Monday, May 31, 2010

0 for 3

I received some cash for my birthday earlier in the month and had been eying some flash-based camcorders that record to an SD memory card. I'm not sure if I really want to invest the money because I'm not sure I will get that much use out of it. I have a compact 8mm camcorder that actually works pretty well that mostly collects dust.

As I was examining different models in my price range, I remembered that I have wanted a graphics tablet for digital photo work for quite a while but they've always been out of my price range. Since digital photography has become so popular Wacom, the company that is pretty much the top dog in pen-based input devices, has finally introduced a consumer product line - Bamboo. The most recent models are under $100. Our local office supply store had a couple in stock so I got one.

With most of my birthday money invested in the tool I know I will use, the idea of a "real" camcorder kinda fizzled. But I was still jonesing for something so when I saw that Big Lots had one by Jazz for $50, I thought I would give it a try.

I went to our local store several times over the next 3 weeks and they were never in stock. If I was in Tulsa or OKC, I would stop by one of those stores and got the same result. I thought I was resigned to never being able to get one when I saw one by Vivitar at BigW for $50. Eh, worth a shot.

The image quality was about what I expected. It had decent controls and a few options here and there. I wasn't looking for much for $50. What I found out was that when I zoomed in (digital zoom) the audio sounded like I was fast-forwarding a CD. Totally unacceptable so I exchanged it for another.

The second Vivitar would wig out as I was zooming but stabilized once it stopped. I can live with it. I wasn't looking for perfection for $50. But when I had nephew #1 record nephew #3's graduation and saw that parts of it had the scrambly audio, I returned the second one for a refund and put my remaining birthday money back into the drawer.

I get ad previews for Big Lots and saw that on Sunday and Monday, they were selling a Jazz camcorder (not exactly the same as the one previously advertised) for $25. I was in. I showed up on Sunday when they unlocked the doors, they had 6 in stock, I was the first to request the case be opened, and they were cleaned out before we walked out the door.

I have been playing with this thing for two days. The quality is similar to that of a cell phone camera (from 15 years ago). But I don't care. I don't expect much of anything for $25. It records audio and video fairly reliably. I'm happy. Until today.

I was goofing around with it most of the day. I didn't drop it. I didn't bang it around. I just picked it up, turned it on and hit the record button. I recorded three videos about me cleaning up the house (I know, really lame [REALLY lame!] but I wanted to play with my toy). When I picked it up to record the 4th segment it wouldn't come on. The tally light next to the power button came on but that's all she'd give.

I thought maybe the batteries were low (I hadn't used it THAT much but you never know) so I recharged them. I got the green light on the charger, reinstalled the batteries and pushed the power button. I was enthusiastic when I heard the startup chime and the startup screen came on the LCD but that's where it stopped.

I'll test it with some alkalines (some stuff is picky about rechargeables) but I'm pretty sure it's going back for a refund. If so, I'll just hang on to my money and get something when I've saved up enough to do so. :(

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