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Toshiba discounts digital camera

Toshiba America slashes the price of its entry-level digital camera to $249.

Toshiba America slashed the price of its entry-level digital camera to $249, as the new-fangled devices continue to become more affordable.

Toshiba lowered the cost of its PDR-2 model by 38 percent, its second price cut in the past three months. The PDR-2 debuted at $499 before falling $100 in December and another $150 today.

The price actions demonstrate both the market impact of newer, more advanced "megapixel" cameras and also Toshiba's intent to reach the consumer segment.

Last week at a trade show, Hewlett-Packard, Kodak, Olympus, and Konica each introduced digital cameras priced under $1,000 that are capable of packing a million pixels into a single image. Analysts hailed the announcements as an important step toward the technology's becoming comparable to traditional photography, at an affordable price. (See related story)

Toshiba has not yet introduced a megapixel model but will soon do so, according to an industry source.

The megapixel camera's declining price means that lower-quality digital cameras are dipping into the realm of consumer affordability. Kodak already has several models under the $250 price point. Previously digital cameras have been targeted at commercial uses, such as posting real estate advertisements on Web pages.

"If you put [a digital camera] in the $200 range, people are willing to risk it, but not for $500 or $1,000," a Toshiba spokesman said. "We want to be in that range where people are trying it out."

Toshbia's fixed-focus PDR-2 includes a 2MB flash memory card capable of storing 24 images at a resolution of 640 by 480 pixels, a middle-of-the-road resolution that's fine for viewing the images on a computer but grainy when compared to traditional photographs. To make the camera easier to connect to Windows 95 PCs, the package also includes a PC Card adapter that lets users download JPEG images to the desktop.

The $249 price includes a $50 mail-in rebate. The PDR-2 is immediately available.