For a long time, digital camcorders have been limited in all sorts of ways by the fact that they have to use removable media. The camcorder has to be big enough that the media can fit inside, you have to buy the media and remember to carry it around with you, and you can only film as much as can fit on your media. Now, though, these restrictions are fading away: we’re entering the era of the tapeless camcorder.
What do I mean by ‘tapeless’? Well, basically, I’m talking about hard disk camcorders. These are digital camcorders that work the same way as your iPod or Tivo – they have a hard disk drive inside to store the data on. Modern video compression combined with the ever-increasing capacity and ever-declining physical size of hard disks has finally made them practical for these kinds of portable uses. The massive success of the iPod has forced down the price of portable hard disks, and digital camcorders are the next thing to benefit.
Using a hard disk camcorder is just so much easier. All you need to do is charge it up, point it at what you want to film, and switch it on. They’ll film for hours and hours before they get full – generally around 50 hours, but you can get more if you want. When you’re done, just plug it into a computer (or use a Bluetooth wireless connection), save the movie to the hard drive, and you’re ready to go again.
Of course, hard disk camcorders are also much smaller than other digital cams, and can be almost any shape their designer feels like, which generally servers to make them much nicer to hold and use. If you’re not sure what to get, I can recommend the JVC Everio line as the original and still so far the best, but it’s still early in this market yet.