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RCA EZ209 Small Wonder HD Camcorder

I've been having fun demoing pocket camcorders for the holiday season -- These are so easy to carry, and still shoot quite good looking HD video. And they make great gifts, for example, to give to young adults heading off for school or vacation or a honeymoon. Though maybe you also deserve a great gift for yourself, so you can be ready to shoot and share fun events.

The Cisco Flip Video pocket camcorder line has been very popular, for example, with carefully simplified devices like the Flip Mino HD that you just turn on and start shooting (see previous post).

But other pocket camcorders like the RCA Small Wonder line take a different approach, emulating standard camcorders with a broad array of different models and designs, with a variety of added options and features including removable batteries, expandable memory slots, flip-out displays, and a DVD recorder dock.

For example, the RCA EZ209HD Small Wonder 720p HD Digital Camcorder for $129 / $89 street shoots up to 720p HD video in a slim design (~ 4.3 x 2.5 x 0.9 inches, 3 ounces) -- amazingly thin with a bump-out lens.

It shoots video at three resolutions: lower-res Web 320 x 320 at 30 fps, high-speed Sports 848 x 480 at 60 fps, and HD 1280 x 720 at 30 fps, stored as AVI files in H.264 format. This gives 8 to 40 hours of recording on a 16 GB card.

Plus it shoots 8 MP still photos (extrapolated from 5 MP sensor), as 3200 x 2400 JPEG files.

And it goes further into adjustability with lighting settings in the menu to optimize the exposure to the scene, for Auto, Outdoor, Indoor, or Low light settings.

The EZ209 is easy to use, with a (relatively) large 2 inch LCD display with larger lettering for the on-screen display. And it has straightforward controls, with a sliding power switch, a three-position slider for clearly selecting the video resolution, and dedicated Play, Delete, Menu, and Photo buttons.

The camera includes 256 MB built-in internal memory, plus a microSD card expansion slot for up to 16 GB.

There's no flip-out USB connector, instead the camera has a miniUSB port for recharging the built-in (non-removable) battery, and for transferring data to a computer. The camera memory has pre-installed Memory Manager software to download and edit your videos, and share online. Or you can display directly on a television via the AV or HDMI connectors.

In comparison to the Flip Mino HD, the display on the EZ209 seems muted, with less saturated colors. Yet the video itself is typically darker and extra saturated -- more red in a bright hockey rink, for example, or more yellow/green shooting on the Princeton campus. The Flip video also has more visible detail, for example in stone work in the background of the scene.

Still, the EZ209 Small Wonder provides an amazing range of options in a small and light package. You have more control to experiment and refine, not only with the different video resolutions, but also with the lighting options in the menus for videos and photos.

See my Holiday Tech Gift Guide 2009 for more on pocket camcorders and other fun gadgets.

See my Digital Camcorders Gallery for more on pocket camcorders and other digital camcorders.

Find the RCA EZ209HD Small Wonder Camcorder on Amazon.com

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This entry posted on January 5, 2010.

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