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Digital cameras cheaper, sharper

Toshiba introduces two new digital cameras, reinforcing how quickly prices are dropping even as picture quality improves.

Toshiba introduced two new digital cameras, offering high-resolution digital imaging at aggressive pricing.

Today's announcement reinforces how quickly digital

The PDR-M1 and PDR-5
Toshiba's PDR-M1 and PDR-5
camera prices are dropping even as picture quality and resolution gets better. At the moment, only Kodak markets a camera with better resolution than Toshiba's new 1.5-million pixel PDR-M1, but standards are moving quickly.

"Megapixel" cameras, those with 1-million-pixel resolution or more, from competitors Olympus, Ricoh, and Nikon garnered attention for breaking the $1,000 mark when released, even though many analysts said the price was still too high to grab the attention of the mass market. Now they hover in the $799 to $899 range while their resolution continues to improve.

Traditional photographs usually have a picture resolution of around 2 million pixels, according to analysts.

Toshiba's PDR-M1 model will retail for $699, the company said. The high-end camera features a 2X zoom, a 1.8-inch LCD display, and an optional floppy disk drive adapter for faster image downloading. It can store 5 images per 4MB SmartMedia memory card in high-compression mode, and up to 22 images per memory card in its basic mode. The camera will ship on August 1.

The PDR-5, Toshiba's new entry-level model, is a VGA camera that records images in 659 by 494 pixels and then compresses them to 640 by 480, so that the image quality is clearer than other digital cameras of the same resolution, according to the company.

The PDR-5 also features a 2-inch LCD display and two lens modes: normal and macro. In normal mode, images farther than 20 inches away can be sharply captured. In macro, images as close as 4 inches away can be captured, Toshiba said.

Toshiba's PDR-5 will have an estimated retail price of $399 and will be available July 1 in consumer electronics retailers.