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Kodak ups digital camera ante

Two high-resolution cameras come with advanced connection technology and cost less than $1,000.

Kodak upped the ante in the digital imaging game today, introducing two high-resolution cameras with advanced connection technology that cost under $1,000.

With its new offering, Kodak appears to have addressed two of the complaints that have dogged consumer-level digital cameras: poor picture quality and the unwieldy process of downloading and "developing" the images.

The Kodak Digital Science DC260 offers 1.6 million pixels per image for $999, the highest resolution available today in a consumer digital camera. Kodak's new cameras are also the first to download images via the Universal Serial Bus (USB) connection.

"Every time Kodak comes out with a new top of the line, it always seems to one up everyone else," said Carl Holec, an imaging analyst for market research firm ARS. "This equals or bests anything that anyone has on the market right now."

Both cameras feature a two-inch LCD display, standard file formats to store the images, a burst mode to take sequential pictures, audio input to record sound to go with the images, and video-out to view images on a television or monitor.

Importantly, the cameras also come with a USB connector. Standard on many PCs shipping today, USB allows true "plug-and-play" connection, instantly recognizing peripherals such as a digital camera as they are plugged into the PC.

"Anything that makes it easier to get images into the computer is a good thing," opined Bruce Chizen, general manager of digital imaging for Adobe, whose PhotoDeluxe and PageMill software is bundled with the Kodak DC260 and DC220. "Hooking up a camera to a computer can be very challenging."

The DC220, priced at $799, offers 2X optical zoom, and can zoom in 4X digitally. The DC260 offers 3X optical zoom which can be extended digitally to 6X.