Monday, March 26, 2007

CVS One-time Video Camcorder


I've always snickered at people lugging around a camcorder when they travel, but now that anybody can post short videos online for others to see, it makes a little more sense. If you can carry a camera that's only as big as a digital camera even better. How about if it's only 30 bucks? Now we're talking.

There's a catch of course. This one-time video camcorder available from CVS only holds 20 minutes of footage and, as its name implies, once it's full you're done. You can delete along the way though, so if you do it right you've got 20 minutes of good stuff once you take it into the store for processing. It's dead simple to use, with just a few key buttons, a lens on the front, and a LCD screen on the back with crisp images. It's small, it's light, and it's unobtrusive while you're filming.

After you finish, you take it in to CVS and pay $12.99 for processing. In theory they can do it in an hour, but the first store I took it to told me to come back the next day, while the second said "an hour and a half at the minimum." When completed, they keep the camera and hand you a DVD with your videos on it. You can watch this on your TV, play it on your computer, and save the videos to your computer hard drive as MPEG-1 files. You can also upload them to the Web as well, but I found that the compression really kills the image quality for these when doing that. Here's an example of one that looked great on the DVD, but pretty bad after uploading to YouTube.

Apart from that flaw though, this is a nice little gadget. It delivers as promised and would be a great thing to take along on a vacation or to capture a kid's recital performance or ball game. Nobody wants to watch more than 20 minutes of home video anyway, so this preserves the event without making you go out and spend a fortune on a digicam. This is not high-def video by any means, but good enough for a regular TV.

1 comment:

Tobi (on behalf of CVS/pharmacy) said...

Thanks for the review Tim! We sought out advice to improve the quality of your video on YouTube. Here's what we found:

The MPEG-1 encoded videos files are also available on the DVD (these videos are at 320 x 240 resolution at 2mbps).

On a computer, look for: “DVD-Drive: \Your Videos\Large Files for Viewing”.

These files will take longer to upload but they will deliver better video quality. The final determinate for YouTube quality however will be limited by the bit-rate YouTube supports.

Hope this helps!