Sony will bring the market more upscale with its Net-Sharing Cam due next month for $199 and aimed at those sharing video online. Unlike earlier casual camcorders, it will use a rechargeable battery instead of AA batteries, boast a larger LCD that swivels as well as twists and take 5-megapixel photos. None of these products, however, has an optical zoom capability, even though long zoom features have long been a staple of the camcorder market.
Finally, there is the middle ground. Facilitated by the availability of higher capacity SDHC memory cards, Samsung and Panasonic are introducing lightweight and streamlined soda-can-size high-definition camcorders that use flash memory and have respectable optical zoom capability. They may not fit in your back pocket, but they could represent a good option for recording something less than the major life events and more than the video snippet. Look for them at kids' soccer games near you.
Ross Rubin is director of industry analysis for consumer technology at The NPD Group. www.npd.com