Caveat Emptor: It Almost Just Works

I’ve been shopping digital camcorders for a couple months. I decided to invest in a camcorder because as Maly gets older I find myself shooting a lot more video with the little PowerShot S550. It’s a great little point and shoot camera and captures great video, but I wanted a dedicated camcorder. So I sold some stuff on craigslist and took the money that my in-laws gave me for my iBook and started shopping.

After researching an assortment of makes and models, I decided on the Sony DCR-SR300. This camcorder, as my dad-in-law would say, is a honey of a camera. I ordered it last Saturday and UPS attempted to deliver it on Friday. Nobody was at the house so the camera was delivered to the UPS warehouse on the opposite side of town. I drove an hour and a half round trip to get my camcorder last night. I brought it home, unpacked the camera and all of the accessories, plugged it in and let it charge. Once it was charged I played with it for a while and fell in love with it. It’s the coolest camcorder ever. I messed around with the touchscreen menu, the backlight and the nightvision – all-in-all, it’s an easy to use, full-featured camcorder that I was really, really excited to own.

Until I tried to download the videos I shot to the iMac.

I couldn’t get the iMac to recognize the camera. I employed every trick in my hat and gave up for the evening as it was 1 a.m. at that point.

Verbatim from the owner’s manual:

For Macintosh User

  1. Turn on the computer
  2. Place the CD-ROM (supplied) in the disk drive of your computer
  3. Open the [Handbook] folder in the CD-ROM, double click the [US] folder and then drag-and-drop the “Handbook.pdf” on the computer.

After having the software installed, double-click “Handbook.pdf”, you can view the handbook.

Excellent!  And then what?!?!

I woke up this morning and called Sony’s technical support. After explaining my scenario and troubleshooting for 15 minutes, I was told that I would need to pull the video from the camera by opening it as a drive on my desktop (I was under the impression that when I plugged the camera in, iMovie would open and import the videos for me). I was able to navigate the cameras hard drive and copy over the video files. But the videos wouldn’t play. The camera captures MPEG-2 video and QuickTime wouldn’t play my videos. It was then suggested that I download Apple’s QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component. I assumed that this would be the fix so I hung up with tech support.

QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component cost me $20 and it allowed me to view the videos I had captured, but there was no audio.

So I called Sony technical support again. This time I was on the phone for half an hour. Twenty of those minutes was spent with me on hold while the agent checked’s support site. While he did that, I pulled weeds out of the garden. It was then found out that I can’t use this camcorder with a Mac unless I want silent video. I’m really bummed now. I love that camera but I’m not keeping a Windows PC around just to download and edit video.

So, it’s back to the drawing board. All is not lost though. I was able to capture the Dick Witch Project:

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