capsule review

Sony Mavica MVC-CD1000

The pairing of a digital camera and a built-in CD-R recorder seems as brilliant as putting vanilla ice cream on a piece of apple pie. The media is cheap and plentiful; the drive large but sturdy. However, with the Mavica MVC-CD1000, Sony has created something closer to sherbet on apple pie-not terrible, but not quite right either.

The MVC-CD1000 is a 2.1-megapixel camera that captures images of pleasing quality at resolutions of 1,600 by 1,200, 1,024 by 768, or 640 by 480 pixels. A 1,600-by-1,200-pixel image produces enough detail to satisfactorily print out as a 5-by-7- or 8-by-10-inch picture. According to Sony, the rechargeable lithium battery will last for approximately 1.5 hours, or 1,100 shots. The camera features 10x optical zoom and records in JPEG, GIF, TIFF, and MPEG file formats.

The Mavica's claim to fame is that it uses CD-R media. However, it does not use standard 5.5-inch CD-Rs -- it uses proprietary Sony 3-inch CD-Rs. The camera ships with one CD-R; additional media can be purchased separately at around $5 each (a 5-pack costs $25), compared with $45 for a 16MB CompactFlash card. This media is only made by Sony and is not as widely available as CompactFlash or SmartMedia cards. Plus, the CD-Rs only work with tray-loading drives, which means that slot-loading iMacs or the new Titanium PowerBook G4 cannot read the discs. And, unlike CompactFlash and SmartMedia, it is impossible to free up room on the CD-R by deleting images. When you "delete" an image, it's no longer listed on the CD-R, but the space it takes up is still used by the deleted file.

Taking a Shot

The MVC-CD1000 is user friendly, with a simple menu system that gives you control of image size, image quality, exposure, sharpness, and flash level. The toggle button and intuitive menus make navigation easy. The 2.5-inch LCD screen is adequate, and the image displayed is representative of how the images will turn out. Audio feedback -- a series of beeps and chirps -- helps you navigate through menus. This option can be turned off.

The camera often takes as long as 30 seconds to recover between shots. And although Sony includes a USB cable, you can't connect the camera to a Mac due to USB-incompatibility. The only way to view files is by inserting the CD-R and using Sony's included software.

Another problem with the Mavica MVC-CD1000 is that it is difficult to determine how much space is left on the CD-R. Unlike many digital cameras, the Mavica counts the number of pictures you've taken, not the number of pictures you have left. On the LCD there is an icon of a disc that slowly fills in, to indicate filled space, but this method of measurement is not accurate enough-especially when you're about to run out of disk space. Last but not least, the camera weighs over two pounds.

Sony Mavica MVC-CD1000
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