Think back to a time when camcorders were brand new, revolutionary, and so heavy that you needed advanced weight training classes to carry one. It wasn't that long ago, folks. File under "polyester plaids," "AMC Pacer," and all the regalia that proves beyond a doubt that back in the 1970s, we were all out of our minds.
Well, the camcorders we're featuring this week are brand new, and they boast the kind of sophistication (and fun factor) that would've sounded like sci-fi just a generation ago. Take a look at what we've gathered, and remember: the little red light is on for savings.
Refurbished Flip Video 4GB 720p Digital Camcorder
Price: $29.99 with $2.29 s&h
Lowest By: $18
Is It Worth It?: Yes, Flip and its tiny camcorder brethren have fallen on tough times lately, as the ease of recording with a smartphone has rendered them unnecessary for many people. And yes, not everyone wants to carry around an additional device. But keep in mind, your fabulous smartphone that does everything would likely cost more than $100 to replace, whereas this little guy could be paid for by just skipping daily Starbuck's lattes for a week. Buy it and let it do the dirty work of recording video of live performances, offroading, and the like, and steer your smartphone clear of hazards like trampling.
Canon Vixia HF R21 1080p 32GB / SDXC Card Camcorder
Price: $429.99 via coupon code "3A825" with free shipping
Lowest By: $12
Is It Worth It?: Crutchfield delivers a solid buy, but remember to enter the coupon code "3A825" to get that last $20 off the price. Canon is part of that camera/video pantheon of trusted brands, and for $430, you'll get 1080p recording, a substantial amount of memory (32GB), and a 28x advanced zoom. The best reasons to invest more in a camera are for higher resolution and memory capacity, since video eats up memory (and batteries) in the blink of the shooter's eye. You also get one fun frill: The Video Snapshot Mode allows you to edit together and play back clips with background music.
Looxcie Wearable Bluetooth Camcorder System
Price: $129 via coupon code "JRGOOG" with $7 s&h
Lowest By: $13
Is It Worth It?: Technology has a neat way of shrinking cool goodies into tiny packages, and here's one perfectly suited for making videos easily: a wearable Bluetooth camera that records up to one hour of video. This is one tech item that, while it may be redundant for smartphone users who can shoot video, is bound to turn heads. Speaking of heads, the Looxcie makes clever use of your noggin, in that wherever you look, that's what you'll shoot. This is an Editors' Choice deal that's equally compatible with iPhone and Android platforms, and specially designed to get your video onto social media platforms in a snap.
Drift Innovation HD170 Helmet Camcorder Bundle
Price: $179.99 with free shipping
Lowest By: $69
Is It Worth It?: Strike another blow for a camera that's built to be worn with the ease of a hat. Crutchfield's Drift Innovation bundle is on backorder for an estimated October 15 ship date, and it's not surprising that it's so in-demand. This camera easily mounts onto handlebars, shoots in 16:9 HD video, and the accessory bundle includes a Drift Innovation battery, Fujifilm 8GB SDHC memory card, and Lowepro Edit 130 carrying bag. Rugged and water-resistant, you'll want to use this camera (and not your smartphone) to record your daring adventures water skiing, skydiving, or dirt biking.
Panasonic 3D-Ready HD 1080p Digital Camcorder
Price: $634 via coupon code "dealnews15" with free shipping
Lowest By: $69
Is It Worth It?: Way back in the aforementioned 1970s, Panasonic's motto was "Just slightly ahead of our time." Well, you can say that this camera is "slightly ahead" in the same way that sumo wrestlers are "slightly big." As for the price tag, we'll help you out: Enter the coupon "dealnews15" and you'll get $15 off on this HD camera, which may look about as small as the Sony Handycam, but is much more powerful. It shoots an incredible 1080/60p, with stereo audio and 5.1-channel compression. Do note that if you want to shoot 3D, you'll need a separate Panasonic VW-CLT1 3D conversion lens (not included). This top of the line camcorder is sold by Abe's of Maine — not to be confused with the toothpaste purveyor Tom's of Maine. And trust us, you don't want to put toothpaste anywhere near this awe-inspiring gadget — though once you land one, you will do plenty of smiling.
Front page photo credit: Bob Bekian via Flickr