Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Buying A Bubble Wrapped Camcorder

You are walking into a large retail store. There are televisions displaying in-store commercials. Video games are blooping and over in the corner, next to the one use only film cameras are the plastic bubble/blister wrapped camcorders.

You wander over to check it out. Like a siren they have colors and all kinds of doo-dads you don't completely understand. Before you open your wallet, let me give you some things to think about before you ask the clerk to unlock the item.

Bubble Wrapped Camcorders Can Be Inexpensive

Many times you can find these camcorders between $50 to $160 with the average range being $79 to $99 dollars. Often you will find the word "clearance" near the item.

You don't necessarily want to buy an inexpensive camcorder. The reality is that for many folks the camcorder might be the only one in your price range. But price should not be your main reason for making purchase unless you can afford to junk the purchase or are willing to take it back.

What Is In A Name?

Have you heard of Sony, Canon, Nikon or Panasonic? Well, with a few exceptions you might not recognize the name on the package. Often brands like Coby, Aiptek, Mustek and DXG are placed in bubble wrapped packaging. Others names like Polaroid and RCA are licensed from the original manufacture or made by another company and the name is "rented."

It doesn't necessarily indicate that it is a poor quality product. But these camcorders are not exactly the top of the class either. It is a risky purchase without further research. One way to do that is look up the camcorder on Amazon.com or other online vendors and check out the comments.

How Many Things Can It Do?

Many of these devices are multi-functional. There is a camcorder, mp3 player, ability to take still photos and can record voice. All this for $79? Such a deal, right?

Wrong. The video quality might be fine in daylight and horrible inside, no matter how many lights you have turned on. The still photo mode might have a bad case of shutter lag. This means that the photos are blurry because you moved before the shutter actually recorded the photo.

The MP3 player works fine but the more music you load the less space you have to record video. Be honest, how often do you actually do voice recording?

The truth is most of these devices don't more than two things well. You want video to be one of them. You never can be really sure unless you find out about the product.

Buying Tips

Trust me, these camcorder or others like them will always be around for the foreseeable future. There is no real urgency in buying bubble wrapped camcorders unless the price is $30 or less. Hey, especially if it $30 or less. Subdue the camera lust by taking a time out.
  • Write the name and model number down then visit places like CamcorderInfo.com, read reviews at CNet and Steve's Digcams. Read online vendor's user comments about the camcorder.
  • If you can, read the specs, know what the camcorder will do for you and not to you. You don't want surprises., For example, you are on a Mac and the software is only for Windows PCs. Do you have enough tech skills to figure out a work around?
  • Finally ask yourself the lyrical question, why is it on sale? Why is the store selling it so cheap? It might be because they need to clear out the remainder of the prior version or it might be that they had so many returns that they want it out of the store with a no return policy attached.
I've bought bubble wrapped camcorders and I'd say I had success with one out of three of them. They were all impulse purchases. Know before you blow that cash, time and temper.

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