Going Hollywood: How to Choose the Best Digital Camcorder

Isn't technology wonderful? Thirty years ago, your home movies would have been recorded on Super 8 film with blurry images and barely audible sound. Ten years ago, they would have been recorded on analog videotape, and editing them would involve hours of work and thousands of dollars' worth of equipment. Now you can buy a moderately priced digital camcorder and make videos good enough to be screened at the Sundance Film Festival (I'm not kidding). Move over Hollywood; the price of filmmaking is now dramatically lower.

In this article, we'll take a brief look at why digital video is a big improvement over film and analog video. Then we'll explore five of the latest trends in digital camcorders. We've sorted through the various technical advancements and narrowed the field to the most important ones--so you'll know what to look for first. You may be new to digital camcorders or looking to upgrade an older analog model. Either way, you'll need to know what separates the winners from the also-rans.

Finally, if you're wondering what to do with your stack of old videotapes, we'll explain what you need to copy your analog video onto a digital format like DVD.

At a Glance
  • ADS Technologies INSTANT DVD 2.0 (ADS Technologies-USBAV702)

  • Sonic MyDVD 5

  • Panasonic SV-AV100 SD Digital Recorder (Panasonic-SVAV100)

  • Gateway DV-S20 Pocket Multi-Cam (Gateway-DVS20)

  • Sony RDR-GX7 DVD Recorder / Player (Sony-RDRGX7)

  • HP Pavilion HP DVD Movie Writer dc3000 Disk Drive (HP (Hewlett-Packard)-Q2114A)

  • Pioneer DVR-810H DVD Recorder with TiVo service (Pioneer-DVR810H)

  • Aiptek Pocket DV3100

  • SiPix DV100

  • Sony DCR-PC109

  • Panasonic Palmcorder PV-DV953

  • PCWorld Rating
  • Canon ZR-90

  • Panasonic AG-DVX100 MiniDV Camcorder

  • Sony Handycam DCR-DVD100 DVD Digital Camcorder

  • Fisher FVD-C1 Pocket CameraCorder

  • Sony Handycam DCR-TRV22 MiniDV Digital Camcorder

  • ATI Radeon 9600 Pro All-in-Wonder Video Card

  • Gateway AR-230 DVD Recorder/Player

  • Canon ZR80 Digital Camcorder

  • Canon XL1S MiniDV Camcorder

  • JVC GR-HD1 HD Digital Camcorder

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