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June 30th, 2005

Disposable Camcorder

I know it’s a few weeks old, but the new CVS disposable camcorder is a really interesting idea. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

On one hand it says a lot for how far the technology has come. Why, in Back to the Future Doc from 1955 marveled at Marty’s enormous JVC camcorder from 1985. Now the thing is so small that it’s disposable.

On the other hand, it has a lot of limits: 20 minutes only, no real editing features, etc. And the price isn’t incredible: $30 for the camcorder (one-time use) and $13 for a DVD with your video on it. If you do it once for novelty it isn’t bad; do it 5 times or so and you’re within a stone’s throw of a “real” camcorder.

I’m not sure when I’d really need one. What do you think?

Posted in Technology

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday June 30, 2005 -- 9:14:36 am
It'll be interesting to see how people hack it, though... and from what I understand, they're really close if they haven't gotten there already.

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Thursday June 30, 2005 -- 9:25:59 am
I just saw these a couple of days ago and I wasn't sold. There's suspiciously no description on the packaging that I could find to tell me what the resolution was or any details such as whether it even records sound.

Most digital cameras probably have a video feature that's at least as good (as bad) as this thing. When most people have digital cameras now, why bother?

FROM: Vovenheimerpeoplers
DATE: Thursday June 30, 2005 -- 8:59:03 pm
technology has gotten out of hand lately. i mean, just think of how many resources are being wasted for disposable camers. and anyway, y not just buy one? it ends up being cheaper and better. people just think that cuz something is "disposable" it is more high tech. i dont know who thought of that

DATE: Friday August 19, 2005 -- 8:30:09 am
It's been hacked - sort of! Check out...
Several people have either figured out the pinout of the connector, or in the case above, found a way to modify a USB dock to accept the camcorder, and download/delete the movies. Not sure about the recharging of batteries, but wow!
BTW, the camcorder takes 20-25 minutes of DIVX (not sure which version of DIVX) quality video at 320x240, which is considered to be VHS quality, 30 fps)
Also look here:

FROM: James [E-Mail]
DATE: Saturday August 20, 2005 -- 7:33:37 pm
What's the lux of the camera?

DATE: Saturday August 20, 2005 -- 9:24:35 pm
has a review of one of the models. Seems that at 60 lux it's still ok, and down to 15 lux it will still record, but get really murky. It's actually a terrible camcorder unless you're in full bright sunlight.

DATE: Monday August 22, 2005 -- 9:58:08 pm
"modding" (or changing) the CVS camcorder is VERY easy to anyone with basic soldering experience (and there's even ways to do it without soldering).
So far, people have hacked the cam to:
do 640 x 480 resolution
drop down to 24 fps (more storage space)
512 x 384 resolution
more than 20 minutes!


FROM: corbell
DATE: Tuesday August 30, 2005 -- 8:14:03 pm
Disposable is a misnomer.

CVS just wipes the cameras clean of any data and puts them back out again. It'd be more accurate to call them cheap rental camcorders.

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