I'm looking for a simple, fairly portable standalone security camera setup. Something that could be loaned out on a temporary basis, is located indoors, and records things outdoors (say, car break-ins) through a window. And not too expensive, hopefully less than $600 or so.
Looking at these new harddrive-based camcorders that have come out this year, I wonder if they might be a workable solution...
For example, the new Toshiba Gigashot 60GB camcorder ($450) can record up to 55 hours on its lower-quality setting, not bad! There's also the Sony DCR 30/60GB Handycam models with the infrared nightvision setting, which could be handy. You could just let it run, and reset it every day or two to make sure the hard drive didn't fill up. It's obviously a lot more workable than a MiniDV camcorder, where you'd have to swap tapes every few hours. If an incident occurred, then we'd download the video file to a PC to view and edit as needed.
Has anyone tried using one of these camcorders this way? I'm wondering if the camcorders would run reliably nonstop for 24 or 48 hours without a problem, recording to a single giant mpeg file. Also, would they be OK running 24/7 for a few weeks. Ideally, there'd be some way to set the camcorder to record nonstop indefinitely, such as recording to a new file every 12 hours and deleting the oldest file on the hard drive... but I'm guessing none of these camcorders have such a feature.
I know there are other setups I could go with, but I'd rather not lug a monitor and PC (or DVR) around. The nice thing about the above setup is that you just use the camcorder viewfinder as your viewing screen. And you get better video quality and zoom capability for the money with camcorders than you do with dedicated security cameras.
I think these are my options:
- Use a harddrive-based camcorder by itself, as described above.
- In an ideal world, hardwarewise I'd be able use a cheaper MiniDV camcorder such as the Canon ZR500 (5), and buy my own external 200GB hard drive for 0 or so and plug that into the camcorder via firewire and just record video straight to the hard drive, with the camera controlling the hard drive. That would be awesome, and pretty cheap. I assume there aren't any camcorders that can do this?
- If none of the above setups are workable, I guess I could get a cheaper MiniDV camcorder and then a used laptop for 0 or so with a decent sized hard drive and firewire connection, with software to record straight to the laptop? With that setup I'd guess the camcorder should be able to run indefinitely, and I could have motion detection and some other nice features. That's more of a hassle for someone to borrow and figure out how to use, though.
Thanks for any input.