Anyway, whilst poking around on the web today, I ran into a Sony "outdoor-activity" sort of cam (kind of like the GoPro Hero units - even with the clear plastic box) that was available for about $160. While this is easily twice (arguably 3x) what I'd feel comfortable spending on a video cam, it's at least "getting into the neighborhood". Except for one problem. You can't mount the camera to a tripod without it being in the plastic box. And if it's in the plastic box, you can't get to the mic in jack. So, for shooting interviews between sessions at conferences, our out on convention floors, you'd have to choose between having a nice steady shot or having a decipherable audio track. Now, sure, I can understand that if you're marketing these things as being "waterproof" you're not going to have a hole through which a mic cable (and water) could go ... but the design was funky since right where one would expect to find the tripod mounting hole on the camera is a hatch that gives one access to, of course, the mic-in jack.
This means that if I did get this camera, which (on an "open box" sale) is 2-3x what I would be comfortable paying, I'd have to do some duct-tape-and-baling-wire rigging to get the dang thing onto a tripod. Who designs stuff that way?
Which, of course, brings me back to the whole question of WHY all but the itsy-teeniest cameras DON'T have mic-in jacks. Everybody HAS to be aware that the little bitty build-in mics are pure CRAP for anything but picking up voices within 2-3 feet of the camera. This CAN'T be some undiscovered mystery for the camera manufacturers! And, as was shown in a post previously bitching about this (oh, wait, maybe that was over on FB ... my bad), one CAN simply MacGyver an external mic by taking apart one's camera and attaching leads onto the places where the dinky internal mic is connected (yeah, not going to do that any time soon), which means that one could simply have a jack for an external mic. A jack that would add maybe 10¢ to the manufacturing costs. Why does nobody have that jack on any camera that retails for less than $300 (OK, admittedly, this Sony unit was listed at just $199.99, but $300 seems to be the line where external mic jacks start to appear)? WHY?
Arrgh ... this makes me crazy.
Of course, if I had a job and a paycheck and that legendary stuff called "discretionary funds", I suppose I could see my way to paying $300 or more for a "nice" digital cam ... but at this point I'm only a couple of weeks away from having been out of work for FOUR YEARS and buying ANYTHING that's not on the dollar menu or at the f'n dollar store seems like insanity.