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CVS' one-time use digital video camcorder. Courtesy of CVS, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. CVS offers "disposable" camcorder
(Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 11:43 EDT)

Pharmacy / retailer CVS Corp. has distributed a press release announcing a new
"one-time use" product that follows in the footsteps of its existing one-time use digital camera.

As with that product, the new one-time use digital video camcorder is based on San Francisco company Pure Digital Technologies Inc.'s platform, and is essentially rented by the consumer at a cost of $29.99. It has actually been shipping for a few weeks or months already, although this is the first actual announcement we've seen. The five ounce device can capture up to 20 minutes of video with sound, and allows the captured video to be previewed or reviewed on a 1.4" color display. The consumer can then choose to delete the most recent clip captured, or to capture a new clip (at which point the older clips cannot be deleted without also deleting the most recent one).

When the 20 minutes of space is gone (or presumably, when the batteries run out - we believe they're not designed to be replaced by the end-user), the camcorder must be returned to CVS for "processing", which essentially entails offloading the images through a proprietary connection, and writing them to a DVD for the customer, at a further cost of $12.99. CVS then refurbishes the device for another customer (replacing the batteries, clearing the memory, placing it in new packaging, etc.)

We don't currently have much in the way of specifications for the CVS one-time use camcorder. From what we've seen on sites where end-users have dismantled the device, it is based on a 1/5" CMOS sensor, Fujitsu Millennia-3MM LSI image processor, 256MB flash storage, and power from two AA batteries (said to be an Energizer Lithium type). Resolution and other specifics aren't known.

CVS' one-time use digital video camcorder. Courtesy of CVS, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

The business model revolves around the fact that the device will be used by multiple customers, allowing CVS to write off the cost of the hardware over a number of purchases - at least, if the camcorder is returned to the store for processing. However, as with the original one-time use digicams from CVS and a number of other retailers, a number of enterprising consumers already seem to be working on bypassing the need to return the device for processing. Websites quickly detailed the interface for the digicam variants, and already we've found at least one website describing attempts to access the camcorder variant with modified cables and USB drivers.

The image processor in question was listed at ¥5,000 (approx. US$47) when it was announced early last year, and while the price has likely fallen significantly in that time, by the time you factor in the cost of the flash memory, LCD display, image sensor, etc., it seems likely that CVS' business model relies on each camera being returned at least once to be able to make a profit. When the digital camera variant was hacked, we're sure it was troubling to Pure Digital and its various customers, but given the requirements of a still camera, it was likely cheaper than the camcorder - and hence reduced the potential loss for cameras that were never returned. Should the camcorder model likewise be hacked, we have a feeling it will be rather more troubling to the companies involved...

CVS' one-time use digital video camcorder. Courtesy of CVS, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Original Source Press Release:

Breakthrough in Home Video: CVS/pharmacy Introduces World's First Digital One-Time-Use Video Camcorder

Partnership With Pure Digital Technologies Makes it Easy for Anyone to Create and Share DVD Home Movies

WOONSOCKET, R.I., June 6, 2005 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The digital imaging revolution took another leap forward today with the introduction of the CVS One-Time-Use Video Camcorder -- the world's first single-use point-and-shoot digital video camera. CVS/pharmacy, the retail leader in digital photo and image processing, is exclusively offering the world's first compact, affordable, one-time-use solution for creating and sharing high quality home movies on DVD. For under $30, consumers can now enjoy a DVD home video experience that compares to pricey DVD camcorders, which cost upwards of a thousand dollars.

Built on the Pure Digital(R) Imaging platform, the revolutionary new CVS camcorder is the perfect easy-to-carry choice for capturing memories of weddings, vacation getaways, beach trips, or any time that family and friends get together. Just grab it and go -- and leave that expensive and cumbersome traditional camcorder at home. Using just three simple buttons, consumers can capture up to 20 minutes of digital quality video and sound, in as many separate segments or clips as they wish. The video camcorder's 1.4-inch color playback screen lets consumers instantly enjoy their home videos and even delete unwanted segments with the press of a button. Once finished shooting, consumers simply return the video camera to their local CVS/pharmacy store and get a DVD to view and share the very same day.

The DVD from CVS/pharmacy makes watching, sharing and saving home movies easier than ever before. For the first time, consumers get custom home movies with all the benefits of a professional, fully edited DVD. Features people would expect to find on a major motion picture DVD -- like a main menu and individual, titled scenes -- make it easy to find and view each home movie segment they've shot. In addition, the CVS DVD features an advanced e-mail computer application with Pure Digital's SmartShare(TM) technology that makes sharing videos with family and friends just as easy as sharing photos online. The program runs directly from the DVD, eliminating the need to install software. Now, even novice computer users can easily share home videos, video greeting cards and custom movies with friends and family.

"Making home videos easy and affordable for our customers is what the CVS One-Time-Use Video Camcorder is all about," said Chris Bodine, Executive Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing at CVS/pharmacy. "For the first time, consumers can have a rich, worry-free home moviemaking experience with an affordable single-use camcorder that easily fits in their pocket or purse. With the finished DVD they get back from the CVS/pharmacy photo lab, they have a convenient way to view and archive their precious memories that also lets them share those memories just as easily as they share digital photos."

"The introduction of the disposable film camera significantly grew the photography industry by making photography accessible and affordable to anyone," said Mike Wolf, Director of Digital Photography Trends at InfoTrends/CAP Ventures. "One-time-use camera category has grown to be 218 million units annually and we expect it to account for 38% of total film volume in the U.S. in 2005. A simple and affordable one-time-use digital camcorder could spur growth in the digital video market in a similar way."

"We believe that capturing and sharing high-quality, digital home movies should be a fun and easy experience," said Jonathan Kaplan, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Pure Digital Technologies, Inc. "Our partnership with CVS/pharmacy delivers a complete digital home video solution that is affordable and simple enough for even novice users."

Video Camcorder Features and Benefits

  • Simple-to-use, pocket-sized camcorder weighs under 5 ounces
  • Holds 20 saved minutes of digital quality video and sound
  • 1.4 inch color playback screen
  • Ability to playback and delete videos
  • Return to any CVS/pharmacy 1-hour photo lab for DVD

DVD Features and Benefits

  • Simple viewing on DVD players or computers with DVD drive
  • Convenient archiving and storage
  • Email video and video greeting cards as easily as digital photos with SmartShare(TM) computer application
  • No email system or software installation required

Through its partnership with Pure Digital, CVS/pharmacy is the first to bring digital one-time-use video cameras to consumers. Exclusively available now in over 1,400 CVS/pharmacy locations nationally, the cameras will be available in over 4,500 stores by June 26th. The CVS Digital One-Time-Use Video Camcorder retails for only $29.99. Video camera processing is $12.99 and includes a CVS DVD built with technology for easy viewing, sharing and archiving of home videos.

About CVS Corporation
CVS (NYSE: CVS) is America's largest retail pharmacy, operating more than 5,400 retail and specialty pharmacy stores in 36 states and the District of Columbia. With more than 40 years of dynamic growth in the retail pharmacy industry, CVS is committed to being the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use. CVS has created innovative approaches to serve the healthcare needs of all customers through its CVS/pharmacy stores; its online pharmacy, CVS.com; and its pharmacy benefit management, mail order and specialty pharmacy subsidiary, PharmaCare. General information about CVS is available through the Investor Relations portion of the Company's website, at http://investor.CVS.com , as well as through the pressroom portion of the Company's website, at www.cvs.com/pressroom.

About Pure Digital Technologies, Inc.
Pure Digital Technologies develops imaging technology that powers simple and affordable digital photography solutions for the mass market. The Pure Digital(R) Imaging Platform -- a network of proprietary, retail-based servers with sophisticated image and video processing capabilities -- enables a host of high-growth imaging solutions, including the world's only digital single-use cameras and video camcorders. Cameras built on the Pure Digital(R) Imaging Platform deliver a new level of affordability, quality, and simplicity to mass market consumers. The Pure Digital(R) Imaging Platform is currently being implemented at many of the world's leading retail and photo-taking destinations.

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