Polaroid camera makes learning digital photography a snap
The Polaroid Digital 320 is a low-priced, low-resolution camera ideal for children learning digital photography, for those who'd like to e-mail pictures and for online sellers who don't need to post sharp images of their products.
The point-and-shoot, lightweight camera runs off an included 9-volt battery and stores from 15 to 21 images at a time. Pictures, which have a resolution of 320 by 240 pixels, are imported into a Windows 95/98 computer using a serial port cable.
Polaroid's PhotoMax software comes in the kit, offering basic tools for cropping and for controlling brightness, contrast and hue. It has fun features, too: One makes photos look like paintings, mosaics or sketches.
Another has fantasy art that serves as backdrops for real photos; for instance, you can drop a photo of yourself into a sports magazine cover or a Michelangelo masterpiece.
There is no flash, so the camera is best suited to the outdoors or in a well-lighted area inside, such as near a large window. Almost all the indoor shots I took were too dark or too grainy. Outdoor images were better but don't compare to prints from an old-fashioned, auto-focus camera.
Suggested retail price for the Polaroid Digital 320 is $59.95.
Information: 800-343-5000 or www.polaroid.com.
-- Tyra Damm/KRT
DVD dreams made reality with Sony one-piece system
Just add a TV and an easy chair.
That's pretty much the idea behind Sony's DVD Dream System, which puts most of what's needed for a home entertainment system in one package. But the best news is that the system's convenience is more than matched by its performance and price.
The DAV-S300, as it's officially known, combines a DVD movie player, AM-FM tuner and surround-sound amplifier in one chassis. The central unit mates with a free-standing woofer and five speakers, all part of the deal. The pieces are inconspicuous enough to fit in a small den, bedroom, even a dorm room.
Performance, however, is anything but small. Sound is as crisp and spacious as that of name-brand systems that cost twice as much. The DVD player is the real clincher here, though. Video images are vivid enough to give anyone accustomed to VCRs a convincing invitation to make the switch. And this DVD player, like most, doubles as a CD music player.
Audio and home theater fanatics will spend thousands of dollars more chasing dazzling high-definition video or the sound of room-rocking bass. The DVD Dream System is a simple and cost-effective way for everyone else to start. It's available now with a list price of $600.
Information: 800-222-7669 or www.sel.sony.com.
-- John Hanan/KRT