CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW: CNET editors cover the Next Big Thing
More 7-megapixel cameras and solid-state camcorders
By Lori Grunin
(December 15, 2004)
Since it falls between the holidays and the big PMA (Photo Marketing Association) trade show in February, CES isn't as big a show for digital photography and video. Still there should be plenty to see and, after gazing into our crystal ball, here's what we expect at CES this year.
Seven is the new six
There's bound to be a smattering of new and recently announced 7-megapixel cameras, such as the Casio Exilim EX-P700, as well as the usual variety of smaller/faster/better 5- and 6-megapixel models. We also hope to see--and play with--some of the digital SLRs announced over the past couple of months, such as the Olympus E-Volt and the Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D.
With all those images piling up, digital photo storage and archiving has suddenly become a big growth area, and we wouldn't be surprised to run into a plethora of devices--both standalone and integrated into other products--that allow you to transfer images directly from a camera or media card to a CD or DVD. Watch for Alera's Digital Photo Copy Cruiser Plus and CD Digital Photo Copy Station, Pacific Image Electronics' PrimeFoto, and the Procare ePhoto.
Storage is also a hot topic for digital video. We expect to hear a bit about Blu-ray optical discs and camcorders. In October, the Blu-ray Disc Association announced an 8cm version of the disc that can hold 15GB per layer; that should be able to store almost 3.5 hours of highest-quality video per side, compared to the current 20 minutes.
Another form of MPEG-based recording should also have a large presence at the show: solid-state camcorders that use flash memory to record MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 video. Aiptek's PocketDV 5300 is one newcomer. Solid-state cameras aren't new, but a variety of factors have kept them from hitting the big time, especially steep memory prices. But with 1GB capacities now selling for less than $100 and 4GB chips in production this year, storage prices are becoming moot.
Budget camcorders are a CES staple, and we expect to see several new designs. Hopefully, they'll have higher resolutions, and the current crop of 690,000-pixel models will drop down the line. Sony's current rebates on its DCR-DVD101 and DVD201 DVD-recordable camcorders signal an imminent update to that line, and Panasonic will likely be refreshing its DVD-RAM models as well. HD is still a bit of a wild card in consumer camcorders--is this the year for true 16:9 support to become a standard feature in camcorders with high-resolution sensors? We certainly hope so.
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