Best tech gift for new dad: Wii or Pocket Video Camera?
December 2, 2009 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Holiday gift for husband and our "new" family: Wii or Pocket Video Camera?

Our first child is due a week after Christmas, and this upcoming event is informing my holiday shopping. I generally buy one "big ticket" item for my husband and am torn between a compact digital video camera (either the Kodak Zi8 or Flip camera) or a Wii system.

Pros for each:
Wii--1) He has expressed interest in one in the past; 2) we live in Minnesota and are in for a long, sequestered winter with a newborn. The Wii may be a source of moderate physical activity during this period, as well as enjoyment -- (I'm aware that we'll be doing very little of anything beyond sleeping and caring for the baby for several months!)

Pocket video camera--1)All of our family is out of state or the country, so sending videos would be a great way for grandparents, aunts and uncles to keep in touch with the baby; 2) we're planning a family trip next summer in the U.K. and it would be great to capture the experience without lugging a more cumbersome camera along with us.

Cons for each:
Wii--1) Last year, went to Best Buy and tried one together but the results were disappointing. The wand didn't work properly, it was difficult to control and was a frustrating experience. Possible that the "store model" was overused or damaged, but curious to hear your experiences with the system.

Pocket camera--1)We've tried out the Flip Camera, small screen, seems a bit dinky, and I have questions about battery life. 2)Also, unsure of ease of use with a MacBook Pro.

In summary: please share your experiences with one or both items. Bonus points for moms and dads with young kids--which would you prefer?
posted by thenewbrunette to Technology (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: NB: Budget is under $300!
posted by thenewbrunette at 8:00 AM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well, I love my wii, but a newborn is a very young kid; by the time that babybrunette is old enough to play, the system will undoubtedly be completely outdated.

I'd buy the camera.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:05 AM on December 2, 2009

Many regular digital cameras will shoot video that's pretty similar, quality-wise, to what a Flip will produce.
posted by box at 8:07 AM on December 2, 2009

The wii will still be fun next Christmas.

Your baby will have missed the first year of his/her video-able moments by then.

So! If you have no non-huge video camera as yet, get a pocket video camera! You'll be able to easily take it anywhere and catch any cuteness, and I'm sure the new Dad (and you!) will have TONS of fun seeing your new addition through the lens for variety. Baby might enjoy it, too.

(My experience: the Wii is really fun but yes the controls are sometimes a little fidgety - I guess I got used to it. I don't know about different video camera models.)
posted by lorrer at 8:08 AM on December 2, 2009

(And while I don't want to start a console war, I think the Wii is already completely outdated.)
posted by box at 8:08 AM on December 2, 2009

1)All of our family is out of state or the country, so sending videos would be a great way for grandparents, aunts and uncles to keep in touch with the baby;

So shouldn't they be the ones buying you a Flip? :)

We got a video game system when in the same situation and it was a good choice for both of us. The little video cameras are fun but then keep in mind someone has to edit and upload the videos. iMovie is fine for this.

As to the Wii in particular, it is normally easy to control, so I'd write that off as a bad store unit experience.
posted by mikepop at 8:08 AM on December 2, 2009

NB: I am not a mom.

Does your digital camera take video? My digital camera, which was fairly cheap (around $100) takes fairly decent quality video. If you just want to make clips of your new baby, this might be a cheaper option for you.
posted by mmmbacon at 8:09 AM on December 2, 2009

Speaking to the budget, Walmat is giving a $50 gift card with a Wii purchase starting this weekend which gets you the basic system for $150, so adding in a couple of games will still keep you under $300.
posted by mikepop at 8:13 AM on December 2, 2009

Wii can take a bit of getting used to control-wise and perhaps the in-store set-up had a strange placement of the receiver bit that tracks the wand movement. They're pretty easy to operate once you've played with them for a few minutes and gotten used to the minor quirks of the controller.

But, with a Wii, you need to calculate in a couple of extra costs. Second controller, so you can play together at $60 and at least one or two extra games (New Super Mario?) at $50/each. So, you'll break over $300 very quickly.
posted by paperzach at 8:16 AM on December 2, 2009

Best answer: New family, huh? You're going have zero time for Wii for the first few months after your baby arrives. It will simply sit there, taunting you in your living room, while you're either too occupied or flat-out tired to want to play it.

Get the video camera. Using it will be integrated into what you're already doing- caring for your new family.
posted by mkultra at 8:17 AM on December 2, 2009

As a mom of a six month old, we use our regular camera to take short videos to post to relatives. Really, she isn't doing anything that warrants more than a minute long video at most, and the quality has been fine. I also use my Iphone a lot for such things.

My husband and I play games together -- crosswords, blokus, etc. I think it would be fun to have the Wii as new parents.

If you have no digital camera that takes video, get one of those (I would not want to carry a flip and a regular camera). If you have one already, get the wii.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:19 AM on December 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Get the flip. I love mine, and we try to take video of my son every day. My only regret is that I only have stills of him as an infant, no video until he was about 8 months old.

Frankly, for the next year or so, you probably won't have time to play the Wii.
posted by anastasiav at 8:19 AM on December 2, 2009

Chalk the wii in the store up to an abused, overused system. Mine works great, and it's the most intuitive game system I've ever used.

The geek in me votes for the Wii. I don't use mine as often as I thought I would, but it's still a great way to enjoy those hours cooped up at home, and you can buy wiipoints and buy all sorts of old-schooll games online as well.

But... the practical person in me says video camera. Your baby will only be in their first year once. That being said... if you have any generous grandparents or others in the new baby's life, this is something they'll think of as well.
posted by cgg at 8:21 AM on December 2, 2009

We found having a new (first) baby to be a very productive time for video gaming; the baby sleeps a lot, we hung out on the couch, one of us got up to feed him, he could just cuddle with one of us much of the time.

We also learned the hard way that, as dpx.mfx said, when it comes to video a little goes a long way. Shots of as long as a minute of even your own adored 6-month-old feel interminable when you try to watch them a few years later; even just a tiny bit of video brings the baby back to your memory very effectively. So if you do have a digital camera that takes video, I wouldn't bother with the flip. If you don't, it would be worth getting, but otherwise, go for the Wii.
posted by not that girl at 8:26 AM on December 2, 2009


The wii is fun and all but for the 1st few months the wee one will take up most of your time, (freetime included!)

Then when you put the baby to bed you may have a baby monitor to look at too. when you're jumping around with the wii, you'll always be stopping to say "did the lights move" or "can you hear something" it'll be no fun to play that way.

And one of the best things about the wii is party play. Silent parties because "you don't want to wake the baby" are no fun

And as people have said previously, if you have good grandparents\friends to babysit, then you'll wanna be OUT the house enjoying yourselves for the few hours you get.

camera wins hands and nunchuks down
posted by MarvinJ at 8:31 AM on December 2, 2009

I'd say the camera.

I was far too knackered to play video games for the first few months of my son's life. Took billions of photos though, and if I'd had a decent video camera I would probably have shot hours and hours and hours of video..
posted by ComfySofa at 8:40 AM on December 2, 2009

I use a Flip on my Mac and it works fine. With QuickTime you can convert video and drop into iMovie. With a new baby coming, you'll definitely want the camera and will likely not have time to play the Wii. (My Xbox has been gathering dust for months now.)
posted by LakesideOrion at 8:43 AM on December 2, 2009

Video of your child’s first year will consist of approximately 400 hours of you going “Who’s a cutie? Who’s a cutie? You are! Yes you are!”, which you will watch once and then never again until your child brings home his first girlfriend/boyfriend, and then you’ll pull it out (assuming you’ve taken the time to transfer it to whatever format exists 16 years from now) in which case you will show him/her enough of it so that your child never brings anyone else home. Your relatives will appreciate about 30 seconds of video, until they get bored of seeing “Who’s a cutie? Who’s a cutie? You are! Yes you are!” over and over again. Most of the “first time he does X” will not be expected and you won’t have the camera ready anyway. For the first year they can do almost nothing on command.

The first year of having a child will make you feel like you’re living in bizarro world. Everything will be about the child. You are tasked with keeping a spitting, puking, pooping, screaming blob alive. Anything you can get for yourself, to make you feel human, to give you even a few minutes that isn’t about The Blob, is worth it. Seriously. Even cleaning the house made me feel happy and normal. The Wii will be perfect for those 20 minute stretches when the baby is sleeping and you can have a quick burst of normalcy for yourselves.

Video gets much more interesting after the first year. Buy the Wii this year and maybe a camera next year. Also, unless you’re really disciplined and great with editing your videos, 98% of video you take will be completely uninteresting. Stuff like three minutes of silence while you wait for the kid to spit out something resembling “da-da.” I’ve got a shit-ton of video of my kid doing absolutely nothing.

Bonus: The Wii might provide enough visual stimulation for the baby when he/she is sitting in a swing or bouncy seat so that you can play Wii and be entertaining the kid. As long as you’re not playing GTA or something.
posted by bondcliff at 8:43 AM on December 2, 2009

As others have said, I wouldn't bother with a device dedicated to video, unless you're looking for super-high-quality (or HD) footage. My little Canon SD1000 camera has served me really well for both stills and video in the first 3 years of my son's life, and I don't have any plans to upgrade for the next child (due next week). The video is only 640x480, but that's pretty close to old-school TV resolution. The first few months are much better suited to still photos; a few clips of gurgling noises and rolling eyes is about the most you'll manage to capture. It's only really when they start to crawl and walk that video becomes a valuable record.

We bought our Wii when my son was about 5 months old and it's had plenty of use. Babies are quite demanding, but we still found we had plenty of free time - they sleep for about half the day. I suppose it's really down to how organised you are.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:48 AM on December 2, 2009

Get the Flip. I've barely turned on my XBox for gaming since my kid was born 16 months ago, (through streaming Bob The Builder from Netflix has been awesome). My Flip cost about $70, I'm comfortable throwing it in the diaper bag amongst assorted other crap and grandparents and other distant relatives have loved the little movies we've posted online. We also got a cheap $50 digital still camera that takes AA's. It lives semi-permanently in the diaper bag for those moments when we're out and kid does something worth shooting.

You didn't ask, but you might also consider getting skype, with webcam and hands free usb phone. My family are all in the UK too and we bought both sets of grandparents this setup for Christmas last year. My son gets to see Grandma every Sunday and loves it.
posted by IanMorr at 8:56 AM on December 2, 2009

Best answer: Get the Flip. The videos will last forever* and the wii will gather dust after 18 months. Just be sure to get a tripod, either mini or regular, because there's no image stabilization on the Flip.

If you capture just one video like this you'll thank (ask)me.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:02 AM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I enjoy my wii, but I feel like my BF's PS3 gets a lot more use. I'm more of a "casual gamer" and love the small $10 downloadable games. We watch blu-ray disks and we also use it to play digital videos and music in our home network. Recent price drop puts it under $300. I feel like the PS3 will be in use for many more years.

A big plus for the wii, is that it can bring people together. It's almost enough excuse and entertainment to throw a weeknight party. The controls work, depending on what game you are playing. Some cheaper, poorly made games (Cooking Mama comes to mind) don't work as well as you'd like. Wario Ware is a great example of wii controls done right. However the Wii at it's current $200, it seems a bit over priced for what it can do, and I haven't seen a new game I wanted in a while. As far as hoping it'll be a source of physical activity... well, you'd probably be better off buying a jump rope. Most games are played sitting on your tush, waiving your arms around. Wario Ware, and Wii Fit are exceptions.

In a pinch, you know your MacBook Pro does have a camera, and can shoot video right? I don't have kids, but I can't imagine that he/she'll be doing much that can't be filmed indoors with a laptop positioned on a coffee table or floor. Get your relatives set up with a web cam, and do iChat or Skype video calls.

The Flip should be fine with a Mac. They have mac versions of their software (which you may not want to use anyways). Can't think of any reason there would be any hardware compatibility issues with a camera like this. The video is all stored as self contained mp4 files, you just move them from the camera's flash memory to your computer. Also it looks like their UltraHD will take rechargeable AA batteries, so don't need to worry about continually recharging it on the go.

I guess a question for you to answer is, would your husband (and you) have more enjoyment playing games occasionally, or shooting (and editing) video?
posted by fontophilic at 9:05 AM on December 2, 2009

I would suggest the wii. Newborns are not the best subjects for video. I can tell you as an out of state uncle I would rather receive a bunch of photos rather than video anyway. In a pinch you can use your macbook video camera or your digicam to record video.

My favorite thing to do is use ichat to video chat with baby, so you might want to try that out with your relatives.

Maybe get a flip next year and hopefully it will be a slightly improved product by then. I do however have a flipHD myself that I use with imovie and idvd, and it integrates well with the mac. Here is the inaugural video i made the day my sis gave birth.
posted by travis08 at 9:10 AM on December 2, 2009

Well, looky here, both Amazon and B&H are selling a Flip Mino for $99.

Use the Walmart coupon mikepop mentioned and this 2-for-$25 Walmart game deal, and you should be able to stay under your $300 budget without having to tax your brain any more than prepping for your newborn will.
posted by thejoshu at 9:12 AM on December 2, 2009

Get the most portable video camera you can. The results will be much more worthwhile than a Wii.
posted by Simon Barclay at 9:38 AM on December 2, 2009

Personal experience: You are going to be too damn busy and exhausted to play Wii. But your kid is going to start doing cute things as early as 3 months of age, so the camera is a great idea.
posted by Knowyournuts at 9:48 AM on December 2, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks so much to everyone for the input. Considering our lifestyle and that neither of us are "gamers" so to speak, the camera won out. I decided on a Kodak Zi8 and will report more later as to how it works out once we're out of the newborn coma!
posted by thenewbrunette at 9:55 AM on December 2, 2009

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