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Pact speeds printing of digital pics

A new service lets users connect digital cameras directly to the Net through a Windows CE-based application and order prints.

    Photo Access and FotoWire have joined forces to allow consumers to order prints directly from digital cameras using the Internet and the Microsoft Windows CE operating system.

    The joint effort, aimed at furthering the adoption of digital imaging among consumers, aims to simplify the process of creating high-quality digital images on glossy photo-quality paper.

    "There is a building effort to bring more mobile communications to digital photography," said Carl Holec, a digital imaging analyst at ARS, citing recent efforts from Casio with its Windows CE handheld devices.

    Bypassing the time-consuming process of transferring compressed images from camera to PC and then photo printer, the new service allows users to connect digital cameras directly to the Internet through a Windows CE-based application and order prints, the companies said.

    "Our objective is to improve the accessibility of high-quality prints for digital camera customers," Gene Wang, chief executive of Photo Access, said in a statement. "Consumers will be able to order traditional prints from photofinishers from a Photo Access-enabled camera by connecting directly to a phone line."

    Services that offer easy access to hard copies of digital images will become popular as the cameras continue to improve in quality, analysts say. Previously, digital images were only used on Web sites because their quality was not sufficient to transfer them to traditional photographic paper.

    "As camera resolutions start to get a lot better, customers are going to want ways to get the prints made," analyst Holec said. "Until recently, cameras didn't have strong enough resolutions and getting prints wasn't considered a primary application. Now that the cameras are getting to the point where you could use a digital camera instead of a traditional camera, users will want the ability to get good quality prints."