The Sony NSC-GC1 Net-Sharing Cam is not a camcorder or a Web cam, but something in between. The growth of online video sharing through Web sites such as YouTube and other social networks has opened up the market for a device that bridges that gap between no-frills Web cams, and the high resolution and fancy features found on expensive camcorders. Combine this with an easy way to upload your content direct to the Web and we could have a winner.
Plasticky, boxy, cheap. These are not words usually used to describe Sony electronics, however the NSC-GC1 also carries a price tag which reflects its build quality. Besides being a fingerprint magnet, the high-gloss plastic casing keeps the unit at a lightweight 150 grams. It's also compact at 29mm by 56mm by 104mm and can easily be wielded around with a single hand.
The design isn't very ergonomic; the sharp-edged retangular shape is far from the comfortable curves we're used to seeing on Sony Handycams and the upright position of the unit makes it all too easy to cover the flash with your fingers while shooting. Another quirk we discovered was the camera's unbalaced weight, which means the camera will not stand up on its own when the LCD is flipped out. This required us to be creative in order to use the timer function for hands-free filming.
Aiming to keep things simple, controls are kept to a minimum, laid out along two sides of the body with a directional pad and joystick for navigation. The buttons might be slightly small for large fingers but you shouldn't need to delve into the menu system often, so it isn't too much of a hinderance.
The 2.4-inch LCD display is below average with a resolution of just 123,000-pixels. Though this is adequate for shooting, it's not very impressive. However, the ability to swivel the screen 360-degrees is a big plus, allowing versatile shooting from almost any angle.
The NSC-GC1 records video in MPEG4 format which is saved to Sony's proprietry Memory Stick card format. There's no internal memory and the device doesn't come bundled with a card, so you'll have to fork out extra for storage.