Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sony HDR-TG7VE - small video camera with GPS

Sony announced today a new Handycam®, the HDR-TG7VE which they claim to be the world’s smallest, lightest Full HD camcorder with GPS. I'm looking for something light with good quality to be able to capture interviews in hd quality, often at short notice. Could this be the answer? The blurb reads...

Inside there’s a 16 GB memory that stores up to 6 hours of Full HD video and stereo sound from an on-board mike positioned at the top. If you want to shoot for even longer without downloading to a laptop, you'll need to buy an optional Memory Stick™. There’s a sensitive GPS receiver inside that plots your location as you travel. After shooting, Map Index shows where clips and still photos were taken as ‘map pins’ on the LCD screen. You can also retrace your journey when you’re back home, with exciting on-line maps displayed on your PC using the supplied Picture Motion Browser software.

Shooting controls are pared down to a minimum. It’s easy to switch instantly between video or stills mode: just press REC Start/Stop for video, or touch the adjacent PHOTO button with your thumb and you’re ready to grab 4 megapixel still photos. >These days, 4 megapixels doesn't sound like much when even my cheap cybershot has 7.

The high-resolution 2.7-inch LCD touchscreen now features a 'seamless' design, with a newly-simplified menu system. The power is ON as soon as you flip open the LCD, and start-up from standby is quicker than before, so there’s less risk of missing an important moment. Just flip open the LCD touchscreen and you’re ready to start shooting in a fraction of a second. Standby power consumption is also improved to almost zero, letting you keep the TG7VE ready for action in a pocket or bag with less battery drain. Sony doesn't say how long the batteries last if you keep the GPS functionality switched on.

After shooting, connect the TG7VE to your PC, and quick uploads to image-sharing web sites are just a few mouse clicks away. Easy-to-use Picture Motion Browser software
(supplied) lets you manage and browse your clips and still shots in a calendar view. Shots and clips can also be uploaded without fuss to popular sites like YouTube™, Facebook, Flickr and Daily Motion.

This new camera is in a different price league to its competitors from Kodak and Flip. I had hoped Sony would be different by offering an option to connect an external microphone. That option does not seem to be there, yet it would cost only a few pennies to implement.

So this camera, coming to stores in Europe for 900 Euro sometime in May 2009, whilst it has a very useful GPS facility, more and more important in many of my location based projects. However, I have my concerns about the sound quality. Since you can always shoot less than perfect video with great sound, (but never the other way round), I am curious to see and hear what recordings look like when they have been made on a city street. I will reserve full judgement until we're able to test a sample.

Handycam® HDR-TG7VE Manufacturers Specification table
Movie format HD: AVCHD, SD: MPEG2
Recording media 16 GB internal memory (increased with optional Memory Stick™)
Image Device 1/5” Exmor CMOS Sensor with ClearVid Array
Number of Megapixels (Gross) 2.3 Megapixels
Number of Megapixels (Photo) 4 Megapixels
Image Processor BIONZ
Lens Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar
Zoom 10x Optical, 120x Digital
SteadyShot Yes
Audio System Dolby Digital Stereo with Zoom Microphone
Automatic Geotagging by GPS Yes
Face Detection / Smile Shutter Yes / Yes
Highlight Playback Yes
LCD Type 2.7” Wide Clear Photo LCD plus
Body Size/ Weight *without Memory Stick™/Battery (g) 62(D) x 117(H) x 30(W) / 230g

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rose Schuman's Question Box

The Question Box - Rose Schuman from Jonathan Marks on Vimeo.

I was delighted to meet Rose Schuman, a young graduate of Brown University of Rhode Island, and now travelling the world from her base in California. You don't have to travel far in India or Africa to find places where Internet access is out of the question, especially in villages where mains electricity and ADSL are in short supply. Now there's a series of practical trials to try to change that.

Rose has called it the Question Box. In the Indian villages of Ethida and Poolpur, a few hours from New Delhi, they have installed a simple system for getting information online. Now this trial is to be adapted and expanded in Uganda.

Rose explains in this interview at SxSW how they have tackled the problem of access to relevant information. As community radio starts to become more widespread in India, I can see the radio station providing the portal in local languages, and broadcasting the answers to FAQ's over the radio.