Pure Digital has upgraded the el cheapo flash memory camcorder it's been selling since May through retail stores, such as Target. See our previous blog post and review. The new version, which sells for the same price ($129 for a unit that will record 30 minutes; a 60-minute version is also available), has improved audio and video quality and longer battery life, company reps told me. The external hardware is the same: a generic-looking white case with one very interesting feature: a USB port that swings out to transfer data.
The real news is the improved software. Once you plug the device into your PC, it will automatically launch software that's stored on the camcorder to upload your videos directly to Grouper. Here's my first video made with the product.
There is no easier way to shoot and post a video. You can also take the device into a store (such as Target) and have a DVD of your videos pressed in about an hour.
There are downsides, though. The product is supposed to make it easy to upload to Google Video as well as Grouper, but for Google, all it does is put your videos on your desktop and open the upload page on the Google Video site. And it doesn't do anything at all for YouTube, although given the Google acquisition of YouTube, that may change. The software does make it easy to get videos off the device so you can upload them wherever your want, but the lack of interactivity with other services is bothersome.
More snags: The software crashes if the unit powers down while it's plugged in, which it does automatically after a few minutes, and you will probably need to buy a USB extender cable, since when the device is connected, it is likely to interfere with cables or the table your computer is sitting on. And despite the cult-of-Mac glossy white case, its software doesn't automatically launch when you plug it into a Macintosh. Finally, the camcorder will not recharge when plugged in; even the lowliest $79 iPod Shuffle recharges when docked.
Power users and those who are bothered by products that seem to be not quite done will be better off shooting video with a real camcorder or with any modern point-and-shoot digital camera. But Pure Digital's device is still about the simplest tapeless video camcorder you can get by a wide margin, and it gets big points in my book for that. I also really like that the device contains its own software and can run it automatically when it's plugged in.