Kodak digital camera connects to Universal Serial Bus...

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November 16, 1998|By Gareth Branwyn

Kodak digital camera connects to Universal Serial Bus port

It looks like some gizmo from "Star Trek," but it's Kodak's DVC323 Digital Video Camera ($169), one of the first Universal Serial Bus monitor-top cameras.

One of the beauties of USB (the latest PC connectivity technology) is that devices can be plugged and unplugged without turning off the computer (perfect for digital cameras), and the USB connections provide power to the devices; no more weed gardens of power cables and adapter boxes beneath your desk. The DVC323 is a great example of USB's strengths.

You can have it out of the box and be mugging in front of its lens within minutes.

The camera has a sturdy base and a torpedo-like body. The camera can be removed from the base and the shutter release button on top can be used to take still pictures away from the desktop (the cable is almost 10 feet long).

The DVC323 comes with loads of software. PictureWorks allows you to capture still and moving images with sound and to e-mail Netcards (think video postcards) over the Internet. Kodak's Picture Easy is a still-image capture, editing and archiving program. Kai's Power Goo lets you morph your images like Playdoh. There are 19 software packages in all (though many of them are "lite" or trial versions).

The picture quality of the DVC323 is good, but not great. I don't know what system they used to shoot the images on the box, but my (top-of-the-line) PC Micron couldn't produce anything nearly that sharp. Still, the DVC323 is the best monitor-top camera I've seen, so it's a step in the right direction.

Information: 800-508-1531 or www.kodak.com

Connect four USB devices with Belkin Components' hub

While industry hype about USB boasts that up to 127 devices can be connected to a single USB port, you obviously need a way to connect them. Some USB devices are supposed to come with pass-through ports, but I've seen few of these.

The answer is the USB hub. It allows you to connect a number of devices to a single hub that, in turn, plugs into one of the USB ports on your PC. Belkin Components offers the ExpressBus USB hub ($80).The ExpressBus hub is simple. It has four USB ports (a hub with seven ports is also available for $120) and a cable that connects the ExpressBus to one of your PC's USB ports.

While USB peripheral devices can get their power through the USB connection, this ability is dependent on how many devices you have attached to your USB chain and how much bandwidth each consumes. Under some configurations, you'll need auxiliary power. The ExpressBus hub can be used with the included AC adapter or without as needs dictate.

I'm not sure how many USB ports the average user is going to need in the next few years, but I can tell you it will be more than the standard two found on most Pentium/Pentium II computers. And in light of the few devices that have built-in mini-hubs or pass-through ports, you're likely going to need an external hub such as the ExpressBus.

Information: 800-282-2355 or www.belkin.com

You can find full reviews of these and other neat gadgets at www.streettech.com.

Pub Date: 11/16/98

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