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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 2 Looxcie shoots video in two modes: LooxcieCam or Looxcie Moments. The latter is the more interesting of the two, although the quality of the video is much lower. It captures video at 15 frames per second, but it also provides up to five hours of continuous capture and clip storage. On the other hand, LooxcieCamprovides higher definition, capturing video at 480p and 30 frames per second. The file sizes are bigger, so your battery life and the amount of capture time is significantly lower -- about two hours. Battery life was as advertised in my testing. The quality difference is very noticeable.

What Looxcie Moments sacrifices in quality, it makes up for in fun. For example, let's say you're filming a soccer game -- hands free, of course, because it's on your ear, allowing you to run up and down the sideline "encouraging" your child and clapping like the neurotic parent you are -- and suddenly, in spite of you, the child scores a game-winning goal. Your spouse, off at the spa sipping coconut and lavender-infused, white-blossom tea hand-picked by Himalayan monks with heart rates under 40, suddenly gets a Facebook update of the goal. That's because you've hit the instant clip button on the camera, and you've set up your mobile Looxcie software to automatically post these clips to Facebook.

Setting this up is pretty easy, but uses a feature of sites like Facebook and YouTube that many users won't be familiar with: Each service can activate a customized e-mail account -- doing so is fairly easy, but not obvious, and Looxcie's instructions (yes, it would be good to read them) help. Auto-posting requires entering that account into the Looxcie sharing setup. Once I did this, I started bombarding friends with ridiculously meaningless video clips. The camera continues to film while the clip gets processed and uploaded, so you won't lose the moment when your kid starts doing the special scoring jig you taught him.

You can create custom clips as well, defining a 30 second snippet using the video software. Longer clips, and clips created with LooxcieCam require connecting the camera to a computer via USB, and manually sharing the file. Even shorter clips can take a while to transfer from the camera to phone, which is simply because the transfer happens across a Bluetooth connection.

The camera's software-based settings let you configure a few helpful options. For example, the camera auto adjusts to the ambient light by default, but you can manually set it using the light mode indicator on screen.

The camera doubles as an audio Bluetooth headset and the quality was very good in my tests.

I do have some quibbles, however.

First, there was no end to the comments I got when wearing the headset. "Dork" seemed to be the most common. It's amazing how small it is, but people aren't used to seeing a Bluetooth headset that size -- they thought I kept it from the 1980s. It's also pretty inconspicuous as a camera, so when people discover it on you things can get awkward. "Creep" was also somewhat common, especially in Victoria's Secret. (Don't try this at home, folks.)

My biggest problem was simply adjusting to using the device. First, it takes a little work to form fit the device to your ear -- not a lengthy process, and one that is aided by the Looxcie camera's flexibility. But I wasn't sure what I was shooting, or whether I was framing my subject correctly. You see, the viewfinder is your phone. To see what you're filming, you look down at your phone, only to discover . . . that you're now filming the phone in your hand. I developed damn good peripheral vision.

But seriously, there's about 30 seconds of adjustment before you get things all lined up. The biggest problem with this is that the viewfinder only works when you're actually recording something. A preview mode would be a big help. Once you've got it figured out, though, it's really simple: the camera films what you're looking at. Follow the play naturally by turning your head and the camera will capture the action.

Playing back clips is choppy, but that's because it's happening over Bluetooth. Also, you can only view clips in the phone's landscape mode. And while it's great that the camera keeps recording while a video is uploaded to YouTube or Facebook, during those times I could only stop recording by using the headset. There are several buttons on the Looxcie camera, and I was always afraid I would hit the wrong one (which I often did).

Most of these are things you'd likely get used to in time, so they aren't really showstoppers. I found the Looxcie just as enticing to have and use as I had envisioned, even it if made me look like a dork. Hey, if the camera fits, wear it.

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