Projecting innovation: Up until this past year, imagination in the field of digital cameras was largely reserved for how you used them, not in the design of the devices themselves. But the threat from mobile phones with built-in cameras has triggered innovation. Nikon’s Coolpix S1000pj, for example, comes with a built-in projector, possibly the first of its kind. Marrying a camera with a projector in retrospect looks like one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas. But good ideas need equally good execution. The S1000pj can throw an image up to 1 meter in diameter onto a flat surface up to 2 meters away with a modest resolution of 640×480 pixels. It can project still images, slide shows and video. Brightness is another matter as the camera’s projector bulb puts out a miserly 10 lumens, far below low-end projectors, which put out 600 to 800 lumens.
Setting aside the projector, the S1000pj is a solid but not exciting compact camera. It has a 12-megapixel sensor and its image-stabilized 5× zoom lens operates between 28-140 mm, in 35 mm terms. The 28 is decently wide and 140 is enough on the tele end. The 2.7-inch LCD monitor is standard and the 36 megabytes of internal memory is the kind of token offering that camera makers insist on, although it can do little except annoy users.
The S1000pj looks a bit odd at the front with both a regular lens and a projector, but in other respects it is similar to a regular camera with a clean and simple design.
Whether it hits the mark with consumers, though, depends very much on price. Nikon is pricing it at ¥51,800, which is expensive for a standard compact. But as a combination device it might project some profitability. www.nikon-image.com
Apple beefs up: Storage capacity and digital files are like a cart careening along behind a pair of galloping horses. Video, particularly high-definition footage of whatever source, keeps upping the demands that it places on storage. Files that even just a few years ago could be measured in megabytes and stored on a CD-ROM with room to spare are now outgrowing DVDs — and you need a lot more than one hand to count the gigabytes. In turn, hard disks and other storage methods are forced to climb in capacity, just to keep pace. Apple computers, which pitch themselves as multimedia platforms, are acutely vulnerable to this digital arms race. So the company has doubled the capacity of its Time Capsule combination external hard disk/router with its new top-drawer model offering 2 terabytes of capacity at a typically pricey ¥50,800. In step with the boosted specs, the previous top model, the 1-terabyte Time Capsule, has had its price slashed to ¥30,800.
The doubled capacity is the only real change on the hardware side, albeit a dramatic one. The Time Capsule is touted as operating with both Macs and PCs, but is most at home when partnered with a Mac running the latest version of OSX, Leopard. This is because this operating system allows you to automatically backup files to the Time Capsule. The set-and-forget process works for any Leopard-powered computer connected to the device on a wireless network. Not having to think about backups might seem a minor achievement, but then anybody who has suffered a crash and not kept abreast of their backing up will know better. The second trick up Time Capsule’s sleeve is that it works as a wireless router. Interestingly, it operates simultaneously on the 2.4-gigahertz and 5-gigahertz frequencies to improve coverage. In aid of its router act it has a gigabit Ethernet WAN port, a 3-gigabit Ethernet LAN port and obligatory USB.
Naturally the Time Capsule looks the goods with its smooth curves draped in Apple white, so it matches Mac computers like the right combination of handbag and shoes. Whether the design is worth the premium is the eternal question with Apple that only the buyer can answer. However, combining two useful functions in one package makes it a lot more attractive, and while 1 terabyte is not the voluminous space it was last year, the price makes it a good option. store.apple.com
iPhone snubbed: If any evidence is needed of iPod dominance, then peruse the shelves at your electronic store looking for stereo systems. The iPod docks have largely elbowed them aside. Onkyo has come up with an interesting variation on the theme with its newest dock, the ND-S1. Unlike the majority of docks that follow the usual path of providing a complete sound system in one package, the Onkyo gadget lacks speakers. Instead it’s designed to be an accessory to a home-theater system. The gadget doesn’t work with iPhones, an odd omission, but it does with other iPods.
The iPod is inserted into the machine’s slot with controls along the front and connections at the back. These are comprehensive, with a digital optical and coaxial output, composite A/V outputs and USB. It supports 16-bit audio playback and can be synchronized with iTunes. It measures 205×175×34 mm and comes with a remote control.
The ND-S1 is due out later this year but Onkyo hasn’t yet revealed the price. www.jp.onkyo.com