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Thread: Camcorder with USB - suggestions/help please

  1. #1

    Default Camcorder with USB - suggestions/help please

    Hi, would be grateful for any advice on this "what to buy" problem.

    I work in an education establishment with about a 14 classrooms, each is equipped with a projector, windows XP computer, and a VHS/DVD combi player.
    For about the last 20 years we've used full sized VHS camcorders for students to record classroom sessions, role plays, tutorials etc. We've stuck with VHS because its easy to use - the users simply take the tape out and stick it in the classroom player. These camcorders are now well old and unservicable, hence we are looking to buy 3 or 4 new ones.

    The dilemma we face is we need something VERY simple for the user...we don't want to have to keep holding their hands every time they want to record or play something back. So we've discarded a DVD type, to save having the users mess about finalising discs (and disc stock costs). We've also discarded DV tape - the cost of buying DV players for all classroom, or having a camera booked to just one classroom for who knows how long while they play all their material back using the camcorder as the source, isn't practical.

    Hence, we think the best solution would be to invest in some camcorders with hard drives that are plug-and-play compatible. Once the filming has been done, the files could hopefully be easily drag-and-dropped to the classroom PC via USB, freeing up the camcorders for use elsewhere.

    The files would need to be something that Windows Media Player recognises so it could play them without having to install any extra software. Our users will have basic computer literacy, they will know what to do with standard XP components like USB cables and Media Player - but give them anything else will create problems.

    Editing isn't required, just playback of original files on the PC. Real-time playback isn't required either, so we don't need to upgrade every computer with a firewire card.

    Thats briefly it, if anyone could suggest a model of camcorder that can do this (up to 1,000), I'd really appreciate it


  2. #2


    Well if you have to get a HDD then a couple of things you might want to consider first. Is the sound quality crucial? When using the internal mic you sometimes pick up the sound of the HDD, it's not major but if it's a problem then you'll want one with a mic jack. How much control do you need the students to have? Is it a simple point and shoot or do you want them to be able to experiment with the settings. Above all listen to the more experienced blokes here (I'm not one of them!) they'll best advice and they know there stuff. I wish I'd found this forum before I bought as I'd have got a different camera to one I've got. It's a good camera but my work rate would have been much quicker using something else.

  3. #3


    Might I suggest Sony's new DCR 35E or 55E. Both record to hard disk or memory stick. Crucially, they are very easy to use, producing good results in plain point and shoot mode. USB sockets are built into the camera so no docking station required. On a Win XP PC, it is just plug and play, no drivers required - the camera appears as a removable drive. Footage can be viewed directly in media player as it is in MPEG format. With your budget of 1000, you could buy 3 of these.

  4. #4


    Hi guys, thanks very much for your comments.

    Millhouse, those Sonys would certainly seem to fit our USB requirements - I'll explore them in more depth. Cheers!

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