Up until now the price point has been a little prohibitive. A lot of schools have the Elmo and the one I have in my classroom is made by Aver Media. These cameras can cost in the $500-$700 range. I have seen some cheaper cameras and been consistently disappointed with how they worked in practice. I general I have preached that you get what you pay for with document cameras.
However, my tune is changing a bit with my new portable document camera. It's made by Ipevo and can be purchased in Canada for $100+Shipping. I was introduced to this camera by Marian Small who uses it in her talks about using manipulatives for math. I was skeptical but the price point was low enough to try it out. I ordered it on a Sunday night and I had it on my desk by Tuesday shipped for about $100.
|This is a screenshot of my desktop|
There are only two downsides that I can see.
1) The field of view is small. Its about the size of an iPad screen so if you want to make that a bit bigger you need to prop it up on a book.
2) The software does not record video. This actually isn't much of an issue as you can use other free software to do that. On a PC a good choice is Picasa and on a Mac you can just record with Quicktime as I did with the video below.