|The cam also has a remote.|
Sony set up a temporary account for me, so getting online proved relatively painless. I tried the Bluetooth transceiver/modem both at home and at the office. It can either be plugged into an AC outlet or powered by two AA batteries. After I was set up, I took a couple of stills, including one of my breakfast-cereal box, and e-mailed them (as attachments) to my America Online account. Sure enough, they showed up when I logged on to AOL from my PC. Later, I successfully sent a text message from there to the camcorder and - while walking down the hallways in our offices - used the camcorder to visit the USA Today Web site! Sony claims a 30-foot range for the Bluetooth transceiver, but I was able to get 60 feet from the one in my office before losing the connection.
The novelty of reaching out to the world from a handheld camcorder is balanced by practical limitations, though. For instance, by pressing the record button while playing back the full-motion video, a soccer dad could isolate a winning kick and have it Internet-ready moments later. Consider, however, that while the camera-to-Bluetooth transceiver moves data through the air at up to 1 megabit per second, the modem that's plugged into your phone jack narrows that pipeline to 56 kilobits per second, which spells s-l-u-g-g-i-s-h performance. People spoiled by broadband will be rapping their knuckles.
Sony provides a Page Memo function that's supposed to let you capture a map, say, from Web to Stick. It would seem the perfect fit for a camcorder-toting tourist on unfamiliar turf. Unfortunately, when I tried to view the official New York City subway map, the camcorder choked after a few minutes, having succeeded in displaying only a lopped-off portion of Queens before putting up the message: "Data Too Large for Full Display." I was, however, able to grab the home page of S&V Online and save it to the Memory Stick for offline viewing.
While I was enchanted by the smallness of the new cassette format, I was less enthralled by the complexity of all the features in the DCR-IP7BT. Members of the point-and-shoot crowd who are Internet-indifferent but still want the smallest and lightest camcorder available would do better with the simpler DCR-IP5. Techno-jocks, on the other hand, could be swayed by the bragging rights that come with accessing the Internet from a camcorder. Still, since they're the ones most likely to be broadband-equipped, their gee-whiz grins could give way to grimaces of impatience. Bottom line: I was seduced by the miniature size of the MicroMV cam for handheld video recording, but I'll take a rain check on that Internet subscription.
Sony www.sony.com/di, 800-222-7669
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