Look! Up in the sky! It's a camcorder! It's a camera! It's...neither? With its redundantly named DXG-301V, digital camera newcomer DXG claims to have shattered price and functionality barriers by putting a 3.2-megapixel sensor inside a camcorder's body--all for $199. But the DXG-301V's MPEG-4 video features are lacking, and its elongated shape makes it an awkward choice for point-and-shoot photography.

Upside: The idea of putting a 3-megapixel CCD in a digital camcorder that sells for less than a MiniDV camera is a noble one; if the DXG-301V can produce good-looking video and images, budget-minded consumers will take notice.

Downside: The DXG-301V's specs make the road to high performance look like an uphill trek. Its lens lacks any optical zoom, and the camera's 10X digital zoom will only degrade image quality. Getting 80 minutes of footage at full VGA (640x480) resolution requires a 1GB SD media card, which currently retails for just about the price of the camera itself; to use the limited space more efficiently, you'll need to record movies at the inferior 320x240 resolution level. Also, you won't be able to capture VGA video above 15fps, so even if you opt for the best resolution, you'll end up with the jerky footage that's typical of cheap multimedia devices.

Outlook: The DXG-301V's lack of features puts it in something of a budgetary no-man's land. At $199, it's more expensive than comparable low-budget multimedia device offerings from Aiptek and Gateway. It takes 3-megapixel photos, but for the same price, the Canon PowerShot A70 offers scads more features, if you're willing to take shorter video clips. The DXG DXG-301V is available now; we'll let you know in our upcoming review whether it redeems itself with decent image quality and performance.