Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sort Attention Span Theatre

I think Americans are coming down with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). For years, all the news clips on TV and the Internet have been 15-30 seconds (max). Don't believe me? Time them yourself tonight when you get home.

USA Today has become the #2 newspaper in the US by trimming out all the "yucky journalism" stuff in regular, longer articles in favor of short pieces with lots of pictures - oh yeah, and that really relevant and "cool" graph on the front page!

Don't even get me started on the YouTube generation. Useless clips of people doing truly stupid things for one or two minutes - the max that people seem to watch (unless some no-talent freak is doing a lip synch to a song they like).

I found a product the other day that will now enable more and more people to put up useless crap for all the world to see.... introducing the new Flip Video Ultra personal camcorder - with editing and upload software built in.

This $149 device (8GM with a $119 4MB cousin) is available from big box retailer and online. The camera is by Pure Digital Technologies, the makers of those "disposable" cameras and has OK specs for such an inexpensive item.

The camera features 2x digital zoom, 1.5-inch display on-camera playback and delete, one-click video e-mailing or video “greeting cards,” custom editing of movie mixes, capture of still frames from video, and DVD processing at more than 9,400 labs nationwide.

The picture quality - if the online videos on their site can be trusted - looks pretty good. It's a helluva lot better than trying to capture stuff with your cell phone. It's got a built-in USB 2.0 thingie that will connect right up to your computer, and built-in software that will let you upload directly to YouTube, AOL Video, as well as other sites.

For more "upscale", but still cheap video - I came across the Aiptek A-HD 720P camcorder. It shoots in HD at 30fps, had an expandable memory slot, 4x zoom with auto-focus, 2.4" reversable LCD viewfinder, red eye reduction, HDTV component output, night shot feature, 8 mega pixel still camera, and records directly to the QuickTime format (.mov). Price? $170. Really.

The Flip Video Ultra looks like a very interesting product, and if you're just into sharing some video online with your family, or the world via YouTube, then it might be a good option. I'm sure it doesn't have the video quality of more "upscale" recorders - but hey, do you really need that for the 475 x 350 format of most online videos? Probably not.

The Aiptek camera seems like it's getting closer to a "real" camera - although I must admit that I haven't personally tested either model - so I can't attest to the image quality (or lack thereof).

However, if I ever get my mom a video camera - it'll be the Flip Video Ultra... then it will only take me 4 hours to explain how to find the USB port on her computer.

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