MANILA, August 30, 2005
 (STAR) TXT IN D CITY By Patrick R. Garcia BIDSHOT WIRELESS SERVICES - If you are a father of toddler kids like I am, you definitely would look forward to the day you can rid yourself of having to carry a digital camera to practically every occasion imaginable. I, for one, cannot even remember having both of my hands free at a kiddie party! In fact, the sight of fathers at kiddie parties doing balancing acts with their digital gear in one hand and party food in the other is utterly hilarious.

On the new handset front, Iím certain you have come across numerous press releases on current advances being made by handset makers on their camera phone models. I have seen a Samsung handset that boasts seven megapixels with strobe flash bundled with cutting-edge imaging and printing solutions. But the question that rages in my mind is, would I trust a camera phone to actually capture a truly unique moment like my childís first glimpse of the world?

I certainly would not have when my son was born two years ago when I still had my Nokia 6600 VGA camera phone. But letís say I was already sporting then my current unit, the Nokia 6680 1.3-megapixel with flash. Would I actually take that risk of having blank pages in my sonís childhood photo album? I still probably would not risk it, but I had the opportunity last week of putting this to a real test as my friendís wife had just given birth and I was the designated photographer.

I arrived at the hospital armed with my old Sony two-megapixel digicam so the fight would be matched against my 6680. There I was playing photographer and trying to juggle two devices while struggling to capture precious moments Ė truly, it was a battle. I almost dropped my camera phone several times and of course, the new father also thought I was insane doing this test now of all times. When I got home that evening, I immediately ran to my PC to upload the photos I took on both cameras. I first looked over the images captured with my camera phone. A good number of the shots were album-worthy, except for some that were blurry caused by either subject or hand movement.

As I compared them to the images taken by my two-megapixel camera, I immediately noticed the sharpness of the digicam photos. Did the 0.7-megapixel difference really matter? The Nokia 6680 had an image quality far superior than prints from photos taken with my old 6600 low-resolution VGA camera phone and that would explain why I currently utilize my 6680ís camera function more. The 6680 has 6x digital zoom and slide for camera protection, advanced camera modes, settings for night, brightness adjustment, image quality, self-timer and white and color balance tone settings. These are really impressive features and may just qualify the 6680 as a main imaging unit, but all these specifications should be placed in the proper perspective.

The camera phone is more than adequate for spontaneous shots, MMS messages and e-mail attachments, but letís delve deeper into our points of comparison. Iím no photo pro but I believe there is more to a digital camera than megapixels, so itís hard to know if the digital imperfections Ė especially the overlaps between objects, people, colors and backgrounds in any given photo Ė are a function of resolution or the image-processing engine inside. A digicam with the same 1.3 megapixels as the 6680 might produce better shots because the image processor isnít competing for space within the camera phone nor are the photo functions an additional manufacturing expense in a digicam as they are in a camera phone.

So with that logic, it would be safe for me to surmise that the time has not yet come for non-photo buffs like me to rely exclusively on a camera phone, but the 6680 is definitely headed there. I recently read in a telecoms study that by the end of 2005, there will be over a half-a-billion people with camera phones. To add, a statement made by a VP of Nokiaís Multimedia Division indicated that the camera phone market would grow four times the digicam market this year. I, indeed, relish the opportunity to leave my digicam home altogether and have my hands free at kiddie parties.

Patrick R. Garcia is the managing director of Bidshot Wireless Services. For comments or suggestions, e-mail

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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