The Great COMEX 2009 Sweep: Part 2

Now that our earlier piece has handled the big buys of desktop computers and laptops, it’s time to look at the other side of COMEX: the consumer electronics and gadgets section.

Of course, this being COMEX, the variety of consumer electronics and gadgets are mind-boggling. Hence, UrbanWire has narrowed it down to what we believe to be every youth’s immediate concern: cameras.

Part 2: Camcorders and Cameras

Sony

Nikon

Olympus

SONY

While most other consumer electronics manufacturers attempt to capture market share with low prices and decent-quality products, SONY prefers to make an above average product, market it as an image and a way of life, and slap on a hefty price tag to it. And what do you know, it actually works, because SONY is widely known as a premium brand for just about any gadget, from camcorders to cameras, laptops and even gaming consoles.

Except that today, we’re only interested in their digital imaging equipment. Sorry SONY, but you can take that PS3 and VAIO elsewhere for now.

SONY DSLR-A330

a330

Quite surprisingly, SONY’s A330 was remarkably cheap, but the real surprise came when we discovered that SONY hadn’t dropped any prices for COMEX.

Instead, they opted to sweeten the deal by throwing in a bunch of freebies that one wouldn’t even dream of getting during non-exhibition days, which we must admit, is quite a shrewd tactic in maintaining their brand’s premium image.

While the A330 doesn’t offer that much choice in its purchase options (you choose either the barebones A330 + SAL 18-55 lens for $1,099 or a slightly more costly option which adds on the SAL 55-200 lens for $$1,399), check out the extraordinary free gifts bundled in the purchase:
a SONY 7” digital photo frame,
2x 8GB Memory Sticks,
a tripod,
a screen protector,
a battery,
a dry box,
a carrying case for the DSLR, and also
an SDW course (Sony Digital Workshop) worth $85.

UW’s verdict: Add up the approximate cost of those freebies, and suddenly it almost seems as though SONY’s DSLRs are practically being given away for a fraction of the price. And honestly, this would be the first time UW is recommending a SONY product.

SONY Handycam SR47E

sr47e

For most people, HD recording is not a necessity yet, which is why we wisely avoided SONY’s HD Handycams in favour of their cheaper but just as functional Standard Definition camcorders, and the SR47E stood out as the best bargain in SONY’s SD lineup.

With a 2.7” widescreen lens, up to 60x optical zoom and a 60GB hard disk which delivers up to 45 hours of recording time, the SR47E looks like the perfect travel companion for recording those precious moments to share with loved ones, all for the (relatively) reasonable price of $799.

And as usual, SONY has thrown in the following freebies which are sure to delight their customers: an 8GB Memory Stick, a carrying case, an extra battery, a DVD writer, a tripod and an SDW Course worth $45.

UW’s verdict: Not a very fantastic freebie lineup, but it’ll do if you are a huge fan of SONY quality products.

SONY Cyber-shot W210

w210

This nifty little digital camera had ‘EXCLUSIVE FOR COMEX ONLY’ scrawled all over it in the promotional posters and banners SONY had plastered all over the Convention Centre, and we couldn’t help but wonder what was so special about it.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t boast eye-popping specs: the W210 has a 12.1 megapixel capability, with a 4x optical zoom, a 2.7” LCD screen and the ability to take approximately 200 shots on a fully charged battery, along with a maximum ISO of 3200, all for $349.

Sounds rather average for a price like that. That is, until the freebies are revealed.

SONY throws in the usual free stuff: 1 x 8GB + 1 x 4GB Memory Stick for storage, a SONY carrying case, a screen protector, a mini-tripod and, would you believe it, a SONY DVD Player, which looks to be the most expensive freebie being offered in COMEX.

UW’s verdict: We’d buy it just for the DVD player. Nah, we’re kidding. But that’s one outrageous freebie going there. Let’s hope SONY doesn’t conveniently run out of stocks.

Nikon

Nikon’s reputation for cameras is known whether one is a professional or amateur photographer, although we often see them sponsoring movies screened on TV instead of advertising their cameras outright.

But the lack of commercials hasn’t dulled Nikon’s prominence and influence among photographers, and judging by what they have up for grabs in COMEX, it’s not too difficult to see why – after all, quality spreads through word of mouth faster than any commercial, especially within a very niche audience.

CoolPix L20

l20

Calling a camera ‘cool’ just sounds wrong on so many different levels, but it seems that Nikon apparently pulled it off with style, thanks to their CoolPix digital camera lineup. And the L20 takes the top spot in Nikon’s COMEX 2009 offerings.

Barely bigger than your palm, the CoolPix L20 packs in a 10 megapixel resolution, a 3.0” LCD screen, 3.6x optical zoom and macro-closeup to 5cm, all for the extremely low price of $199, which makes it the second cheapest digital camera up for sale in COMEX.

To keep things interesting, Nikon has also thrown in a 4GB SD card, a case, a mini-tripod, an LCD cleaning pad, a screen protector and a set of AA rechargeable batteries for the camera. Thanks to the decision to use AA batteries, this little gadget is definitely not going to win any eco-friendliness awards anytime soon, sadly.

UW’s verdict: We’d take it without a second thought if not for the environmentalists breathing down our necks over at the UW office. Hey, lighten up a little, AA batteries are cheap. And besides, we use rechargeable ones. So give us a break…

Nikon D5000 DSLR

d5000

We were quite surprised that the D5000 wasn’t as heavy as we had originally thought it would be. This means that just about anybody can pick it up and get trigger-happy without having to worry about wrist cramps.

The D5000’s lack of weight doesn’t cheapen the camera, however, which would be a direct shot against old-school folks who think that a professional camera must match its worth in terms of mass and weight. Stashed away inside this not-so-heavy DSLR is 12.3 megapixel resolution, a CMOS image sensor, a 2.7” LCD screen, ISO specification of 200-3200, an 11-point AF system, 4fps, 19-scene mode, a built-in photo editor, picture control system and a dust reduction system.

It also has a not-so-lightweight price tag attached: the D5000 is available at $1,299 with one AF-5 DX VR 18-55mm lens, or $1,599 for an additional AF5 DX VR 55-200mm lens.

UW’s verdict: We suggest that search around for other better offers first before coming back.

Olympus

In ancient Greek mythology, the gods lived atop Mount Olympus, where it was said they could watch over the world from its peak with ease. While we aren’t so sure if the Olympus brand of cameras has that divine capability to watch over the whole world, it has definitely managed to get photography aficionados watching it.

Which is not quite a bad thing sometimes, especially in a world where brand loyalty is no longer a trait in today’s consumerist society.

Olympus E-450

e450

While the E-450 may not win any prizes for being the most powerful, feature-packed offering or having the fastest shutter speed in the competition, it definitely has something any camera shopper can appreciate, a relatively thin price tag.

To begin with, this camera carries the ambitious claim that it features the world’s smallest body for a DSLR, which we were quite hard pressed to disagree with, considering that most of the competition have been content in pushing out the much bigger and bulkier camera bodies that have come to define most professional cameras. It also features a 10-megapixel resolution, which is not cutting edge today, along with other standard features like a MOS sensor, a dust reduction system and an 11-points live view sensor with face detection.

The E-450, like most of the competition, is sold in 2 different packages: the single lens package nets you the camera body and an ED 14-42mm lens for the auspicious price of $888, while the twin lens package sees the inclusion of an extra ED 40-150mm lens thrown in for $1,048.

UW’s verdict: This is proof that small needn’t mean sub-standard or less feature-complete. Unfortunately, we still have a hard time trying to get the idea out of our heads that professional cameras must be gigantic.

Olympus FE-46

fe46

Apparently the FE is not just some generic-looking make. Rather, it stands for Fashion & Elegance, 2 words that are usually the last thing geeks expect to hear regarding technology or electronic gadgets like cameras.

Decked in a bright and yet not too striking metallic blue shell, the FE-46 is a sight to behold, partly because the colour of choice is extremely uncharacteristic for a digital camera, but also because of the way it was designed – unlike most digital cameras, the FE-46 has a contour at the side which allows for a more comfortable and tighter grip when taking photos, something which is noticeably absent in most of the competition.

And for the price of $198 ($1 cheaper than the CoolPix mentioned previously), you get a more eco-friendly camera that uses a rechargeable battery, along with a green ‘eco’ label stamped on the box.

UW’s verdict: Considering that this was the only digital camera that had the ‘eco’ label on it, we’re quite willing to bet that Captain Planet would love to purchase one for himself. You’ll find him queueing with many environmentalists, of course.

About Michael Lum

Just a normal guy with an abnormal fascination for most things that normal people seldom bother with. Sometimes, he prefers to be known as the Embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins, loyal servant to Hate and Anger, Sworn enemy to Love, and loyal vassal to the great Overlord Laharl. Mostly, he's just sitting down counting how much bribe money or pocket money he has received (which currently stands at $0.00) before considering what kind of articles he should write for any publication. Occasionally he can also be found playing games on his 3-year-old Nintendo DS or listening to game OSTs. And if you're lucky, you might just catch him outdoors, although such sightings are much rarer that catching an actual UFO hovering over any one part of the Earth at any time. He has a very weak spot for PC hardware and OSes. And 'moe' 2D characters. Give him all 3 of that (along with some $ to pay off his rent) and something very good will happen, usually. LAN is obsessed with: - Flandre Scarlet and Remilia Scarlet from Touhou Project? Overlord Laharl and Etna from Disgaea? - Intel Core i7? - Windows 7 - HP notebooks - Acer notebooks - Linux (specifically, OpenSUSE, Fedora, Mandriva, Ubuntu and Linux Mint)