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HD video recorder fits in your pocket

By Hiawatha Bray
Globe Staff / January 2, 2012
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Olympus LS-20M HD video/audio recorder by Olympus America Inc.

$219 at Amazon.com

High-end video cameras keep getting better and smaller. Olympus, of Japan, is taking the trend further, by creating a pocket-size HD camera that also makes an excellent audio recorder.

The LS-20M is a solidly built device that resembles an old-school “candybar’’ cellphone. But a cellphone’s camera is mounted on the back or front of the device. With the LS-20M the lens is on the top edge, where you would expect to find an on-off switch, and it is flanked by a pair of high-quality microphones. You point this edge at whatever you’re shooting, with the recorder resting in the palm of your hand. A small but adequate color video screen serves as your viewfinder. Images and audio are recorded on a removable SD flash memory card.

The camera shoots very good 1080P high-resolution images, and the twin microphones produce fine stereo sound. Be careful not to overload them, though. While shooting at a rock concert, I stood too near the speakers, and the music was saturated with an unwelcome rumble. In less raucous settings, the LS-20M’s sound recordings were crisp and clear.

The LS-20M is by no means a full-fledged tool for professionals. But it’s amazing how much video quality you can slip into a shirt pocket these days.

Disney AppClix digital camera for children by Sakar Inc.

$79.99 at Amazon.com

Do your children need another reason to sneak off with your iPad? Well, here’s one more - a cute little camera that is tailor-made for everybody’s favorite tablet computer.

The AppClix is a 7.1 megapixel digital camera decorated with Disney favorites like Minnie or Mickey Mouse. Image quality is unspectacular, but decent. The AppClix I tested came with a measly 32 megabytes of memory on a removable Micro SD card, but you can buy more.

Even before the memory runs out, the kids will copy the pictures onto the nearest iPad. The camera plugs directly into the tablet’s USB slot. A free app from Apple Inc.’s online store will save the stored images and give the children a host of entertaining ways to edit them. They can add ornate frames to the photos, add images of Kermit the Frog or the Little Mermaid, or attach a personal message. Then they can e-mail the results to their friends, or maybe even to you.

At least you’ll know that your long-lost iPad is in good hands.

Looxcie 2 Bluetooth cellular headset and video camera $149.99 to $179.99 at Looxcie.com

How about an even smaller camera, one you can attach to your ear? Here’s a flawed but impressive gadget that combines a Bluetooth cellphone headset and a compact camera capable of recording five to 10 hours of video.

The Looxcie 2 is slightly larger than most Bluetooth earpieces, but weighs only about an ounce. As a Bluetooth phone headset, the Looxcie worked well. It did a good job of transmitting my voice, and incoming voices sounded fine.

My big problem was keeping the thing attached to my head. I found the Looxcie ear clip both uncomfortable and ineffective. Despite the gadget’s modest weight, it kept falling off. I’d have been better served with a version that would clip to my eyeglasses.

An optional accessory for attaching the camera to a baseball cap worked much better. I couldn’t use it as a phone headset this way, but I didn’t care. Instead, I just wandered, shooting video. Pretty good video, too. Standard definition, but reasonably sharp and clear, with respectable audio. To keep the camera pointing the right way, Looxcie offers a smartphone app that acts as a viewfinder and switches the camera on and off. Another app lets you capture the last 30 seconds of video you have shot and e-mail the clip. I’m no fan of cellphone earpieces, but it’s hard not to like one this clever.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at bray@globe.com.

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