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gear: october 07, 2002
l'espion digital camera
reviewed by Donald Melanson

There's a small subset of digital cameras that take pictures of such poor quality they become appealing because of, not in spite of, that shortcomming. The GameBoy camera was the first to gain attention for this reason, then the Eyemodule for the Handspring Visor PDA (reviewed in Mindjack) and the PenCam.

The l'espion digital camera from Digital Dream takes better pictures than any of those cameras, but still falls in the category of a fun digital camera, not a replacement for a tradtional film camera or a multi-megapixel digital camera.

The l'espion is really, really small—about the size of a box of matches, and is one of the few keychain devices small enough to actually use as a keychain. As far as I can tell, it is the smallest digital camera currently available, although that's sure to change soon enough.

The quality of the pictures are about what you'd expect. At the "high resolution" setting, the camera captures 20 shots at 352x288. Switching to low resolution will get you 80 at 176 x 144. There's no flash, so the quality of pictures will depend largely on the lighting. It won't take pictures at all if it's too dark.

The camera will also capture 10 second video clips and doubles as a webcam. It draws it's power through the USB cable when connected to a computer, so it won't drain the single AAA battery when using it in this mode. The camera is Mac and PC compatible and now has Mac OS X drivers as well, which weren't available initially.

The l'espion digital camera is available now through a number of online stores or directly from Digital Dream's website for 39.99 (approximately $63US).

 

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