Camcorder accessory manufacturer Bella has just announced a new device that will let you toss those MiniDV cassettes straight out of your bag and replace them with your iPod or nearly any other USB 2.0-compliant storage system. The Catapult, as it's known, is a paperback-sized digital encoder that plugs into any standard or HD camcorder with a FireWire port and processes the video as you're recording, eliminating the need to convert your footage later on. Besides saving time and offering access to higher storage capacities, the Catapult also enables your cam with a number of features not available out of the box, such as time-lapse recording, remote trigger capabilities, and both pre- and post-recording ability. Pre-recording is an especially attractive option, as it seems to buffer whatever your CCD is capturing for a preset timeframe, allowing you to essentially "turn back the clock" and preserve events that already happened once you hit the record button. Bella tells us to expect their new product sometime during the second half of the year, for some amount of money less than $300.

[Via T3]

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