Hewlett Packard's digital camera copies feel of trusty...

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April 02, 2001|By Kevin Washington

Hewlett Packard's digital camera copies feel of trusty 35 mm

Hewlett Packard has designed one of the few cameras under $1,000 in the digital realm that effectively mimic a 35-mm single lens reflex camera.

The HP Photosmart 912 - with a Pentax lens and HP electronics - has the look and feel of a boxy 35 mm camera with a 34 mm to 107 mm zoom lens. The 912 uses a large barrel-twist zoom mechanism similar to a 35-mm camera rather, than the typical rocker switch.

For $700, you'll get a solid 2.24-megapixel camera (1,600 by 1,280 pixels) with the 912, although you won't get the top-of-the-line image quality that a 3-megapixel camera offers.

That shouldn't matter too much, though. Despite the hype about more expensive cameras working with more pixels, most of us are still shooting snapshots to print on an inkjet printer or for 4-by-6-inch prints from a photofinisher. The 912 handles such assignments nicely.

Almost every picture I took with the 912 was a joy, in part because I was able to see through the camera lens rather than forced to look at a washed out LCD on the back of the camera. My digital photography composition improved.

If you can afford a 3-megapixel camera in the $1,000 range, don't overlook the Olympus Camedia C-3030 Zoom. But if you don't need that extra 1 million pixels and you like the look and feel of a 35 mm SLR camera, the 912 makes a weighty choice.

Information: 888-999-4747 or www.hp.com.

Sharp's robust player makes DVDs a treat

Watching a DVD movie on a long trip used to mean running out of juice before the credits rolled, thanks to heavy batteries that drained quickly on portable players and laptop computers.

Sharp's DV-L80U, nearly three pounds with its battery, is part of a new crop of lightweight, portable DVD/CD players that help you see the whole movie in one sitting.

With an 8-inch diagonal screen - which Sharp claims is the largest of any portable DVD player - the device displays a crisp LCD picture with wonderful color. Sharp says it engineered the device to correct color values in dim parts of the screen with something called a Digital Gamma Correction Playback Circuit. Several other features help to adjust sharpness, brightness and other aspects of the picture.

The sound matched the picture quality and the playback was especially clear, rich and full.

The battery takes about five hours to charge for 3 1/2 hours of playtime with the speakers on. I used headphones and stretched out another 10 minutes before the player stopped.

The DV-L80U costs about $1,200. But for that, you get what could be your main player as well.

Information: 800-237-4277 or www.sharp-usa.com.

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