What's the deal with these El-cheapo video cameras?

I’m not in the market for a camcorder. But I’ve noticed that THESE have been selling around here for $50, and I’ve even seen them for as low as $39 and it’s made me curious.

How good can a $39 camcorder possibly be? How much recording time is there on an 8 gig card? How good is the picture quality? I paid $16 for a spy pen camera and the video/audio is quite good for the price. What does $39 get you?

A much smaler sensor means less light sensitivity but much smaller optics - ie. cheaper lenses. These cameras typically have either fixed lenses or small zooms (2x, or 3X). The fancy “real” camcorders have 10x to 25x zoom. Not sure what their low-light quality is like, but I suspect it’s not the best. OTOH, how much low-light video do you need? Normal room lighting should be fine.

How much does 8GB hold? Depends on the processing power of the camera, how effectively it can cruch down the video and keep quality. A DVD (dual layer) is just over 8GB and holds up to 3 hours of quality video; so using an 8GB card should be the same as a tape cartridge.

I have one of those tiny, cheap little camcorders.

Recording time? With the resolution I shoot at, maybe 30 minutes. I can’t remember the size card I have in it, though.

How’s the video quality? Not particularly good. It’s okay in strong light when the subject isn’t moving much. Less than perfect light (i.e., inside) or a subject moving quickly provides less than optimal results.

I guess in film terms it would be roughly similar to using a disposable camera loaded with 100 speed film.

But for the price, it’s phenominal. It’s pretty much point-and-shoot, takes reasonably good still photos and I’m not worried about breaking it.

My MIL gave us a cheap camcorder. It takes AA batteries. I noticed her own digital camera is also el-cheapo and takes AA batteries.

I wonder how much she spends on batteries. She doesn’t seem to have rechargeables.

What kind is it? How much was it? How about a review of it’s performance.