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Barbie Photo Designer Digital Camera and CD-ROM

Company: Mattel Inc.


© St. Petersburg Times, published December 14, 1998

In search of the perfect gift for your Barbie-loving daughter, you've arrived at the computer game aisle where the doll rules all. But the titles are blending into one big Barbie blur. You go blank, start to sweat. Do you get Fashion Designer or Storymaker? Hair Styler or Nail Designer? Detective Barbie or Riding Club?

Here is a tip: Let the other software sit and take a shot with Barbie Photo Designer Digital Camera.

Not many parents would shell out a couple of hundred bucks or more for a new digital camera, then hand it to their preteen and tell her to take it out in the back yard and have a blast. But with Photo Designer, the cost is roughly $70 and it is kid-friendly. The photo quality is not on par with digital cameras for adults, and Photo Designer is a little pricier than the other Barbie stuff. But hey, it is a color digital camera, and ease of use and potential for fun rank high.

Mattel has packaged the camera with an impressive array of CD-ROM options, which allow instant downloading of snapshots, along with ways to create a variety of special effects. The camera, which runs on a 9-volt battery, can operate as an independent unit and store up to six shots. Or when hooked to your computer by a cable, it can take 20 shots. Downloading works by simply attaching the cable, clicking the flower icon and -- bingo -- watching the shots pop into the mini picture windows on screen.

Once downloaded, shots can be added to a scrapbook, colorized and decorated. One of the coolest features is the digital flipbook, which allows children to create a 36-frame motion picture (from shots already stored in the clipboard, or by setting the camera to automatically take a series of 36 shots seconds apart).

Another nice touch is that photo subjects can be blended into a selection of different Barbie world scenes. The process actually gives kids an early lesson in the techniques of photo manipulation, allowing them to eliminate backgrounds, do cutouts, erase rough edges or "paint" back pixels accidentally deleted from the photo.

All in all, Photo Designer packs a lot, and is a real standout on the shelf of Barbie merchandise.

Company: Mattel Inc.

Suggested Price: $69

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