PRODUCT REVIEW

Casio Exilim Cam Packs a Host of Handy Features

When it comes to slim and sleek in digital cameras, Casio is king. Oneof its latest offerings, the Casio Exilim EX-S880, illustrates why.

Not only does the new 8.1 megapixel bytecam sport the Twiggy proportionsthat Casio is known for — it measures 3.72 by 2.38 by .68 inches andweighs a feathery 4.51 ounces — but it’s bristling with state-of-the-artfeatures, not the least of which is a slick connection to YouTube, oneof the Net’s most popular places to share videos.

One-Button Video

The unit, which sells on the Internet for US$219.99 to $279.99, allows youto shoot video by pressing a single button — no fussing with menus or dials.

What’s more, the camera has a 2.8-inch “wide” display. That makes iteasier to frame video for newer computer and TV screens.

More screen real estate also permits Casio to place a vertical row of iconsalong the right side of the display. That gives you quick access tocommon functions like image resolution, flash modes, self-timer, facedetection, anti-shake, ISO settings, white balance and exposurecompensation.

No Bright Hype

The LCD also uses something Casio calls “Super Bright” technology, whichthe company claims makes the display three times brighter than theaverage one.

Many camera makers make claims about their displays, but Casio deliverson its boasting. The S880’s LCD is bright and sharp and scenes displayedin it look very natural.

Moreover, images on it don’t wash out even with direct sunlight shiningon the display. That’s especially important with a camera like this thatdoesn’t have a viewfinder.

YouTube Connection

The unit captures video in QuickTime format with H.264 MPEG-4compression. That compression scheme lets you store more video in thecamera — as much as 1.5 times the playback time of standardMPEG-4 — without degrading its quality.

High resolution video, including video in the 16:9 format, can becaptured at 640-by-480 pixels and 30 frames per second. Better yet,there’s also a very high quality mode with a resolution of 842-by-480pixels suitable for showing on high-definition TVs.

This Exilim model has only 10.8 megabytes of internal memory, sovideophiles probably will want to supplement that with a memory card ofone gigabyte or more. A 1 GB card can hold almost 19 minutes of videocaptured with the S880.

Cards accepted by the camera include conventional SD and MMC formfactors as well as newer high capacity formats such as SDHC and MMCplus.

The YouTube software bundled with the camera is easy to install and setup. Just give it your user name and password and it’s ready to uploadyour video files to the service.

If you want to edit your video before you upload it, video editingsoftware is bundled with the camera.

Excellent Stills

Video prowess aside, the S880 is an excellent point-and-shoot digitalstill camera (DSC).

While some image snatchers may find their styles cramped by the camera’s3x optical zoom lens (38-114 35mm equivalent), the quality of what thecamera captures is very good.

Colors were natural and images sharp. The anti-shake technology, though,seems to work better with stills than with video.

Face Recognition

One of the hottest technologies in DSCs right now is face recognition.It allows a camera to recognize the presence of faces in a shot andautomatically choose the best settings to optimize the rendering ofthose faces.

Although I found the face recognition feature superfluous in mostsituations, one circumstance where it was very useful was shootinginside with the unit’s built-in flash.

Overall, I found photos taken indoors with the built-in flash wereproperly exposed — not washed out as is the case with many built-inflashes — and to some degree, face recognition seem to contribute to thatperformance boost.

‘Take It Everywhere’ Camera

In addition to shooting stills and video, the camera will record sound.You can add voice memos to photos or simply dictate messages to yourself.

The unit — with the help of software packaged with the camera — will alsoconvert documents, Web pages and such into a file format that can beviewed on the DSC’s display so you use the camera as a portable storagedevice.

A docking station included with the unit makes connecting it to acomputer a cinch. However with so many computers containing card readersthese days, docking stations are becoming more of an encumbrance than acatalyst to photo uploading.

The Exilim EX-S880 is a “take it everywhere” digital camera that doesn’tsacrifice performance for portability. With it, whether the moment callsfor a still shot or video, you’ll be able to capture it and capture itwith quality.


John Mello is a freelance business and technology writer who can be reached at reviews@jpmello.com.


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