By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Kodak unveiled the next generation in its strong-selling EasyShare line of digital cameras and docking stations at a press conference, here. The new EasyShare system includes a new camera, dock and software.
Kodak president and CEO Daniel Carp claimed that the first-generation EasyShare cameras aimed to overcome the confusion surrounding moving images from camera to computer. The camera dock was positioned as a means to avoid removing memory cards and constantly plugging in USB cables.
The new system, Carp asserted, seeks to build on this movement to spur image sharing and printing (principally at home or at Kodak retail partner locations, or at Kodak's Web site).
"The next step in driving digital photography into the mainstream is overcoming the roadblock of printing," Carp said.
To that end, the new system has been oriented to streamline the printing and e-mailing process.
The camera, the 2-megapixel CX4230 Zoom, is the company's first digital camera with a "share" button, which allows users to tag pictures for printing, e-mailing or as favorites on the camera's LCD screen. The CX4230 will ship in June with a suggested retail price of $249.95.
The on-camera "share" button serves to spur customers to print; they can indicate the number of prints desired on the camera's LCD screen when they shoot. When the camera is docked and pictures transferred, the Kodak EasyShare software automatically opens the print screen for printing at home or online. The software can also link to Kodak retail partner Web sites and direct consumer photos to store locations for printing.
Similarly, an e-mail tag lets users designate photos for e-mailing on the camera. It stores up to 32 e-mail addresses. When the images hit the computer, they are brought up in an e-mail screen in which text can be added and the images can be sent to the intended recipients. The program features a built-in address book, file size selection, and multi-recipient capability.
The CX4230 offers a new all-glass Kodak Retinar lens, 3x optical zoom and built-in Kodak color science (a new set of patented imaging algorithms, to deliver improved image quality). This technology includes advanced white balance and exposure processing that ensures pictures taken in difficult conditions don't come out poorly.
In addition, the camera features 16MB of internal memory with a MultiMediaCard/Secure Digital expansion slot.
Kodak will also ship a new dock, called the EasyShare Camera Dock II. It will be sold separately for a suggested retail price of $79.95, and it allows consumers to upload their digital pictures at the touch of a button and recharge the camera's battery in less than 2 ½ hours. The dock includes separate LED indicator lights for picture transfer and battery charging status.
The new dock is compatible with all CX and DX series of EasyShare cameras.
When the camera is dropped into the dock, the new Kodak EasyShare software is launched automatically to allow users to print, share, edit and organize their pictures. Image file transfer occurs automatically when the camera is connected to the dock.
According to Willy Shih, president, Digital & Applied Imaging, the new software was designed to overcome persistent consumer frustration with digital print quality.
The software's "One Touch to Better Pictures" feature calibrates the image to the user's home printer driver settings to ensure the best photo print. With the software's print preview feature, users can see how prints will look on the inkjet paper. In addition, there are print layout options for preferred picture size and number of prints.
According to Kodak, the software is compatible with about 70 printer models, or 85 percent of the consumer photo printer install base.
The EasyShare software includes a host of editing features, such as one-click red-eye removal, to enhance the pictures that have already been taken. Users can access these editing options anywhere in the program, so that even if they are in the process of e-mailing pictures or printing them, they can quickly improve edit images and return automatically to the activity they were performing.
A "My Collection" viewing feature lets consumers view all the pictures on their computer. Users can sort images by date, favorites, labels and last acquired. With the use of customizable labels, users can organize their pictures any way they want, such as by event, people or vacations. There are numerous viewing options, including thumbnail, full-screen and slide show.
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