Still camera and camcorder: Canon's DC50

Published: Monday, January 22, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 11:53 p.m.
Many digital cameras shoot rudimentary video, and some camcorders take a shot at producing passable photographs. The Canon DC50 tries to do both well.
Its five-megapixel sensor is equal in resolution to that of some midgrade cameras, and is actually bigger than those used by some photojournalists just a year or so ago.
Canon's road map for the future of imaging foresees a merging of video and still photography, with one sensor and one chipset to satisfy both needs, and the DC50 is a step in that direction. A new processing chip, the Digic DV II, handles both kinds of images.
The DC50, which will be available at the end of next month for about $799, has both a built-in flash and video light. It can record still and moving images simultaneously onto three-inch DVDs, including dual-layer ones for added capacity, and a MiniSD-size camera card.
The camera's 10x lens zooms out to a serious telephoto length, 447 millimeters in still-camera terms. An image stabilization mechanism can be turned on to prevent shaky snapshots at this high magnification.
  • The computer with a TV, and a virtual refrigerator door: The notion of a computer at the heart of every home gets a little bump with the multitasking Hewlett-Packard TouchSmart PC, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show this week as part of the introduction of the Windows Vista operating system from Microsoft.
    The TouchSmart, which will cost $1,800 when it goes on sale at the end of the month, has a 19-inch touch-sensitive screen intended to serve as a family bulletin board, with virtual sticky notes written with a finger or stylus - or even left by voice, in a recorded memo.
    This computer is also a high-definition TV, and can play FM radio or stored music through screen-side speakers, or external ones for a home-theater effect.
    Designed as a wire-and clutter-free stand-alone device, it connects to the world via Wi-Fi and further contains its footprint with a wireless keyboard, mouse and remote control.
    The TouchSmart's designers envision a user's walking up to it on a kitchen counter, checking e-mail, appointments and weather, leaving family reminders and maybe watching the first 30 seconds of the news before dashing out.
  • An Epson printer with inks, it says, that last 98 years: Digital photographers and graphic designers with limited budgets will want to note Epson's replacement for its venerable 1280 ink-jet printer, introduced in 2000.
    The Stylus Photo 1400, which will reach the market early next month, will cost the same as the older model - $400 - and will still use six inks, but they will be Epson's new Claria inks.
    Epson says these will produce prints that last 98 years, three times the life span of earlier inks. It also says the 1400 will print three times as fast, with the ink yielding three times as many prints.
    An 8-by-10-inch photo at 720 dots per inch will take 173 seconds to print on the 1400, which may sound long but is fairly sprightly in the photo printer world.
    Labeling of white ink-jet-printable CDs and DVDs is a feature found in many lower-end Epson printers, but the 1400 has a higher-precision mechanism - hence its 25.8-pound heft. Automatic photo correction will handle red eye, underexposure and color problems.
  • Wonder where you wander? A mobile phone can tell you: Thanks to cell phones, friends and relatives can find you anywhere in the world. But can you find yourself? You can if you have the Pharos GPS Phone 600, which has some advanced location-tracking features.
    This $700 phone comes with Pharos's Ostia navigation software, which calculates directions, calls out turns on the road and displays a three-dimensional map of your location on the 2.8-inch color touch screen. It also has a two-megapixel camera and FM radio receiver inside.
    The Pharos phone is an unlocked GSM cell phone, which means a SIM card from a wireless carrier must be inserted to make calls. You can get one by signing up with T-Mobile or Cingular in the United States, but the phone will also work with almost any European or Asian carrier.
    The Pharos phone has 128 megabytes of internal storage and a MiniSD card slot for expansion. It will be available online and in retail stores next month, bringing relief to serious travelers and the habitually lost.
  • A discreet voice recorder for your 275-hour podcast: Podcasters and others in need of audio recordings no longer need to stick a microphone in their subjects' faces. The Olympus DS-50 voice recorder has a clip-on stereo microphone that will pick up both sides of a conversation.
    The DS-50 is specifically designed for creating and listening to podcasts. It can record at CD quality (also known as a 44.1 kilohertz sampling rate) and connects to any PC with a USB cable. It can also play back MP3 and WMA files, allowing it to double as an audiobook reader and music player.
    The recorder's microphone can clip to a tie or lapel, allowing the recorder to remain unobtrusive. Its one gigabyte of memory can hold around 275 hours of audio at average quality. Voice prompts describe current settings and audibly confirm commands.
    The $249 DS-50 also has less expensive kin: the $150 DS-30 with 256 megabytes of memory, and the $200 DS-40 with 512 megabytes. All three will be available online and at retail stores this month.
    While almost anything can record audio these days, only the DS-50 can do it while nestled discreetly in a pocket.
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