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Product ShowCase

It's a Sony...But it's different!

Sony Australia have released the first digital video Handycam cam-corder which not only records full-motion video but also "mega-pixel" still images. In other words, Sony’s DCR-PC100 combines the best of both worlds in video and still cameras into one compact unit.

The camera uses the mini DV cassette format and, even more importantly, Sony’s "Memory Stick" flash memory (see below).

On the video side, the camcorder delivers up to 520 lines of resolution, while in still mode it captures images at up to 1152 x 864 pixels – more than three times other digital camcorders. And this is in a lightweight (550g) unit which measures just 61 x 127 x 123mm.

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A 10x optical and 120x digital zoom is built in, with the precision optics sporting the Carl Zeiss brand name. It’s already suitable for digital TV with a 16:9 (wide-screen) recording format.

The camera can record in total darkness (0 lux) with its inbuilt infra-red mode. Eight different picture effects are also available, including black and white, sepia, negative art, solarisation, pastel, slim, stretch and mosaic.

Digital options include Old Movie, Luminance Key, Flash Motion, Still, Slow Shutter and Trail modes. Still pictures and video can be combined in a variety of Chroma Key modes.

Analog and video inputs are provided, so the user can convert their libraries of analog videotapes to digital, regardless of format. And digital tapes can be easily edited via a PC.

Included is a 2.5-inch LCD colour screen (of 200,000 pixels) for what-you-see-is-what-you-record realism. The screen can rotate up to 270° even allowing the user to video themselves while watching the screen.

Supplied with a Windows-compatible photo manipulation and cataloguing program called PictureGear Lite, a wide variety of applications are possible – everything from near-broadcast-quality video to still pictures for the ’net.

Mind you, this doesn’t come particularly cheap. The list price for the DSC-PC100 Handycam with a 4MB Memory Stick is almost $4600. Then again, quality single-frame mega-pixel cameras are still in the $1000-$2000 range so to get an outstanding quality digital video thrown in, the value is certainly there.

Memory Stick

If the release of the DCR-PC100 wasn’t news enough, Sony also announced a 64MB capacity "Memory Stick" media to bolster its range of 4, 8, 16 and 32MB sticks.

Sony believes the memory stick will become the standard flash-storage media of the future, especially with even larger capacities planned – 256MB by 2001.

As it is, the 64MB stick can hold more than three hundred mega-pixel (1152 x 864) images in super fine, fine or standard modes.

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The 64MB variant of Sony's "Memory Stick" flash memory. 256MB versions are planned by 2001!

The memory stick is designed to link and transfer information between a wide variety of audio, video and computer products. It is flash media, giving it high storage capacity but in an ultra-compact design.

The durable stick memory case measures just 21.5 x 50 x 2.8mm and weighs just 4g. Read speed is up to 2.45MB/second while write speed is up to 1.5MB/second.

Already the memory stick concept has been backed by a number of other major consumer electronics and computer manufacturers.

Transferring data recorded on a memory stick to a PC is simple: Sony have an adapter which fits any standard 3.5-inch floppy disk slot. This disk drive reads the data from the memory stick adapter as if it were a disk. A parallel port adapter is also available.

Memory Sticks sell for around $240 (32MB capacity) up to $429 (64MB), while the floppy disk drive adapter lists for $239.

For more information, contact Sony Consumer Information Centre on (02) 9879 9712, or www.sony.net/

Marantz "Century Design" range for new century

Jamo Australia have introduced the new "Century Design" range from Marantz to coincide with the turn of the century.

The CD6000 OSE CD player (pictured above) is part of this range which also includes four other CD players (two multi-CD), a new integrated amplifier offering optional Class A mode, two new tuners and a twin tape deck.

The CD6000 OSE recently gained 5 stars in the "What Hi Fi" (UK) awards.

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Coming early this year will be the new DR-600 CD-recorder and DR-6050 dual-drive CD player/recorder.

An even higher spec range, the Marantz "Premium Series", has also been introduced for those who want the very best in audio performance and reproduction.

New AV equipment is also being introduced.

For more information, visit better hifi dealers or contact Jamo Australia, PO Box 350, Mt Waverley, Vic 3149, phone (03) 9543 1522; email info@jamo.com.au. Marantz website is www.marantz.com.au

Let Jaycar shed some light on the subject...

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If your eye-sight isn’t what it used to be – or perhaps if you don’t want it to go that way – Jaycar Electronics stores have a magnifying worklamp which should be of interest.

It’s fitted with a 22 watt fluoro lamp and a large 3-dioptre lens which gives a superbly clear enlarged image for you to work by. The base can clamp to a workbench up to 45mm thick and it has a double-hinged extension arm that opens out to 990mm. It’s perfect for the hobbyist, technician or even production and assembly lines.

Price is $125 from all Jaycar Electronics stores.

Remote Power Control Via The Internet

If you need to switch devices on and off from a remote location, this Remote Power On/Off Control Kit from MicroGram could be the answer. It lets you log onto the Internet and switch up to eight appliances via a central server.

It might not be the complete answer to a "smart house" but this device is at least a step in the right direction. Let’s face it, you’re not really going to use it to start a coffee percolator, although undoubtedly it could be used to do this. Instead, it’s more likely to be used for more serious purposes, such as switching security lights and burglar alarms, or switching computers on or off from a remote location.

Other possible uses include controlling air-conditioning, transmitters and pumps, industrial process control and switching security monitoring equipment.

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What’s in the box? Well, you get a PCI "industrial" card (this plugs into a spare PCI slot on the server’s motherboard), a power control box and a 2-metre long cable to connect the two together. The cable has eight separate outputs (all BNC con-nectors), which means that you can connect up to eight separate power control boxes. Each control box is capable of switching 240V at up to 10A.

Also included in the package is the necessary software, supplied on a CD ROM. This includes the device driver for the card (Windows 95/98/NT) plus the application software to provide the switching function. Also included on the disk is the Visual Basic source code for both the server and client, so that you can develop your own application software.

The software can be configured so that the server (ie, the PC with the controller) can register its IP address to an Internet Location Server (ILS). Client computers at remote locations can then query the ILS when they log on to obtain this IP address.

What this means in practice is that a user at a remote location only needs to know the server’s email address. The ILS then returns the server’s IP address so that the client can access the server, to switch devices on and off.

Of course, this is only necessary where the server is dynamically assigned IP addresses by an Internet Service Provider; the ILS service isn’t necessary if the server has a fixed IP address.

The Remote Power Control Kit (Cat. 17064), including one power control box, costs $579.00 (incl. tax) and is available from Microgram Computers, Unit 1, 14 Bon Mace Close, Berkeley Vale, NSW 2261. Phone (02) 4389 8444; email info@mgram.com.au; website www.mgram.com.au Additional power control boxes are also available if required for $259 each.

Central Coast Field Day

"The Biggest Field Day & Hamfest in the Southern Hemisphere": that’s how the Central Coast Field Day is described. And with a huge range of attractions for amateurs and electronics hobbyists, it’s hard to disagree.

Held on the last Sunday of February each year at the Wyong Racecourse (about 1 hour north of Sydney), the field day has a reputation as a bargain-hunter’s paradise with loads of pre-loved equipment in the flea market plus importers and distributors keen to dispose of superseded models (and to show off and sell their latest!).

There are also many demonstrations, lectures, seminars and workshops during the day.

Entry to the Field Day is $10 for adults, concession $5 and children under 12 free. Parking is free and food and drink is available at the venue. Gates open at 8.30am.

For futher information contact the Central Coast Amateur Radio Club, PO Box 346, Woy Woy NSW 2256, phone (02) 4340 2500, email bobfitz@ozemail.com.au

Questronix Video Distribution Amplifiers

Two Video Distribution Amplifiers for the audio-visual, broadcast and film industries have been released by Sydney-based Quest Electronics Pty Ltd.

The compact, lightweight HC5 amplifiers appear and are functionally identical but one is designed to work from 240V AC and the other from 12-24V DC (or 9-36V DC in the "HC5C" model).

The units feature a hum-cancelling input circuit to reduce interference caused by mains wiring, lighting dimmers, ground loops, etc, without impacting on bandwidth. Input is a standard BNC socket, 1V pk-pk nominal.

Five 1V pk-pk nominal BNC outputs are provided, each at 75Ω, with gain variable via a front panel control from 0dB to +6dB. Cable equalisation is also adjustable from the front panel.

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Hum rejection is better than 46dB at 50Hz and better than 26dB at 1MHz.

The units also have internal links for 75Ω input termination on/off, AC or DC input coupling and whether the input shield is floating or grounded.

Both units measure 140 x 122 x 35mm and weigh 650g (AC version) or 430g (DC version). A 240V plugpack supply is included with the DC version.

For more information, contact Quest Electronics at PO Box 548, Wahroonga NSW 2076, phone (02) 9477 3596, fax (02) 9477 3681, or via their website at www.questronix.com.au

New low-cost, high quality 'dbx' equalisers

Jands Electronics, distributors of dbx, have available the new dbx Series 12 equalisers, the 1215 (retail price $995) and 1231 (retail price $1395).

Offering 15 2/3-octave and 31 1/3- octave bands respectively, the equalisers have a range of features normally found only in high-end models.

These include 45mm faders, select-able ±6dB or ±15dB boost/cut, a choice of XLR, barrier strip and 1/4-inch TRS connectors for installation ease, balanced inputs and outputs and chassis/signal ground lift capabilities.

Contact Jands Electronics Pty Ltd, phone (02) 9582 0909, fax (02) 9582 0999.

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