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Che-ez! Splash Miniature Digital Camera with Flash

The Che-ez! Splash is a miniature digital camera that comes with a complementing miniature detachable flash. The concept is very similar to the Olympus XA-series cameras that were made in 1979. The Olympus XA-series (XA1, XA2, XA3, and XA4) are ultra-compact manual cameras were small in size, but had manual control features designed for professionals. The Che-ez! Splash is even smaller; both camera and flashes fit in the palm of one hand. And it is digital. Whereas the Olympus XA cameras were targeted at professionals, the Che-ez! Splash is targeted at consumers with no manual control. In addition to still picture capability, it has the capability to capture video (no audio).

The presentation of this digital camera was excellent. I was impressed as soon as I had the container in my hand. The camera, flashes, and accessories comes neatly packed in a tin box. The camera and flash are has real metallic surfaces. Accessories include a camera/flash pouch, metal-beaded neck strap, a mini-B USB cable, an AAA battery for camera, a CR-2 battery for flash, instruction manual, and software on CD-ROM.

Taking pictures with the camera is relatively easy. The hardest part being inserting the AAA battery and trying to lock the door closed. Apparently the spring in the battery compartment is a little too strong for the miniature door. The next hardest part is operating the modes, which involves the use of the power and mode buttons in different combination. I could not figure it out without finally referring to the instruction manual. There is no way to turn off the camera manually, but it does turn itself off in 30 seconds when inactive.

The resolution of the camera is 640x480 (0.3 megapixel). I was a bit confused with its fine and normal compression rate. With fine resolution, the camera's 8MB internal memory can store 155 pictures, while with normal resolution the camera can store 223 pictures. Doesn't seem to add up to me. I can only suspect the instruction manual is using incorrect terminology. They probably meant fine quality and normal quality, where fine quality use lower compression and normal quality uses higher compression.

The movie mode captures video at 15 frame per second (fps) at a resolution of 320x480. The maximum size of the clip is approximately 54 seconds using the 8MB internal memory. If connected to the computer, the maximum size of the clip is limited by the hard disk space of the computer.

The internal 8MB NAND FLASH memory really pleases me. Unlike the volatile memory on the Gear To Go CyberPix digital camera (reviewed elsewhere on this site), the flash memory is non-volatile. Non-volatile memory means that when the battery is removed from the camera, it will not automatically erase the pictures and the video contained on the memory. This is a real good thing. Read the Gear To Go CyberPix digital camera article if this concept is not intuitive.

The lens of the camera is fixed. I was quite disappointed that it did not have a lens cap of some sort to prevent the front class from being scratched. This is one camera where I would like to carry in my pants pocket or in my car. Without a lens cap, the dust may gather on the glass and may require frequent cleaning.

The flash is really interesting. It clips onto the side of the camera and has its own on/off switch. Therefore, you can really keep it on the camera all the time without worrying that it might fire when you want to shoot with existing light. But I like the idea that it can be removed, thus allowing the camera to be even more discreet. I noticed in-doors pictures, taken without flash, contain more noise than pictures taken with the flash. The flash seems to work well in lighting up the scene.

The camera also comes with a tripod socket, so that it can be mounted on a tripod. And the self-timer will come in handy when the user also wants to be in the picture. Overall, this is an impressive little camera that I purchased as a gift. But I have such a nice time trying it out that I am already considering getting one for myself.

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Copyright © 2003 by Chieh Cheng. All Rights Reserved.