Digital camera priced within most budgets Digital...

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January 24, 2000

Digital camera priced within most budgets

Digital camera prices have dropped dramatically over the past few years, but at $300-$500 for a decent model, they've been out of the reach of casual users. No more. IXLA's PhotoEasy Deluxe system is the first point-and-shoot digital camera that almost anyone can afford. With a list price of $99.99, you can expect to see it available for less at some stores, and given away at others ("Buy a 10-pack of Zip disks, get a digital camera for free!").

Obviously, with a camera this inexpensive, you get what you pay for. Where mainstream digital cameras are now in the one- to two-megapixel range, the PhotoEasy only delivers 640 x 480 dot resolution. There's no removable medium (it has 2MB of onboard memory), no LCD screen, no zoom (digital or otherwise) and few image options. It does have a timer and flash. One nice feature is that it works with USB and serial connections and comes with the cables for both. That's something many high-end cameras don't have.

IXLA is known for its award-winning photo editing software, which is included with the PhotoEasy Deluxe system. The capabilities of this package are impressive (especially at this price), but I find the interface inelegant, especially for a camera targeted at newbies. It's not hard to learn its eccentricities, but there are continuing frustrations (such as having to choose the port your camera is connected to every time you load an image).

And the image quality? Again, you get what you pay for. You have to learn the weaknesses of the camera and work around them. I found myself waiting for certain times of the day to have the light just right in our house to take a decent picture. I had to take lots of shots to get one that looked right. Once you get the hang of it, you start to get useable shots that make you think: "OK, not bad for a hundred-dollar digicam."

If you have any photo experience and need analog camera image quality, forget about it. If you're new to digital photography and usually grab a disposable camera at the drugstore on the way to the beach, this camera is not half bad for e-mailing pics, making photo cards or images for a Web site. Certainly not bad for the money.

ka-0

Information: 203-730-8805 or www.ixla.com .

Gareth Branwyn

Answering device offers big-league features

One of the things that separates big companies from little companies is that big companies often have assistants to answer calls and forward messages.

Cygnion Corp. has introduced a device that turns the small-business owner's personal computer into a personal assistant.

The CyberGenie PC Cordless Phone System directs incoming calls to as many as 20 different users, forwards calls to outside phones and notifies users when e-mails and faxes have arrived. And instead of forcing callers to push buttons, the CyberGenie recognizes spoken commands. The basic CyberGenie system will sell for $499 and comes with a 2.4GHz digital spread spectrum base station, one cordless handset and a software disk. It connects to a PC through a USB port and connects to the phone system through standard phone jacks.

CyberGenie is designed to work in homes and small businesses with two incoming phone lines. Users can buy up to nine extra cordless handset and charger units for $129 each.

The system can set up 20 voice mail boxes, and callers reach their parties simply by speaking their names or dialing their extensions.

CyberGenie gives its users remote access to e-mail messages and faxes. Users call into the system, and CyberGenie uses voice simulation software to read e-mail and faxes over the phone. The system also offers other phone system features such as conference calls and calls between handsets within the office.

Information: 877-438-4364 or www.cygnion.com.

Cox News Service

For reviews of cool gadgets, visit www.streettech.com.

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