Whether prompted by a new year’s resolution, a generous loved-one, or a gift to yourself, surely you have a list in your mind tabulating the new equipment you would like to have. Perhaps you’ve committed to improving your audio in 2006 with a quality off-camera mic. Maybe your spouse now truly understands how a new native 16:9 camcorder would have captured your daughter’s winning goal. Or perhaps it’s just time to get that dedicated editing system that you promise won’t get bogged down with games, downloads and the Internet.

The design of this special Buyer’s Guide issue is to give you (or someone close to you that understands your passion) a handy reference for purchasing new gear. Containing articles and buyer’s guides of some of this past year’s most popular product categories, you’ll find comparisons of dozens of camcorders, editing systems, DVD burners and authoring solutions, tripods, lights and much more.

We wanted to provide you with listings of as many products as possible, but you may still want more information. You’ll find we’ve tested and reviewed many of these products and those reviews are available on our Web site.

One important video product category is not in this special issue: editing software. At the same time this issue is on the news stands, you will find details on a variety of editing solutions in the pages of our October, November, and December issues. Clone wars may be good for Lucas, but being downright redundant is not our style.

These grids have been complied throughout the past year, during which time some of the listed product prices have moved about as fast as a three-year old on Christmas morning. So we encourage you to go to the Videomaker Web site to find the most current price. In some cases, you should happily find they have gone down.

One last thought: We have all heard the pitter-patter promise of HDV turn into the rumblings of a distant stampede. This new format has many people wondering if they should wait until the dust settles to make their next move. But for those of us with our ear to the ground, I think the answer is still "it depends." Standard definition camcorders and editing environments will continue to play a large role for years to come. There are simply too many standard definition TV sets out there to be replaced quickly.

If your production equipment is on its last legs, the time couldn’t be better to replace it with the significantly improved quality of today’s standard definition gear.

On the other hand, if you already have a high definition TV, have the resources for a new camcorder and beefier editing system, and would like to share this exciting new level of clarity and quality with friends and family, then by all means, the time is now–go for it!

Happy hunting!

Brian Peterson is Videomaker’s Editor in Chief.

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