New digital camcorder from Canon excels at capturing a...


June 05, 2000

New digital camcorder from Canon excels at capturing a moment

It's not Pi in the sky: Canon's Optura Pi camcorder -- listed at $1,300 --- can capture digital video with excellent quality and improved image stabilization.

The Optura Pi can take individual pictures, but even better, it offers progressive scan capability in which 30 frames are captured in a single second, from which individual stills can be taken. This is great for fast-action photography.

Best of all, these digital images never degrade. Perfect copies can be transferred to another digital recorder or computer. With analog recordings from 8 mm or SVHS cameras, quality always suffers when images are copied or transferred.

But don't go out expecting to buy the Pi and e-mail video of your child's birthday party to Grandma that night.

Most computers don't come equipped to accept digital video to their hard drives. The additional hardware and software needed to transfer and manipulate recordings can cost hundreds of dollars. One online retailer, for instance, offers video transfer and photo capture software plus a digital video card for $379. Sixty-minute tapes are about $15 on the Internet.

Out of the box, the camera is most useful for recording images, then viewing them on a television. And that's a simple process because the camcorder plugs into your VCR or television. The basic package includes everything you need to view your recordings on TV, including a remote control.

The Optura Pi, smaller than most 8 mm or SVHS camcorders, is easy to use though, because of my large hands, I found the power switch awkward.

Information: or 800-652-2666.

--Ken Bowling/KRT

Tiny Antec scanner gives laptop users color capability

Laptop-toting travelers can now add a color scanner to their collection of mobile office gear. Such is Antec's $129.95 Attache, an amazingly small, 24-bit, sheet-fed scanner.

The sleek, 12-ounce peripheral looks less like a scanner and more like a three-hole punch. With only three moving parts, the tiny device has an optical resolution of 300-by-600 dots per inch. It will accept paper originals from 3.5 inches by 2 inches to 8.5 inches by 14 inches.

The rugged Attache packs easily and travels well. And because the Attache is powered through the laptop's PC card (PCMCIA) interface, it requires no batteries or external power adapter.

Installation is simple. Slide the PC card into a Type II slot on the laptop and connect the scanner. The software includes TWAIN drivers that allow access to the scanner from within any TWAIN-compliant application.

The Attache comes with software for image editing, document management and optical character recognition, or OCR, applications.

Using it is straightforward but takes some practice. Care must be taken to insert the sheet into the scanner perfectly straight and against the document rollers to avoid accidentally skewing the image or, worse, wrinkling the original.

With just the scanner and PC card to carry and connect, the Attache should win the appreciation of many mobile computer users.

Information: 510-770-1200 or

--Jeremy M. Van Zee/KRT

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