A little over six years ago, Pure Digital's simple-to-use Flip pocket camcorders created a huge buzz. Recently, though, devices have been losing market share to smart phones, which have nearly identical specs and features but can more easily connect to the Internet. So some pocket-cam manufacturers have begun to add rugged or waterproof features to their models, to differentiate them from smart phones. And our testers are starting to test and rate these new models.
Aside from mirrorless cameras like the Nikon 1 V1, there have been few bright spots in the camera and camcorder markets. But manufacturers still appear hopeful. Sony is a case in point: Today, the electronics giant announced two digital imaging products—a flagship point-and-shoot, the 20-megapixel Cyber-shot RX100 ($650) and a full-size camcorder, the HDR-GW77V ($700), which Sony says is waterproof and shockproof.
At first glance, it would appear the camera industry is in trouble. Some of the smart phones introduced at CES have specs that equal or surpass cameras: 16-megapixel sensors, displays as big as 5.3 inches and the ability to shoot HD video at 1080p. Plus, smartphones have much more intuitive interfaces and can instantly upload photos and video to the internet for instant sharing. Which is why more and more people shoot photos and video on their phones, leaving cameras and camcorders at home.
After battling delays in various camera product launches in 2011 due to flooding in Asia, Sony unveiled today more than a dozen new camcorder models for 2012. None will be standard definition (although two SD models--the Handycam SX85 and SX45--will remain in the 2012 lineup). Sony’s camera division announced three new point-and-shoot cameras, all basic budget models: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W610 ($110), DSC-W620 ($120) and DSC-W650 ($140).
Sony’s new MHS-TS55 Bloggie Live pocket camcorder, $250, is getting lots of attention for its ability to stream live video to your computer using Qik.com, a web video hosting service. This means you can record and simultaneously broadcast your video on the web. Smartphones have been able to do this for a while, but it's new for pocket cams.
To compete with smart phones, which can wirelessly share images and video on social networks, Samsung today announced several new cameras and HD camcorders that connect wirelessly to the Internet. The new models with WiFi include three cameras, the 16-megapixel WB850F ($380, available in April), 14-megapixel WB150F ($230, available in January), and 16-megapixel ST200F ($200, available in February), and an HD camcorder, the QF20 ($350, available in March).
Among the nearly two dozen new models listed in our latest pocket-camcorder Ratings, you'll find quite a few with distinguishing features, new designs—and heftier prices as well, indicating a reversal of what happened in this market five or six years ago.
Computer networking giant Cisco announced today that it will close down its Flip camcorder business, a company it bought less than two years ago. Cisco plans to restructure and focus more on its home networking business.
Wireless memory card maker Eye-Fi has introduced an SDHC card that can upload your camera’s photos and videos to the Web by passing them through your mobile phone or tablet. The 8GB Eye-Fi Mobile X2 ($80) can also upload photos and videos from your camera directly to sites such as Facebook or FlickR through any available Wi-Fi network, as previous Eye-Fi cards could. But if there’s no such network available, it can use your Apple iOS or Android-based mobile phone (or tablet) to do the same thing via its new Direct mode feature
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