The Skinny On My $30 Drugstore Camcorder

I’ve received a few emails from folks wondering where I got a camcorder for $30? A little explanation is necessary, because it’s not quite that simple.

CVS and Rite Aid (among others), sell minimalistic camcorders made by Pure Digital. This camcorder has just a few controls – record, play, delete. There’s no fast forward or rewind and no ability to review or delete what you’ve recorded, except the last shot you took.

The camcorders are advertised as one-time-use. The idea is, you shoot your video and then return the camcorder to the store where, for some more money, they’ll plunk it on a DVD. They they recycle the camcorder.

Someone, much wiser than me, figured if the drugstore can get your video off, so can you! You need a special cable (make it yourself or buy it online) and special software.

None of this is particularly difficult, but when seen in the aggregate, it’s a complex process best suited to nerds and geeks.

Finally, after all that is done, you need to download and install the XVid codec. Without that, the video is invisible to your PC.

So, $30 camcorder – yes. But, there’s a lot of work after you give CVS or Rite Aid your cash.

Here’s the ‘hangout‘ for all the people using these. Unfortunately, the good info is poorly organized and hidden within rambling conversations and pleas for help.

All this being said, you might ask why am I using this little POS&#185 camcorder? Simply, it forces me to concentrate on the basics. I have to think about every shot. There’s no zooming. With a relatively long lens, panning is prohibitively shaky. On top of that, you can only capture about 25 minutes of video.

It is a challenge, plain and simple. That’s the fun!

&#185 – In reality, the camcorder is very solidly built and the video quality is superb.

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