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IT'S A STILL CAMERA AND A CAMCORDER: CANON'S DC50

Many digital cameras shoot rudimentary video, and some camcorders take a shot at producing passable photographs. The Canon DC50 tries to do both well. Its five-megapixel sensor is equal in resolution to that of some midgrade cameras, and is actually bigger than those used by some photojournalists just a year or so ago.

Canon's road map for the future of imaging foresees a merging of video and still photography, with one sensor and one chipset to satisfy both needs, and the DC50 is a step in that direction. A new processing chip, the Digic DV II, handles both kinds of images.

The DC50 has both a built-in flash and video light. It can record still and moving images simultaneously onto three-inch DVDs, including dual-layer ones for added capacity, and a MiniSD-size camera card.

The camera's 10x lens zooms out to a serious telephoto length, 447mm in still-camera terms. An image stabilization mechanism can be turned on to prevent shaky snapshots at this high magnification.

THE COMPUTER WITH A TV, AND A VIRTUAL REFRIGERATOR DOOR

The notion of a computer at the heart of every home gets a little bump with the multitasking Hewlett-Packard TouchSmart PC, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show this week as part of the introduction of the Windows Vista operating system from Microsoft.

The TouchSmart, which will cost around US$1,800 when it goes on sale at the end of the month, has a 48cm touch-sensitive screen intended to serve as a family bulletin board, with virtual sticky notes written with a finger or stylus — or even left by voice, in a recorded memo.

This computer is also a high-definition TV, and can play FM radio or stored music through screen-side speakers, or external ones for a home-theater effect. Designed as a wire-and clutter-free stand-alone device, it connects to the world via WiFi and further contains its footprint with a wireless keyboard, mouse and remote control.

The TouchSmart's designers envision a user's walking up to it on a kitchen counter, checking

e-mail, appointments and weather, leaving family reminders and maybe watching the first 30 seconds of the evening news before dashing out.

AN EPSON PRINTER WITH longlasting ink

Digital photographers and graphic designers with limited budgets will want to note Epson's replacement for its venerable 1280 ink-jet printer, introduced in 2000. The Stylus Photo 1400, which will reach the market early next month, will still use six inks, but they will be Epson's new Claria inks.

Epson says these will produce prints that last 98 years, three times the life span of earlier inks. It also says the 1400 will print three times as fast, with the ink yielding three times as many prints.

An 8-by-10-inch photo at 720 dots per inch will take 173 seconds to print on the 1400, which may sound long but is fairly sprightly in the photo printer world.

Labeling of white ink-jet-printable CDs and DVDs is a feature found in many lower-end Epson printers, but the 1400 has a higher-precision mechanism — hence its 12.7kg heft. Automatic photo correction will handle red eye, underexposure and color problems. The maximum print is 13 inches by 19 inches.

A DISCREET VOICE RECORDER FOR YOUR 275-HOUR PODCAST

Podcasters and others in need of audio recordings no longer need to stick a microphone in their subjects' faces. The Olympus DS-50 voice recorder has a clip-on stereo microphone that will pick up both sides of a conversation.

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