BenQ Digital Camera 300Mini

When this camera showed up at PC World, it certainly attracted a lot of attention with its tiny size (8.5x4x2cm) and humble price of $189.

Despite initial impressions, the camera's limitations became apparent when it was tested in the field. The clip used to protect the USB port was very loose and came off during transport or when the camera was held. This made it easy to drop, leaving the clip in the photographer's hands and the camera at their feet.

Aiming the camera was made trickier by the tiny viewfinder that must be held away from your face. Since there is no image preview screen, you have to hope the camera has taken the photograph as expected. Even if you are convinced the picture is not worth keeping, there is no option to selectively delete an image - it's all or nothing. This problem is exacerbated because there is no option to load fresh memory cards: once the camera's 8MB card is full, you need a computer with suitable drivers to download the images.

At its maximum setting of 640x480 pixels, the camera is capable of taking reasonable photographs. However, the unpredictable nature of the auto-exposure frequently caused washed-out, blurred or splotchy images (it was possible to use Photoshop to repair some of these problems).

Finally, the camera will not allow an image to be taken if there is insufficient light, and without a built-in flash this can limit its usefulness - particularly at evening parties or functions. This is disappointing, since its size would make it an ideal camera in these types of situations. n In brief:

BenQ Digital Camera 300Mini

Low price and high 'gadget' factor, but let down by unpredictable image quality and lack of essential features such as a flash.

Price: $189.

Phone: (02) 9714 6800.


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Scott Mendham

PC World
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