April 22, 2010

image Dave Zatz questions whether Cisco will destroy the Flip brand. To that I would offer, if opening up international distribution and investing millions in advertising during the holidays and after (resulting in excellent sales results) show Cisco killing the Flip brand, than it is certainly doing so with kindness. Like Dave, I thought the FlipShare TV product was certainly off the beaten path for Pure Digital’s history of minimalism and simplicity. Some of this was execution, but some of it was the scope of the task given today’s technology options (which I believe will improve dramatically in the next two years). The SlideHD may be a similar philosophical departure.

On the other hand, while the Flip’s market share remains strong, competition continues to grow – both with better competitors within the category and from adjacent categories such as digital cameras and cameraphones. I’ve long said that – just as it was a challenge for Apple to differentiate the iPod based on such factors as device size and file transfer speed – it will be a challenge for the Flip to compete with other flash camcorders as the declining price-capacity ratios of flash memory enable other camcorder makers to match the Flip’s size and price point. Perhaps the surprise is that, with the Slide, Cisco has embraced a feature that could be considered gimmicky, but both it and the FlipShare TV are directionally consistent with the longstanding Flip mission of lowering the barriers to sharing video.

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March 8, 2009

image The mood was quiet but not desperate last week at PMA. Some of the standout cameras included the Sony HX1 with its crowd-pleasing “sweep panorama” mode, the chunky Kodak Z915 compact 10x superzoom, and the Panasonic Lumix GH1 micro-four-thirds system now with video. Samsung seems to be gearing up to go head-to-head against the Lumix G series with its “hybrid” NX series that will pack an APS-C sensor into something that’s more of a point-and-shoot form factor, but there were only very early prototypes on display.

An article on Crave last week noted that Olympus cannot see its consumer DSLRs going past 12 megapixels. Perhaps the industry is finally starting to see the increasing diminishing returns of higher resolution not only for better image quality per se but as a benefit to promote versus other functionality. I thought the camera that demonstrated this best was Fujifilm’s F200 EXR which uses the Super CCD EXR sensor. In short, the camera can be used to take 12 MP photos when there is ample light or 6 MP when there is less light; the other 6 MP can be used for enhancing dynamic range. This could be a small step toward cameras that can produce true HDR photos in the camera. Fujifilm isn’t the only brand to cut down on megapixels for some other aim, such as the Casio Exilim Pro FH20 high-speed cameras that use smaller photos to produce higher frames-per-second, but I like the trend

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March 6, 2009

image For quite some time, Pentax and Olympus were the go-to brands for waterproof digital cameras, but that changed in a big way at this PMA with Panasonic, Sakar, Canon, and General Imaging showing off resilient point-and-shoots.The bulbous Canon D10 with its screw-on faceplates seemed to be favorite of most people I spoke with, and I like the sturdy feel of the Panasonic. The one that appealed to me most though, was the Fujifilm Z33WP. As part of the low-end, youth-oriented Z line, it has a fun, colorful look and is among the more affordable new entrants at $199. Fujiflilm also had some nice accessories for its hydrophilic shooter.

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