We here at Unplggd love to video"tape" everything. From home security to leaked s3x tapes, we cover it all. We recently got our greedy little mitts on the RCA Small Wonder EZ 209 HD video camera and ran it through its paces.
The first thing you encounter with the 209 HD, besides the fact that it's cool looking, is its easy to use interface. Slide the momentary on/off switch down and the screen comes to life. Press the red button in the middle and you are already recording- make sure you get the profanity out before you handle this thing because it really starts recording right away.
The name implies that this is an HD camera and it is. Not the top end HD, certainly not a full 1080p, but it can meet the minimum requirements at 720p. Don't bother using the other two resolution settings because you won't be happy with the output.
The major issue we had with the camera is that it has NO tripod mount. The shape of the camera is such that it cannot stand on its own. It's like trying to stand up your iPhone, the physics just don't allow it.
The other issue (if you are a novice editor on a PC) is that it outputs AVI files. AVI files are great for some video editing software, but not for Windows Movie Maker… not sure what the dealio is with this but Windows Vista comes with Windows Media Encoder which will convert files to WMV for you. You have to convert each video by itself though, so better to leave the camera on and edit out content than to shoot a whole bunch of small clips and convert them all before editing.
The editing software that comes with the camera is ok but better not to use it if you are already familiar with another program. It will automatically upload to YouTube or Box.net. Kind of nice if doing that sort of stuff is new/challenging to you.
Lighting is another thing you need to get right. Low light situations are not what the 209HD craves. Shooting outdoors and in well lit buildings will produce the best outcomes.
I tend to copy files directly to a dump and organize them from there so the fact that videos are named the same thing every time can be a bit bothersome: VID00001, VID00002- on my still camera, there is never a repeat of file names (the numbers keep increasing in value), even after they have been uploaded to the computer. You will have to change the names to not overwrite older [VID00001, VID00002] vids stored on your computer. I suppose this is a memory issue that keeps costs down on hardware- for under a hundy, probably should expect it.
The photo mode is cool because you can take a pic while you are videoing. Nice touch at 5 megapixels. Comes with 256k of storage and all neccessary cables and jive. Expandable to 16 gigs with a miniSD slot.
There are a few issues, but as a social vidcam, this Small Wonder is really a great value.
Pros: SUPER easy to use the camera itself. Very lightweight and small. Widescreen format makes for more interesting shots. Direct to YouTube and Box.next features.
Cons: No tripod mount. Avi files need to be converted for Windows Movie Maker. Need to make sure there is a lot of light.