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Vintage Buffalo: Emily’s Sharp Viewcam

by Emily Price | March 30, 2011March 30, 2011 1:00 pm PST

Vintage Buffalo is a new weekly feature here at TechnoBuffalo where we take a look at our old gadgets, why we bought them, and what made us replace them. I’m a bit of self-proclaimed gadget hoarder. While I tend to buy a lot of “new” gadgets, I have a hard time letting go of some of my older electronics that I’ve grown emotionally attached to.

Are you like me and hanging on to some gadget relics of the past? Submit your story to be featured in a future Vintage Buffalo!

Gadget: Sharp VL-AH50 Viewcam Hi8

Owner: Emily Price, TechnoBuffalo Senior Editor

Purchase Date: 1999

Price: $300 ($) After a 40% discount

Why I bought it: My official college schooling is in film, actually ‘Broadcasting & Cinema,” but that’s roughly the same thing. While my school had camcorders (SVHS!) that I could check out to record on, checking them out was quite the hassle…and I wanted something all to my own. I had a part-time job at my local JC Penney. For Christmas they gave us 40% off everything in the catalog, so I decided to make a Christmas purchase of the VL-AH50. At the time, Hi8 was pretty amazing stuff, and the swivel screen of the VL-AH50 was pretty innovative as far as camcorders went. I was a pretty big deal toting this thing around. My other options back then were full-size VHS, and some VHS-C if you were trying to be fancy. Hi8 + swivel screen = gangster.

Best Feature: The giant 3” LCD screen on the back

Still working?: Maybe, if I could find the charger for it.

What made me replace it: The next year I purchased my first Mac (a G4 desktop). As a student, Apple gave me a pretty nice discount, and offered the same discount for accessories (including a new digital camcorder). The company also let me bundle both purchases in a loan that ended up taking me the next six years to pay off (whoops). I managed to purchase a MiniDV Canon camcorder (the Z10?), which I used to film absolutely everything (to an annoying degree), and then edit that everything using Final Cut Pro. The Canon camcorder was stolen the next year while I was studying abroad in France. That theft still makes me laugh, because video recorded on it was unplayable on French TVs (they use PAL), but is also upsetting because the thieves also stole some video I recorded of Hulk Hogan at the airport … and it was a long while before I could afford a replacement.

Why I’m hanging on: On a basic level, I’m hanging on to the Sharp because it’s my only way to watch all the old Hi8 videos I have (and there are a lot of them). While I don’t know where the power cable is right now, I’m confident I still have that as well, and could eventually power this bad boy back on to watch some old school videos. Also, I’m not exactly sure there’s much of a market (or any market) at this point for Hi8 camcorders. I don’t know that I could part with it for the $5 it’s probably worth.

Have a gadget story of your own to tell? Send us answers to the following questions and a picture or video of your gadget (even an old one) to vintagebuffalo [at] technobuffalo.com. We’ll pick one person each week to have his or her story featured on the site!

Gadget:
Purchase Date:
Price:
Why I bought it:
Best feature:
Still working?:
What made me replace it:
Why I’m still hanging on/why you gave it up

Are any of you camcorder owners? What was your first camcorder?


Emily Price

Emily has been obsessed with computers since the early 80s when she discovered she could play Ghostbusters on her father's Commodore 64. She...

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