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EDITIONS
 Sunday, 12 January, 2003, 06:55 GMT
Slick digital cameras pack a punch
Panasonic camera
More than just a camera in a small design

The days of bulky cameras that only took photographs are over, if the ones on display at the Consumer Electronic Show, (CES), in Las Vegas are anything to go by.

Camera makers are shrinking the machines to be so small as to be almost non-existent.

And they are packing more and more into the products, so that they double up as music players and voice recorders.

Manufacturers are promoting cameras as lifestyle accessories, with style as important as function.

Ultra portable

Panasonic's SDV-AV20/30 four-in-one camera is a prime example of the slick designs on show at the world's largest consumer electronics event.

Oregon Scientific camera
The thinnest camera in the world
The camera fits into the palm of the hand and looks like a folded up mobile phone.

Opening it up reveals a digital camera, a MP3 player and a digital video and voice recorder.

"Every age group is excited about this product," said a Panasonic spokesman.

"A businessman might capture something wacky happening on the street and send it to his friends saying 'hey guys, looked what happened today'."

The camera is part of Panasonic's e-wear range of gadgets, designed to be small and ultra portable.

It is expected to be in the shops in the US by April and cost between $300 and $400.

Thin and thinner

Other digital cameras can boast to be even smaller than the one from Panasonic.

Olympus Mju digital camera
Digital model of successful Mju range
US company Oregon Scientific has been showing off what is says is the world's thinnest digital camera.

The DS6618 is just 6 mm thick and weighs 1.2 ounces. It has a rechargeable lithium battery which recharges when the camera is connected to a computer through a USB port.

The camera went on sale in the US in November, priced at $99.

"Sales have been fabulous," said a Oregon Scientific spokeswoman. "It has sold out in some stores."

But some camera makers are bucking the trend to bundle as much as possible into a small design.

Familiar design

Camera veteran Olympus has opted to retain the look of its highly successful Mju range in the digital era.

Its new 3.2 megapixel Mju 300 and 4 megapixel Mju 400 are not as tiny as some others, but they still fit in the palm of the hand.

The digital cameras have many of the same features as Olympus's current point-and-shoot cameras, with the added benefit of weatherproof metal bodies.

"We want to keep it as a camera and not a gadget," said an Olympus spokesman, "so it looks just like a 35mm camera."

The cameras are due to go on sale in the UK in the next couple of months, priced between 350 and 430.

As the cameras on display at CES show, there is something for everybody, with endless combination of looks and functions.

Consumer Electronics Show 2003, Las Vegas

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Hi-tech gear

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25 Sep 02 | Technology
22 Aug 02 | Technology
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