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June 8, 2005 8:57 AM   Subscribe

"Disposable" digital video cameras. Now available at CVS drugstores in the US, from the same company that last year introduced disposable digital cameras. The video is processed onto DVD at the store in an hour. But at $43 ($30 purchase plus $12.99 for processing) for 20 minutes of footage, is it really worth it? Walt Mossberg says, "Meh."
posted by me3dia (22 comments total)

 
I predict a hack within a week.
posted by me3dia at 8:59 AM on June 8, 2005


People are already taking it apart and hunting down tech specs over here. That hack might show up real soon...
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 9:04 AM on June 8, 2005


This is more a of gimmick, than the real deal, but then again, gimmicks tend to sell well....

My mental jury is still out on this one.
posted by Freen at 9:12 AM on June 8, 2005


There are a couple super8 film festivals that work on the premise that the festival will be the first time the film is seen by anyone, including the person who shot it. An entire short film is shot on a single super8 cartridge with no external editing -- everything is done in-camera. The producer of the film then puts the exposed (and undeveloped) film, along with a CD soundtrack in an envelope and sends it to the festival organizers. The films are developed and projected with the sent-in soundtracks.

I can see the next logical progression of this including these digital cameras, especially since they seem to have built in sound. It could be an interesting experiment in micro-film making.
posted by ScottUltra at 9:24 AM on June 8, 2005


Sell it at liquor stores and nightclubs and you've got a million dollar idea. But maybe not - how do drug stores ethically handle pornography on standard film processing?
posted by Peter H at 9:25 AM on June 8, 2005


But maybe not - how do drug stores ethically handle pornography on standard film processing?

From what I've heard, it varies. Some refuse to print nudity, others don't care at all. Considering the CV in CVS supposedly stands for Christian Values, I have a feeling they're part of the former camp.
posted by me3dia at 9:28 AM on June 8, 2005


I never thought we'd see any new products as ill-conceived as those disposable DVDs that were supposed to break down after 48 hours of opening the package (to be sold through vending machines in competition with video rental outlets) and yet here we are. It's so upsetting that companies would develop unnecessary technologies that further the pollution of the planet.
posted by haasim at 9:29 AM on June 8, 2005


Actually, it's a good idea for vacations--it's much easier and less stressful to carry this disposable around instead of a more expensive one. It sucks tho that you can't just connect it to a computer and download the video, then fill it up again.
posted by amberglow at 9:32 AM on June 8, 2005


CVS=Consumer Value Stores (See photographic evidence at top of page.)
posted by OmieWise at 9:39 AM on June 8, 2005


It'd be better if you could download from it and re-use it as much as you like, but the lens fades to black after two weeks of use.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:39 AM on June 8, 2005


but the lens fades to black after two weeks of use.

Well that puts the R in Retarded, doesn't it?
posted by Peter H at 9:41 AM on June 8, 2005


Thanks, OmieWise -- I had a feeling the Christian Values thing was apocryphal.
posted by me3dia at 9:46 AM on June 8, 2005


Fade to black/opaque or whatever so that the camera could only be used for two weeks after its first used, then needs to be returned. That way if you go on vacation you don't end up trying to rank every shot as worthy of your 20 minutes.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:54 AM on June 8, 2005


Walt Mossberg says, "Meh."

If it had been branded "Apple", bet you Walt Mossberg would have said "Hell Yeah!".
posted by meehawl at 11:20 AM on June 8, 2005


What the hell? The lens opaques itself in two weeks?
posted by loquacious at 11:45 AM on June 8, 2005


Nono, that was a suggestion by robocopisbleeding.
posted by Bugbread at 11:47 AM on June 8, 2005


I fear what this will do for child pornography.
posted by agregoli at 12:14 PM on June 8, 2005


Er...presumably, nothing at all, but there's a vanishingly slight possibility it would decrease it, correct?

Chemical film cameras generally needed to be developed by photo labs, making production of child porn somewhat difficult. Then the digital camera came around, and nobody needed to deal with a photo lab anymore, resulting in the production of child porn becoming simpler.

The same thing was true with chemical film movie cameras. Reels of film needed to be developed by film labs, making production difficult, then videotape cameras came around, making production simple, and then the medium switched to digital, which didn't make production any easier than videotape, but made distribution easier.

This camera then takes us two steps back: you can film what you want, but you have to take it to the equivalent of a film lab to be developed. Realistically, people aren't going to use it for child porn (they'll use the video and digital movie cameras already plentiful in the market), so it won't do much for child porn, but in an insanely best case scenario, it would marginally reduce the amount of child porn produced.
posted by Bugbread at 12:22 PM on June 8, 2005


I cannot for the life of me see how it would at all REDUCE child porn, but thank you for explaining the process.
posted by agregoli at 12:28 PM on June 8, 2005


Sorry, I should have been clearer. I don't think it would reduce it either. There's pretty much a 99.99999% chance it would have no influence. What I should have said is, "While it won't have any influence, if, by some bizarre twist of the fabric of spacetime, it did have an influence, it would be more likely to be a reduction than an increase."

Kinda like saying, "I'm never going for vacation to Uranus or one of the planets orbiting Alpha Centauri, but if I were going to go on vacation to one or the other, it would more likely be Uranus".

on preview: God, my explanation and example sound flippant. They're not supposed to be. I just have a habit of only being able to think up extreme or odd examples.
posted by Bugbread at 12:36 PM on June 8, 2005


My grandmother always has a stack of used disposable film cameras sitting next to her nice canon P&S film camera. I suspect that she often finds herself traveling, but without her "real" camera and ends up buying the disposable ones so she can get a shot of a grandkid or a friend.

On the waste end of things, if disposable camcorders turn out to be a viable business, one of the obvious optimizations is to make the "disposable" cameras re-usable in such a way that is not obvious to the end user.

If you take the paper "body" off of a typical disposable camera you will find that the camera can easily be opened, and all of the parts can be replaced. It isn't any harder to reload the film in one of them than in a 1950s soviet rangefinder. The processing agent can then bulk-ship the empty camera husks back to the manufacturer for reloading. Alternately, the whole process could be franchised with a little processing kiosk, so nothing ever has to be shipped anywhere.

Since the camcorder is digital, this optimization is very easy. Disposable cell phones and GPS-on-a-chip have been demonstrated, so it would be possible to locate and retrieve discarded units as well. (the economics might not work now, but keep in mind that anyone posting to metafilter has several billion dollars of computing equipment sitting in front of them, from the perspective of 1950)
posted by b1tr0t at 12:54 AM on June 9, 2005


In this case, I think "disposable" doesn't really mean throwaway. You have to return it to CVS to get the output, and I'd guess that CVS (or Pure Digital, more accurately) recycles the guts into a new camera. So I wouldn't fear for landfills as a result of this. In this case, "disposable" really means "cheap enough that if you lose it, you won't get heartburn."
posted by pmurray63 at 7:55 AM on June 9, 2005


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