thing is: those vids didn't play in BSPlayer, on WMP they played nicely altho, after installing the WMV codecs which came on the CD. Didn't try other players.
  • by DrHyde (134602) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @04:12AM (#10562950) Homepage
    Anyone using such a horrible made-up word should be shot. If you want long compound words, German is --> that way.
  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @04:46AM (#10563044) Journal
    Following the link in the review and another one to the actual product description, I've found out the following facts (OK, some have also been somewhat in the review):
    • storage format is MPEG4.

      While MPEG4 may be a nice format to store finished video in, it is not a good idea to use it as a storage format:
      • If you want to cut, you don't want to have any format which contains non-keyframes
      • If you don't want to cut, but burn on DVD, you have to recode, which means some quality loss.
    • Image format 640x480

      DV has a resolution of 720x480 (NTSC) or 720x576 (PAL). I'm not even sure if 640x480 is a standard DVD format (720x480/720x576 is); if not, this means recoding to different pixel size for DVD, which means quality loss independent of the encoding itself
    • No Firewire

      Ok, this point might see some disagreement, but I consider it quite unfortunate that the trend goes away from FW to USB2.

    • Panasonic SV-AV100 [panasonic.jp] does record MPEG2 on SD card.

      File size is still a problem though (even a bigger one than with MPEG4) but quality isn't as bad as MPEG4, and MPEG2 is much better than MPEG4 in term of editing and handling (you can actually USE what you record).

      But these are still expensive products, I think Id'still go the DV way.

      However, if I had the cash, I would have of these with me... the "on the go video" factor is really nice.
      • by qwerty1125 (671047)
        I agree with your parent post: if you want to edit your movie the camera must use a format where every frame is a keyframe. MPEG2 is not better than MPEG4 in term of editing.
        • About the keyframes requirements: Given the upper Mbit/s limit in the intermediate storage (on the camcorder or to the sdflash), you're better off storing it in MPEG4 with non-keyframes there, and transcoding to MJPEG or DV later instead of trying to store it in DV at that low bit rate. Ever compared a 2Mbit/s MPEG4 with a 2Mbit/s MJPEG or DV stream? The 2Mbit MPEG4 transcoded to 25Mbit DV will have much better image quality in every frame than the directly recorded 2Mbit DV stream.

  • I bought this camera [steves-digicams.com] specifially for it's video capabilities. It takes so-so pictures, but the video is excellent. It can record directly på MPEG which is a huge advantage. It can hold 30 minutes of high quality MPEG on the memorystick.
    Just thought I wanted to show you an alternative. I have no stocks in Sony (wish I did though ;)
  • by Bazman (4849) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @05:30AM (#10563137) Journal
    This guy is impatient. He's got a whole 13 years to edit together the baby videos to make the perfect embarrass-my-teenage-kid movie.
  • Resolution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Psychic Burrito (611532) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @06:15AM (#10563217)
    My big question ist this: With a 4 Megapixel chip, why do all of these camcorders still output standard PAL/NTSC/VGA quality and do not use the available resolution to its fullest?

    Yes there are two HDTV-MiniDV cameras out now (JVC and Sony), but the JVC has a bad contrast range while the Sony has no real 24p recording (or even 25p would fill the bill).

    When will somebody finally release a HDTV 1920x1080 camera with 24p below $3000? Or is there a way to fool these tapeless camcorder thingies in recording in a higher resolution?
  • Um... your wife? (Score:4, Informative)

    by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @06:21AM (#10563229) Homepage
    small, tapeless, easy to use digital camcorder

    Er... here in Europe we call that "my phone" [nokia.com].

    Seriously, though... you guys don't have digital flash-memory video cameras on your cellphones? WTF? Digital still cameras have been standard on cellphones for the last two years, video and flash memory last year. I don't want to start a "diss the yanks" thread, I realise there are plenty of things y'all do better, but... you chaps need to have some serious words with your cellular providers, you're not getting good handset upgrades.

    My phone has digital video camera and an MMC card offering up to 1GB of storage. The phone came free with 100 minutes of calls on a monthly £25 (US$50) contract, albeit only with a 32mb MMC card, then I purchased a larger MMC seperately for thirty quid. My missus got one too, free with contract again, here's footage she shot of squirrels in the churchyard [livejournal.com].

    I didn't even need to change contracts. I just rang them up and said I'd quit my contract after a year unless they upgraded my handset to a video model. It was delivered next day.

  • by daBass (56811) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @06:23AM (#10563233)
    "Wouldn't it be great if one of these devices had WiMAX to upload directly to the internet?"

    No, it would not. Why would you want to make anyone sit through your hours of uneditted footage?

    If only owners of video cameras (and those uploading _all_ their digital photos to an online gallery) learned to edit what they capture before submitting it to their friends the world would be a lot less violent place...

    • Absolutely.

      When tape video cameras first emerged at reasonable prices, wedding photographers were interested but worried that their profit margin would be eroded by the editing cost of getting 3 hours of footage down to the 10 mins that a third party would actually watch. But they soon discovered that Joe Public is so uncritical of seeing his own picture that he actually wanted the unedited 3 hours. Existing video cameras are basically weapons of mass boredom, and on bad days I think that a license should

  • I recommend the Panasonic SV-AV100. Tapeless, 512M SD Card, 20min per tape (on good quality, there is a 10min/tape setting, but I find it's overkill). Very small, great battery life, nice unit all around (and Pansonic is the one brand, with which I've never had *any* disappointment; definitely an underrated brand).
  • until they attach a cell phone or gameboy to it.
  • by SID*C64 (444002) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:36AM (#10563843) Homepage
    I fail to understand why manufacturers keep making products like this using SD cards. They are smaller, yes, but not by much. Would make much more sense to use CompactFlash so you can at least toss in a 2 or 4GB microdrive card. I can understand SD for a still picture camera, but not for a video camera!

    And where are the hard disk cameras? Or should I say, AFFORDABLE hard disk based cameras?
  • When 'it/they' utilizes foveon's X3 Technology [foveon.com], wake me then - and I'll pony-up and go buy one the sec. it comes out :)

    if you have a decent eye, you'll see quit a subtle 'bad quality' in all of non-X3 CCD's ... due to it not beeing *of course* able to capture the some Red Green Blue wavelenghts per pixel/amount of 'photons', but instead utilizes a 'mosaic matrix' to compose the image [foveon.com] *which is uurrrkkk, urruk, 'bad quality'* - I mean, just look at this interactive tutoral (java) [foveon.com], see how many 'photons' a

  • by CrazyLegs (257161) <crazylegstoo@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:01AM (#10564036) Homepage
    I'm probably a bit of a Luddite here, but I still like using DV tape, if only for archival purposes. I do a LOT of taping with my Sony DV camera and I do a LOT of editting to create really boring home movies on DVD. What I like about the tape format is that I still a have "raw footage" archive of everything without a lot of management effort. Going to a tapeless camera means that I either have to buy/keep an inventory of SD cards (or whatever) for big $$$ compared to DV tape (I think) OR get into the pain that it is managing disk/optical-based archiving of my raw footage. I just find that, with tapes, I can store them away without worrying too much (yet) about managing them. When the day somes that my DV camera gets replaced by something else, I'll convert the tapes to something else (as I've already done by transferring my old 8mm tapes to DV tape). Flame away....
    • I also like DV tape... I think that the best solution would be a camera with a hard drive capacity of at least 6 hours of raw video, that is about 80gb, with functions that enable you to erase stuff you wont keep.

      This should be enough for a one week vacation without having to transfer to other media, although it would be double plus good if such a camera also had a mini DVD burner on top, so you could do a rough edit (cut/paste) and burn it.
  • Here's a short review of the Fisher FVD-C1 from the current MacWorld article on DV Camcorders [macworld.com]:

    The Fisher FVD-C1 is one of a new generation of MPEG-4 video camcorders that eschew tape and record directly to storage media. Like a shapely silver iPod, the lightweight, compact Fisher comes with a docking station, fits contentedly in the palm of your hand, and begs you to play. Flip open the bright, 1.5-inch LCD screen, and a cheerful female voice chimes faintly, "Camera mode." Though not much bigger than a po
  • by mpath (555000)
    With a microdrive [jvc.com]... looks pretty cool and ranges from 1 hour to 4 hours, depending on your quality setting.
  • I almost wrote about this earlier, because it seemed to be such a secret. I bought a Sony DSC-T1 for my wife, just because it was tiny and had good image quality. What I never expected was full quality 30fps MPEG1 video. The video from this camera looks like that from a reasonable camcorder... which is amazing for its size. You have to remember that this thing is *tiny*.

    What seemed so odd to me is that Sony wasn't advertising this feature at all. In fact the box says "digital still camera" right on it
  • Tapes wear out, they require playback in realtime[...]

    It's pretty difficult not to do most things in 'realtime'. The phrase you seek, my child, is 'linear access'...
  • Or just Bluetooth that lets you control it with your phone, as well as upload via the phone's Net connection.
  • I recommend reading through some of the Amazon reviews. Complaints of dead pixels, noise on the audio due to the zoom motor, jerky video, etc. If I were going to try this camera out, I'd make sure I got one from a place where I could return it if it was unsatisfactory.
  • I've submitted at least 5 news worthy stories and only this silly little blog entry was accepted. Now that I understand that you need something flammable, maybe I will get more stories published :) For those of you that say that this camera is not as good as a miniDV camera, you're missing the point. To those of you that think this review needs pics/movies, look at the website linked. To those of you that want more storage, buy the Belkin Media Reader for you iPod. For those of you that think its just

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