Do you have thousands and thousands of dollars to spend, and also a love of super-high quality video? Then mark your calendar for November 3 when RED will be announcing details and shipping info for the new RED Scarlet video camera. RED has been making changes to the device in preparation for its debut, but CEO Jim Jannard is keeping things nice and vague for now.
Flip’s SlideHD reminds us of Rocky Balboa. Unfortunately, not the Rocky Balboa of the original Rocky or even Rocky II. Instead, we’re thinking of Rocky III, where The Champ comes in out of shape and loses to, of all people, Mr. T.
What else would you think after picking up Cisco’s Flip SlideHD? Unlike the Flip MinoHD 8GB, which is truly svelte, the SlideHD feels chunky.
You can thank the camera’s “slide” feature for much of the chunk. Unlike previous Flips that have a tiny two-inch screen integrated in the back, the back of the Flip SlideHD sports a much larger three-inch touch screen that flips open and sits at a 45-degree angle to the rest of the unit for video playback.
If you’ve been eying Flip Video’s popular MinoHD (reviewed March 2009) but have been put off by the simple-enough-for-simpletons approach, Kodak’s Zi-8 is the pocket cam you’ve been waiting for.
Think of Kodak’s feature-rich Zi-8 as the anti-Flip camera. While you can’t change the battery on the MinoHD, you can on the Zi-8. Can’t change the mic-input levels on your MinoHD? On the Zi-8 you can. Can’t play back footage in slow-motion on your MinoHD? Or run an external microphone? Or use your own SD cards? Or take still images? You get the point.
Kodak seems to have taken every geek’s wish-list for a pocket video cam and implemented it in the Zi-8. Slightly paunchier than Flip’s Mino series but comparable to Flip’s Ultra, the Zi-8 has modes for WVGA, 720p, 1080p, and even a 60fps 720p mode for sporting events. But wait, there’s more: Kodak also includes a macro mode, face-detection focusing, and an image stabilizer—hell, those guys even include a charger and HDMI cables, too!
This Handycam felt rock solid and provided the best optical image stabilization. Its stop/start button is in the perfect place, but the zoom control is positioned right where your middle finger rests—bad idea. We like the “easy” mode, which, with the push of a button, takes care of exposure and focus for most situations.
With its stylish square lens hood and beautiful design, the HD7 just begs you to pick it up and start shooting. We especially like its focus ring (it’s just like what’s on pro lenses), which you can use to manually focus the lens. However, we don’t much care for the lens cover that makes you shift a lever to move it out of the way. Nor were we impressed with its optical image stabilization, which didn’t seem to do much of anything. We also didn’t care for the break in the audio between each shot when we played back output via HDMI on our HDTV.
Here’s the most versatile camcorder of the bunch, letting you record 28 minutes of its best-quality video per 3-inch DVD. If you don’t feel like dealing with discs, you can cram 80 minutes of HD footage on an 8GB SDHC flash memory card instead. If you do record to a DVD, you can pop that disc into a compatible Blu-ray player (our Sony BDP S-300 played the disc perfectly) or play the disc back directly from the camera. But the DVD format has its drawbacks—it’s slow to read when you turn on the camera, taking seven seconds from a cold start. And once you’re done shooting, unless you’re using DVD-RAM, you’ll need to finalize the disk before you can read any of the files on the computer or play them back, which takes about five minutes for each minute of footage shot.
The HDC-SD1 was the smallest and lightest camcorder we tested, and the easiest one to use. It offers few buttons to confuse you and no viewfinder, but wait a minute—that’s a frickin’ 3-inch viewscreen, which seems huge compared to the others’ 2.7-inchers. And it’s bright enough to show you its crispy video even on the sunniest of days. The zoom lever gives you just the right amount of speed right when you need it, and the navigational joystick is right there under your thumb. Its optical image stabilization holds those shots rock-solid unless you zoom all the way to 12x.
Remember the first time you used high-speed broadband? Or the first time you fired up a 3D-accelerated game? You’ll experience that same excitement the first time you plug Canon’s miniature HV10 HDV camcorder in to your 60-inch HDTV. Instead of the fuzzy YouTube-esque video you get with your current DV cam, you’ll get video that jumps to life. It’s like, well, it’s like going from standard-definition TV to high-definition TV.
There are two types of webcams: the cheap devices used for online chats, and the expensive models used for video surveillance. Toshiba’s new IK-WB15A Network Camera falls squarely in the latter category, but it offers some features you won’t find on products costing twice as much.