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Hybrid camera for novices unveiled

PC World

By Frank Thorsberg

(IDG) -- Focusing on the first-time digital camera user, Creative Technology is introducing a $149 point-and-shoot model that doubles as a Webcam.

The PC-CAM 300 comes with 8MB of built-in memory and a strobe flash. It runs on four AAA batteries. The compact camera can store up to 255 still pictures and record up to 75 seconds of video. Want to include photo descriptions along with your pictures? This device lets you record up to 34 minutes of audio, too.

"Users will be pleased with this organic new look, and how comfortably it fits into your hand," says Hock Leow, chief technology officer for Creative Technology, which is best known for its SoundBlaster PC audio cards.

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Consumers can order the humpback-shaped camera directly from Creative Technology. The new model is already on sale in Asia and the company says U.S. retailers should have it in stock by mid-September.

Shake it, don't break it

"This is one you can trust with the kids," says Phil O'Shaughnessy, Creative Technology's public relations manager. "You're not going to worry about a kid taking a $600 dollar camera and dropping it. These are tough and durable."

The camera will compete with portable Webcam/digital cam models from other manufacturers. It has high resolution (1024-by-768 pixel), regular resolution (640-by-480 pixel) and low resolution (320-by-240 pixel) picture settings. The camera's advanced CCD sensor promises brighter, clearer images and videos with realistic skin tones and rich colors.

"It's a hybrid camera because it works as a Web camera and low-end digital camera," O'Shaughnessy says. "This is in a different space than the one-megapixel and above digital cameras and from tethered Webcams. This would compare to Intel or Logitech cameras you would see out there."

Minimum requirements for using the PC-CAM 300 with a personal computer include Microsoft 98 or a later version of the OS, a 266MHz CPU, 32MB of memory, a CD-ROM drive, and a USB connection. The camera comes with bundled software for videoconferencing, Web publishing, and photo editing, plus a special program that can transform single images into 360-degree panoramic shots.





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