RCA Small Wonder EZ201 review: RCA Small Wonder EZ201

What sets this model apart from its competitors is the camera's internal software. Extend the USB connector and plug it into the USB port on your Windows PC (Windows 2000/XP or newer)--a viewer automatically pops up. The EZ101 worked with Macs (you had to manually install the software the first time you used it), but alas, this model does not ship with Mac software, which is disappointing. That said, if you do have a Windows PC, RCA's Memory Manager software is more robust than the software that shipped with last year's model. You can do basic edits to your clips, setting start and end points, and string several clips together to make a "movie." The EZ Grab option even lets you make a still image out of one of the frames from a video.

If you decide to e-mail a clip, the program automatically compresses the video to reduce the file size. Even short clips (from 20 to 30 seconds) result in nearly 1MB e-mail attachments, but the beauty of the software is that you can shoot a video and send it off in less than 5 minutes by pressing just a few buttons. Recipients simply click on the attachment and play it back using Windows Media Player.

New this year for RCA is its partnership with Box.net, the video-sharing service. Instead of sending your video files as e-mail attachments, which tend to clog up in-boxes when they're bigger than 2MB, you can easily upload a file to Box.net--signing up for a free account with a username and password takes less than a minute--and send out an e-mail notification to a host of recipients. As part of the upload process, your video file is compressed even further, compared to the file created for an e-mail attachment, so the quality isn't quite as good--but for most folks viewing a streamed file in a YouTube-like viewing box is more convenient than opening an e-mail attachment. That said, users do have the option of downloading and saving the video to their PCs or Macs (yes, Mac users can view the streamed video).

If you're really lazy--or truly technophobic--you still have the option of bringing the camera to any CVS, Rite Aid, or Ritz/Wolf Camera store that processes Pure Digital's $30 single-use digital camcorder. The folks there will make a DVD of your footage for $10. RCA also will be releasing an optional DVD docking and recording system for the EZ201 called the RCA Memory Maker, eliminating the need for a PC to burn your videos to DVD.

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