I get plenty of requests for AV advice from friends and acquaintances. Most of it comes from people who are really into the hobby. Often, these people already have a specific product in mind, and it's almost like they're testing me. Other folk really want you to agree with them in going with their wallet and picking up a cheap plasma at Costco because, hey, it's cheap. Well, sadly, I am not a walking talking dictionary. My first line of defense is to tell them they should check out the Buyer Guides on our web site(s). This, to many, strongly resembles work. I should do it for them and (sigh) I often do.
But sometimes, I get a letter from an old friend who is so far out of the AV loop, they would describe themselves as "normal." I get the inference, but don't take offense. I write a blog about them.
I need to replace my old ---8 mm tape sony handy cam with digital one. Any cheap ideas? Obviously we are not into latest gadgets-----so as long as it is computer compatible and has good recording sound. I don't care if it is last years models. We still dont have flat TV in our house or GPS . Any input would be appreciated.
First of all - the English. Don't blame me - that's how Hana types. She's from Czechoslovakia and English isn't her first language. But don't think she's not brilliant in her own way. She's a mechanical engineer and a registered nurse. So she can drop an I-beam on you and give you a Band-aid for your boo-boo. But she can't pick out a camcorder. Heck, I bet she can't even spell it.
So Hana - you want to move to a mini-DV camcorder. It's still tape-based, which should give you that comfort level you so desperately desire, but the cartridges are smaller and won't be confused with your Sony's 8MM tapes. Although if you do drop a mini-DV tape into your old camcorder, you'll need tweezers to get it out.
What's so great about mini-DV? Well first of all, it's not the latest. There are hard disk recorders from JVC and others that fit that bill - no tapes, but you have to play everything back via the computer. You're not that girl.
On the other hand, mini-DV is digital, so you can hook it up with firewire or USB to your computer, import the video and cut your own DVDs, or just run some wires to the TV and watch the tape right away. So the next time you dress a visiting Armenian in sheets and sandals and launch him into the lake, you'll have more than a still shot that I'm telling everyone was done with Photoshop.
But "digital" doesn't translate into high-definition. The image on my four year Canon, while excellent, is still only standard definition. You'll have to move up to HDV to get either a 720p or 1080i high def image (the latter having only 75% the horizontal resolution of 1080i coming off your high-def DVR - oh, sorry I forgot, touchy subject). Price-wise though, you won't be interested in HDV, as these unit can easily reach $1,000 with a decent feature set, while mini-DV is the true bargain here, with companies like Canon offer excellent units between $300 and $500 depending on features, such as the level of optical zoom, or the ability to take stills, shoot with a second remote microphone, etc.
But recommend a specific model? Sorry Hana, I wouldn't do that. You can search the internet and find some really excellent sources for reviews, like www.camcorderinfo.com.
Hope that helps!