Sony USB Streaming


Sony has released yet again a bunch of new digital video cameras the most interesting of which is probably the DCR-IP55 since it uses the new MicroDV cassettes like the DCR-IP7.

But, more interesting is Sony's new push for "USB Streaming" as they call it. All of the new cameras (and some of the older ones) can be connected to a computer through USB. Of course you can hook them up through iLink/Firewire but as Sony points out, unless you are a pro or you are going to make a DVD it's just not that useful. 30 seconds of video from an iLink cable will take 100meg on your hard drive. 1 hour of video would take 12 gigabytes of space!!! That's 18 CDs worth of space.

So, Sony's solution is to allow you to download video over USB in a much much more compressed format. Sure, it's not as pretty as iLink but it's useful. Files are small enough to e−mail to friends or post on your website. Check out some examples. They have the software and cables here.

It makes alot of sense to me. On impulse a couple of years ago I bought a digital video camera. I've pretty much never used it. It's too much of a pain in the ass. And, even when I have used it I've pretty much almost never gone back and watched the videos. It's too much work. Get out the camera, connect it to the TV, find the tape, fast−foward to the area I want to watch etc. I've converted a few things to the computer but it's a pain. After getting them in the machine you've got to convert them to other formats to be of any use to anybody else.

On the otherhand I have a digital still camera, the Sony DSC−F505 which has a short movie mode. It will take low−res 320x240 15 second movies with sound. It's surprising how often I look at those. The reason is they are all on my hard drive with my other pictures. Several times a month I am looking for a picture or downloading more pictures to my hard drive. I organize my pictures with Thumbsplus and so it's easy to just click around and see my old pictures and short movies.

On top of all that with the new Sony cameras, once you connect the camera to the computer you can use it for real−time video chatting. Video chatting is built into Windows and has been since Windows 95 but there were not enough people with fast connections and the right equipment. That's changing though. As the world becomes more and more connected stuff like that will get more and more common I think.