Somewhere just a little downstream of music on my list of socially dangerous interests: Weird, single-use Japanese gadgets. Enter: The Sony Music Video Recorder. The video camera you're looking at is designed for one thing: Recording music, ideally in the hope that you will someday become YouTube's best-sounding ukelele sensation. Like your cell phone, it shoots 1080p video; unlike your cell phone, it has two big, purpose-built microphones protruding out from it.
Early hands-on reports suggest it does its job really well. But here's what I'd like to ask all real and real-ish musicians within shouting range of this blog: is its job worth doing?
People who've never been there often assume Japan is some kind of technologically advanced wonderland; in reality its tech companies are just determined to make ever more obscure products designed to do one thing, like literally just roll around while it plays your MP3s:
If nothing else, the Sony Music Video Recorder meets more of a need than the Sony Rolly. Cell phone cameras, its most ubiquitous competitors, are taking better video every year, but their ability to capture music -- whether you're recording a show or recording yourself -- has been stalled out at Not Quite Terrible for years.
And, to be fair, it's not like the Music Video Recorder can only be used to record music videos, although the weird sideways-facing screen might make filming birthday parties more awkward than usual. This is a close relative of Sony's line of GoPro competitors, which will make it invaluable for extreme a cappella kayaking.
But they're still pitching it directly to musicians. So does Sony's use-case make sense?
For all the hype--for every Karmin, basically -- the vlogger-hits-it-big storyline hasn't produced a lot of stars. Audio-first sites like Bandcamp have proved much more compelling for most bands who don't already have a very funny dance worked out.
For musicians, it seems like an odd in-between choice -- better-but-more-expensive than your phone, worse-but-easier-to-set-up than the equipment you may already have.
But it's extremely small, and their press release suggests it will excel in "cramped rehearsal spaces as well as expansive stages" and "dimly lit clubs," and all that hints at the way most of these things will eventually be used: Recording somebody else's band. Two microphones and no screen to look through is a generational advance in Instant YouTube Bootleg technology, and further protection against a doomsday scenario in which everybody at a show decides to hold their iPad up at the same time.
Until I start recording my karaoke performances of "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)", though, I'm not in what is ostensibly Sony's target market for this. So tell me: Does a dedicated music video recorder solve $299 worth of problems for the band or vlogger in your life?