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Digital dreams


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 19, 2001

Pixel power
Digital camera sales soared last year. And cameramakers hope to increase sales by making it easier to get images from a camera into a computer or printed out.
Cameras do more than take photos. These days they record audio and video, play music and even connect directly to the Internet. Here are some of the gadgets that caught our eye at the recent Photo Marketing Association International trade show:

Get small: A smaller camera adds to convenience, but it also has a "neat!" factor. JVC made its microPocket DV video camera small enough to fit into a pocket. Yet it can take still photos, add sound effects and prepare video clips for e-mail. It's expected to be available in April at $1,699.

Connect: Photos are big online so a couple of cameras skip the computer and go directly to the Web or e-mail. Ricoh calls its RDC-i700 an image-capturing device. That means, among other things, that it takes pictures, then allows the user to edit them on a touch screen and send them to the Web wirelessly (you also can Web-surf on it). A demonstration brought a number of "cool" comments. But its $1,500 price when it comes out this spring and its limited practicality as a business tool tempered second thoughts.

Polaroid, which has a rising share of the digital camera market based on popular, lower-price models, showed off its PhotoMax PDC 640 Modem Camera with a built-in 56k modem. It is expected on the market in April with a $249.99 price.

Software: Users who are more than beginners but not quite pros soon will get a new option in photo-editing software, which is used to adjust and manipulate photos before storing them or moving them to the Web. Adobe showed off Photoshop Elements, a $99 package expected this spring. It has more flexibility than the lower-end PhotoDeluxe, but it's less technical than the high-end Photoshop. And MGI Software released PhotoSuite Mobile, a $24.95 package that enables people to edit photos on handheld organizers that use the Palm operating system.

Mobile printer: SiPix Inc. displayed its new Pocket Printer A6 that works with Palm organizers and Windows laptops. The $149 device, about the size of a hand, uses infrared beams to connect. It is expected in office supply stores in March.

Dream machines: Most of us won't spend thousands for a camera, but we can dream. Nikon's D1x ($5,500) offers super resolution at 5.4 megapixels, while the D1h ($4,500) can snap off five shots a second.

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