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Hardware Review of:
Sony TRV250
Digital 8 Handycam

 

After 18 years in a middle school English/journalism classroom, Jo Anne Graham now serves as coordinator of a videoconference site for the Oklahoma State Department of Education. She is also a Master Trainer for the State of Oklahoma, teaching technology integration to teachers. She teaches yearbook workshops during the summer months to students from across the southwest — and finally, she is not embarrased to admit that she went to high school with the editor of this publication.

From the September 2003 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

As one of the trainers in a State of Oklahoma Teacher Technology Training consortium, we have been helping teachers find ways to integrate technology into their curriculum. One of our projects involves capturing video and inserting it into a PowerPoint presentation. After six years of use, our analog camcorders played out and the consortium purchased new Sony Digital 8 Handycams (TRV250) with USB streaming capabilities. Wow! What a difference.

This mighty midget measures 8” by 4” and fits in your hand. You can shoot plenty of video before you arm gets tired of holding this lightweight.

Either an LCD or a traditional viewfinder makes easy work of viewing the potential subject. The handycam also offers a nightshot feature that produces the same green-tinted images that we saw from war correspondents in Iraq.

A backlight button improves the picture when you are shooting into the sun or other bright light. Another feature allows you to shoot still pictures. To give your video a professional look right from the camera you can fade in and out of scenes. Standard titles can be added to begin or end videos.

An adjustable strap allows the user to fit the camera to a small or large hand. The zoom button is conveniently located in easy reach of the index finger. It is sensitive and takes a bit of practice to control the speed of the zoom. The 700x digital zoom will get you closer to some subjects than you want to be. The optical zoom is 20x and the digital is 700x. A steady shot feature helps keep the picture steady even on these close zooms.

With your hand in the adjustable strap, you can reach the power control with your thumb to easily switch between camera and VCR and start and stop recording.

The battery snaps securely into place just beneath the eyepiece. The battery that comes with the camera takes about 2-1/2 hours to get a full charge. We used one of them for almost two hours and still had power.

Before we could capture video, we loaded the USB drivers and ImageMixer from the included cd onto the computer. The s-video and USB connections on the camera are behind a plastic cover, which may be a weak link. The cover is connected with very thin plastic strips and it is difficult to say how well they will hold up to lots of use. Once the camera is connected to the computer, it has to be set to USB mode. A menu button located behind the LCD screen and a small wheel on the back edge of the camera allow the user to move through the menu. Pushing the wheel in selects or changes the options.

The camera has an actual video resolution of 290k pixels. While the viewfinder is black and white, the LCD screen swivels open to offer full color on a 2.5” screen. The camera has a built in light. Just before Mother’s Day, Sony listed the camera for $399.99 with free shipping and a free carrying case.

We spend one-day guiding teachers through a project that requires a finished PowerPoint, with video, digital photos, clip art and sound. Instead of Sony’s ImageMixer, we used Windows XP MovieMaker to capture the video because it was quick and easy. This time frame leaves little time for experimentation beyond the basics. As a result, the camera has several features that we haven’t tried, but they look pretty simple. The teachers picked the camera up and used it with little instruction. Most of us left the training session wishing the little TRV250 were ours.


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