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Popular pocket camcorders put to the test

December 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
YouTube makes it easy for people to put their videos up on the Web. In fact, 20 hours of video are uploaded every minute to the site. If you've got a budding Steven Spielberg, you may be considering a pocket camcorder for a gift in this holiday. Eyewitness News teamed up with Consumer Reports to test out pocket camcorders and the new iPod Nano to find the best movie maker, and surprisingly the prices are pretty good.

Thirteen-year-old Jack Alexander loves to shoot home movies with his Flip video camera. He says it's more convenient than a regular camcorder.

"It's not like a really big thing that you tug around with you. It fits right in your pocket," said Alexander.

Consumer Reports checked out 14 different pocket camcorders, all priced $200 or under, including ones from Flip, Sony, and Kodak. Testers evaluated both video and audio quality.

"They don't compare well to full-size camcorders in terms of video quality, or even audio quality. But for their convenience and size, you can't beat them," said Consumer Reports' Elias Arias.

Then there's the newest iPod Nano that lets you shoot video.

"Compared to other pocket camcorders, the iPod Nano's video is as good as the best we've seen in pocket camcorders. However, the audio begins to distort as it gets louder," said Arias.

Testers found all the devices make shooting videos nearly foolproof. And once you're done shooting, you can easily connect the camcorder to your computer, where you can save, edit, and share videos.

Consumer Reports says the Pure Digital Flip Video UltraHD for $200 had the best video quality and is the easiest to use. The Kodak Zi8 pocket video camera for $180 also tested well. Along with decent video quality, it has some great features, like image stabilization and an audio input that lets you adjust your recording levels.

If you like the small size of pocket camcorders but want a real video camera, Consumer Reports suggests the Sony Handycam DCR SX60 for $250. It's still small enough to fit in your pocket, and while it only shoots standard definition, the video quality is better than all of the high-definition pocket camcorders. Plus, the Sony camcorder has a zoom lens, unlike many pocket camcorders.


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