David Pogue gushes over a new JVC camcorder that uses a built-in 30GB hard drive to store video. No more videotapes to swap around – once you fill the drive, you have to either delete footage or download it to your computer to make room.
My only question is – why has this taken so long? The iPod has offered living proof for years of the consumer benefits of micro-hard drives. And iPods have capacities that far exceed what anyone needs in a digital camera. Yet I know of no camera that comes with a built-in drive.
I suspect the main reason is that manufacturers don’t want to add to the base price of their cameras, so they continue to ship with those useless 16 or 32MB cards. As memory prices fall – and particularly as high-capacity flash drives become cheaper – I hope that we’ll start to see some real innovation in camera design.
I have a long list of other features that I’ve been waiting to see in my dreamed-for consumer-friendly camera. Some of these – such as automatic detection of whether a picture was taken horizontally or vertically – are starting to appear. Others will have to wait until either component prices come down further or until manufacturers get bored creating cameras with ever-higher resolutions.
More generally, the iPod has demonstrated that consumer electronics don’t have to compete solely on price if they can differentiate themselves with style. Sadly, I suspect that most camera companies lack the design chops to take advantage of this potential opportunity.