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Just A Thought
by Vern Seward

Review - Logitech Pocket Digital 130: Good For What Ails You
December 24th, 2003

Hi everyone. My name is Vern Seward, and I have The Bug.

As you all know, The Bug is an insidious afflictions that strikes one in ten Americans -- there seems to be a higher rate of affliction among the Japanese population for some unknown reason -- that causes the afflicted to carry a camera everywhere he goes and take a picture of anything that has even the most remote esthetic value. No family gathering, no sunset or sunrise, no flower, or cute kid is safe from being assaulted by me and my camera. Soon, people stopped inviting me on outings and gatherings, family members would leave the room if I entered with a camera around my neck, and my dog started hiding my camera bag.

I caught The Bug while I was stationed overseas. I was looking for a way to pass some time that didn't involve anything illegal. A friend offered to sell me his camera as he was buying a bigger, better model. I knew nothing of photography and he said he'd show me the basics.

The next thing I knew, large amounts of my pay was dedicated to buying film. I spent hours in darkrooms perfecting my photo development techniques, and I'd spend whole weekends doing nothing but taking pictures. I was obsessed, and I should have recognized the early warning signs:

  • An insatiable need to buy photography magazines
  • An unnatural fascination with camera lenses and film.
  • Starting off every conversation with, "Hey, what kinda camera you got?"

Advanced sufferers buy stock in Kodak, have heated arguments over the merits of Fuji film versus Kodak film, and dream of owning high-end Nikons or any Leica cameras.

Then one day, my affliction suddenly went into remission for some reason. I sold my Canon EFX and all the lenses, trashed all but the best negatives and slides, and dumped all of my magazines and books on photography. I went cold turkey, and I've been on the wagon for 20 years.

Then Logitech sent me a Pocket Digital 130 camera to look over and suddenly those once dormant urges are stirring again. I want to take the camera everywhere and snap photos of everything; birds, babies, cows, cars...nothing is safe from the little brushed steel clad snap-shooter (my term for a camera designed to take a quick photo).

Pocket Digital 130

What makes the Logitech Pocket Digital 130 so bad (in that good way) is its size; smaller than an iPod and about as light, the Pocket Digital 130 slips into my pocket and lurks there, waiting, always ready for a snap shot. And although it is light of weight and slight of stature, the Pocket Digital 130 feels great in your hand; it has that hard to define quality - I'll call heft - that lets the camera feel secure and substantial, not cheap and delicate.

But it's the pictures that the 1.5 megapixel Pocket Digital 130 gives that makes me want, no, need to take more. The results are pictures that you'd be proud to show and share.

Lake Eola through the lens of a Pocket Digital 130 (unenhanced)

What's even more insidious is that the Pocket Digital 130 is about the simplest camera I've ever used. There are only 4 button on the whole camera; shutter, flash options selector, resolution and delete, and timer/sound buttons. Each controls what its name implies; just press the appropriate button to get feature selection you want, that's it. There's a small monochrome LCD window on the back of the camera that displays status and a small LED near the viewfinder that lets you know when the camera is ready to take a picture. A very clean, simple design.

To take a photo you just pull the camera open; the lens is normally covered and grasping the camera on either end and pulling exposes it, turns the camera on, and charges the flash. Once open, all you do is look through the view finder, point the camera, and click. That's it.

Downloading your photos to your Mac is equally simple; just plug the camera into you Mac with the provided USB cable and, voila! iPhoto comes up and you are ready to download. It can't get much simpler than that.

When the camera is plugged into your Mac it is also recharging the Lithium-ion battery, and the battery lasts long enough to exhaust the Pocket Digital 130's non-upgradeable memory even with the flash running. If you leave the camera on and unused for longer than a minute it turns itself off to conserve battery power.

Pigeons! The Pocket Digital 130 did a great job stopping the action (unenhanced)

I see that my description of the Logitech Pocket Digital 130 is making some of you uneasy. You may be thinking that this is the perfect camera to knock you off your own wagon. Maybe if I tell you some of the low points about the Pocket Digital 130 it will lessen your urge to click.

The Pocket Digital 130 can only use its built-in memory, which will let you take up to 44 photos in high resolution mode (1280x1024), or 158 in the low resolution mode (640x480). Once you use up the memory you have to either delete photos or download what you've taken to your Mac.

The Pocket Digital 130 can take great pictures, but, like any camera, you can take some stinkers too, and there is no way to preview your photos on the camera. The tiny LCD screen on the pocket Digital 130 only shows status and doesn't offer any info about the photos you've taken already. If you have a Mac handy you can look through the photos before downloading them, The Pocket Digital 130 connects to the Mac as a external drive. You can use the Finder to navigate to the folder containing the pictures and look through them, deleting what you don't want. Doing so is a bit redundant, however, since you can trash unwanted photos directly from iPhoto. If the Pocket Digital has any fault at all, the lack of a preview screen is the biggest.

The Pocket Digital 130 is designed to be a snap-shooter and as such, you should expect there to be limits to what it will do. There's no zoom and close-ups under 3 feet from you subject are not possible. The automatic exposure does a good job in bright light, but you will need to remember to hold the camera steady when the light dims. And the flash is not designed to fill a room, it's for closers shots, about 6 feet away. These aren't problems per se, just limitations you need to understand.

Finally, when you are done downloading your photos you have to unmount the camera as you would an externally connected drive. A minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience nonetheless.

What? You say that's not enough to diminish your longing for this cool stainless steel camera? I agree. It's a cute little point-n-clicker that can make any Bug sufferer relapse. At US$150, it's a steal and...Hey, where'd everybody go?

is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

You can send your comments directly to me, or you can also post your comments below.

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