Sitting in your closet or a bottom drawer is your camcorder, taken out for special occasions or a vacation. Sort of seems like a waste. You spent all that money only to have your camcorder go unused for 99 percent of the year.
Not any more. JVC is one of a growing number of camcorder makers, including Canon, Sony, Samsung and Polaroid, to add Wi-Fi capabilities to their video capture wares, usually to facilitate wireless transfer of your footage to a PC or online.
But JVC has an even more practical usage for its four new Wi-Fi Everio camcorders – Home Detection Monitoring. Using an as-yet unnamed iPad app, to be released in March, you can hook up your camcorder as a security camera.
At a demo I got at CES, the JVC iPad app let us view and record whatever the camcorder was aimed at, or pan and tilt it to see what it's not originally aimed at. Plus, the camcorder mechanism is so quiet it won't alert anyone in the room who's not supposed to be in the room.
JVC's Wi-Fi camcorder models
JVC's four Wi-Fi Everio camcorders, all capable of full 1920 x 1080p HD recording, are the:
- GZ-GX1 (March, $900), 10x optical zoom, 3.5-inch touchscreen, optical image stabilization, 10.6 MP, slow-motion, built-in LED light and flash, built-in zoom mic, microphone input and headphone jacks, hot shoe
- GZ-VX700 (March, $500), 10x optical zoom, 3-inch touch screen, optical image stabilization, 3.5 MP, slow-motion, built-in LED light, built-in zoom mic
- GZ-EX250 (February, $400), built-in 16 GB memory, 40x optical zoom, 3-inch touch screen, optical image stabilization, 1.5 MP, slow-motion, built-in LED light, built-in zoom mic
- GZ-EX210 (April, $330), 40x optical zoom, 3-inch touch screen, 1.5 MP, slow-motion, built-in zoom mic
Of course, using the JVC camcorder as a security camera begs the question of what you do when you're on vacation, the very time you'd want to check up on what's going on in your vacant home. JVC says, use its upcoming Live Stream Cameras, small motion-sensing special security cameras that let you view what's happening at home and automatically sends you a photo if the cameras sense movement in the room.
As noted, JVC isn't the only company readying a Wi-Fi camcorder.
Canon + Wi-Fi
Four of Canon's six new 2012 Vixia HF M- and R- series models are imbued with Wi-Fi, for instance. When you're home, you can use your Wi-Fi network to stream your footage to YouTube and/or Facebook or, when on the go, use your smartphone or tablet's Wi-Fi connection to upload your footage to the Web or just watch it on your mobile device via Canon's free Movie Uploader app.
You'll also be able to use the app to stream your footage to a PC for storage, instead of hooking it up via USB.
The four Canon Wi-Fi models are the top-of-the-line HF M52 (32 GB of built-in memory, $750) and the HF M50 (8 GB, $650), both with HD Pro CMOS sensors, 10x optical zoom and 3-inch touchscreens, and the less technically endowed HF R32 (32 GB, $550) and the HF R30 (8 GB, $450). All four record 1920 x 1080p video.
Samsung has been making digital still cameras with Wi-Fi for the last couple of years, and will start selling its first Wi-Fi-enabled camcorder, the HMX-QF20 ($350), sometime in March.
Less ambitious than JVC's or Canon's Wi-Fi efforts, the Samsung QF20 will let you upload footage directly to Facebook and YouTube and wirelessly transfer your footage to a PC automatically.
As a camcorder, the QF20, along with its non-Wi-Fi Q20 sibling, is a full 1080i HD/60 frames per second model equipped with a 20x optical zoom lens.
Polaroid will be offering two Wi-Fi models, WVR5 and WVR3, both of which let you transmit your footage to UStream (where you can create your own personal live TV station), YouTube and Facebook.
Each Polaroid Wi-Fi cam records 1080p video and feature 3-inch "gesture" touchscreens – although, I'm not sure what that means. The models Polaroid had on display at CES were pre-production samples that didn't work so I couldn't get a "gesture" demo, and no pricing or availability was announced.
Sony's lone Wi-Fi camcorder is its Bloggie Live HD, officially the MHS-TS55, a full 1080p HD pocket camcorder that allows you to stream footage live to the Internet.
I'm playing with a Bloggie now and hope to bring you a fuller report in the next couple of weeks, and maybe on the JVC model as well when it becomes available. I'd certainly like to spy on the homestead when I'm not home.