Help selecting a camcorder & storage/media device for an elder


Standard Member
Hi there,

Christmas is fast approaching and as my dad's been muttering about video cameras on the odd occasion so I thought I'd kit him out with one this year. The main challenge (aside from choosing a camcorder) I have though is what he can do with the video files after creating them. He doesn't have a computer but my mother does have an iPad. So I was wondering...

Is there a device that can (for non-technical folk):

- Allow a camera/SD card to be plugged into it and magically copy new (& only new) video and image files to it for storage.

- Stream said video/images to an iPad or HD TV for viewing, really really easily.

- (nice to have) iPad app that can connect to the media on the storage device for basic editing and output back to the storage device.

Additionally there's the camera to buy with a budget of around £250-400. Ease of use and portability should be a given but probably one significant feature should be the lens capabilities. It's likely he would want to use it for filming wildlife so a decent zoom capacity would be beneficial. Any help selecting a product here would be appreciated.

Naturally this all this is for the total non-techie novice in their late 60's so I'm looking for gear that I can set up for him then leave him to it.

If you've got any thoughts on the above scenario then please comment.



In memoriam
Without a computer your options are very limited. Some camcorders can burn content to stand alone DVD recorder drive. You would still need a DVD player to replay the content though. You could of course view the content direct from the camcorder, your main problem is being able to re-use the flash media memory.

Of course the ipad in itself is a computer. This may well do all you want. If you live near a Apple store it might be worth asking just what's possible.
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Distinguished Member
Take him along - the trip will do you both some good but don't expect lots from an ipad, although Apple will sell you something expensive.

Bang/Buck is better with PC's - but see how keen he is to start learning computing . . . . and at the price-level you are prepared for. It will bring benefits (and Apple computers are "probably" slightly easier to use, but the majority of folks use PC's and there is a lot of PC Tutorial stuff out there). A PC for less than £500 is unlikely to suit video-Editing - and he'll quickly get beyond basic cutting out the start/finish of clips. Vegas Studio is very capable- v11 "production suite" will last him years - say £60 Amazon. Avoid "Deals"

Have you budgeted for the Camcorder?, or are you going to get a Stills-camera with a movie feature (that "might" be easier for him and the PC can print out the snaps.) then add £50 for printer and same again for paper + spare ink). That way he can adjust the difficulty-level without losing face.
Below £150 cameras are unlikely to offer Full HD - they will be limited to 720 - A somewhat grey Advertising-area IMHO. Go for SDHC memory-card compatibility, as these are the cheapest to buy on-line. 16G is typically £14 Amazon post-free - avoid High Street rip-offs.

It's going to be a fraught Xmas, for you.
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Standard Member
Thanks for the replys so far guys.

@Graham - the "burn straight to DVD" option could be viable route as he's already fairly familiar with this kind of procedure and keeping physical storage media through recording stuff off TV etc. Also he does have a DVD player already attached to the TV.

@12harry - I think you've slightly got the wrong end of the stick here. Besides the iPad my parents don't currently own a PC (having dropped & killed the last laptop) and are not looking to acquire one anytime soon. My Dad has no particular interest in computers but is interested in capturing movies. I'm looking to equip him with the necessary gear to do this whilst utilising a combination of their existing technology which consists of an iPad, HD TV, wireless router and DVD player. The initial challenge is to find a way to store and archive digital video files and have them playable via the iPad, TV or both. Secondary to this would be the ability to also simply edit videos on the iPad (with iMovie perhaps) and store these creations back on the device used for archiving. As mentioned previous the video camera budget is roughly £250-400 and it would need a decent level of optical zoom. I know for sure he would like a camera dedicated to video rather than a stills camera that does video.

The key to all of this is utmost simplicity and a solution that requires him to transfer data from the camera to a PC and manipulate there would mean that it just wouldn't get used. I'm wondering if there's a NAS drive out there that can sync devices such as camcorders so that you only need to plug them in via USB then then get notified via a light (for example) once the data has been copied? i.e. a solution that requires no on-screen interface to use.


Distinguished Member
I cannot know, but as pa gets rewarded by what he sees, I suspected his thoughts may turn to a PC - it is quite possible to add a sound-effect, or remove an intrusion that lasts only a few frames. Without a PC I doubt this can be done easily. However the IPad may have an App that will provide some of this funtionality, but it will be painful on a small screen.

If this is not the case, then you will be storing a lot of also-ran footage, as most of us have a "Taking to Using" ratio somewhere between 4 and 40 - The longer the zoom the worse the wobble, - My Stills camera takes acceptable vids using just 3:1 although it will accept dedicated ex-SLR lenses which is practically unlimited. The stills are 14Mpix whereas a camcorder at that price-level is pretty poor, and will have woeful low-light capability. I joined a Video-Club and it's become a major social event, opening doors and sometimes I get a letter of thanks from DVD recipients.

I rest my case..... but good luck.

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