Concord has sent us the Eye-Q Go Wireless Bluetooth Digital Camera for review. The company specialises in creating accessible cameras in terms of price. During the Consumer Electronics Show 2004 (CES) they were demonstrating a few new models, and promoted their Bluetooth digital camera.
What's so special about this camera? Well, think about the possibilities for mobile users. The camera is small and light at 86 x 61 x 32.5 mm and 105 g, has a 2 megapixels CCD and it'll give mobile professionals better pictures than most current camera phones on the market.
The camera comes with 7MB internal memory, but a SD/MMC card slot gives the freedom to take as many pictures as you could fit in a memory card, with the benefit of having endless number of cards if needed to. Imagine that a mobile real estate agent can take pictures of a new property, transfer the files wirelessly to a Pocket PC or laptop and then use the handheld to upload the images via e-mail over wi-fi or GPRS/CDMA connections (either using a Pocket PC Phone Edition or connected to a Bluetooth mobile phone for example). The list of mobile professionals that could benefit of this can include real estate agents, insurance agents, police officers, and so on. Just think of anything that needs pictures and where cables would be an annoyance, and you have the opportunity to use a wireless enabled camera.
The picture quality is very good when compared to a camera phone and holds ok against other digital cameras of similar number of pixels. File sizes vary from 34KB (smallest image with low quality setting) to 700KB (largest image with high quality setting). You can also record silent 320-by-240 AVI movies with up to 15 fps. These will be quite big: a test movie of 36 seconds used 5.5Mbytes of space.
The Eye-Q Go Wireless offers three preset white balance options as well as an automatic setting, with ISO equivalency fixed at 100. Thereís built-in flash that can be set to on, off and automatic. The camera has special shooting modes for fireworks, party/indoor, sunset, night landscape, and beach/snow.
The camera has a viewfinder and a 1.6" TFT colour LCD. The LCD is almost usable under sunlight, but definitely very good indoors or in the shade. The shutter delay is around 0.7 seconds, which means that you have to hold the camera for at least this time before moving the focus away from the subject.
Menu operation is very practical, and the icons on the LCD are clear and easy to understand. Instructions are clear, and the camera offers menus and messages in English, French, German and Spanish.
Small and light Bluetooth digital camera
Camera and Bluetooth adapter, part of the package
TFT LCD with icons and buttons: easy to use interface
SD/MMC slot and battery compartment
The f3.2 glass lens set is fixed-focus, equivalent to 48mm lens on a 35mm format. A slide switch lets you adjust the depth-of-field between macro, portrait, and distant shots. The logic also includes a 4X digital zoom. Users can specify an exposure value and control the white balance (automatic settings for sunny, fluorescent, tungsten). Images can have up to 1600 x 1200 resolution, including 1280 x 960, and 640 x 480 (JPEG at three compression levels: fine, medium, low)
The camera also works as a webcam when connected to a computer via USB, usable with Instant Messaging software like MSN or AOL AIM. One great thing about this camera is that once you install the drivers it'll act like removable drive on your computer, in reality making it a SD/MMC card reader too .
One interesting thing is that the package includes a Bluetooth USB adapter and software (XTNDConnect drivers). Itís a good start point if the user wants to get the camera up and running, but donít have a Bluetooth adapter yet.
The camera itself incorporates National Semiconductorís CP3BH19SB Bluetooth module.
How does the built-in Bluetooth work in this camera? The camera will work with any Bluetooth device that works with the OBEX File Transfer. It means you can transfer files to a handheld (Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Palm OS will work fine), Symbian Smartphones (tested with a Sony Ericsson P800 and Nokia 3650) and laptop/desktop computers equipped with Bluetooth.
Here at Geekzone weíve tested it with a Windows Mobile 2003 Pocket PC, a desktop with TDK USB dongle and a laptop with Bluetake USB Dongle (both running Widcomm drivers). We didnít test the Bluetooth adapter part of the package since we already have a few around here.
The camera doesnít offer any Bluetooth services, meaning you can only push from the camera to another device, but not pull from the camera. You canít browse the camera contents from your PDA or computer via Bluetooth. Basically you switch the camera to review mode, find the image you want to transfer and hit the Menu button. Scroll down to Transmit and wait for the search to return with a list of Bluetooth devices available nearby. Select one of them and the transfer will start. Itís that easy.
The camera as seen from the Pocket PC
Incoming file: Accept?
Saving incoming file
The camera as seen from the laptop
Incoming file: Accept?
The transfer process could be easier if the system had an option to transfer all images from memory, in batch. Currently it fulfills one request at a time, so the user has to interact as many times as needed to transfer more than one image.
We measure the transfer of individual files from the camera to a desktop, Windows Mobile Pocket PC (HP iPAQ h4150) and to a Symbian Smartphone (Sony Ericsson P800). For a file with 183Kbytes we had times between 20 seconds (laptop), 25 seconds (Pocket PC) and 27 seconds (Smartphone).
The minimum time was 5 seconds for a file with 35Kbytes (minimum size, low quality) and the time went up to 85 seconds for a file with 697Kbytes (maximum size, high quality). Interesting enough the only way to get AVI files out of the camera is via cable.
Transfer times for a medium file. Small files (low resolution) are transferred in five seconds
These are example of images created with this camera and one with a camera phone (all open in a new window):
The camera comes with USB cable for connection with a computer and a cable for TV connection (video in, PAL and NTSC formats). The picture on a TV screen is very good, and it's live if the camera is in recording mode.
The device is powered by a CR123A non-rechargeable lithium battery. This saves in final cost, but it would be nice to be able to use rechargeable batteries. The expect battery life is around 120 photos.
The package comes with two CDs. One disc contains the drivers for the Bluetooth adapter, and the second one comes with USB drivers, user manual in all languages supported, and ArcSoft PhotoImpression and ArcSoft VideoImpression.
In my opinion, the camera offers a range of features to satisfy the occasional non-professional photographer, and it can be a very effective tool for mobile professionals. With a price of only US$ 179 (on Amazon) and the added Bluetooth adapter in the package, itís a great start for new Bluetooth users and current users who need a practical device for imaging .