Guide to Bluetooth Camcorders

A look at how Bluetooth works on a camcorder.

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Bluetooth is certainly one of the more recognizable wireless standards out there (having a catchy name helps). It's how we connect our cell phones to wireless headsets and headphones. It's also beenĀ adopted by camcorders.

Bluetooth in a Camcorder

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that is very common 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.

It's good over short ranges - usually between 10 and 30 feet. It's also designed to send smaller bundles of data between devices, so it's not designed for data-heavy applications like video streaming.

So what is Bluetooth doing in a camcorder?

In a camcorder, Bluetooth can be used to send still photos to a smartphone. Once on your phone, you can email those pictures to friends and family. In JVC's Bluetooth camcorders, a free smartphone app lets you transform your smartphone into a remote control for the camcorder. You can start and stop recording, even zoom remotely using your phone.

Bluetooth also enables camcorders to work with wireless, Bluetooth-enabled accessories such as external microphones or GPS units. Using a Bluetooth GPS unit, you can add location data to your videos - i.e. geotag them. If you need to position a microphone close to a subject while you film them, Bluetooth mics are a nice option.

Bluetooth Downsides

While the benefits of using Bluetooth 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 Bluetooth 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.

Finally, and most significantly, Bluetooth can't support wireless video transfers to other Bluetooth devices such as phones or computers. Bluetooth is designed to send small chunks of data - HD video produces very large files, far too large for the current version of Bluetooth to support.