Is it a Webcam? A Digital Camera? It's Both!

SAN FRANCISCO (04/14/2000) - Agfa is hoping to crank up the cool factor on Webcams and digital cameras by combining both functions in one device.

Agfa's palm-sized EPhoto CL18 is a portable point-and-shoot camera with 2MB of internal memory for storing up to 32 JPEG images at 640-by-480-pixel resolution. Slip the camera into its video cradle, connect a USB cable to the camera as well as to your monitor, and the EPhoto becomes a Webcam for live videoconferencing and online chats.

In video mode the device projects 15 frames per second (about half the speed of standard full-motion video). You can play back images or video on a TV via the camera's NTSC and PAL video-out capabilities. The camera also includes a serial-port interface.

With a suggested retail price of US$149, the EPhoto CL18 offers "a lot of bang for the buck," according to Agfa spokesperson Ben Abbatiello. Good-quality, entry-level Webcams typically start at $80, while low-end digital cameras capable of 640 by 480 resolution begin around $90. The EPhoto offers a flash with four modes (including red-eye reduction) and an optical viewfinder for framing images, but no LCD panel.

The combo device, available in May, includes Agfa's image-enhancing PhotoGenie technology, designed to reduce pixelation and other imperfections. The camera will ship with Corel Print Office 2000, Corel Photo House 5, ArcSoft VideoImpression (for captured video editing) and Microsoft NetMeeting (for Web conferencing).

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