Lightweight Video Camera Showdown
Expensive video cameras can take a backseat. A new generation of lightweight products is making it easier to shoot video and upload it instantly to the Web. Pure Digital Technologies' Flip Mino and DXG's DXG-567V video cameras fit into the pocket and can be held in two fingers. Video from the cameras can be uploaded to Web sites like YouTube in about a minute. Another thing that may fit in the pocket is Optoma's Pico Projector, an ultramobile projector that connects to an iPod or other device and beams blown-up videos on the wall.
Pure Digital Technologies' tiny Flip Mino takes a page from the iPod's design. My friend, a tourist who carried it for a day shooting video around San Francisco, fell in love with it instantly, but was put off by its US$179.99 price tag.
The Mino has a 1.5-inch LCD screen and a no-nonsense interface that makes shooting video a breeze. Pressing one button records, stops or plays back a video. The camera weighs 3.3 ounces (93 grams), according to the company, though it felt a little heavier.
It shoots excellent video in low-light conditions, but as night approached it became less usable. It comes with software to upload video directly to YouTube, MySpace and AOL.
It runs on a lithium-ion rechargeable battery and can shoot about an hour of MPEG-4 video at a 640-by-480 pixel resolution. The device doesn't include an AC adapter and recharges only by plugging its USB port into a computer. That is a big drawback because it means you need a PC with you every time you want to recharge the battery. Plans to offer an AC adapter as an accessory are under consideration, a company spokeswoman said.
The camera works with the Macintosh and Windows operating systems.
The price tag may be off-putting to some, but if you need a lightweight video camera, this is for you. Pure Digital's previous video cameras -- like the Flip Ultra -- have been very popular, so you won't go wrong with this product.
DXG's DXG-567V HD camcorder is another good device for shooting quick video snippets. It shares similarities with Flip Mino on price and features, but some differences set them apart. The DXG device records video at a higher resolution, but it has no internal storage -- an SD card must be purchased separately to save video. However, an SD card could save more video than the 60 minutes of video storage the Flip Mino allows.
The DXG camera has a 2-inch LCD and records video at a 1280-by-720 pixel resolution. It runs on rechargeable AA batteries and comes with a dock to recharge them. It connects to a PC via a USB port, and included software will then upload videos directly to the Internet.
Priced at $179.99, the camera is for people who want a lightweight device to shoot video for the Web and other purposes, a company spokeswoman said. It is available in blue, pink, red and black.
Optoma's ultramobile projector
Optoma, which manufactures projectors, said last week it would introduce a "Pico-based" projector that will be smaller than most smartphones.
The projector connects to devices such as iPods, smartphones and digital cameras, from which it can beam images onto a wall or other surface. The projector, which weighs about 4 ounces, uses LED technology to project "colorful and vivid" images, the company said.
Who needs such a thing? It will bring a larger-than-life experience to images and video on mobile devices, which usually have small screens, the company said.
The product is set to ship worldwide in 2009. Pricing hasn't yet been announced.
A La Fresh approach to dirty
For clean freaks, La Fresh's $9.99 Tech Pack contains wet, dry and antibacterial tissues to clean devices, screens and lenses. The tissues are good for GPS (global positioning system), cell phones, laptops and other products, La Fresh says. The product is available on La Fresh's Web site.