Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More Information on Hard Drive Camcorders

I've got an update on a recent post:

Review: Panasonic Camcorder Features 30GB Hard Drive

I admit that I didn't even know they made these yet, but it makes sense as a natural evolution of video technology.

Here is some more history on the subject:

Hard drive camcorders have actually been around since the '80s. They were first used (somewhat experimentally) by television news crews early in the electronic-news revolution. They were high-end broadcast quality cameras (high-priced) and included -removeable- hard drives. This allowed a news editor to have instant access to the footage without having to transfer from tape to computer. Of course, at that point in history, computer-video editing was in its infancy, and very high-$. Hard-drive technology was still rather fragile - imagine the typical drive bouncing around in the back of the news van speeding back from a breaking story. Video quality equivalent to your current camcorder was a challenge for these $100K+ systems. After some very costly trials, the technology was shelved waiting for more reliable and cheaper stuff.

Video is now more 'democratized' and we are starting to see numerous video formats - several different versions of HD, SD, widescreen, etc. Its not uncommon for some (upper-end) consumer camcoders to be able to switch between US, British, and French video standards, sometimes with the added choices of widescreen and high-def. Some of these choices don't easily translate to a specific tape media. At the same time the internet has eased the problem of transporting the various international television "standards" to other locations. Add to this the much lower cost of reliable drives, and you have a natural migration to consumer camcorders with built-in HDs. The only real limitation to these is the amount of video that can be contained on the drive. I also wonder how many people will be disciplined enough to regularly move the video off their camcorder before they need the space for the next event - Let's see... do I erase Reese's kindergarten graduation, or do I not tape Livvi's first day of school...

What will really be cool is when they offer a consumer version that gives you a choice of tape, HD, or maybe flash-memory card / flash-card HD. Probably late 2008 or early 2009.

This sounds like good news. I'm a bit behind the curve on the knowledge on this one, so I'm glad to get more input from the expert. Now, when will we see more common posts from said expert? cool

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