Designed for children age 7 and older, the In Scene Disney Princess Video Camera lets kids tap into their inner Sofia Coppola or Catherine Hardwicke and create their own mini-movie scenes.
It comes with a USB cable, mini-tripod, strap, a TV connector, and even a blue "screen" for movie editing.
Here's a rundown of what to expect from this video camera.
Easy to use: The Princess Video Camera eschews the more traditional design of the Disney Flix Cam and goes for a flat, more cell phone-like shape. The design feels comfortable and easy to hold. Using it reminds me of taking a photo with a cell phone: It's basically point and click. It also has a simple, easy-to-use interface comprised of five buttons: a main one for recording; one button for playing and pausing scenes shot with the camera; a forward and backward button for cycling through footage or zooming in and out; and a delete button.
Nice capacity: The camera's internal memory is big enough to record 30 minutes of footage, more than enough time to entertain kids' flights of directorial fancy. You can also transfer movies to your computer in WMV format to free up space and start shooting again.
Editing options: The camera comes with Disney's Flix program, which allows kids to edit not only pictures but movies as well. Remember that blue screen I mentioned earlier? One key feature of the Princess Video Camera is it lets you film someone (or something) in front of that blue screen and replace the background with all sorts of Disney scenes.
TV connection: By using the accompanying plug, you can connect the Princess Video Camera to a television and watch the footage stored in the device. You can even use the TV as a monitor while shooting video.
Auto shutdown: The device automatically turns itself off after a few minutes of inactivity, which helps save battery life. Its internal lithium-ion battery is also rechargeable.
Capture quality: Even on a standard definition TV, the footage captured exhibits noticeable grain and jaggies. While the Princess Video Camera includes a tripod, I expect kids to mostly hand-hold this device, which also reveals issues it has with choppy footage. Now, even with a good video camera, bad panning can cause footage problems. But kids are notoriously bad at panning cameras from side to side and this device magnifies that problem. Given the price and the fact that this is a kid's camera, though, the footage is actually decent. It should be good enough for something like YouTube, provided you don't go fullscreen mode, or even a portable media player like the iPod Touch.
Background sound: The Princess Video Camera tends to pick up and amplify clicking sounds and door slams much more than, say, voices. The unit I got also adds a strange buzzing sound on the footage it takes, which ends up sounding kind of like a helicopter when you watch your footage on a TV.
Missing options: While the auto shutdown feature is nice, a dedicated "off" button would actually be good to have as well. There's also no mirror or visual aid for recording your own self. When using the blue screen capture method via a computer, the cable to connect the device is pretty short so unless you have a laptop, setting up your location can be tough. Other options that would be nice to include are memory card slots and instructions for using the Flix editing program.
Where's the boys version? Girls aren't the only ones who would enjoy a device like this. But while I'm secure enough with my own masculinity to use a pink device with flowers, I suspect younger boys are not.
The In Scene Disney Princess Video Camera scores good marks for ease of use and how it enables kids to tap into their creativity. And at $79.95, it hits the sweet spot for the typical cost of a kid's video camera these days.
The fact that I use a high-end HD consumer video camera probably made the footage quality issues for this device more glaring for me. But since my HD videocam cost more than 13 times the price of the Princess Video Camera, there frankly better be no comparison between the two.
As a device designed for kids, I think the Princess Video Camera performs quite well, especially given the editing options that come with it. I have a 7-year-old niece who was quite excited after getting a small digital camera last year, and you could only imagine her reaction to using a video camera with a Disney tie-in. It makes me wish I had a device like this when I was younger, too — preferrably in blue.