The reader letter today comes from Matt Moceri, a reader that is confused about which Mini HD camcorder to buy.
I had purchased the newspaper this past Sunday and inside I always check out the circulars for each electronics store on Long Island. Now after browsing the ad for 6th Ave Electronics, I noticed a sale for Sony’s “Bloggie” mini HD camcorder. This peaked my interest due to the lower price. However, I had a couple regarding this camcorder specifically and the mini HD cam market in general. My question is two part: What are the advantages and disadvantages of these mini HD cams and which one is the best bang for your buck? I saw a couple different camcorders from companies like Flip, Kodak, and Sony.
For starters, you have to understand that mini-cams aren’t very good for much beyond casual filming. Even if they can produce HD video, because of their small sensor sizes and fixed, limited lenses, they can’t be depended upon for good video. They’re fine in a pinch for Youtube, or any sort of casual videography to be shared with friends or family, but they are not “serious” camcorders.
You’re right, currently Flip, Kodak, and Sony are the biggest names in the market for mini-camcorders. In the sub-$200 price range, the Flip UltraHD, Kodak Playsport, and Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 are the main models, though several variants are available. While Flip has reigned as king in terms of brand recognition, over the last year it’s fallen behind in technology; even the most expensive Flip, the SlideHD, only shoots 720p video while the Playsport and Bloggies both record 1080p and can take still pictures.
Here are the main differences between them:
Kodak PlaySport: 1080p video. 5-megapixel still pictures, 128 MB internal memory (not enough for any real use; get an SD card), waterproof to 10 feet.
Sony Bloggie PM5: 1080p video, 5-megapixel still pictures, swiveling lens.
Flip UltraHD Camcorder: 720p video, no still pictures, works with AA batteries.
Flip has clearly fallen behind, which means your best choices are either the Kodak or the Sony. The Sony’s swiveling lens is handy, but the Playsport’s underwater (and, therefore, splash-resistant) capabilities make it the best casual-use mini-camcorder this generation.
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