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Flagship DigiCams From Argus, Toshiba

As the holiday selling season begins, Argus and Toshiba put their best foot forward, introducing the flagship digital cameras in their respective lines.

Argus introduced two new cameras to the market, including its highest price offering to date. Both models ship this month. The DC-1540 3-in-1 digital camera can be used as a digital camera, a PC cam or a video camera and then be folded up to fit in a pocket or purse. It sports 2MB of internal memory and USB connectivity.

The DC-1540 uses two AAA batteries for up to 80 pictures with a resolution of 352 by 288 pixels while untethered from the computer. It also features a 10-second self timer, the ability to power off after being idle for 30 seconds and a frame rate of 25 frames per second for transmitting video images. It comes bundled with a software package from ArcSoft and carries a suggested retail price of $49.99.

The second intro, the DC-3550, is the first Argus camera at the $249.99 price point and also the first Argus model with a 3x optical/2x digital zoom. It features a built-in auto flash, 8MB of internal memory with a compact flash memory slot, and a 1.8-inch color LCD screen. In addition, the camera sports a 1:1 optical viewfinder and auto exposure.

Toshiba has come to market with the flagship of its touch-screen LCD equipped digital camera lineup, the 3.2-megapixel PDR-T30. The camera is shipping now with a suggested retail price of $449.

The T30 is the third generation of Toshiba digital cameras to sport a PDA-like touch screen, which uses self-explanatory icons located on the 1.5-inch color LCD to assist the photographer in navigating controls such as white balance, shutter speed, digital zoom and scene select modes. The user taps on the icons with a stylus to move through the camera’s menus — what Toshiba is calling its “tap and shoot” concept.

The camera sports a new feature: a built-in paint program accessible on the LCD that gives users the ability to draw on the photographs they take with the stylus. Users can also make detailed notes on the image, a feature Toshiba is aiming at business users (real estate agents, insurance adjusters, etc.). Color choice and pen thickness are user selectable.

The T30 has a 2x optical zoom all-glass lens with macro capability. Shutter speed ranges from 1/1,000 second to 4 seconds (landscape mode).

The camera’s pop-up flash, which is effective to a distance of 10 feet, offers four modes: automatic, red-eye reduction, forced flash, and suppressed flash. The T30 also offers five programmed exposure modes: sports, auto, portrait, night and landscape. The camera has automatic white balance or four manual settings including daylight, cloudy, incandescent and fluorescent II and I.

It ships with a 16MB SD memory card, a stylus and uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery that can take up to 120 shots with the LCD on.