I was never a fan of video cameras (and I am still not), even though I had used them a couple of times. Carrying a video camera on a vacation or function spoils the whole idea of enjoying that occasion as we end up in holding the camera and recording all nice events. Besides, it takes lot of effort to edit the output and store/organize them properly due to the huge size of these video files.
But when I decided to visit my home country for the first time from US, I felt like buying a small handycam to capture the scenes from here, so that it will be more fun for my friends and family to know our life here. A better option than listening to my boring narrations as they can fast forward or skip any time. :) And, my younger brother wanted a gift from me and this served both the purposes.
Since I was never into camcorders, I knew nothing about them. The buying process started with extensive research on the net and I learnt lot of new things. First of all I had to choose the type of recording medium. Built-in hard disk were the new trends, but many people on discussion forums and reviews reported that it is still not very proven and quality will be less as they had to compress the output. DVDs were popular but they also had this same quality issue. I was not interested in tapes, as I thought they are very cumbersome and require conversion devices to get the video transferred into computer. I was wrong and there were these mini DV tapes which records video in digital format. Then I learnt that there is something called firewire port (like USB ports but with higher transfer rates) in computers and buy buying an additional firewire cable it is possible to transfer videos from these tapes to computer easily.
I compared various models from Canon and Sony after knocking out JVC and other brands from the list. The actual user comments from various online store sites helped in getting the right feel of the products early enough to make a wise buying decision. Due to the noise issue, Canon ZR850 was knocked out in the last minute and decided on the Sony DCR-HC38.
Visited various stores like Frys, Best Buy, Walmart and Circuit City near Irving (Dallas, USA) to actually feel the product and get the details of their deals. Also compared prices from popular online stores like Amazon, B&H, etc and finally got the better deal from Amazon with free shipping and no taxes.
Since the free shipping takes more days to deliver, I was bit worried about getting it delivered before my vacation. But it did arrive just two days before my travel and I was really surprised to know that how easy it has become to shoot quality videos with this tiny camcorder. I spent a whole day shooting all near by places and used the firewire cable to transfer the video to my laptop using Sony's software that came with the camera. The files were in avi format, and for the first time I used almost all the features of Windows Movie Maker that came along with my Vista, to make a not so bad video. Adding titles, effects and background music was a breeze and the final output in wmv format was more compact than I thought.
I have its specs at http://wayfarer.bizhat.com/about/camcorder.html