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Sony's First Wireless Digital Camera, Interface with Macs


Even with new digital cameras debuting frequently, Sony Electronics still claims the first digital still-camera with a 1.8-inch, liquid crystal display (LCD) screen, built-in four megabytes (MB) flash memory, high-speed wireless infrared image transfer, a flash, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The camera has direct wireless connection to the Sony Digital Color Photo Printer, or to any IrDA-equipped PC or Macintosh.

Sony says the camera, priced at $850, is targeted at the mid-range business and graphics user.

Brian Levine, a spokesman for Sony, said, "It might seem hard to believe, but very few digital cameras come with an LCD screen, or even a flash. Just putting these two together makes us unique, but no-one else has combined these features with a wireless connection."

The DSC-F1 camera can transmit wireless images up to 1.152 megabits- per-second (Mbps), or about 30 times faster than typical serial connections at 38.4 kilobits-per-seconds (Kbps). Levine said that the full capacity of 108 photos can be transferred wireless in around two minutes, as opposed to nearly and hour over a 38.4Kbps serial connection.

The DSC-F1 camera measures four- by three- by 1.6-inches, and can store up to 108 images into the built-in 4MB flash memory in JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) format. Users may select any of three different compression levels resulting in 30, 58 or 108 pictures, all at 640 by 480 resolution.

The camera comes with a set of different recording modes. The "continuous" mode allows recording a series of pictures in succession. For action sequences this mode can operate at up to four frames-per- second (fps). The "multi-screen" mode divides a single picture into nine separate sections, recording the sections in a 1/30 second interval. Levine pointed out that this mode could show a view of a series of images such as a golf, baseball, or a tennis swing.

Using the LCD screen, the "playback" mode will let users choose to view images forward, backward, or in a continuous loop, as thumbnail images, or magnified. The camera's LCD displays date, time, and compression mode. In the "editing" mode, users may choose to delete, protect, or transfer images between the camera and a PC or printer.

Sony's DPP-M55 printer can be connected to your PC or Macintosh via serial or parallel port. Once connected, in addition to being primarily used as a printer, the DPP-M55 can also function as an IrDA transceiver which allows for wireless connectivity from the DSC-F1 camera to the computer.

The camera and the printer can also function without a computer. Pictures can be printed directly from the camera to the printer via infrared wireless transmission.

The DSC-F1 Digital Still Camera and DPP-M55 Digital Color Photo Printer will be available in October. Estimated selling prices are $849.99 for the DSC-F1 camera and $499.99 for the DPP-M55 printer.


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