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If core memory fails, cycle power, reload system from tape and initialize instruction register with switches.
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Tue, 27 May 2008
Sakar 32480

I just picked this one up from Fry's. It was $39.99 and was worth getting just to play with. The packaging is very exciting with the following specs:

  • 3.1 Mega Pixel
  • Photo, Video, Webcam
  • 1.5" LCD
  • 177 min video recording (with 1GB SD Card)
  • Built in Microphone and Speaker
  • Amazing Software

Wow! Who could pass up such a full featured camera for only $39.99?

Reading the package more closely and having some time to play with it

  • CMOS Sensor
  • Photo Res. 2048x1536, 1280x1024, 640x480
  • Video Res. 320x240 (QVGA), 9fps
  • Internal memory enough for two photos or a short video clip (20s)
  • USB 1.1
  • Requires 3AAA batteries

PoS. To get out of "demo" mode you need to use a SD card. The camera is useless without it. I'm not sure if the CMOS is actually 2048x1536. They usually state the actual sensor resolution and the "interpolated" resolution in the specs but it didn't mention this. Video is QVGA and at a piss poor frame rate. The software... I really don't care because I run Linux.

Even though it is a PoS it still is fun as a toy. I may end up giving it to my kids. It would be perfect for them and if they destroy it, whatever. Or, I could throw it in my car as an emergency camera. It did mount as a mass storage device under Linux so it doesn't need any proprietary drivers and I was able to get it working (some what) under video4linux.

The best thing is that it supports SD. When the batteries die, and they will (this thing sucks power), the photos aren't gone. It is a major disappointment with most "kids" cameras when they've been taking photos and all of them are lost when the batteries die or get knocked out. 1GB SD cards are cheap so your kids could snap photos all day or until the batteries die. At least when the batteries die it's easy to pick up some AAA's and not have to wait until you next charging opportunity. The other positive of this camera was the color, TFT, preview LCD. Most of the cameras at this price point don't have full displays they just have a simple B&W LCD mode display and picture counter. With the SD slot and the LCD, $40 is not bad. So, I'd have to say that this might make a good camera for a kid and when I say a "kid" I mean like a grade schooler. The buttons are small and wouldn't work for a pre-schooler.

Here's a sample (click for the full resolution). I was taken on a cloudy day so I expect it would be better on a sunny day



posted at: 01:21 | path: /Toys/Cameras | permanent link to this entry

Mon, 26 May 2008
Style Cam Blink II

I've had the The Sipix Style Cam Blink II for a number of years. It is really tiny, just a bit more than 2 inches on each side. At the time that I bought it, most of the other cameras near to this size only offered QVGA resolution (320x240). This camera offered a whopping full VGA resolution (640x480) which is good for web pages.

It has an optical viewfinder but no flash. It has a little LCD for picture count and mode selection. It will take short "video" clips but they are actually just a series of quick photos that need to be combined on the PC into an AVI. There is a USB 1.1 interface and it takes a single AAA battery.

The memory is only 8 Meg but that can hold about 30 "high" resolution photos. Unfortunately, like most ultra low end cameras it is not flash RAM and once the battery dies you lose all your photos. With only a single AAA you can image that the battery life is not all that long. To keep the memory live it has to power it constantly so the battery will continue to drain even when you're not using the camera. Eventually, I put a plastic pull tab between the battery and the contact so that the battery would stay fresh when there where no photos saved.

It is a very poor performer in low light but actually not too bad outside in bright light (remember this is a toy camera so "not too bad" is just slightly above "crapy"). The one thing that attracted be to this camera was its ultra small size. It was easy to keep in my pocket or snapped on to my badge lanyard at conferences. I took some photos with this camera at DefCon 11. I wouldn't recommend this camera to kids, at least not now, because it doesn't have flash RAM. I may try to attach this to one of my small helicopters and see how that works.



posted at: 22:30 | path: /Toys/Cameras | permanent link to this entry
Vivitar ViviCam 3350B

This one is a lot like the Style Cam Blink but not as small. These were on close out at Fry's for next to nothing so I grabed a few. They also take 640x480 photos and short "video" clips, have a photo counter/mode LCD, 8 MB, USB 1.1 but take two AAA batteries. There's not much more to say about this camera.

The battery door is really flimsy and I expect it *will* break under normal use and/or the batteries will pop out. I have been able to change the batteries, quickly, without losing all the photos. But when my kids used it, either the batteries poped out or died before they (or I) could remember to down load the photos. This camera does work under Linux with gphoto so they may get torn down and used for something else.



posted at: 20:23 | path: /Toys/Cameras | permanent link to this entry

Sun, 25 May 2008
Cameras

I have fun with cheap digital cameras. Fry's Electronics, Target and Walmart are a great places to find these ultra low end cameras. The do have many limitations. Most of them have a fixed memory size and they don't have flash RAM. This means that when you pull out the batteries (or they die) you lose all your photos. The fixed memory, of course, limits the number of photos. These camera almost always have CMOS sensors and not CCD. They work poorly in low light and if they do have a flash it is almost useless. If you can manage your expectations and ignore the exciting packaging then you'll understand what you'll actually be getting.

Yes, they are all just toy cameras but they are fun, usually do what I need them to do and are inexpensive enough that if they get lost or break that I'm not out of a lot of bucks. You'd be surprised at what capabilities these little things do have. The newer ones have lithium batteries, SD expansion slots and record "real" video with audio not pseudo video (ie taking a series of snap shots which then have to assembled on the PC)

The following are a few of the ones that I've picked up (good and bad).



posted at: 01:34 | path: /Toys/Cameras | permanent link to this entry

Mon, 26 Nov 2007
Toys

You gotta have toys, right? So here are some cool toys that we're playing with.



posted at: 20:57 | path: /Toys | permanent link to this entry