Wireless Features and Functions in Camcorders

Girl taking video of her father by camcorder in hotel lobby, mother smiling

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We live in a wireless age, so it's only natural to expect our camcorders to hop on the wireless bandwagon. And they have, sort of. Today, more and more camcorders transfer video data wirelessly, either through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections. Vendors including JVC, Canon, Sony, and Samsung have incorporated one or both of these features. ​

Bluetooth Camcorders

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that is very common, especially in mobile phones and digital music players, usually as a means to wirelessly send music or voice calls from the device to a headset or earphones. In a camcorder, Bluetooth can be used to send still photos (but not video clips) to a smartphone. In JVC's Bluetooth camcorders, a free app lets you transform your smartphone into a remote control for the camcorder.

Bluetooth also enables camcorders to work with wireless, Bluetooth-enabled accessories such as external microphones or GPS units. One thing you cannot do with a Bluetooth-enabled camcorder uses the wireless technology to transfer high definition video from the camcorder to a computer.

Wi-Fi Camcorders

More and more camcorders have Wi-Fi capabilities, allowing you to wirelessly transfer your photos and video to your computer, to your backup hard drive, or upload them directly to a social networking website. Some models also allow you to wirelessly connect and transfer video and photos to mobile devices, or control the camcorder remotely from an app on a smartphone or tablet. 

Camcorders with Wi-Fi capability are both more and less functional than Bluetooth camcorders. They're more functional because they can do what Bluetooth camcorders to date cannot: transfer high-definition video to a computer.

Wireless Downsides

While the benefits of using wireless technology in a camcorder are pretty obvious (no wires!) the downsides are less so. The biggest is the drain it puts on battery life. Anytime a wireless radio is turned on inside a camcorder, it's drawing down the battery faster. If you're considering a camcorder with wireless technology, pay close attention to the battery life specifications and whether the stated battery life is with the wireless technology on or off. Also consider buying a longer-lasting battery for the unit, if one is available.

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.

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, and you can read these wireless cards here.

Unfortunately, there's no Eye-Fi type solution for adding Bluetooth to a camcorder. At least, not yet.