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Video Cameras

Canon's 2014 Vixia HF R series of camcorders induces CES deja vu

This year's models deliver minor tweaks over last year's.

LAS VEGAS -- This looks like an unsurprisingly quiet CES for Canon, which really only announced a handful of products. And minor upgrades they are! The refresh of the Vixia HF R4xx series, the HF R500, R50, and R52, seems like identical hardware -- same sensor, lens, LCD, image processor and (I think) design.

There are some minor firmware/software updates, and possibly a revised Wi-Fi chipset in the two higher-end models, that extend the "Advanced Zoom" to 57x from 50x and enable mobile access so they can serve as remote monitoring devices. Think baby monitor. Along with that, its Baby Mode can now remember up to three babies and save videos into an album chronologically.

And that new remote-monitoring feature seems to be optimized for -- or maybe even require -- the new Pan Table Accessory, a cradle for remotely rotating or tilting the camcorder. That'll run you $99.99.

If you're in the market, I suggest you opt for the 2013 models right now during the small window while they're cheap and before they disappear.

The Canon Vixia R500 ($299.99; no memory, no Wi-Fi), R50 ($399.99; 8GB and W-Fi), R52 ($499.99; 32GB and Wi-Fi), and the Pan Table are all scheduled to ship in March.

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