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Camcorder Buying Guide


Flip and Pocket Camcorders
Smaller camcorders let users flip and shoot on the run.
Smaller camcorders let users flip and shoot on the run.
White Packert/Iconica/Getty Images

Prices for flip and pocket camcorders range from about $80 to about $250. They're about the size of a smart phone, and tend to have simple optics, limited battery life and average, standard definition video quality. But for the video artist who just wants to record and share memories, they're the perfect accessory. Most offer plug-and-play capabilities, simple and free editing software, and step-by-step directions on posting your indie shorts to the Web.

If you're using your camcorder frequently, and for long periods of time, weight becomes a significant consideration. Even a relatively light camcorder becomes heavy the longer you use it. Try holding a can of soup, which weighs about a pound, at chest level for an hour. You'd be surprised at how quickly the seemingly simple action becomes difficult. This is one of the reasons portable and mini camcorders dominate the market, despite providing relatively poor video. Consider a camcorder you can hold in your hand easily. If it's too heavy, you'll probably end up leaving it at home, and it would have been better not to buy it in the first place.

Most camcorders use an LCD screen to show what the optics are picking up. A larger screen makes it easier to shoot and see playback, but that larger screen uses a significant amount of battery power. Some of the largest LCD screens on the market, upwards of 3 inches (7.6 centimeters), also make the camcorder larger.