By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The 2004 Consumer Electronics Show will serve as a showcase not just for products but for one of the major transformative rifts rending its way across the digital camera market: the emergence of low-cost competition from a host of brands relatively new to the photo market.
Despite entry-level pricing, many of the new cameras won't be the sparsely featured models traditionally associated with lower-cost offerings. Many of the models will feature optical zoom lenses, 3- and 4-megapixel resolution, and pre-set shooting modes, and will be positioned as value alternatives to the brand name, market leading stalwarts.
Another significant trend on display is the move by vendors to substitute internal memory for a bundled flash-memory card. This internal memory, like the low-capacity flash cards it replaces, is enough to get consumers up and shooting out of the box but not enough for substantial storage, leading them to aftermarket cards.
BenQ introduced two new models. The 3-megapixel SC30 features a 3x optical/4x digital zoom, 16MB of internal memory, SD-card compatibility, four flash modes, an optical viewfinder and a 1.5-inch LCD screen. The SC30 also sports five scene modes (portrait, landscape, night scene, sports, backlight) and five white-balance settings.
The SC30 ships in February for a suggested retail price of $349.
On the higher end, BenQ announced the 5-megapixel C50, featuring a 3x optical/4x digital zoom, a 1.5-inch TFT LCD screen, seven white balance settings, four flash modes, adjustable ISO modes, 60-second AVI movie capture at 320 by 240 resolution with sound and SD card compatibility.
The C50 will ship this month for a suggested retail price of $399.
Casio introduced the replacement for the QV-R40, the 5-megapixel R51. It offers a 3x optical zoom lens, 2-inch TFT LCD screen, metal casing, 10MB of internal memory, an SD card expansion slot, one-minute movie mode (without sound) and 21 best-shot modes. It will have a suggested retail price of $399 and ships with rechargeable batteries and a charger.
The R51 is PictBridge-compatible, allowing it to directly connect to any PictBridge-enabled printer via a USB cable for PC-free printing.
Concord Camera announced the Concord Eye-Q 4360z, its third-generation model. The 4-megapixel 4360z features a 3x optical/6x digital zoom lens, 16MB of internal memory and an SD expansion slot. An AVI video mode can capture up to eight minutes of video at 320 by 240 resolution video, while a continuous shooting mode snaps a total of seven images at three images per second.
The camera has a macro focus range of 10 centimeters, preset exposure modes for fireworks, night, party, beach and snow, sunset, and night portrait, auto and user selectable white balance, and five flash modes (auto, fill-in, slow sync, red-eye reduction and flash off).
The camera ships this month with rechargeable NiMH AA batteries and battery charger for a suggested retail price of $199.
Creative Labs has entered the pure digital still camera space for the first time (previously the company manufactured Web-cams). The company will introduce two new models under the Creative DC-CAM brand (for "digital creativity cameras"), the DC-CAM 3000Z and DC-CAM 3200Z. Both will ship this month.
Both models feature 3.1-megapixel resolution and a 3x optical zoom lens with auto focus. The 3000Z has 2x continuous digital zoom and will retail for a suggested $199.99.
The 3200Z offers a 4x continuous digital zoom and a compact brushed-metal camera housing. The 3200Z also sports a larger LCD, faster power-up and performance times, and a continuous shot mode of three frames per snap. It also offers MPEG-4 video recording with audio for a suggested retail price of $229.99.
Kodak took aim at the styleconscious with two new L-series models, the 4-megapixel EasyShare LS743 and the 5-megapixel EasyShare LS753. Both cameras feature aluminum bodies roughly the size of a mobile phone.
Both also include Kodak's new "camera favorites" feature that allows the user to designate favorite pictures that will always remain on the camera for later viewing or printing. They also incorporate Schneider-Kreuznach C-Variogon 3x optical zoom lenses and are compatible with the company's printer dock 6000 for printing borderless, waterproof, 4-by-6-inch photo prints, transferring pictures to a connected PC and recharging the camera's battery.
The LS743 camera will be available in March, and the LS753 camera in May. Pricing was unavailable at press time.
The LS743 camera boasts 16MB of internal memory. The LS753 offers 32MB of internal memory. The cameras also include scene and color modes, VGA resolution video capture and playback, sound themes, and an SD/MMC card expansion slot.
Nikon debuted the Coolpix 2200 and 3200, which ship in March as replacements for the 2100 and 3100. Both cameras feature a new, panorama assist mode, AF assist, are thinner and lighter than their predecessors, use SD memory rather than CompactFlash, and offer 14.5MB of internal memory in place of a bundled card. The models also feature a new blur detection setting which gives users the option of deleting blurred images before they are saved.
The 2200 features 2-megapixel resolution and a 3x optical zoom lens for a suggested retail price of $199.95. The 3-megapixel 3200 adds VGA video capture with sound to the length of the memory card at 30fps for a suggested retail price of $299.95. Both are powered by two alkaline batteries.
Phillips launched its first key-ring-size digital still camera/ camcorder for a suggested retail price of $249. Called the KEY019, it features 129MB of internal flash memory, 2-megapixel resolution, and the ability to take 30 minutes of full-motion MPEG-4 video at 30fps. It can plug directly into a USB port for file transfers.
Samsung showed two new cameras incorporating the new Memory Stick Duo memory-card format (a reduced sized version of the original Memory Stick).
The V50, which takes SD memory in addition to MS Duo, features 5-megapixel resolution and MPEG-4 video capture at 640-by-480 resolution at 30fps.
The V50 supports USB 2.0 connectivity and offers control Program AE, shutter Priority AE, aperture priority AE or manual AE exposure modes.
The 3.2-megapixel UCA-3 features a 3x optical/3x digital zoom, a 1.5-inch TFT LCD screen, program AE, manual exposure settings, five flash modes, six white-balance modes including a custom setting, 320 by 240 video at 24fps to the length of the memory card. Shooting modes include black and white, sunset, sepia and RGB.
World Wide Licenses, under the Polaroid brand, will introduce the 4-megapixel PDC4370, a compact camera featuring a 1.6-inch TFT LCD display, 32MB of internal memory, 3x optical/4x digital zoom lens and an SD card expansion slot. The PDC4370 ships this month for a suggested retail price of $399.99. A 5-megapixel model sharing the basic specifications, the PDC5370, will ship in May with a docking station for a suggested $499.99. A dockless version (PDC5350) will also ship in May for a suggested $449.99.
In the iON line of ultra-slim cameras, the company will debut the iON450, a 4-megapixel model with a 3x optical zoom lens for a suggested retail of $399.99. Shipping in March, the 450 comes bundled with a dock that can transfer photos, recharge the camera's batteries or serve as a USB hub with a total of three USB ports. The camera also features a 2-inch TFT LCD screen, 32MB of internal memory and an SD card expansion slot.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.