Thursday, May 18, 2006

Switched On: With flash camcorder, Pure Digital shoots and scores

Ross Rubin at NPD Group pens his regualar Switched On column for Engadget about Pure Digital's Point and Shoot Camcorder that "will initially be sold exculsively at Target for about $130, Thomson Consumer Electronics will also release a version under an RCA brand needing to appear more forward-focused while not alienating its mainstream customer base."

Rubin looks at the features of the Point and Shoot Camcorder, noting its ease of use and that it mounts like a USB flash drive when connected to a PC. He also points out that for Apple fans, the camcorder comes with Mac OS X software. Rubin then states:

Until now, the flash camcorder space has been bifurcated between high-end options from the likes of Panasonic and Sanyo that can cost $600 or more after a beefy SD card, and what I call "cramcorders" -- gadgets that do a generally poor job at a variety of tasks including taking photos and playing music. The Point and Shoot camcorder is affordable and singularly focused. In fact, according to Pure Digital, its reliance on a relatively low-resolution sensor helps avoid the noise problems in low-light video common among even more expensive offerings; I was impressed with the low amount of noise in indoor video. Furthermore, the Point and Shoot camcorder captures video at VGA, four times the resolution of its disposable doppelganger

The result is video that lies between acceptable indoors, where more compression artifacts can be noticed, and good outdoors. Whereas Pure Digital overpromised with the quality of its initial disposable offering, it offers credible video quality with this follow-up, good enough for its target of "everyday video." When compared with video captured by a Canon PowerShot SD400, the digital camera's superior optics and lower compression created a sharper image, but again the Pure Digital offering excelled in reducing low-light noise.
Rubin concludes that "Digital cameras will be the toughest competition for the new device. While they offer as good if not better daytime video, though, their bundled software isn't tuned to handling video the way Pure Digital's is, and whereas most PC novices would never be able to create a DVD from a digital camera's video clips, the same service providers that can master DVDs from the disposable camcorders can also do so with this one (although it remains expensive). For those looking for a straightforward way to take decent digital video, it's a winner."