Guide to Wi-Fi Camcorders and Video Cameras

Can camcorders cut the cord?

Video camera next to laptop

 JESHOOTS / Pixabay

Wi-Fi - the wireless technology found in laptops, cell phones, and a growing number of other consumer electronics - has begun showing up in camcorders as well. It's been incorporated into both traditional and pocket camcorders. Here's what you need to know about Wi-Fi camcorders.

What Wi-Fi Camcorders Can Do

Using Wi-Fi, a camcorder can transfer video (even high definition video) to a computer that's on a wireless network. In some cases, a Wi-Fi camcorder can also be recognized as a device on a network, which means that you can stream the video from the camcorder to a monitor, TV or media player to watch it without having to connect the camcorder directly to a viewing device.

To enjoy this feature, your camcorder will need to work with the DLNA specification (check the product's specs, DLNA certification will be indicated somewhat prominently on the packaging).

To date, no camcorders use Wi-Fi to directly access the Internet and it's unlikely that any will soon.

Wi-Fi Camcorder Drawbacks

Outside of removing cables from the equation, there aren't many other advantages to a Wi-Fi camcorder. However, there are a few downsides.

  • Transferring videos by Wi-Fi to a PC takes considerably longer than it does to transfer those videos via a USB cable.
  • Wi-Fi is a fairly big drain on your camcorder's battery, so you'll have to either have a fully charged battery before you start your transfer or connect the camcorder to a power outlet before you start (here come those cords again)
  • Cost is another factor. All things being equal, a camcorder with some form of built-in wireless capability is usually going to be somewhat more expensive than a similarly equipped model without.

Is Wi-Fi the Next Big Thing?

Wi-Fi might not be hugely popular in a camcorder, simply because HD video files are so large and time-consuming to transfer over a wireless network. Faster Wi-Fi technology (so-called 802.11ac) will help on that front, but it will take some time before mainstream consumers have 802.11ac Wi-Fi networks in their homes.

That said, a fair number of pocket camcorder manufacturers have added wireless technology to their products.

An Eye-Fi Alternative

If you want Wi-Fi capability without purchasing a wireless camcorder, you can purchase an Eye-Fi wireless memory card. These cards fit into any standard SD card slot and transform your camcorder into a wireless device. Any photos and videos you capture with your camcorder can be wirelessly transferred not just to your computer but to one of 25 online destinations, six of which also support video uploads (like YouTube and Vimeo).

Eye-Fi cards offer more than just wireless functionality: you can add geographical coordinates to your videos and upload them to the web via public hotspots too. You can read more about Eye Fi's technology here.