Flash-y Videos

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Question: I've been seeing little video cameras that don't use tapes. How do they work? Are they any good?

The IT Guy says:
With the continued drop in cost for flash memory, there is a new class of video camera that's come on the market. These cameras don't use any tape at all; they record directly to computer memory. This allows the cameras to be very small, portable, and in some cases very inexpensive—ideal for classroom use!

A step up from the Flip devices would be the Xacti family of cameras from Sanyo. They are more expensive, starting at a street price of around $200, but they have several advantages. They have optical zoom lenses, double as 4 megapixel still cameras, and use SD memory cards for expandable storage. The higher-priced models can even record in HD. Similar cameras are also available from RCA, Aiptek, and others, with more appearing almost weekly.

So other than not packing around tapes, what is the advantage to tapeless cameras? Time! If you shoot an hour of video on a tape, it takes an hour to transfer the video to the computer for editing. With flash-based cameras, the same amount of video will take just a few minutes to copy to the computer, depending on how fast your computer is. That can be incredibly important in a time-strapped classroom! What you lose is simple back-up storage. All those tapes may take up space and be a pain to manage, but they are a way of archiving your original videos. With flash-based cameras you have to be more purposeful in backing up and archiving the videos you upload to your computer. For classroom purposes, however, it's a tradeoff I'd be willing to make!

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