Comdex Fall 2001 Show
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The DigitalFocus / MobileFocus report
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 02:40 EST)

Comdex Fall 2001 kicks off with a press-only preshow event Sunday evening, with some pretty interesting products on display...

The DigitalFocus / MobileFocus logo, carved as an ice sculpture. Copyright © 2001, Michael R. Tomkins. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!

As usual before Comdex Fall 2001 officially kicked off today, Pepcom hosted their DigitalFocus / MobileFocus press event last night. This year's event had a 'movie theme', and there were a good selection of camera, peripheral and software manufacturers were present...

Perhaps the most impressive display of the evening came from Ricoh, who were not only showing their Caplio RR1 digital camera (which we just recently reviewed), but also their iMove system which allows the RDC-i700 digital camera to be used in a weatherproof housing and transmit video / images wirelessly over the Internet. This was being demonstrated with live streaming video, and you can find our separate coverage of the announcement in another news item.

The DigitalFocus / MobileFocus press event. Copyright © 2001, Michael R. Tomkins. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!

Another interesting table at the show was that of Electric Fuel, who were showing their range of zinc-air battery packs (termed as 'fuel cells' by the company'). Two sizes of packs were available, one aimed at PDAs and cell phones, whilst the other significantly larger pack was designed for digital camcorders and digital cameras. A separate article from Dave sums up his thoughts on the technology, which seemed somewhat expensive for what was on offer to us - but may be a way to recharge your camera when out in the field, if you're willing to swallow that cost.

One common theme seemed to be finding ways to use your digital images, with numerous tables at DigitalFocus demonstrating slideshow programs of one sort or another. Virginia-based SimVentions had their newly released PhotoVisor software, which costs $29.99 and creates Windows-only 'PhotoVisor Albums' consisting of images, sound and music viewable with a freely downloadable player program. 'Totally Hip Software', a Canadian company, had a solution based on Apple's QuickTime and using some of its more obscure functionality to offer slideshows with a twist. The company's LiveSlideShow 2.0 not only allowed images, sounds and transitions (with support for many popular image and sound formats), but also some more unusual features such as the ability to add buttons to control the slideshow, clickable hyperlinks, and even the ability to choose from a variety of unusual 'shapes' for the boundary of the video window, rather than the standard rectangular box. The company's software has apparently been used by the Australian government to create a slideshow of information on that country's constitution, and looked to be a fairly capable way for Mac and Windows users to create slideshows that can be viewed on either platform...

Another program on display, Dream House Software's pocketphoto, adds another choice to the range of photo viewing applications for the Palm OS platform. The program allows up to 100 images to be synchronized from the desktop PC and converted for viewing from a variety of image formats. The company also had AnyWhereMobile, a program which allows a variety of Internet-connected devices such as PDAs, cell phones, and digital cameras which feature built-in web-browsers to connect to your home PC, receiving customised web pages that let you transfer files to/from the PC. The example we were shown would allow you to upload images from your digital camera to your home PC - at least if the camera was capable of connecting to the Internet and browsing the web (not something many cameras can do!)

ArcSoft also had a PDA image viewer on display, PhotoBase. Recently announced for Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system, the company had a new (functionally similar) version for the Palm OS announced at the event. Users can browse images, view slideshows, zoom and pan, and even perform basic editing functions or write notes on images. The program will be available from ArcSoft's website at a cost of $29.99.

Whilst there were no 'new' digital cameras on display at DigitalFocus, there were several recently announced models which we saw in person for the first time. Toshiba had the just-announced PDR-M25 was present, and whilst we already detailed the specs at launch, we have two new photos of the camera front and back to show you (below).

Toshiba's PDR-M25 digital camera. Copyright © 2001, Michael R. Tomkins. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!


Toshiba's PDR-M25 digital camera. Copyright © 2001, Michael R. Tomkins. All rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!

Finally, Logitech had two recently announced digital cameras on show... We completely blanked and forgot to get photos of the cameras, although we do have one we copied from the press kit (below) which gives an idea of what they look like. The ClickSmart 310 and 510 are USB webcam / still camera combo units, both featuring self-timer, lens-cap and power from 4 AAA batteries. The lower-spec 310 has a CIF (352 x 288) pixel sensor offering images up to an interpolated 640 x 480 pixels, and built-in memory to store up to 160 photos or 15 seconds of video, at a cost of $79.95. The higher-spec 510 model features a VGA (640 x 480) sensor with a maximum interpolated resolution of 1.3 megapixels, along with a built-in microphone, flash, SmartMedia slot (8MB bundled), and a pricetag of $149.95. Both cameras will ship in the US, Canada and Europe this month.

Logitech's ClickSmart 310 and 510 digital cameras. Courtesy of Logitech, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins.

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