Sunday, 03 April, 2005

Lamenting the loss of a useful device

I went shopping for a new digital camera over the weekend. I broke the battery door on my Creative PC-CAM 300 by storing the camera in a bag mounted to my bicycle's top tube. The camera's a rugged little thing, but it succombed to the repeated vibrations and shocks from a couple of hours on the roads. The thing still works fine as a Web cam, but since the battery door won't close I can't carry it around with me anymore.

I was hoping to find a replacement in kind. I like the PC-CAM because it's rugged, the case is molded to fit the hand, and it takes reasonably good pictures. The built in 8 megabyte memory lets me take about 128 pictures at 640x480. The included USB interface and software make downloading and managing the photo albums very easy. It's a simple, inexpensive, and very effective little camera. I've carried it on many bike rides, dropped it a few times, and crashed with it in my pocket. That I finally broke it is unfortunate, but not a huge financial loss.

But I can't find a replacement in any store that I've visited (Fry's, Target, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart) or at any online retailer. Creative's web site shows four similar cameras: PC-CAM models 350, 600, 750, and 800, but they don't appear to be available in North America. Stores don't seem to have anything similar that combines the ruggedness, price, and ease of use of the PC-CAM. Every camera I looked at had an LCD screen and looked like it would shatter if I dropped it. I wouldn't feel comfortable taking any of them with me on the mountain bike.

I guess I'll make another attempt at fixing the battery door with duct tape while I lament advanced technology's replacement of yet another device that I use and like. It seems that camera phones have made these inexpensive digital cameras obsolete, just as the 3G phones have made my Kyocera PalmOS phone obsolete.