Revolutionary?: Watching 1950s Hollywood movies while wearing funny glasses was once the high tide of 3-D imagery. But in recent years, the cyclical fascination with 3-D has surged again, but the problem of needing those glasses has dogged the idea. Fujifilm claims to have freed 3-D imagery from spectacles with its new FinePix Real 3D W1 camera. Rather than a movie maker, the new gadget is a compact digital camera. It is operated in the usual fashion, but after the shutter is clicked, things get interesting. The camera uses two separate lenses to take photos, with each one recording to a separate sensor. The camera’s innovative new processor, dubbed the “RP (Real Photo) Processor 3D,” then takes the two images and joins them to create a purportedly 3-D image.

Using two lenses in this manner is nothing new, but traditionally this approach has produced images of limited quality. Fujifilm claims its new processor captures an image “exactly as your eye sees it.” Perhaps more importantly, Fujifilm claims that no special glasses are needed to view the images from the camera. But the 3-D marvel comes with a major catch. The 3-D images can be viewed on the camera’s own 2.8-inch, 230,000 pixel LCD screen without any special aids. But printing 3-D photos is no simple task, as special plastic paper has to be used to preserve the 3-D effect, with the resulting photos expected to cost hundreds of yen each. Perhaps aware of the deal-breaking nature of these limitations, Fujifilm is also offering a separate photo frame, the FinePix REAL 3D V1, with a 7-inch screen that displays 3-D images. The device can display both 3-D still images and 3-D video. However, while it has a resolution of 800×600 pixels when displaying standard two- dimensional pictures, the quality drops to 400×600 pixels for 3-D images.

The camera can also take video, with a shooting rate of 30 frames per second at a resolution of 640×480. As a camera, the W1 is nothing outstanding, with a pedestrian 3× zoom lens that goes from 35 mm to 105 mm. The camera comes with 42 megabytes of internal memory. Considering a maximum quality 3-D still image will eat up 14 megabytes of memory, it is fortuitous that the camera also takes SD and SDHC memory cards.

The camera costs ¥60,000 and the V1 screen ¥49,800. To buy the pair together costs ¥99,800. The 3-D act opens early next month. www.fujifilm.co.jp

LED lights up: LG focuses on old-fashioned imagery with the latest flat-screen monitor it is bringing to these shores. Forsaking the cutting-edge screen craze for all things OLED the Korean firm has opted for the LCD technology that has also raised heartbeats, LED. This technology is showing up more frequently in high-end LCD televisions because it offers a combination of better picture quality and lower power consumption. LG claims the use of LED lighting in its new 24-inch W2486L allows it to consume half the power of a standard LCD, using just 28W. The W2486L is a stunning bit of kit as it measures just 20 mm in “thickness” and in its sleek black finish is eye-catching.

The pity is that it is a visual aid to a computer, instead of being a full-fledged TV, particularly as it offers such inducements as full HD resolution of 1920×1080 in 16:9 format, a contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1, 2 ms response time and 50cd/m2 brightness. Rounding out the package it has auto brightness control and a pair of HDMI plugs. The resolution is perhaps the weakest selling point, simply because such a high resolution only shows its superiority at sizes of 40 inches or more.

Priced at around ¥33,000, the LG monitor is not cheap, but the quality is hard to go past as long as you can make maximum use of its abilities. However, finding one might take some work, however, as the big retailers like Yodobashi and BicCamera seem less than enthusiastic about carrying the Korean maker’s monitor. jp.lge.com/

Commercial breakdown: Room on the endangered species list had better be found for TV commercials. The deprivations of viewers recording programs and fast-forwarding through the commercials that started long ago with the VCR have stepped up to a new level with Mitsubishi’s latest DVR, or digital video recorder. The DVR-BZ130 boasts the trick of automatically cutting out commercials from recordings. While the “Auto cut” feature is the headliner, the rest of the hardware is a solid package. The DVR-BZ130, part of Mitsubishi’s “REAL” lineup, comes with a 320-gigabyte hard disk and can also record to BD-R Blu-ray discs, or the older DVD-R/RW discs. It can record two programs and once in the MPEG4 AVC/H.264 video codec.

The Mitsubishi’s lesser claim to attention is a simplified “user-friendly” remote control. While not so exciting, this feature is one that should appeal to people that don’t have time to read telephone-book size instruction manuals. At ¥108,000, the Mitsubishi product will cost around ¥14,000 than other brands of Blu-ray recorder that offer similar hard disk capacity when it comes out next month. The higher price tag is all the more stark considering that the Mitsubishi product looks much the same and does a very similar job to its rivals. Of course, there is “Auto cut.” www.mitsubishielectric.co.jp


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