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3/28/2011
11:11 PM
Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson
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Looxcie Brings Convenience In Wearable Camcorder

This Bluetooth videocamera headset might not bring the innovation of the Flip camera, but it's great for instant video sharing, and convenient wearing.

Looxcie Video Cam Looxcie introduced a video camera concept at this past January's Consumer Electronics Show. It takes the convenience of video capture and posting to interesting new heights. First, the Bluetooth headset fits around your ear, just like an iconic audio headset, allowing hands-free video capture. Because it works with a mobile handset -- today the software runs on Google's Android and Apple's iOS -- a special button on the headset provides a way to instantly share a clip, sending the last 30 seconds straight to YouTube or Facebook via the phone's mobile connectivity. It's not quite live, but the next best thing; it wouldn't be much of a stretch to see Looxcie tap into live video streaming systems next.

I tested Looxcie for a few weeks in a variety of environments, using the Android versions of its LooxcieCam and Looxcie Moments software (more on this later), and while the video capture quality isn't what consumers will find in other camcorder devices, the convenience and instant publishing partly make up for it. I would still want a Flip for capturing momentous occasions like a graduation, or for recording a video blog, but for sharing junior's touchdown with Facebook-connected relatives across the country, the instant gratification of Looxcie Moments is unbeatable. LooxcieCam is well suited for longer events where a tripod is inconvenient or holding a camera gets tiring, or worse, prevents you from actually witnessing the event.

Before diving into the camera's capabilities and how it works, a few words on the state of the consumer video market. Also, for a demonstration of Looxcie provided during our initial introduction at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, watch the video embedded further in this review.

The State of Video
The age of constant and instant video capture is upon us. Moments after the massive earthquake hit Japan earlier this month, citizen video footage appeared online; crime footage, hyper local sports clips, and a relentless trough of spontaneous moments have bum rushed YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook, not to mention the live likes of UStream and Livestream, indelibly and indubitably inscribing our jagged memories to digital permanence.

Phones and tablets come equipped not just with cameras, but the ability to process video in high definition, at least from the perspective of image resolution and frame capture rates. Cisco, with itsFlip camera, has taken HD video up the quality scale, and affordably so; the ubiquitous device is now the featured appliance at soccer games, graduations and dance recitals nationwide.

Consumers, amateur and even professional video bloggers plagued by the ceaseless displays of handy cam choices should simply give in, grab a Flip with a miniature tripod and possibly a microphone extension (for truer sound quality) and call it a day. Kodak's Zi8 Pocket Video Camera (in Raspberry) is another favorite, and possibly better than the Flip, and cheaper too, especially since it has a microphone input built in--the Flip requires an add-on module with a mini input jack.Video editors, both professional and hobbyists, can yank the video files(mp4 or wmv) into programs like Apple's Final Cut, or perhaps the growingly popular and more accessible Apple iMovie--a program that now even runs on the iPad.

Let's not mistake any of these cameras or software for professional quality. While they have come a long way and are all adequate for capturing quick moments at higher quality, there's a reason video cameras cost thousands, instead of $200, and professional editing software is both complicated and expensive. Even more affordable cameras, like the workhorse standby Panasonic HVX200, or theSony EX-1, run$3,000 and up, not including media or necessary options (a decent tripod, an on-camera light, good microphones); newer models like theCanon 5D provide more capabilitiesand a more affordable media option--whereas the Panasonic required expensive proprietary P2 cards (several hundred dollars for 16 GB), the newer cameras use SD cards that go for roughly $100 for 32GB.

All of these cameras use better internal chips for image processing. The Panasonic HVX200, for example, uses three internal chips, allowing more of what's being shot to be processed truer to reality. For all of these cameras, from the low-end phone video cameras to the higher-end 3-chip variety, the end result gets compressed, transcoded and uploaded, to be viewed over lord-knows-what kind of connection, running interpreted through a browser that might encode the video inFlash, H.264 or V8. In other words, the better the image you start with, the better chance it has of bring viewed the way you shot it.

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