Technology: August 2005 Archives

We have a digital camera that takes great pictures, but we have had so many mechanical problems with it that I'm sorry we bought the thing.

We had been putting off the purchase of a high-quality digital camera for some time, thinking that we weren't quite to the point where what we wanted in the way of quality would be available in our price range. We had a less-expensive Kodak, the CX4300, a starter camera given to us by my in-laws -- no optical zoom, very limited exposure control, and a significant delay between pressing the button and capturing the image, but it was a digital camera nonetheless.

I took a closer look at digital cameras just before Christmas and found that there were a number of very good cameras in the $300 range. The Kodak DX7440 received high marks, and it boasted a 4x optical zoom, a built-in lens cover, a larger than normal screen, and the ability to capture QuickTime movies. So I bought one for my wife for Christmas.

We discovered the first shortcoming as soon as we opened the box -- it uses a special rechargeable battery, not AAs. I'm not sure how I missed seeing that in all my research, but I did.

As soon as we had to remove the battery to recharge it, we discovered a second shortcoming -- the camera cannot remember the time with the battery out. I would have expected a small power source to keep the clock running, or at least enough capacitance to maintain the current time while the battery is being changed. Instead, if you simply remove the battery for a second, the date reverts to 1/1/2004.

Within a month, that was the least of our problems with the battery. I was replacing the battery after charging it, and the plastic piece inside the compartment that holds the battery in place just broke off. There was no fixing it. I had to send it back to the factory for warranty repairs.

Shortly after getting the camera back, the lens cover, which automatically deploys and retracts when you turn the camera off and on, started sticking. Sometimes it would stick open, sometimes it would stick shut, or partly shut. Usually a nudge with the edge of a fingernail was enough to make it open all the way.

During out Florida vacation, the lens cover started working reliably again. Hooray! Then, the night before we drove to Orlando for our days in Disney World, the flash select button and the shutter button stopped working. Everything else works -- the viewscreen, the menu and review buttons, the USB interface, the zoom -- but I can't make the thing take a picture. Changing batteries had no effect.

I had brought along the other, cheaper Kodak digital as a backup, but when I took it out of the bag, the battery cover popped off and wouldn't go back on. You remember building Revell models? Where you had all the little plastic pieces connected to a plastic framework, and you had to carefully twist back and forth to free a piece from the framework without damaging it? Remember how the plastic connection turned white just before it separated? That's what one of the two little pegs that hold the battery cover in place looked like. I might have rigged a fix, but I could just imagine the batteries sproinging out at inconvenient moments. So during our two days at Disney we relied on our good old Canon EOS Rebel 35mm, with no way to tell if we got a good shot or not.

The sad thing is that the DX7440 really takes great photos. The presets -- e.g., for bright beach scenes, backlighting, fireworks -- really work well.

I'd love to hear from other DX7440 owners: Are we to be plagued with problems forever? Or are we just unlucky?

Another way the web is changing the way products are sold: Matt Galloway doesn't care for Microsoft's name for its new version of Windows. The problem is that the name "vista" is so generic, it makes it difficult to use analytical tools like BlogPulse to track web interest in the product. Matt notes that Microsoft benefits from its unique corporate name but tends to give its products generic names, while Apple has a generic corporate name but unique product names.

Matt also has some interesting things to say about word-of-mouth marketing and how traditional marketeers still don't get it.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Technology category from August 2005.

Technology: June 2005 is the previous archive.

Technology: September 2005 is the next archive.

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