This applies to almost everyone, as I guarantee there is a place for quick and cheap web video in almost any task:
A friend of mine runs a weekly meditation research group that brings in guest lecturers and other sorts of presentations, and recently asked me to recommend a way to post audio of the presenters online for those who cannot make the meetings. Audio? I scoffed. There’s almost no web use for spoken word audio that wouldn’t be enhanced by adding video as well. But people don’t care about pretty pictures, he said.
Everybody connects better to a speaking face than an audio podcast, and if you’re going to put something out why not make it a whole experience. There’s no reason it need take up much of your time or be a hassle. I did a lot of research yesterday into the options out there, and I’m sharing my findings here in case it will help others. You can have a truly decent and compact recording setup for only $194!
My recommended solution
At the moment, the two major contenders are the $160 Flip UltraHD and the $150 Kodak Zi8. I ended up choosing the Zi8 because it has better image quality and an external microphone input. That way, if you decide the audio is not good enough for your needs, you can always upgrade. They both are super intuitive, fit in the palm of your hand, and make it easy to edit videos and post to YouTube. They also both have mini-HDMI outputs, making it easy to plug them into an HDTV and watch your footage. The Zi8 comes with a free extra battery on Amazon right now, whereas the Flip comes with two extra accessories on Amazon. Consider the Flip if you want Mac support (Zi8 will work with mac but their nifty youtube and editing software won’t.)
The Zi8 has replaceable memory, where the Flip does not. This has the downside that you need to buy a memory card, but the upside is that you can swap cards out and get a lot more memory if you want. 8GB will match the Flip’s 2 hour limit, and you can go up to 32GB.
I also found the following accessories:
- A cheap full-size tripod or a sweet tabletop Gorillapod, depending on your preference (about $17.)
- A $14 wireless lapel microphone (but no guarantees this will work well–I’d pay more like $147 if you want to get great audio. This is optional, and the two cameras get passable audio already.
So with the Zi8, an SD card, a tripod, and optionally a microphone, you’ll find that putting videos on the web is easy. Just push a button (they both have a big record button and not much else), and you’re recording. Two clicks sends it to YouTube. Next year Flip comes out with another contender that supports WiFi, so you should be able to upload very quickly and easily.
Power in the hands of the people. The times, they are a-changing!
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