For a while I've been thinking about the move away from tape to hard disc recording. Capture time is the main motivation, but occassional problems with the tape mechansim on one of my cameras was also contributory.
So - research - Firestore? Wow - they know how to charge - so out of reach for now. Did some (alot) of Googling and finally dropped onto the DN60 from Datavideo. Compared to the likes of Firestore it doesn't look sexy at all. A small grey box slighty larger than a pack of cigarettes with a basic mono LCD screen for the menus and a small knob to navigate around. Connectivity - a single Firewire socket on the back and an RS 232 for control. (although no info on what you plug into that). Battery compartment and slot for memory card.
Recording media - CF cards - looked into the price of those and found a 32Gb card from an eBay seller for £99. 32 gives almost two and a half hours HDV recording time. Worth hunting around for these cards - prices vary wildly...
DN60 resellers. Googled around again and found by far the cheapest was TNP Broadcast. Including VAT and delivery it came in a smidge under £380. It's here at £299 plus VAT at time of writing.
It was delivered yesterday and I have to say it does exactly what it says on the tin. Set up is a piece of cake - when the CF card is put in it suggests formatting if it's not ready. You have the choice of FAT32 or NTFS - the latter having the benefit of not splitting the files every time they get to 2GB.
Plugged into my JVC HD100E via the Firewire socket the unit detected the HDV setting and was ready to record (MT2). Choices there too - either manual start, camera power up auto start, or synchronous with tape recording - simply choose in the menus. The power switch is a tiny flick switch on the side and one of the positions is power up start by the way.
Power - 4 'AA's is all it needs (the DN60 comes with AC adaptor as well of course) and those four Alkalines will power it for around two hours (according to the manual). There's a setting in the menu so you can select which battery type you're using (alkaline, Nimh or standard) so that the display will accurately give you remaining battery time.
Filming - I chose to use manual mode - so just a push of the button and that's it. Another push to stop. During filming you can also 'mark' clips with a button push.
The final step is important - I knew this prior to purchase because I'd done some research - but before your PC will see the clips you've recorded you have to navigate the menus to 'Make Media'. This step I liken to finalising a disc from an old DVD camcorder. If you dont do this the card appears empty to your PC.
So - I filmed a bit - finalised the clips - plugged the card into my PC - opened Vegas, imported the files with no hassle whatsover. Transfer time was nothing (especially compared to manual capture).
So to summarise - if you're poor like me, and want to get all 'digital' without forking out for sexy stuff that has lots of bells and whistles that lets be honest you don't really need - you could do alot worse than consider the DN60.
I love mine.
By the way - it's worth checking prices properly - some joker on eBay is asking £349 for a DN60 - and doubtless you won't get the TWO years extended warranty offered free by DataVideo....