New Products: Panasonic's PalmCam: Shoot 'Em Up

SAN FRANCISCO (03/06/2000) - Want a digital camera that won't run out of room before you run out of inspiration? The built-in LS-120 drive on Panasonic Corp.'s PalmCam PV-SD4090 ($840 street) lets you capture photos on roomy, 120MB SuperDisks (or on 1.44MB floppies).

That bulky SuperDisk drive makes the PalmCam about the size and shape of a Hi8 camcorder. But it's surprisingly easy to handle. A bright, high-res, 2.5-inch LCD screen doubles as viewfinder and on-screen Controls display. The oversize, rechargeable lithium ion battery lasts for 175 to 200 shots (assuming you use the built-in flash about half the time).

The PalmCam features a 3X optical zoom lens and time-lapse capability. You can manually adjust brightness and white-balance.

The 1.3-megapixel CCD element yields a maximum resolution of 1280 by 960 pixels. Overall image quality is very good. And you can capture as many as 1500 images at the highest of three compression settings and the lowest of three resolutions. Alternatively, a SuperDisk can store 90 single 10-seCond, 320-by-240-pixel multimedia clips (although the camera captures this video at a jerky 10 frames per seCond). It has a speaker, and a built-in microphone allows you to record up to 5 seConds of audio.

At $10 apiece, the 120MB SuperDisks are much cheaper than the $200, 80MB CompactFlash media used in most digital cameras. And if your PC doesn't have an LS-120 drive (but does have USB), you can download images using an included USB cable.

You can find cheaper cameras that match the PalmCam's image quality and feature set. But for roomy, inexpensive storage, this is the way to go.

--Daniel Grotta

PalmCam PV-SD4090

Pro: Inexpensive, 120MB SuperDisk media can store hundreds of photo images.

Con: Bulky, not cheap for a 1.3-megapixel digital camera.

Value: Worthwhile if you want to shoot a large number of images without changing media.

Street price: $840



Product info no. 642.

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