With the launch of eek, Ricoh has given up on the concept of targeting products to niche markets. Eek is a 'four-in-one' product that has a little something for everyone.
It can capture MPEG4 video and sound in both VGA and XVGA formats. Offering five quality settings, it can be adjusted to allow for either maximum image quality or maximum recording capacity. Its 1.5 inch LPTS (Low Temperature Poly Silicon) TFT LCD screen has 120,000 pixels and is adjustable to four levels of brightness.
Three image-shooting modes support performance in day, night and sporting conditions while variable exposure and white balance settings boost recording in low light situations. Eek also has five built-in filters for specialised effects - text, sepia, red, green and blue.
The combined 2-megapixel digital still camera incorporates interpolated image enhancement technology to offer an output resolution of up to 4-megapixels, so you can produce high quality prints up to A3 in size. eek has a 230-degree rotating fixed focus lens, with a 4x digital zoom that lets you take pics from any weird angle or even of yourself if you so desire (there's a self timer with 10 second delay built-in too).
In addition to its camcorder and camera functions, the Vivitar eek includes an MP3 player. You can listen to songs either through the built-in speaker or included headphones.
And finally thrown in for good measure, eek has a voice recorder that records sound clips of varying quality ranging from 8kHz to 48kHz.
Available in a black or white, the compact eek measures only 103mm long x 62mm wide x 16mm deep. It comes with a 32MB memory card, lithium-ion battery and charger and a bundled software package including Photo Suite, Photo Vista, WIN DVD Creator SVCD and Windows Media Player 9.0
If you upgrade to a 256MB SD card, Ricoh claims that eek should be able to record more than an hour and 20 minutes of video, 1,000 images and 16hours of sound clips and MP3 music files.
Downside Time will tell, but we think the name 'eek' will either prove to be a stroke of marketing genius, or the poor product's kiss of death.
And timing may be everything to a product like this. Many companies are out there trying to grab market share in the exploding digital camera and portable audio markets, so it is understandable that devices are coming onto the scene that are trying to straddle both. The risk, of course, is that in trying to do many things, they will do none of them really well. Or, as is the case in the functionality battle between smart phones and PDAs, consumers will buy a product primarily for one purpose, and rarely use its other capabilities.
The compact, pocket-sized eek looks to have the goods to keep happy the crowd wanting both a snappy little digital camcorder/camera and a portable music player. We look forward to putting this product to a full lab test because - eek! - Ricoh may be onto something big.