Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about the future of technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
When Pure Digital released its disposable camcorder last year, I praised its size, simplicity, and services integration. My two main quibbles with the product were price (particularly since you needed to order an expensive DVD to get your video out of it) and especially quality. Putting its QVGA output on a DVD was like waxing a floor that needs to be sanded – it won't do anything to fix the rough spots.
There was a large price and value gap between the disposable camcorder and even low-end offerings from Canon, Sony and the like. Now Pure Digital has aimed squarely at the center of that gap with the Point and Shoot Camcorder aimed at "everyday video." While the PureDigital one will initially be sold exculsively at Target for about $130, Thomson Consumer Electronics will also release a version under an RCA brand needing to appear more forward-focused while not alienating its mainstream customer base.
The Point and Shoot Camcorder looks very similar to its disposable predecessor and retains most of its predecessor's simple interface. There is still no menu button, for example. The most noteworthy hardware difference is a spring-loaded "pop-out" USB port that snaps from flush with the unit's side to a 90-degree angle after you push on a sliding switch. It's a playful gimmick that complements the product's casual appeal, but I wonder about its durability.