Fiip Ultra HD
“Hey Cool Mom Tech! Can you provide a recommendation for easy to use, readily compatible, high quality video cameras for less than $500? We bought one a few years ago but it takes a PhD to figure out how to edit the videos and even how to use it.” Ericka E

I totally get it! Editing can be a huge pain and the last thing we want to do is lose our footage or stop using our video cams altogether because we’re out of memory. I’ll get to that in a bit.

First, the cameras.

As a busy mom, I love the video cams that are small
enough to fit in a pocket or handbag, and have a handy USB connector built-in
for easy sharing–no cables needed. The recos below are all PC and Mac compatible, produce good quality video for sharing, and come
loaded with basic editing software that you’ll need.

[don’t miss some fabulous video cam ideas after the jump]

The Flip Ultra HD 8GB
($199 from our affiliate Amazon, shown above) is fabulously compact, allows for up to 2 hours of HD video, the
buttons are easy to press, and it has image stabilization for parents
(and kids) on the go. I really like the built-in USB connector for easy
transfer to
a PC. The camera comes loaded with FlipShare software is great for
sharing on social media sites, and it makes editing fairly easy, even
with multiple video clips.

You might not want to make a Sundance entry on a Flip, but the built-in
mics are fine for family functions where background noise is a part of the
memories to be
captured. The customization option is a nice touch too if you want to up the style quotient.

If you like widescreens, the Flip SlideHD
($204 at Amazon) is also a great choice. It captures up to 4 hours of HD video and
features a 3 inch widescreen right on the camera (which is kind of
ironic if you think about it).

The new Sony 8GB Bloggie Touch
($199 at Amazon) video camera is coming out this month and looks promising. Even if you
don’t have a blog. It will get you 4 hours of HD video all with a single
record button, a convenient 3 inch touch
screen, digital zoom, image stabilization and the
face detection technology which some moms really like. 

The Bloggie software for video editing comes already embedded and the camera has a built in USB connector that also charges
the camera and provides for easy upload to Facebook,
Flickr,  Picasa Web Albums and video sharing sites. It also connects to Sony’s Personal Space online service, so you can share that cute baby bath video privately with friends and family.

The Kodak Zi8
camera ($126 at Amazon) comes in pretty colors like raspberry or aqua. It has a 2.5 inch screen, records up to 10 hours of HD-quality
video with expandable memory slot which is smart if you’re not so great at uploading your video. Because it’s from Kodak, you can share easily with the Kodak Gallery right along with your snapshots, as well as Facebook, Flickr, and even email. You can also connect to
your computer for an automatic download which is convenient.

Now as far as editing…oh boy. Video editing is an art,
and even  professional film editors will admit that most video editing
software packages are challenging to use–even for them.

iMovie for Mac

The best that I’ve seen is the iMovie
video editing software (above) which is very comprehensive and incredibly intuitive, but it’s only for you Mac mamas. I’m a PC user and I even engage my 11 year-old son to use it to edit my videos from tech events. And yes, video
editing for his mom is one way he earns his allowance.

PC users who just want a quick way to edit their family videos from a video camera they already own can use Windows Live Movie Maker 2011, a free download for
Windows 7 and Windows Vista PCs.
I gave it a test drive this weekend and it proved to be a quick and easy way to edit some family videos.

My twin sons’ local Grandma can watch the HD version I burned on a  DVD.  I also attached the video to an email, so Grandma and Grandpa on the other coast can enjoy their Lego adventures when they can’t be here with us.

Isn’t that really what it’s all about?   – Beth

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