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Polaroid's PDC640M digital camera. Copyright (c) 2001, Michael R. Tomkins, all rights reserved. Polaroid announces PDC640 Modem Camera!
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, February 13, 2001 - 15:35 EST)

Polaroid announces its long-awaited digital camera with built-in modem at PMA 2001...

Polaroid has officially unveiled its PDC640M 'Modem Camera' at PMA, a unit which we first told you was on the company's drawing boards back in July of 2000... The PDC640M looks to feature the same internals as Polaroid's existing PDC640 model, but with the addition of a modem and in-camera software allowing for dial-up connectivity with which to transfer images to the website.

The camera, which is being demonstrated publicly on Polaroid's booth, captures images at resolutions of 640 x 480 with three compression levels. When you first purchase the camera, you program it with the details (username, password) of an account on - the details are then stored in the camera for future use. Multiple cameras can be used on one account (for example, you might have a group of company employees with their own cameras, all submitting to one group account which everybody can access), and the account details in a camera can be reprogrammed should the owner change.

When the time comes to transfer your images, you select which images you want to transfer and then initiate the call. The camera first dials a toll-free number, which recognizes what number you've dialled from and provides you with a list of local access numbers for your area. You are then given the list of numbers, and prompted for which to dial, before being given a screen to enter any prefix numbers you might need to dial an outside line. The call is completed as requested and immediately on connection, once the camera has transmitted its stored username / password, the images are transferred, along with a graphical indication on the LCD display of how far the camera is through the transfer process.

In the demonstration on the booth, Polaroid staff are (quite understandably) using high compression to ensure quick transfers, and hence transfer time was relatively quick, perhaps in the order of 30 seconds to a minute to transfer the single image we'd taken. Larger image files will obviously take longer, but since the built-in modem operates at the highest speed available over dial-up lines (56.6Kbps dependant on phone lines being sufficiently high-quality) and also since the camera is limited to files of up to only 640 x 480 pixels, transfer times should not be too much of an issue even at larger sizes.

The PDC640M uses Ceiva's dial-up network which according to Polaroid booth staff covers approximately 98% of the US with a local call... The dial-up service will require a monthly subscription which apparently has not been finalised yet, and should you require access from a location with no local number there apparently will be an option to subscribe with a further service which will give 800-number access to transfer images from any location in the US, again at an as-yet undecided fee.

The Polaroid PDC640M will ship in April 2001, and will be added to our digital camera database on our return from the show. In the meantime, following are several photos of the camera:

Polaroid PDC640M
Polaroid's PDC640M digital camera. Copyright (c) 2001, Michael R. Tomkins, all rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Polaroid's PDC640M digital camera. Copyright (c) 2001, Michael R. Tomkins, all rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Polaroid's PDC640M digital camera shown with retail packaging behind it. Copyright (c) 2001, Michael R. Tomkins, all rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!
Polaroid's PDC640M digital camera in action - note transfer status on the LCD display. Copyright (c) 2001, Michael R. Tomkins, all rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!

Original Source Press Release:

Polaroid Introduces PDC 640 Modem Camera for Instant Internet Photo Sharing without a PC

-- Product Offers Innovative Solution for Mobile Image Transfer --

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Polaroid Corporation (NYSE: PRD - news) today introduced an exciting new image capture and sharing device enabling instant transfer of photos to the Internet without a PC. Ideal for travelling business professionals or consumers on the go, the Polaroid PhotoMAX PDC 640 Modem Camera is a full-featured 640 x 480 resolution digital camera with a built-in 56.6K modem. At the single press of a button, this innovative new camera provides computer-free, mobile uploading and sharing of digital images via the Web from any U.S. phone line.

Scheduled for retail availability in April, the PDC 640 Modem Camera is part of a new generation of integrated, mobile digital imaging and printing solutions from Polaroid. The PDC 640 Modem Camera has all of the features of a traditional VGA digital camera and, when connected to a standard phone jack, offers the added capability of instant image sharing by uploading images to the Web site. From there, images can be manipulated, emailed, sent to the Polaroid Digital Picture Frame (a PC-free way to display digital images), or even downloaded to an online auction site. From the camera's CompactFlash card, photos can also be instantly printed on archive- quality Polaroid instant film from the Polaroid P-500 Portable Digital Photo Printer. Together, these products deliver on Polaroid's vision to provide truly mobile solutions for the capture, sharing and output of images.

``In addition to being a full-featured digital camera, the Modem Camera allows for immediate image sharing via the Internet,'' said Terry Carlson, divisional vice president of marketing, Polaroid Corporation. ``We see the product as ideal for mobile business users, such as insurance appraisers and adjusters, who need to transfer images immediately from the field to their home office. The Modem Camera is also valuable for general consumers, such as vacationing families who can upload, store and share their travel photos on the Web, while also freeing up memory cards for more picture taking.''

The PDC 640 Modem Camera holds a CompactFlash card and captures images just like a traditional VGA resolution camera. To utilize the modem feature, the camera must be registered at the Web site to activate service and access to CeivaNet. The service allows for an unlimited number of image uploads at an annual subscription of less than five dollars per month. To upload photos to the Web, users simply plug the PDC 640 Modem Camera into any U.S. phone jack and press the ``INET'' button. At 640 x 480 resolution, upload time is less than one minute per picture.

The PDC 640 Modem Camera offers multiple image resolution modes, 56.6K built-in modem and 2 MB of internal memory. The camera also features a 1.8- inch LCD monitor, an optical viewfinder, CompactFlash card slot, three flash modes and self-timer. The camera comes complete with PhotoMAX Image Maker Software, 4 AA batteries, serial and USB cables for PC connection, phone cable and carrying pouch.

Pricing and Distribution

Suggested U.S. retail price for the Polaroid PDC 640 Modem Camera is $249.99. The Modem Camera will be available at selected major retailers, including discount stores, mass market retailers, computer and traditional photographic stores nationwide.

About Polaroid

Polaroid Corporation, with annual sales of approximately $2 billion, is the worldwide leader in instant imaging. Polaroid supplies instant photographic cameras and films; digital imaging hardware, software and media; secure identification systems; and sunglasses to markets worldwide.

``Polaroid'', ``Polaroid PhotoMAX'', and ``PDC'' are trademarks of Polaroid Corporation, Cambridge, MA 02139. Other product names may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Statements in this release may be forward-looking. Actual events will be dependent upon factors and risks including, but not limited to, the Company's ability to: market its core imaging products; penetrate new demographic markets; develop and implement its digital imaging strategy; manage or reduce its debt; manage the impact of foreign exchange and the effects of retail buying patterns; as well as the Company's ability to manage uncertainties and risk factors, including those described from time to time in the Company's filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission, specifically, the Company's 1999 Form 10K and its most recent Form 10Qs.

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