For $1,799, Canon digital camera delivers video and still images


June 07, 1999|By Gareth Branwyn

The price of digital video cameras continues to plummet. While you can get a digital handycam for $800, if you want something that can deliver near-broadcast quality, you'll need to spend more. This higher-end consumer market is known as "prosumer," and the Canon Elura MiniDV ($1,799) is a fine example.

The Elura is two cameras in one. In video mode, it takes gorgeous full-motion video. In photo mode, it acts as a digital still camera, capturing up to 500 images on a MiniDV cassette. A third mode, progressive scan movie mode, allows you to capture continuous still images at 30 frames per second. This is great for getting action shots that you otherwise couldn't snap fast enough in photo mode.

The cute little Elura weighs just over a pound and almost disappears in your hand. (MiniDV cameras are so unobtrusive that guerrilla filmmakers like Michael Moore are using them.)

The camera has a 2.5-inch pop-out color LCD monitor and a color viewfinder. It sports 16-bit digital sound for near-CD audio quality and has a FireWire (IEEE 1394) port for fast interfacing with your computer (if you have a FireWire card).

We have a few minor complaints.

You get only a trial version of the video editing software, which you have to register to use. Other cameras at this price come with full software. Also, with less than an hour of run time, the standard battery is less than impressive.

If you're looking for a video camera for shooting birthdays and Little League games, you probably don't need everything the Elura has to offer. But if you fancy yourself a desktop Tarantino, you can't go wrong with this little marvel.

Information: 800-828-4040 or

New Micron Millennia Max has Intel 550 MHz processor, CD-RW and Zip drives

Micron continues to astound by releasing innovative high-end computers at reasonable prices. Its latest offering, the Millennia Max 550 ($2,899), is about as good as it gets.

The Max uses the latest 550 MHz Intel Pentium III processor. The system we configured (for the price above) includes a 19-inch monitor, CD-RW drive (for burning your own CDs and CD-ROMs), 128 megabytes of RAM, a whopping 18-gigabyte hard drive, a built-in Zip drive, Monsoon flat-panel speakers (which we reviewed last week), a 56.6k modem and a 16-megabyte AGP graphics card.

One nice addition to this impressive setup is Micron's multimedia keyboard. It has a set of buttons for controlling your sound card, your TV card (if you have one), your Web browser, etc. These buttons are handy for chores such as muting your speakers when you get a call and are showing up on many new keyboards.

Instead of the conventional 19-inch monitor, we opted for a 15-inch, flat-panel LCD monitor, which added $650 to the system's price. The flat panel looks cool, takes up almost no space and weighs next to nothing, but the 16MB graphics card is wasted on it. Reasonably priced flat-panel monitors that can deliver pictures worthy of the rest of a system like this are still a generation away.

Information: 888-224-4247 or

For full reviews of these and other gadgets, visit www.

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