WPCE - Matsushita rolls out new cameras, SD peripherals

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., better known as Panasonic, will take the wraps off two new digital still cameras, a mobile photo printer and data storage device designed to work with the SD (Secure Digital) memory card when World PC Expo opens here on Wednesday.

The new cameras include the Lumix DSC-FZ1, which features a 12X optical Leica Optical AG zoom lens -- two or three times the optical zoom found on most digital still cameras. Equipped with a 2-megapixel CCD (charge coupled device) image pick-up, the camera also has a new optical image stabilizer function that, the maker says, helps to minimize shake when using the zoom caused by pressing the shutter button. It will go on sale on Nov. 8 and be priced around ¥60,000 (US$490).

Matsushita also announced the Lumix DSC-F1, which has a 3.2-megapixel CCD image pick-up and 3X optical Leica zoom lens. Available in five color variations, the camera weighs 180 grams and will hit Japanese shelves on Nov. 22. It is expected to cost around ¥50,000.

Features of both cameras include a 1.5-inch (3.75-centimeter) polysilicon LCD monitor, ISO auto setting and manual from 50 to 400 and shutter speeds from eight seconds to 1/2000th second.

In addition to the new digital still cameras, the company will also show at World PC Expo two new devices designed to work with cameras and compatible with the SD memory card format. The first is the SV-P20 mobile printer -- a printer for use with digital cameras that you can carry in your bag or pocket.

It accepts SD memory cards and is capable of producing prints at 290dpi (dots per inch). Users can select the images to be printed using the built-in 1.5-inch polysilicon LCD (liquid crystal display) and Matsushita says it is capable of producing around 24 prints on a full charge. The SV-P20 will go on sale on Nov. 22 and is expected to be priced around ¥30,000. Matsushita said it hopes to sell around 2,000 units per month.

Matsushita will also use World PC Expo to give users their first look at the SV-PT1 SD media storage unit. The device contains a PC-Card size 5G-byte hard disk drive and allows users to transfer images from an SD memory card onto the hard disk. This is likely to be useful for people travelling or taking a large number of photographs away from home as it removes the need to carry multiple memory cards.

Using a hard disk drive for storage is also much cheaper than memory cards. The SV-PT1 is expected to cost around ¥60,000 when it goes on sale in late November, which means users will be getting 5G bytes of storage space for approximately the same price as 768k bytes of memory card storage.

The unit also has a TV output, compatible with both NTSC and PAL systems, allowing users to see stored images on a television set or video monitor.

World PC Expo, Japan's largest PC exhibition, runs from Oct. 16 to 19 at Tokyo Big Sight. More information can be found online at http://arena.nikkeibp.co.jp/expo/ .