PIXEL POWER
Whether you’re looking to permanently toss that disposable camera or just hitting up the spouse for an upgrade, there’s lots of new stuff on the digital camera front. We asked John Daniels, worldwide marketing manager for Texas Instruments’ Digital Camera Solutions Group, to brief us on the state of the art.

AMERICAN WAY: What are some hot new features out this year?
JOHN DANIELS:
You’ll be able to do red-eye reduction in the camera itself rather than on the PC or a website. Also, several still cameras from Sanyo and others will be able to capture higher quality video than we’ve seen so far. That’s TV-quality video. Look for those in the second quarter of the year.

AMERICAN WAY: How about wireless capabilities?
DANIELS:
Several manufacturers will produce Wi-Fi-ready cameras in the second half of the year. You’ll be able to put the camera in an 802.11 dock that comes with the unit, then transmit pictures to your PC. Late in the year, I think we’ll see cameras that can talk directly to a Wi-Fi receiver on top of your TV.

AMERICAN WAY: Any big improvements on the performance side?
DANIELS:
At certain price levels, performance in digital cameras will equal what you can get in analog SLR (single lens reflex) cameras. The shutter lag on the digitals is getting much shorter. Soon, you’ll be able to turn on the camera and take a picture in one second, and take three pictures per second on more expensive units. About 30 percent of today’s camera buyers are buying their second or third digitals, and they really want that performance.

And the megapixel question: How many, how much, how soon?
DANIELS:
More megapixels are coming, and the consumer won’t have to pay more for them. You’re starting to see 5-megapixel cameras this year for $299. By the end of the year, I expect 6-, 7-, and 8-megapixel cameras in the $500 to $750 range.