Sony's Bloggie Touch and the Flip Ultra HD suggest that dedicated cameras can fend off challenges from smartphones and portable media players with cameras.
Touch, billed as a "mobile HD snap camera," arrived on store shelves in
November 2010. By January, the electronics giant had announced a
three-dimensional version of the handheld device. The latter uses two lenses
for recording high-definition 3-D video and still images, and it can also
record in 2-D.
of Sony's Bloggie line-mirrored in many ways by the Flip camera franchise owned
by Cisco Systems-suggests that manufacturers still believe in the viability of
dedicated devices to shoot video and images, despite the growing popularity of
smartphones and portable media players with camera modules.
For those who
are anxious to record their life's every visual moment-whether for work, or
because you feel that everyone on Facebook really, really needs to see photos
from that weekend barbeque-cameras such as the Bloggie Touch offer all the
advantages of a dedicated device: one button to turn it on, one big
red-and-black button to record, and a USB port to upload the images and video
to your PC and Mac.
The Bloggie Touch can shoot video in 1920 x 1080 resolution, along with
12.8-megapixel still images. The 3-inch touch-screen makes it easy to zoom via
the onscreen slide, choose your preferred resolution, or sort through saved
videos and photos. Sony claims the 8GB of built-in flash memory can store up to
four hours of HD video.
the Flip Ultra HD also offers 8GB of built-in memory, although it claims only
two hours' HD video storage. (Both devices store recorded files in MP4 format.)
The device boasts 1280 x 720 resolution, along with a slimmer body than
ease of use, these devices enter a marketplace where smartphones and portable media
players have been adding new layers of functionality on a quarter-by-quarter
basis. The latest iteration of Apple's iPod Touch, for example, includes a
rear-facing camera capable of recording high-definition video and still photos
with 960 x 720 resolution; its touch-screen likewise offers streamlined
growing family of Android devices features increasingly powerful cameras, and
Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 smartphones include the ability to take images
via depressing the mechanical shutter button, without needing to log into the
actual camera application.
In a 2009 interview with The New York Times
Apple CEO Steve Jobs suggested that smartphones and their ilk would eventually
win any market matchup with dedicated devices.
there will always be dedicated devices," he said, "and they may have a few
advantages in doing just one thing. But I think the general-purpose devices
will win the day. Because I think people just probably aren't willing to pay
for a dedicated device."
But will Apple
and other manufacturers create products that crowd out dedicated devices? That
seems unlikely, so long as dedicated-device manufacturers keep producing
cameras whose resolution and storage dwarfs that of the general-purpose devices
on the market. As
the Bloggie Touch and Flip suggest, those manufacturers have just that goal in