Educators participating in our 2.5 day “Celebrate Oklahoma Voices” digital storytelling workshops receive a “digital backpack” of equipment which includes:

  • A 7 megapixel Sony digital camera
  • An Olympus WS-110 Digital Recorder
  • A Plantronics Audio 650 USB Headset
  • A 2GB USB Flashdrive
  • A 2 GB Sony memory card

Ever since I first learned about Flip video cameras and other Flash-based camcorders, I’ve wondered if we should change the camera model we provide for COV workshop participants or add a “phase 2″ workshop which focuses on digital storytelling with a camcorder and a web-based video editing site like JumpCut. I reflected on this a bit in my birthday post this year, “Searching for the ideal StoryChaser camera.” The Flip Video camera is OK, but I don’t like the fact that it doesn’t take high resolution still images. That fact rules it out, in my opinion, as a prospective “phase 1″ workshop camera for our COV project. I love my Sony GC-1 Camera because in addition to capturing 30 fps 640×480 video, it also captures 5 megapixel stills. Unfortunately, however, Sony discontinued the model and it’s no longer available. My only complaint this summer when I used it Storychasing the 2008 XIT Rodeo and Ranch and creating the “72 Years of Free Barbeque” video was that it doesn’t have removable/replaceable batteries.

This evening at our local Target, I was delighted to see the AIPTEK PH-D camcorder on sale for $120.

AIPTEK 720P HD

The camera has a profile like other flash-based camcorders: small but easy to hold and shoot.

AIPTEK 720P HD

The button on the back of the camera shoots video to a 1 GB internal memory card. Optionally a SD card can also be added. A button on the top must be pushed to capture a still image to memory.

AIPTEK 720P HD

The specs on this camera are QUITE amazing.

AIPTEK 720P HD

It can capture 8 megapixel still images, and according to the outside label 380 of them will fit on the internal 1 GB memory flash drive. Alternatively, users can shoot 720P HD video (1280 x 720) and store 30 minutes of footage to the onboard flash memory. This sounds amazing, but I think the fine print may be a little more modest. A similar Aiptek camcorder on CDW offers an 8 megapixel “Camcorder Interpolated Still Resolution,” and “Camcorder Effective Still Resolution” of 5 megapixels. This makes other reviews I’ve read of the camcorder having poorer still image quality than expected make sense. Apparently the still photos are camcorder screenshots. :-(

It seems more than a little strange that our local target store didn’t have any of these cameras in stock currently, and the main Target.com website tonight indicates the camera is available in “stores only,” NOT online.

Aiptek P-HD Camcorder : Target

What is up with this? Why on earth would a product NOT be available on a store’s website if it is available at all, if it is for sale legitimately? Is this a “bait and switch” marketing ploy by Target? If this camera is the bait, where is the switch? Generally stores like Target (as far as I know) have EVERYTHING available online, but only a limited number of items available in the store.

Walmart.com lists another Aiptek camcorder/camera for sale for $150 online. The reviews I scanned are mixed: Evidently the “8 megapixel” images are not great quality, and the durability of the camera itself is questioned. BestBuy.com lists 3 Aiptek camcorders on its site, but they are priced at $170 and $180 each.

I think it is really strange (and questionable) for Target to list this camcorder for sale at $120, not have any in our local store, and NOT have the camera available online for purchase. We are spending now about $120 per camera for the ones included in our COV digital backpacks, which are Sony still image cameras. If we could spend that same amount on a camera which supported the same megapixel quality AS WELL AS camcorder functionality, I think that would be a great thing. We’d need to field test the camera first, however, before purchasing a bunch of them for our 20+ COV workshops we’re scheduling for 2009.

Best Buy lists the Aiptek IS-DV2.4 camcorder/camera on their website now for $125. It just shoots standard video instead of HD, however. It is battery operated, which is a bonus. For a true “Storychaser” camera, I think replaceable batteries (instead of rechargeable ones) are a must.

Have you had or do you know of a teacher who has had experiences using Aiptek camcorders/cameras with students? In addition to the technical specifications I’m curious about durability reports from the classroom. The price-point of the Target Aiptek camcorder certainly did catch my eye this evening, but I don’t think I have enough information to recommend it for COV digital backpacks yet. It doesn’t appear anyone is actually selling it online for $120 yet either, which is also strange…..

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  • http://www.spatechy.wikispaces.com Chris White

    Hi Wes, Long time listener/fan of your podcast. I also saw you speak at NECC in Atlanta. I’ve been a Math teacher in Stillwater, MN for 22 years with an interest in technology. This summer I became a technology coordinator (integration specialist really) at St. Paul Academy and Summit School in St.Paul MN, partly due to your podcast I may add. Long story , anyway I went out and bought one of these cameras today at Target. We are celebrating Christmas tomorrow, will be using video and still functions. I will let you know what I think. You might also like my Geometry wiki, http://whites-geometry-wiki.wikispaces.com/

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    Excellent Chris, thanks for sharing the link. I’m glad to know some of my ideas have resonated with you and encouraged you to go further with educational technology! Congrats on your new integration specialist role! I’ve bookmarked your Geometry wiki and may touch base with you in the new year about sharing some blog posts about your work with students on a new team blogging project I’m starting in mid-January. I hope the focus of that effort will be on classroom technology integration examples. :-)

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer
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