october 07, 2002
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 smallabout 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
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).