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Old Sep 7, 2005, 9:48 PM   #1
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I'm verytempted by these hybrids now, but I'm worried because it feels like they are only justbeginning to meet expectations. I've been waiting for these for what seems like a long time, yet I feel I will need to wait another year or two.

I'm looking for an MPEG-4solid state camcorder with good (10x?) optical zoom and at least 3mp stills (of great quality, of course); a compact lightweight "shirtpocket" design yet with a relatively large LCD screen;portable audio/video media capabilities; TV-out (possibly video in?);of course standard USB drive functionality; and FAST RESPONSE TIME !

The Sanyo C5 appears to be a good product. I like the fact that it's using thenew standard .mp4 MPEG-4 container for video and (mpeg-4) AAC audio instead of the outdated .avi container; but, unfortunatly, most Windows softwaresdon't yet support .mp4.Also, I've located a few videos on the internet captured with the C5 and there are some nagging things: not only does the zoom generate a lot of noise in the audio but even the auto-focus makes a distracting sound throughout andlow-light video is very grainy.The still quality looks great butdoesthe C5 even play .mp3/media files?

The Samsung miniket would be great if the still resolution was acceptable. They are introducing new higher res. minikets this fall including 5mp ones (such asthe camera like VP-MS15, but I think I prefer thethumb controlledcamcorder format), so I'm going to keep my eye out for those.

Also, to me, the ones that do fairly good quality video are still quite expensive at this time. It seems that without all of the complex tapeinner workingsthese devices should be cheaper to manufacture than standard camcorders (of coursethey'll only be cheaper when theR&D costs for the processing chipsare re-couped I guess).

Another thing is now that it appears MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) will become the officially adopted standard for MPEG-4, I feel like I should hold out for a model that will record in AVC format instead of the current SP or ASP. I mean you want your video files created in a long lasting standard format, right?

SD media prices seem to be dropping fast, 1GB SD is now $70 and still dropping. That's just great, can you imagine soon buying 1GB SD in boxes of 10 for $25? (ok, maybe I'm dreaming)

Sorry I just realize I'm rambling... but I'm curious, there must be others also waiting it out... what are you guys waiting for?


EDIT: Thanks sgspiritfor the list of Hybrids, it's great and it also helped clarify my confusion with knockoffs and brands (Creative's looked like DXG's looked like Centrios'... turns out their all HanShing, arrg).
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Old Sep 8, 2005, 12:49 AM   #2
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Welcome Caelum,

I'll answer your questions in more of a brainstorming manner.

The Sanyo Xacti's, as you suspected, do not have mp3 players.

The latest Panasonic SDR-S100 might meet your technical needs, but it's relatively expensive. And also lacks mp3. I've seen extensive reviews of it lately on the Internet. There are some recent digital still cameras that might meet your needs for prices similar to mid-level hybrids (~$500). I saw an ad for a Casio EX-S500 dsc (http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/casio/exilim_s500-review/index.shtml) today that has a very small body, 3x optical zoom, 640x480 at 30fps, and image stabilization for stills only, for $400usd. But like almost all the dsc's with viable video modes, it lacks an mp3 player.

File conversion is a big issue so far largely below the radar. It will surface as more people take videos, then switch cameras, only to find the videos from their old cameras won't playback on the new ones. I've written elsewhere in this forum about this problem.

Transferring videos to DVD is a partial solution. The latest Digilife DDV's, with their video-in functions, apparently and necessarily are coming with a version of Ulead Video Studio that can do the needed conversions.

But as the software and hardware technology rapidly evolve, and given the vast number of variables in video coding and compression, I don't expect an established standard - ever. The best I think we can hope for is easy-to-use conversion features in editing software. Like, choose the model camera the stuff was filmed on, and choose the model or medium you want to play it on.

Yes, internal mics pick up all sorts of noise from zooming, operating the buttons, and even tiny movements of your fingers on the housing. The Aiptek I used to have had an extremely sensitive microphone that picked up everything. Even the new Panasonic does not have an external mic or provision for one. Image stabilization is somewhat of a solution, as you can move closer to or away from or around subjects with acceptable amounts of camera motion. Thus, you can approach a subject instead of using a zoom. Not useful for zooming in on distant subjects, such as mountains, however. Without image stabilization, you just can't walk while filming and get acceptable results.

You're right about these things not having tape transports. But I suspect tape transports can be banged out very cheaply these days, while the dv cams have to include the sensor/lens chips, a/d processing, coding and compression chips, multi-featured modems, power control circuitry, sound systems, mp3 subsystem, controls, etc., plus a cpu to coordinate all these things. Not to mention the odd optical zoom. All in a tiny package. I suspect the market is competitive enough that if they could be done cheaper, they would be.

I was going to wait to replace my Digilife DDV-720 until a sub $250usd camera came out with image stabilization, remote control and optical zoom. But the Digilife DDV-810/V1 is available now so cheap ($150usd on eBay)that I couldn't resist ordering one. So personally, I'm not playing a waiting game. Better to jump in and get an idea of what you really want, so you recognize it when it shows up on the market.

Keeping track of all the models of hybrids is an almost daily chore. I come across some models that are just so obscure I don't bother adding them to the list, and I could use help completing the list of which ones are knockoffs of which others.

You seem to be quite knowledgable on these topics, so I hope you'll hang out and help build this repository of information.
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Old Sep 8, 2005, 2:17 PM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback and information. I didn't mention an image stabilizer for video recording as a requirement, but I guess you're right, I probably need that as a feature especially with the diminutive size of these things making you more "shaky" (I'm aware of the image stabilizer software solutions, but if that's a step that can be avoided the better).

Although it sounds fantastic I hadn't considered the Panasonic SDR-S100 since I think it only records in MPEG-2. Although I'll have to go look at the reviews to see. I've come to the conclusion that I likemy datain digital form. I've rarely ever printed any photos or made DVDsand have an HTPC to output all my digital content to the entertainment center. MPEG-2 is great for those going to DVD from the camera, but MPEG-4 can hold much more video in the same size or much higher quality video at the same bitrate or less. 25 Minutes in a 2GB SD doesn't seem like much.

You may be right that a true standard might not ever be adopted. But when you think ofJPEG, I think the whole industry has been waiting for MPEG-4to standardize the same way.H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC (part 10) really appears to be the codec that will finaly be the new standard for video as MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 have been. Both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray have made support for this codec mandatory for their devices. Many sattelite providers have adopted this codec as have the European standards body for digital broadcast television. It looks to become the standard for mobilephone video. It's already gained a lot of popularity as being the new preferred video compression formatfor Apple (QT7), the PSP and on the PC with Nero DVD Recode. It just seems that there is a lot of excitement around this codec, we'll just have to see I guess. (Here is Apple's blurb on H.264)

It's nice to find a place dedicated to these hybrids, I'll keep an eye on this forum and will report back if ever I come across pertinent info.
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Old Sep 8, 2005, 11:19 PM   #4
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I've tried holding a rock with the camera to stabilize it, but it didn't help much, and how often is the right size rock available? Scratches the camera also.

Thanks for the llink to info on the new MPEG-4 codec. It sounds like that may indeed be a solution, as long as major camera chip makers like OmniVision adopt it. If the cell phone makers use it, it will be the standard for hybrids since the hybrids piggyback on components created for cellphone video. But Microsoft may not cooperate with H.264 since it would undermine their desire to capture control of digital video coding. Note that Microsoft is not part of ISMA, suggesting they have their own plans, which is always a recipe for discord.

Another angle is that MPEG-4 hybrids have only been around for two years. How fast will something else replace H.264?

By comparison, Digilife's implementation of MPEG-4 results in a bit rate of 1.8mbps at 640x480/30fps. I imagine H.264 would provide much more image clarity and detail at that rate. The Digilife system puts 37 minutes of that quality video on a 512mb sd card.

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Old Sep 9, 2005, 8:03 AM   #5
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I heard a bean bag actually makes a good stabilizer. In fact there is a commercial bean bag type "tripod", it's called The Pod, basically a heavy bean bag with a tripod screw.

Yeah Microsoft indeed isn't too interested in H.264 and is trying to push it's own "VC-1" (windows media video 9) codec. It's a pretty good codec and has fairly low licensing costs, but the fact that it's not an open standard makes it doomed to fail as a widely adopted standard in my mind.

Apparently there are now better more advanced image compression techniques than JPEG, and much better audio compression techniques than MP3 (MPEG-1 Layer 3), but they really have yet to be widely replaced since they have been so widely adopted and people are comfortable with them. And yes, apparently, there are already better (proprietary) video compression techniques than H.264. We can only hope that one, like perhaps H.264, becomes a standard that everyone likes and sticks with for a long time.

It's all fun and exciting times.
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Old Sep 25, 2005, 3:24 PM   #6
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Probably a lot of products like this will be hitting the market soon but Mobilygen has just released a low-power H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) encoder chip for the mobile market. The MG1264 only consumes 185mW of power and can handle the encoding of H.264 VGA 30fps video, 64Kbps to 10Mbps, CBRor VBR, and 2-channel AAC audio.Samples areavailable now and will cost $10 per chip in production volume. There is a press release in PDF format.

Perhapswe'll be seeing H.264 solid-state camcorders/hybrids/cell phonesat the beginning of next year?
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Old Sep 26, 2005, 11:50 PM   #7
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Good info, I can see why we should be in anticipation about the next generation of these cameras. I wonder how hard OmniVision is working on similar chips?
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Old Oct 7, 2005, 5:04 PM   #8
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I read that Zoran's next generation of their camera chipset, the COACH 8, will support HDMI video. What is HDMI, and how does it relate to H.264?

http://www.zoran.com/press_room/2005...05_coach8.html
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Old Oct 7, 2005, 6:19 PM   #9
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Thanks. I'm not sure, I think it's an interface, uhm.. oh I founda wikipedia article, it's informative.
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Old Oct 7, 2005, 6:37 PM   #10
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So it has nothing to do with H.264, and appears to be an interface that could be used to allow hybrid cameras to take advantage of digital/high definition tv's etc.
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