Try before you buy !

Aug 15

camToday was a lovely day. Weatherman told us that is was going to rain liquid swimming pools and that the chances that our underwear would get wet from the outside where pretty high. But it turned out he was pretty wrong. A few clouds in the sky, but for the rest : a perfect sunny day off. Today being August 15th we Belgians celebrate some kind of holiday having to do with the Virgin Mary taking a trip up to see the bigg boss, so we get a day off. All the shops and stuff are closed and most people spend their day watching the Olympics while being bored shitless. Most people that is. But since Nyana and I live pretty close to the German and Dutch border (where they don’t bother with this crap) we had the opportunity to go for a little shopping trip. Aachen ( in Germany ) seemed like the perfect destination. Lots of stores where they have clothes and shoes AND not to mention , several very interesting computer-gadget shops. But of course lets not forget the main reason : They have a Starbucks.

So after trotting around Aachen for a few hours and slinging back a delicious Ice Coffee, I popped by the local SATURN department store to check out what they had lying around. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, since I’m still well fed in the Geek Department with my 24 inch Imac. However, walking by the Video-camera department I came across the AIPTEC Z300-hd. We had seen the little bugger before a few weeks ago in a store in Antwerp and it had peeked our interest. We have a pretty good video-camera we bought a few years ago. But it uses these DV tapes. Now that’s great if you want to film high quality pieces and want to shoot long stretches of video, but for the work we want to do with Video , its just to much of a bother to shoot video , rewind the tape, plug the camera into the computer ,rewind the tape, import the video etc etc. The little Aiptec is not only a whole lot smaller , it also shoots directly in MOV format to an on board SD card (it can carry up to a 4 gig model) Its capable of shooting in HD but there is also a default 342*??? resolution available, and that makes the little bugger perfect for shooting quick and dirty video that I can upload directly to youtube, seesmic and whatever. The camera is very small and discrete and I think I could really do some creative stuff with it. 

But a geek should Never Ever give into impulses and buy such a little device right off the bat. Never mind that the price of 178 euro’s is peanuts, one still has to do ones research. So I played around with the camera a little , puckered around in the menu settings and took out my cellphone  to shoot a picture of the model name and the price of the device (I can’t remember these things) At home the first thing I did was whack the model in Google and started looking for reviews and prices. The price the Saturn store offered was good but reviews were hard to find. Luckily Youtube was swamped with ‘test video’s made with this little camera. I mean : What more do yo need.

It turns out that some models (with the earlier firmware) have horrible horrible audio. Its like marching a marching band into somebody’s hearing aid, or sticking your head in the speakers during a dead metal concert. Video is awesome .. audio is crap. Turns out that there are plenty of ways to fix this using a bit of foam or flashing the device with the new firmware. So instead of going for the ‘impuls buy’ I am now and ‘informed potential customer’ who knows more about the product then the sales clerck wil ever know. Just to be sure of the capabilities and specs of the device, I downloaded the manual of the Aiptec site and quickly browsed through it, just to get a better feel of what it could do.

So using the power of the web I have : Checked out if I was looking at a good price , Looked at footage of the camera, Had an extensive look at the specs and the interface , Watched and read user reviews and looked at potential flaws of the product + bookmarked websites that told me how to fix them. 

Next up is browsing Ebay to see if I can’t find a cheaper second hand model (from somebody who bought it, hates the audio, doesn’t know how to fix it and decides to sell it) and after that its time to let the whole thing rest for 24 hours and come back to my possible decision on whether or not i’m gonna buy it. (If I go back i’ll possibly check the firmware number that installed on the camera to make sure if its the ‘new’ firmware with the good audio or the ‘old’ firmware with the crappy audio). 

So next time you are going shopping… remember my tips and become a well informed potential buyer (and the sales guys worst nightmare 😉 )



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