Tech News on G4

Barbie Girl in A Video World

Dec 9, 2010

By Greg Gazin - Apple Gazin’ - G4 Canada

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BarbieI have to admit, it's very rare that I play with dolls, in fact I never have. But this is not your average doll. In fact technically, you could classify it as a gadget, so I could not pass up an opportunity to test-drive Mattel's Barbie Video Girl Doll…of course, with a little help.

I'm also pleased that this is one of those rare few times I can say that I've collaborated on a technical test drive with my better half Elaine, who prefers that my gadget collection is not seen around the house and not heard and whose prized possession is a mint condition and fully accessorized mid-sixties Barbie.

Techno Barbie

At first glance, she looks like yet another Barbie. But under the hoodie, this one is more reminiscent of Lindsay Wagner - The Bionic Woman, if you are old enough to remember, or watch 70's reruns on TV. I digress. 

This Barbie has your typical long blonde hair, fashionable clothing - capris, pink shoes and a pink/tiger hoodie, but what appears to be a necklace with a pendant is actually a camera lens. You'll need to install 2 x AAA batteries, one in each thigh, so you'll need to keep a Philips screwdriver handy for a quick change.  Batteries and screwdriver not included

BarbieOn her back, under her jacket is a small 320x240 colour LCD display with a built-in microphone.

It's more or less a point and shoot vidcam, giving any young child 6+ up the opportunity to catch video and tell their story through the eyes of her friend Barbie.

To test drive, Elaine decided she was going to introduce Barbie Video Girl to Barbie circa 1963 and she had a lot of fun in the process.

When you're done, you can playback the video on the screen (no sound) or you can hook it up and transfer your files to your computer using the included pink USB cable.

(video courtesy, Elaine Baram)

Barbie Software Windows Only

While the doll is both PC and Mac compatible the editing software (you'll need to download it from Barbie's site) is Windows only. It allows you to take your footage and easily create a masterpiece by adding all sorts of special effects.

Mac users can certainly use iMovie, bit it lacks the Barbie branding and the fun stuff it was designed to do.

Test Driving

Barbie Video Girl is straight-forward and easy to use. The screen is viewable, less so in direct sunlight.  It has 256MB of ram, so you can record up to 25 minutes of video at 15fps. It's not high definition, but produces decent .AVI videos under reasonable lighting conditions.

You will however, need to change the batteries after about 75 minutes of use.

Transferring files was easy. When you plug it in, it mounts on your desktop just like a USB flash drive.

And depending on the age or technical ability, your little one may need a little help getting the PC editing software running, but once she's mastered the process or shows you J, it can give any young lady a good first hands-on experience producing her first videos.

Stocking Stuffer

At $69.99 full retail, this is not an inexpensive toy, but if you shop around, especially at this time of year, Elaine and I have seen some pretty good deals to be had. Personally, I thought we could have seen just a touch higher resolution video, more ram and better battery life.

Barbie Video Girl allows your child to express her creativity and at the same time adds value by exposing her to technology at an early age. Plus, it's still a Barbie doll, so she's sure to have a lot of fun with it.

Elaine says, "Whatever she looks like, Barbie is a classic. She'll never go out of style."

Of course, if this is your child's first vidcam, it will be imperative to teach then the proper etiquette of video recording.


Greg Gazin can be reached at  gadgetguy "at" telus "dot" net Or

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