I am afraid that your hope that there is a magical all in one device to fulfill all functions is doomed to be dashed. Yes, you can buy a device like the iPhone that can do it all, but you will suffer in the end from low quality in one area or another.
Cell phones with cameras (even the ones with 'really good' cameras) have very mediocre video/photo quality because even the best ones with 5-8 megapixels are still just tiny CCDs, and therefore very low quality. Because of this, I would go with a separate video or point and shoot camera.
On that subject, I would say that unless you are going to be doing a lot of serious filming, there are a lot of point and shoot cameras that can record fair quality video these days. Also, the amount of recording time you could get would only be limited by how large of a SDHC card you bought for the camera. These come in such large sizes now, that you could record for hours on end. The downside of this solution, is that it is not for serious filming. There is no image stabilization on these cameras and you will be dealing with a compressed video (probably in Quicktime format) on your computer. They also tend to do less well than a single function video camera in low light conditions. However, as long as you just need to take a few quick video clips, a point and shoot camera should do ok and won't cost as much as both a camera and video camera. Most good ones are around $250.
If you do require a good video camera, then I would definitely not get the Flip camera. They are more toys than useful devices. Instead, I would try to get one of the old miniDV tape cameras. I've got two of them, a Sony and a JVC. They have excellent optical zooms on them, good image stabilization, and fair quality video. And if you run out of film, all you've got to do is put in another tape. Plus, you can get them pretty cheap ($150-$250) because they aren't the 'latest and greatest' technology.
If you don't mind the low quality of a Flip camera, then I might also mention that there IS a video camera in the latest iPod Nano. I am not sure how much recording time you could get with it, but I imagine it would be more than two hours because it has 8 or 16GBs of flash storage; significantly more than the Flip. An iPod nano would also make sense, because you mentioned you use itunes for your music. iPods work with iTunes; other mp3 players do not.
On the subject of cellphones: there are essentially two options for cellphones these days, which would be (1) smart phones, which require expensive contracts and include too many features to list, and (2) 'simple' phones with basic calling/texting abilities and maybe a couple of extra features.
Unless you absolutely require internet, email, and mobile games everywhere you go, paying extra (both upfront and by the month) for a smartphone is a huge waste of money. The going rate for smart phones is $70 a month (minimum), plus the cost of the phone, which is $50 minimum. Add that up over the life of a two year contract, and you talking about $1700+.
A simple phone, on the other hand can be 'bought' for free with a contract (which is around $40/month), making it's minimum price, over two years, around $1000.
About MP3 players: since you use iTunes, the best option here would probably be an iPod. You could use another device, but it might require a lot of fiddling with your music files, which can be frustrating and difficult. Additionally, as I said above, the latest iPod Nano includes a video camera of low quality, similar to the Flip camcorder. So, it might be able to take the place of two devices.
So the final verdict, as I've listed it anyway, is this: for a camera, you should get a regular point and shoot (nothing else can really replace it at this time). For a cellphone, the most logical path would be a simple phone, which although it will not provide a camera or mp3 player, will save you money to spend on devices that can play music and shoot video much better than a cellphone. And for an mp3 player, an iPod is the logical choice, since you use iTunes.
The camcorder is a little more difficult. Either the camcorder could be built into the camera, or built into the iPod, or as a stand alone device, all depending on what kind of quality video you want. If it were me, I would probably choose a stand alone device, but only because I hate to buy stuff that only half way does the job, and I also do a lot of filming.
I would not worry about overbuying, because even though it may seem like a bit much to buy four products instead of just, say, one iPhone, it will make up for it in better quality.
Hopefully, all this hasn't furthered your confusion...good luck!
Help-cell phone, mp3 player, camera, camcorder! - New!
by Alohakid - 4/5/10 10:10 AM
Hi, All the technology is crossing over - I don't know what to get!
I'm going to get a good point and shoot camera.
But then I think I want a decent camcorder where I can film quick stuff - but also longer stuff without having to download to keep filming.
I also have been looking for an mp3 player (I have my music on Itunes).
And now I'm needing a new cell phone (I am open to one of these new ones with wifi for web browsing and e-mail - currently out of contract with tmobile)
My problem - So many products have overlapping features-music, cameras, video, and phone service. I am unfamiliar with the quality or the problems with any and all of these products.
Do I get a good point and shoot camera? Then a low to mid level camcorder? Then an mp3 player or Ipod for my music? And then a cell phone too? Am I overspending by getting too many products when one or two could do the things I need?
I know I want a seperate camera. The flip camcorder has a flash drive with a two hour filming limit which I don't like I think. But now I'm so confused with all these extra features on the cell phones - do I get a good cell phone that plays music too-and skip getting a seperate mp3 player or Ipod -or do I go with an Iphone? Will that give me good enough cell service, music, and the occasional video and quick photo? Or do I get another type of cell phone - and then a seperate Ipod or mp3 player? But then what about the video and photo capabilities? Do I look for that on my phone? - Or do I get a seperate camcorder - or even digital camera for that matter?
I'm overwhelmed - I don't want to overbuy - (buy a bunch of products that do the same thing well enough-therefore overspending?) Or is it better to buy a seperate camera for important photos in varied light indoor and outdoor and for family gatherings and trips. If I decide that - the features on the cell phones - camcorder or video recording and playing my music on an mp3 player - seem to overlap on these seperate products. Should I buy these things seperately - or is there one product that does at least these three things well enough - making it unnecessary to buy all these different products - therefore spending too much money without needing to. This is all confusing the heck out of me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated - thank you so much in advance! P.S. - I am obviously technically challenged (I'm a bit older and all these innovations are confusing the heck out of me!)