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Casio WQV-2 Wrist Camera
(by Mike Slocombe, Internet Magazine, June 2001)
If you're a geeky gadget freak with a penchant for groovy gizmos of debatable practical use, then this is the puppy for you. .
This is one devious device that's guaranteed to earn gasps of amazement from chums when you reveal how that slightly chunky designer watch you've been fiddling with has just taken their picture.
The Casio WQV-1 Wrist Camera may look like a regular retro-styled watch, but sneakily concealed under the trendy metal curves is a fully fledged digital camera, capable of storing 100 B&W pictures at 120x120 pixel resolution.
Taking pictures is no different to any other digital camera: slap the watch into record mode by pressing the large silver button on the front, and then line up your shot using the real time preview display on the watch. Exposure is automatic with snapshots being immediately viewable on the watch.
You can choose from three different modes when recording an image: 'normal' mode records 16-grayscale monochrome images, a rather murky 'art mode' produces high contrast, two-tone images and 'merge' lets you combine two different images together for some sickly 'couples' shots.
Captions up to 24 characters can be added to your photos useful for remembering the name of the person you've been chatting up all night long.
Naturally, the concealed nature of the camera means you can take all manner of sneaky pictures (resist, lads, resist!), but its small size also makes it great as a take-everywhere means of recording visual ideas, pictures of friends, street scenes, pics from magazines etc.
Of course, with only 25,355 pixels to play with (that's just 0.025 megapixels), the quality is never going to be that great, but we were pleasantly surprised by the images, with daylight scenes being especially good. Low light shots weren't so impressive and it took a bit of practice to stop taking pictures of giant fingers.
Downloading photos to your PC is easy: install the supplied WQV Link software, set your watch into 'PC Mode' and point it at the bundled serial port IR receiver. Images take a few minutes to download and are saved as JPEG images (there's a freeware Palm Pilot viewer available from http://www.kaduhi.com/wCBr/). Images can also be shared with other Wrist Camera owners via infra red.
The real fun comes by sharing photos with friends, and their small size makes these images perfect for the web, with loads of Wrist Camera galleries already springing up (take a look at www.urban75.org/watchcam/ for some of my efforts).
The Wrist Camera comes stuffed with all the usual digital watch functions: time, day and date, five alarms, 60-minute countdown timer with alarm, and 1/100-second stopwatch with a 24-hour range, and a claimed battery life of 6 months (with 60 seconds of camera operation per day).
Although the grainy results from the camera make it hard to justify the hefty price tag to all but the most committed gadget freaks, there's no denying that this marvel of miniaturisation is a whole load of fun and, as a conversation starter, second to none!
Rating (out of five): FOUR STARS
PROS: Nearly the most fun you can have with your wrist
CONS: Not so good in low light, expensive, no Mac software
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