Panasonic Takes On Sony's Mavica

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Panasonic will launch a challenge to Sony's Mavica digital camera line next month when it begins shipping the SuperDisk-ready PalmCam digital camera.

The PalmCam PV-SD4090 is the first digital camera to incorporate a 120MB SuperDisk. A SuperDisk holds about 80 times the amount of data as the Mavica's floppy. This enables it to store 1,500 JPEG images at 640 x 480 resolution or 450 images in "super fine" 1,280 x 960 resolution. The PalmCam, estimated street price $899, also acts as an external disk drive that can be directly connected to a PC via a USB cable. This is a key feature, said Andrew Nelkin, Panasonic's general manager of Consumer Video, because it eliminates the consumer's need to have a SuperDisk drive at home. SuperDisk drives are also backward compatible with the ubiquitous 1.44MB floppy. This allows the end user to substitute the smaller disk if a SuperDisk is not available or needed, Nelkin said.

The 1.3-megapixel PalmCam has a 2.5-inch LCD and has several moving image modes. Motion image recording with audio captures 10 seconds of video at 320x240 resolution or up to 100 consecutive images 0.1 seconds apart. Burst record captures 16 images at 640x480 resolution. There is also a time-lapse setting.

The camera uses a lithium-ion camcorder battery that can supply two hours of power. The entire unit weighs about 1.5 pounds.

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