Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pure Digital Camcorder Review

Pure Digital Camcorder Review -
(availabe at - price - $100)

The Good - The price, tiny - fits in a shirt pocket, records to memory on the device (512 MB), runs on 2 AA batteries, starts up fast, ease of use, decent video, and you can preview/delete clips.

The Bad - Video quality isn't up to minidv standards, no optical zoom, no lens cover, no way to connect to a tripod, and no manual controls.

The Ugly - This technology and prices will surely improve quickly over the next couple years. Price on this model has already dropped $30 if you buy online. Also, it's only available from Target, who has a horrible camcorder return policy; there is a 15 percent restocking fee if you are not happy with the camera. My next cell phone could have similar functionality built in, sans the USB plug.


Overall I have been pleasingly shocked by this little camcorder. For the price, I haven't found anything that even compares.

The key is usability and portability. The camcroder is simple to use - it includes software on the device to copy the video clips off the device (yes you can also drag the clips over contrary to Patrick Norton's claim). Recording is literally a one button affair - a well placed record button that you push once to start recording and once again to stop. It's simple enough my Mom can use it without any help. This is a point and shoot video camera that brings back the fun that you first had with digital still cameras!

This camera is tiny - it's small enough to fit in my shirt pocket. I like manual controls on my cameras, but at this size I am willing to give them up. Also, I like the fact that it is easy and intuitive to use. I can toss (yes toss - no moving parts) this camera to a buddy and I don't need to explain how to record something - beyond telling them to "push the big red button".

Video quality is acceptable... to me. Everyone has a different take on video quality, but this seems to look better then what my old VHS camcorder put out. And it is a huge step up from any video I have seen taken by someone's cell phone. In other words - good enough for daily and vacation use - but not your kid's first birthday, graduation, or wedding.

Battery life is reported at 4-6 hours, but I have not verified this yet. In reality I don't see it as an issue, since 2 AA batteries are cheap and can be found anywhere. In fact, this is a plus! As a long time user of digital devices, I have come to the conclusion that, for cameras, AA batteries are the way to go, with one caveat - they need to last through at least one day of shooting. The best, of course, would be to have both, or have an external rechargable battery as backup. But on a device this small, AA batteries are perfect. I don't want their cheap battery that dies after a year anyway(it is a $100 device after all)! So all in all, they made a good choice on the battery - it keeps the cost of the device down and the usability goes way up, a good call for a company that started with disposable cameras.

This is a great device for the price. I will use it for storm chasing when I am worried about damage to my expensive minidv cam. I will use it for fun daily clips of friends and family (which I never use my other camcorder for). I will use it to record interesting science stuff I see in everyday life to show to my classes. I will use it...

I will use it - something that rarely happens with my minidv camcorder - making this product worth the small price tag.


If you have this product please add to the comments! I was unable to find a good review anywhere on the web, which is why I wrote one. Feedback is welcome - what do you think?


TimCost said...

Thanks for the great review! I am thinking of buying on at my local Costco ($90.00) but I'm not finding a lot of reviews out there. It's been about 8 months since you posted this review. Are you still using it? Are you still happy with it? After using it for a while is it holding up OK (durability)? One of my concerns was the USB pop out connector. Could you email me (or post) a sample video taken with your cam? Sorry about that ... I guess I got carried away with the questions.

kevin said...

I just bought mine two days ago at $69.00 after an instant $20.00 rebate at Costco. Nice little camera. Works OK as a cheap still camera too. At the start of each video you shoot the camera saves a .JPG of the opening shot. It has to record for about three seconds to save the .JPG The low price at Costco probably means it will soon be out under a different name at a lower price after the holidays.

kevin said...

Forgot to ask. Just what is the slot behind the door on the top of the unit for?