Magazine Article


Converging at CES

“Say good-bye to red-eye!” Giordano said with a grin.

At a packed press conference on the first day of CES, the SanDisk Corporation released a bevy of new digital storage devices.

“The future of flash memory really is everywhere, all you have to do is walk the show” said SanDisk CEO and founder Eli Harari, citing the myriad of digital cameras, camera phones and PDAs that use some sort of flash storage.

On that note, SanDisk introduced the Cruzer Titanium, a new portable USB flash storage drive that the company described as “virtually indestructible.”

The Cruzer Titanium, a USB 2.0 flash drive is also, according to SanDisk, one of the fastest 2.0 drives on the market with a write speed rating of 13 megabytes per second and a read speed of 15 megabytes per second. Also making an appearance at CES were the new 512MB and 1GB Cruzer Mini embedded USB 2.0 high-speed “key chain” flash drives. The 1GB Cruzer Mini, according to SanDisk can transport up to 30 hours of digitally compressed music, more than 5 hours of MPEG-4 compressed video or more than 1,000 high-resolution digital images.

“The golden decade of flash storage is upon us,” Harari said.

Meanwhile, over in the “Flash Forward” digital imaging section of the Las Vegas Convention Center’s South Hall, Concord was showing off some affordably priced digicams. The 3MP Concord Eye-Q 3341z and the 4MP Concord Eye-Q 4360z offer a low cost, easy-to-use alternative to complicated, higher priced cameras from other manufacturers, explained Giovanni Zangrande, director of Marketing for Concord. The 3341z, priced at $179 and the 4360z, priced at $199 both include 3X optical zooms and AVI video.

The cameras’ low prices and competitive feature sets were certainly attracting some attention from some buyers. PTN was hustled out of a press room only minutes after we sat down to make way for a meeting between Concord and representatives from a major drugstore chain. Well, at least it was for a good cause!

In Konica Minolta’s private press room the news wasn’t so much about product, though the company did unveil two new 35mm film (yes, film!) SLRs, the Maxxum 50 and 70. The bigger news was that moving forward, all new product, including cameras, will be branded with the full “Konica Minolta” name. When the merger of the two companies was announced last year, the company said it would keep the Konica name for film sales and the Minolta brand for cameras. From now on though, almost all of their products will be released under the Konica Minolta name. For 35mm film cameras though, the name will remain “Minolta” to avoid confusion for lens owners, said Jon Sienkiewicz, vice president of Marketing, Konica Minolta’s Camera Division.

At a conference room at the Venetian Hotel, Canon had perhaps the most to show of all the imaging companies at CES, with 20 new cameras slated for release by PMA. What peaked our interest most was the new Powershot Pro 1, an 8MP camera which will be the first Powershot to use an L-series lens, in this case a 28-200 wide angle zoom. The camera, which will be competing against several new 8MP cameras from other manufacturers, will retail for $1,199.

Also intriguing was the replacement model for the popular Canon EOS-1D digital SLR. The new camera, dubbed the EOS-1D Mark II was slated to be unveiled on January 29, 2004 to make it available to sports photographers for Super Bowl weekend. Clearly meant as an answer to Nikon’s much talked about D2H sports digital SLR, the Mark II will feature an 8.2MP CMOS sensor and the ability to shoot 8 1/2 frames per second. The camera also doubles the buffer of the 1D to 40 shots as well as doubling the battery life. It will feature two cards slots for both CompactFlash and SD card, zoom play back, and simultaneous recording of RAW and JPEG. Like the D2H, the 1D Mark II will support an attachment that will give it Wi-Fi capability for transmitting images without cables. It will list for $4,500 and will be available to the general public in March.

And finally, in the shadow of their fashion runway (created, no doubt, to correspond with their sponsorship of “Fashion Week” in New York), Olympus unveiled a host of new digital cameras of their own. What grabbed our attention in the six models they showed us were the 3MP D-540 Zoom and 4MP D-580 Zoom, two so-called “sweet spot” cameras, that offer 3X optical zooms and include their new TruePic Turbo image processors for faster processing speeds, making Olympus yet another manufacturer that’s joining the image processor wars. The D-540 retails for $199 and the D-580 for $299.

Olympus is also going head to head in the surprisingly competitive 8MP digital camera category with the C-8080 Wide Zoom, an 8MP, 5x optical camera targeting the prosumer with an advanced feature set, total manual control and a wide angle zoom (28mm to 140mm) lens. All of which should make for a very interesting PMA.