for taking video
By Marc Saltzman
Q: I’m getting ready for summer travel and
want to capture everything on video. What
are a few smart options?
■ Smart charging tools
■ The latest in HDTV
A: If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a
video is worth a million. Sure, a still photo of your
children running on the beach is great, but watching
them frolic in the water and hearing them laugh
brings it to a whole new level. And thanks to free
video Web sites, it’s a breeze to share these memories
with friends and families around the world.
If you’re in the market for a new camcorder, I
recommend one of the following options, based on
your needs and budget.
Pocket-size camcorders are an affordable and
easy-to-use option that lets you shoot an hour or
two of digital video directly to the camera’s built-in
flash memory—and, depending on the model, in
high definition. They don’t have a lot of bells and
whistles—typically just a modest digital zoom to get
slightly closer to your subjects.
Some of these models, such as the Flip Video,
have an integrated USB connector that flips out: You
simply plug it into a USB port on a computer to
edit, save or upload the video to a favorite Web site.
If a more robust camcorder is for you, a new-generation flash-memory camcorder is worth considering. As opposed to tapes or DVDs used by
previous generations, these new camcorders use a
postage-stamp-size memory card, which enables
them to be incredibly compact. Yet they still offer
high-quality recording (usually high def), the option
to take still photos (even while recording video),
plus powerful optical zoom, image stabilization and
many other features.
They’re not as small as the pocket-size camcorders, but they generally offer better video quality
and lots of creative options.
Finally, hard disk drive (HDD) camcorders are
becoming smaller and more durable than past products. The focus for these camcorders is on storage:
They have the larger capacity needed to capture
high-def video without requiring you to swap cards,
tapes or DVDs.
These models also typically have the cool features to help capture great video in all conditions.
Q: Carrying around charging cords
for everything is difficult and heavy
while traveling. Is there an easy
A: Travelers who like to carry around
gadgets—be it a cell phone, camera,
camcorder, media player, gaming
device or GPS navigation unit (or all
of the above)—shouldn’t have to lug
battery chargers for each of these
devices. And what happens if there isn’t
an AC outlet nearby and your Apple
iPod runs out of juice?
A handful of new products feature a
small battery pack (about the size of a deck of cards
or larger) and multiple tips to fit all your tech toys.
This way, you can keep all your devices powered up,
whenever and wherever, without a spaghetti tangle
Some products also offer adapters with a USB
connector on the other end (to plug into your laptop and power up using your computer’s battery)
and an AC plug in case you’re near an outlet.
Q: I’ve heard of some new features in HDTV.
What are 240Hz and LED backlighting?
A: Over the past several months, you might have
seen LCD HDTVs advertised with 120Hz (
pronounced “hertz”) technology, which refers to the
number of frames, or scenes, that are displayed on
the screen per second. Here’s a simple explanation:
The higher the rate, the smoother the picture.
As HDTVs have improved, the rate has progressed from 60Hz to 120Hz and now to 240Hz,
offering even smoother motion (ideal for video
games, sports and movies). Companies have their
own proprietary ways of achieving this smoothness.
LCD TVs with LED (light-emitting diode)
backlighting helps the TV achieve better contrast
ratios and superior color reproduction. LED backlighting can deliver deep blacks, comparable in
some cases to a plasma TV. Another benefit is higher
energy savings. C
electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? Send them to:
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
Or fax to (425) 313-6718,
or e-mail to
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
The Costco Connection
Costco features a variety of camcorders in the
formats discussed here in the warehouses and
at Costco.com. You can find convenient charging
devices, including a line of products from XPAL, at
Costco.com. Watch for HDTVs featuring 240Hz
and LED backlighting in the warehouses and at
Costco.com over the next several months.
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