My first thought upon seeing the Ion Twin Video recorder was, “oh, great -- another narcissism enabler.” But my second thought was, "actually, this is pretty cool."
The Ion Twin Video combines features popular in several other kinds of gadgets. First, it has conspicuous stereo microphones common on a certain class of podcast-focused audio recorders. Hopefully, that means the company is serious about audio quality.
Second, the device jumps on the portable video recorder bandwagon, and largely functions like one of those Flip video recorders, or any number of competitive products. These cameras are shaped more like bulky cell phones that camcorders, and they record to flash memory instead of a hard drive or tape.
Finally (and most interestingly,) the camera is designed for shooting video of the user. The main camera points forward, and a secondary camera points backward, sitting on the same side of the device as the LCD screen. The microphones face back toward the user as well.
The Ion Twin Video looks a lot like the Alesis VideoTrack Handheld, which shoots only straight forward. They appear to have identical microphones and microphone guards.)
In one mode, the Ion Twin Video camera puts the backward-facing camera stream inside a box in the main video -- sort of like one of those TVs that shows you another channel in a small window. (Here's a video of what that looks like.) The video streams can also appear side-by-side. You can also record with only the forward camera or only the backward camera. You can switch modes as often as you like while shooting. So if you're filming something, and want to make a comment, press a button, your face appears and you can start talking. When you're done, press again, and your face goes away.
I like this two-camera functionality because of the way people use video cameras now. Nearly all personal video is "narrated," and putting your face in there to go with the voice is nice. Plus, it's great for citizen journalism. It enables a new kind of video podcasting where the interviewer and the interviewee are both onscreen at all times. And finally, it's great for video postcards. It's better to include your face in videos when you're telling friends and family about what you're doing, where you are and so on.
No price has been announced, to the best of my knowledge. The company says it will ship by summer.
(Thanks to the Red Ferret)