Canon’s compact Vixia Mini camcorder is for those who like shooting selfies, YouTube vids

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Check out our review of the Canon Vixia Mini camcorder.

Calling it a product that’s different than what it’s had before, Canon launched a new POV camcorder that’s targeted toward hobbyists like bloggers and YouTubers. Indeed, the entry-level $300 Vixia Mini Compact Personal Camcorder is nothing like what Canon has made in the past. Measuring 3 x 1 x 3.8 inches, the 6.3-ounce shooter resembles more like a compact makeup mirror than camcorder.

Despite the pocket-friendly size, there’s a lot of going on inside. The camcorder uses a 12.8-megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor with a DIGIC DV4 image processor, capable of shooting Full HD movies in the MP4 format up to 1920 x 1080 30p/24p. The lens is a low-distortion, mechanical shutter 15mm (16.8mm for movies) wide-angle f/2.8 glass with a 160-degree field of view when shooting in movie mode, and 170 degrees for photos. In the camcorder’s Wide Mode, you get more of your surrounding in view but with the fisheye effect. But in Close-Up Mode, the camcorder eliminates that effect and centers in on the subject in a cropped shot. As part of the 23 user-selectable scene modes, the Vixia Mini can shoot in slow and fast motion, albeit without audio. There’s also interval recording for shooting time-lapse movies. In regular shooting modes, Canon touts the stereo microphone that can capture CD-quality audio at 256kb/sec.

Since it’s designed for ease-of-use, there aren’t many buttons to press. The most noticeable feature is the 2.7-inch touchscreen LCD (230k pixels), which can be used to adjust settings and change between modes. Resting on parallel hinges, the display can be angled in various positions that allow for self-shooting or viewing from different perspectives. There’s also a stand that kicks out from the bottom.

The customer Canon sees using this product is someone who likes to make self-produced videos to be shared on the Web, so there’s Wi-Fi built in. Besides the usual wireless transfer to a PC, movies and pics can be uploaded the typical social networking sites. Users can also stream live shots (10 meter range) to view on their iOS or Android smart devices via the CameraAccess2 app; the app also allows for remote control, which will come in handy for self-shooting.

The camcorder has a slated release in September, and will come in black or white. It records onto Micro SD cards, which an 8GB card will yield roughly 1,500 images at max res and 40 minutes of video at 24p. Battery life is between 65 to 70 minutes depending on the shooting mode.

While the Vixia Mini sees Canon entering new territory, the POV camcorder, of course, has been around, with options available from a variety of vendors that includes Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, GoPro, Contour, and JVC. It’s also one of the growing and lucrative sectors of the camcorder market. Typical of Canon, it’s always late to the party, but it tries to do so fashionably with unique products that respond to what’s out in the market and what it believes users are looking for. Canon obviously sees the growing YouTube and Facebook usage as impetus for releasing such a product.

Specs wise, the Vixia Mini is similar to what it sees as its closest competitor, GoPro’s Hero3. Canon lists the self-POV perspective, built-in LCD, stand, tripod socket, and stereo mic as advantages over the Hero3. But the popularity of the GoPro lies in its waterproof housing that allows it for use in action sports, which the Vixia Mini isn’t capable of. Although Canon says you can use the Vixia Mini for a variety of activities, we can’t see GoPro users trading the popular camcorder for Canon’s compact shooter; a waterproof housing for the Vixia Mini might not be a bad idea. With that said, the Vixia Mini might find users like parents and travelers who want to pack something light and easy to use when on vacation or at the kids’ sports practice. Regardless, at its price point, it’s a neat gadget to own.

As for bloggers, YouTube users, and such, Canon will continue to face competition from its biggest threat, the smartphone. With smartphones being able to shoot videos that can be uploaded immediately from one device, it might be hard to convince users to carry two devices, even though the Vixia Mini is highly compact. But Canon is pointing to those features that allow users to shoot better videos, as major selling points. The youth market seems to be one that Canon finds hard to grasp, but unlike the PowerShot N, which Canon released earlier this year that targets a similar audience, the Vixia Mini seems like a better thought-out concept.