Gadget Lust: The Sony Webbie HD Cameras

by on January 8, 2009

CES is upon on us, which is bad news for me. I suffer from a condition called gadget lust. In general this is something that I use to my advantage in my chosen profession. I enjoy working with new technology, but sometimes it affects my bank account.

Sony came out with a number of new products this week. You can see information on their web site. Thankfully no updates to the eReader line (as I just purchased a 700) but they have jumped on the mini-video band wagon hard with two new products The are calling Webbie HD cameras.

These are obviously inspired by the success of the Flip line of cameras. I have a friend who has one, and I have been impressed by their quality (and this is not the HD version). The Sony’s are full 1080 HD (Flips new HD is 720). Another advantage is that they take memory cards. unfortunately they stick with the Sony’s Memory Stick format, but still, compared to have no expandability, this is an advantage.

You can use up to a 16GB stick in these, but even with a 4GB (chosen because I have an extra one at home) it is rated to store about 85 minutes of 1080/30p video, 127 minutes at 720/30p and 247 minutes at VGA. Since it takes memory sticks, you could easily swap out to record more if you are going to be away from your computer for a while. And if you buy a new 16 GB stick you can quadruple these figures.

I really like the MHS-PM1 that they are releasing right now. The form factor looks like a minaturized standard camcorder, rather than the vertical style that Flip inspired. The model coming out later will mimic the vertical style, with the addition of a swivel head. But the current model gives you the advantage of a 5x Optical zoom, and a 2.5″ flip out display that can be used just like a standard camcorder. They give no information on the lens that I can find (like aperture) but it has a larger sensor than the flip at 1/2.5″ and the ability to take 5 Megapixel stills, even while shooting video.

The budled software makes it easy to upload your video to sites like YouTube, but only works with Windows. This is a tempting item and I may have to purchase. It could actually be a very helpful tool in my line of work, and fun to play with as well. Always a good combination, except for my bank account, though at $199.95 this is pretty affordable tech for what it does.

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