If you use a pocket camcorder, you’re used to crummy, tinny audio being captured alongside your HD video. So, what if manufacturers turned such low consumer expectations on their ear and designed a high-quality audio recorder that just so happens to do video -- complete with a bump to 1080p HD? Olympus’ new recorder is just that -- a capable video device for audio enthusiasts that’s unfortunately hampered by one unique design decision.
Close your eyes, and watch some video. Now open them, but plug your ears. Neither one seems complete, so why do most home camcorder jockeys ignore the audio and focus only on the picture? The Zoom Q3HD gets the balance right, shooting HD video while capturing audio with two terrific microphones. You’ll be able to see and hear footage from a music recital, a quiet grandfather telling stories, or nearly any other situation where other pocket cams would fail. While we can pick at the Q3HD’s many issues—including weak battery life and a narrow lens—we’d gladly take its results over competitors.
Like sharks smelling blood in the water, the makers of media streamers are churning up a froth in the market for one simple reason: opportunity. Streaming video is all the rage as these manufacturers struggle to create the next big thing in video. Apple retooled its “hobby,” removing Apple TV’s onboard storage and making it a streaming-only device. And companies ranging from Boxee to Google are hoping their streaming solutions emerge victorious. Orb TV is fairly new to the video game, and its puck-shaped device also pipes video (or music) to your TV. But unlike the competition, Orb has an ace in the hole—free Hulu.
If you’ve ever purposely left your camera behind knowing that your outdoor adventure is going to include water, then you’re familiar with that cold, empty feeling you get when you return home and realize that you’ve failed to document your trip. Sanyo’s new Xacti VPC-CA102 handily solves that problem—it’s a waterproof video cam fit to weather the storm.
These days, everyone is an amateur Francis Ford Coppola—or maybe that’s an amateur Kevin Smith. Anyway, if you go to any sporting event, birthday party, soccer game, or random Tuesday happy hour, someone’s bound to break out a portable video camera to capture the moment. They’re practically weightless, easy to use, and can shoot in full HD—so why not? But if you’ve ever been subjected to someone’s shaky video of the time they hit a perfect 450 playing Skee-Ball, you know how nauseating 1080p video can be when it’s shot handheld.
We’ve learned to expect big, wonderful things from Apple’s tiny little boxes. But unlike a Mac mini or iPod nano--which both do a lot in a relatively small space--the Apple TV doesn’t do much more than its 3.9x3.9x0.9-inch form factor and $99 price would suggest. That’s because it’s primarily a cloud-focused streaming device…but it only connects to a small, wispy tendril of the cloud, rather than the thunderstorm of awesome streaming content that can easily be accessed on other devices.
We still miss our now-defunct local video store, but yes, Netflix movies beamed right to our TV is a pretty fair trade. And if Netflix streaming hasn’t found its way to your TV yet via a game console, Blu-ray player, or TiVo, the WD TV Live Plus (the fourth iteration in Western Digital’s line of home media players) makes a great purchase. After all, who doesn’t want to pipe their digital videos, music, and photos to their existing TV and stereo these days? If that’s a superpower your living room lacks, the Live Plus can be your radioactive spider with minimal hassle and none of that messy biting.
The iPhone 4 isn’t particularly well-named. That’s because one of the things you’ll use this ingenious little device for least is making boring old phone calls. Between the terrific dual cameras, the zippy performance, and the luscious Retina Display, we were quickly absorbed in photography, games, web-browsing, and loads more. It’s truly a dramatic leap forward from the not-shabby-at-all iPhone 3GS.
In the video camera market, the term "HD" is thrown around about as
much as the word "green" is used in the general consumer market. Both
are buzz words intended to lure in customers by making them feel
they’re on the cutting-edge of some important new trend. The number of
consumer digital video cams that claim to shoot HD is staggering,
especially when you consider that most camera companies think shooting
in a 16:9 aspect ratio is automatically HD.
If you flipped over the Flip pocket-size video cameras, there’s a new
contender worth your attention. Kodak’s Zi8 replaces the Zi6, bringing
full HD 1080p capabilities to a small, well-designed package that fits
in your pocket but does more than its competition.