At roughly $50 for a finished DVD (the only way to get output from the camcorder), the camcorder costs a lot more
than a disposable camera plus film development, but Pure Digital has innovated far beyond what you get from most
disposable cameras. The DVD that you get back from CVS ? Pure Digital?s exclusive partner for now ? not only plays back
on TVs and PCs, but boasts one of the best solutions available for sharing video online. Simply pick your clips, choose
your email addresses, and the Pure Digital servers will offer your video in an appropriate format for the viewer. If
you?re sending to a dial-up Mac, it will serve up low-bitrate QuickTime. If you?re sending to a broadband Windows PC,
it will send high-bitrate WMV. Why can?t other camcorder companies make sharing video this seamless?
Pure Digital claims it can offer the camcorder at such low cost because the servers that it sells to its retail
partners perform sophisticated video processing. In essence, they?ve taken the intelligence out of capture device and
put it in the processing device. While the camcorder?s processed video may indeed beat what you get from a hacked Pure
Digital camcorder, though, there are critical limits to its magic.
Pop the DVD into your DVD player and you?ll be struck by a thick black border around the video as its low resolution
would look even worse scaled up to the full screen. On the PC, the ?full quality? videos are convenient to save to your
PC?s hard drive without any ripping software, but are akin in quality to what you?d expect from a webcam.
Despite recent attempts from purveyors of Mickey and Mighty Mouse to convince us that low-resolution video is cool,
the Pure Digital?s output compares poorly to what you?ll get out of the latest models of most digital cameras. This is
especially disappointing after the input process has been so fun as you feel as if you?ve been subjected to a
bait-and-switch. Despite the device?s charm, I couldn?t recommend it to anyone who cared about preserving any kind of
Still, the future of the Pure Digital camcorder is bright. As flash memory vendors adroitly follow Moore?s Law, the
disposable camcorders of the next year or two should be able to capture video at double the resolution and frame rate.
Pure Digital has set the standard for digital video convenience and ease of use, but ultimately a quality video
experience must include quality video.
Ross Rubin is director of industry analysis at NPD Techworld, a division
of market research and analysis provider The NPD Group. Views expressed in Switched On, however, are his own. Feedback
is welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.