Panasonic takes HD underwater

Just when we thought the rush of new camera announcements had abated, Panasonic came forward with more pocket camcorders.

The highlight of the new models is the pistol-style HX-WA10, which is optimized for shooting outdoors and in rainy weather, the company says, with a backside illumination sensor for shooting in dimly lit conditions, such as swimming in a pool or the ocean.

The waterproof/shockproof casings is good for 3 meters underwater for up to 60 minutes. The camcorder captures 1080p video or 16-megapixel still images. It has a 2.7-inch LCD and a 5x optical zoom.

The HM-TA20 features a “triple tough design,” Panasonic says, that is waterproof, shockproof and dustproof — and a night view mode for shooting in dim lighting “such as a birthday party scene where someone is blowing out candles or a party at night.”

The camcorder captures 8-megapixel still pictures, and has a 3-inch touchscreen, but lacks a zoom lens.

LG smartphone and tablet capture, show 3D

LG Electronics is standing out from the hordes of Android-based phone and tablets with the first 3D models.

The Optimus 3D’s 4.3-inch 3D display is large for a phone — and it houses applied parallax barrier technology, which means glasses are not required to view 3D. The phone also has two 5-megapixel cameras on the back to shoot stereoscopic HD video at 720p; it can also capture 1080p video in 2D.

The phone connects to a 3DTV via HDMI, runs a Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 dual core processor, and is due in May; pricing was not announced.

LG’s Optimus Pad has similar 3D functions: two cameras on the back for shooting 3D video, and a 2- megapixel camera on the front for video calls. The tablet has an 8.9-inch display, and runs the Android Honeycomb OS on an Nvidia processor.

Sony phone emphasizes TV connectivity

Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Neo phone will plug into an HDTV via HDMI, and is controlled with a standard remote.

The phone has an 8 megapixel main camera with LED flash, and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera. Sony says the Exmor R mobile sensor “enables the capture of high quality, bright pictures and HD videos even in low light.”

The Neo has a 3.7-inch screen, and runs the Google Android 2.3 OS on a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

Also: The Xperia pro is a business phone with a full QWERTY keyboard, and secure syncing for email, calendar and contacts.

Kodak Gallery providing full-resolution downloads

Kodak Gallery, Emeryville, Calif., now provides users with the technologies to upload and store their images at original resolution, and to provide full-resolution image downloading to friends. Kodak Gallery is also provide one-click link sharing of multiple images.

“Your pictures will look their best at the Kodak Gallery, whether you’re sharing a photo slideshow with friends or creating a photo book,” says Trent Gruenwald, Product Marketing Manager. “Unlike other services that compress image quality, we allow people to upload and store their photos at their original resolution and now your friends can download full-resolution copies of the images you share with them for free.”

Police pay photographer thousands for deleting public images

Amateur Photographer is reporting a man has won $40,000 in damages after Atlanta, Ga., police confiscated his camera phone and deleted images he had taken of them in a public place. Marlon Kautz had been filming officers as they arrested someone last April when he was told he had no right to record them.

Kautz belongs to a group, Copwatch, that films police activity using cameras and mobile phones.

According to the report, he claimed one officer snatched the phone from his hand. “Kautz said that when asked to get his phone back, another officer said he’d return it only after Kautz gave him the password… so he could delete the footage,” reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. When police returned his phone the images had been ‘deleted, altered or damaged’.

See more at CNN:

Konica Minolta introduces bizhub 652/552 series of MFPs

Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. Inc., Ramsey, N.J., announced the new bizhub 652/552 series of monochrome multifunctional products (MFPs — print, copy, scan and fax all in one system) with standard color scanning capabilities. With print and copy speeds of 65 and 55 pages ppm, respectively, the bizhub 652 and bizhub 552 are ideal for mid- to high-volume office workgroups that require a reliable monochrome MFP with network capabilities and flexible document finishing and distribution functionality.

The company says the bizhub 652/552 series highlights include:

  • Standard Color Scanning: Scan to multiple destinations at up to 78 originals per minute (opm)
  • Mobile printing via Bluetooth: Print and save files to a box directly from a Smartphone
  • Production-quality finishing: Choice of modular finishing options including up to 100-sheet stapling, two- and three-hole punching, saddle-stitch for creating 80-page booklets, Z-folding and even tri-fold
  • Ease of use: Large 8.5-inch full color touch screen; simple and straightforward operation with animated help and guidance features; optional USB keyboard
  • High quality images: 1800-by-600 dpi copy/print resolution producing clean text, sharp edges and smooth halftones for professional looking documents
  • PageScope Enterprise Suite: a cost recovery solution that enables you to better manage print output, track costs and accounts, authenticate users and customize individual preferences at multiple MFPs

The bizhub 652/552 Series of Monochrome MFPs is available now through Konica Minolta’s North American direct sales, authorized dealer and value-added reseller channels. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the bizhub 652 is US$27,694 and bizhub 552 is $20,250.

‘The Birth of Coffee’ photo exhibit debuts in Miami

“The Birth of Coffee,” a photographic exhibition and documentary chronicling the people, culture and economics of coffee-producing nations, debuts on the East coast at the Centre Gallery in Miami Dade‘s Wolfson Campus after a three month run at The Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) in Los Angeles.

Created by husband and wife team, Daniel and Linda Rice Lorenzetti, the exhibit is part of a larger, multi-platform project consisting of a photography book, website and an international tour. It celebrates the distant landscapes, cultural vitality and hard work that fuel the coffee trade. In completing the project, the author and photographer traveled a quarter of a million miles to five continents and eight countries documenting and recording the world’s coffee cultures.

U.S. small business confidence increases for first time since 2009

MerchantCircle, Mountain View, Calif., a U.S.-based online network of  over 1.6 million local business owners, issued the results of its quarterly “Merchant Confidence Index (MCI),” a survey of over 8,500 local business owners across the country, sharing their confidence levels in the current economy as well as plans for future revenue, anticipated hiring and marketing spend. The outcome of the 2010 Q4 survey indicates economic sentiment among merchants has improved for the first time since the inception of the Merchant Confidence Index in September 2009. The current MCI has jumped to 63.5 out of a possible 100, up 5.1 percent from Q1 2010.

“Finally, we are seeing glimmers of hope from merchants who have weathered the economic storm over the past year and are expecting a better economic landscape in 2011,” said Darren Waddell, vice president of marketing at MerchantCircle. “Our survey results show that for the first time in over a year, small business owners see their recent holiday revenue jump as an indicator for economic rejuvenation.”

Key survey findings include:

  • 2010 holiday sales turned out better than expected and well over 2009 sales
  • 34.9 percent of merchants saw their 2010 holiday revenue “improve” or “improve significantly” when compared with their 2009 holiday revenue
  • When surveyed on their holiday sales outlook in Q3 2010, only 27.9 percent expected to see any increase in 2010 year-over-year revenue
  • The increase in revenue seen during the 2010 holiday season drove cautious optimism for future growth: merchants are now expecting to see a continued increase in revenue in 2011. 57 percent of small business owners expect revenue to “improve” or “slightly improve” over the next three months
  • When asked to rate the statement “The worst effects of the recession are behind us,” sentiment among merchants was significantly more optimistic than in Q3 2010. Nearly 27 percent of merchants believe that the worst has already passed as compared to Q3 2010, when only 19.2 percent indicated that the worst was over
  • Cautious optimism is reflected in merchant hiring plans: over the next three months, 91.2 percent of merchants expect to keep headcount the same or plan to add jobs to their businesses. This is up slightly from the previous quarter, when 86.4 percent of merchants expected to keep or increase headcount
  • Small business owners will also continue to spend money on marketing and advertising at their current or slightly increased rate. Nearly 85 percent of small business owners expect to increase or keep marketing expenditure the same over the next three months — an increase over Q3 2010 during which only 75 percent of merchants expected the same.

Code 42 Software releases CrashPlan+ 3.0

Code 42 Software Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., developers of backup software for home and for business, CrashPlan and

CrashPlan main screen

CrashPlan main screen

CrashPlan PRO, released of CrashPlan+ 3.0, along with new pricing for CrashPlan+ which now includes CrashPlan Central, an online backup destination.

CrashPlan+ 3.0 features multiple backup sets, allowing users to specify which files go to which locations and with what settings. Consumers are now able to mix and match destinations with different backup settings to fit even the most complex backup scenarios. Additional enhancements to CrashPlan+ include: flexible scheduling of the dates and times that backups occur, recognition of new computers and devices, automatic subscription renewal and the ability to scan and verify the files in your backup files selection (or in your backup sets) on demand.

“The most common request we hear from CrashPlan users has been the ability to have multiple backup configurations for different destinations. Our new Backup Sets feature delivers that, and more,” says Matthew Dornquast, founder and CEO of Code 42 Software. “Because we protect people’s data, we’ve spent a lot of time testing these new capabilities to ensure that they’re rock solid and easy to use. We believe CrashPlan version 3.0 is the most powerful, yet easy to use, backup system available.”

CrashPlan is backup software for Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris users, which allows automatic back up of any computer to hard disks, other computers on a local network, and the optional CrashPlan Central online backup. With CrashPlan’s social backup feature, users can back up to computers belonging to friends and family and vice versa. CrashPlan’s basic software (without online backup) is free for non-business use.

The company also rolled out new affordable pricing plans which include all of the expanded features of CrashPlan+ and online backup to CrashPlan Central, a secure, online backup destination. With the new pricing structure, consumers can chose from one of three packages for CrashPlan+:

  1. CrashPlan+ 10GB – $24.99/year – All of the expanded features of CrashPlan+ and the option to store up to 10 GB of data from one computer on CrashPlan Central.
  2. CrashPlan+ Unlimited – $49.99/year – All of the expanded features of CrashPlan+ and the option to store unlimited data from one computer on CrashPlan Central.
  3. CrashPlan+ Family Unlimited – $119.99/year – All of the expanded features of CrashPlan+ and the option to store unlimited data from every computer within a household on CrashPlan Central.

In Compliance: Copyright registration – electronic group filing for photos

The U.S. Copyright Office is adopting interim regulations governing the electronic submission of (1) applications for registration of automated databases that predominantly consist of photographs and (2) applications for group registration of published photographs. This interim rule establishes a testing period and pilot program during which the Copyright Office will assess the desirability and feasibility of permanently allowing such applications to be submitted through the electronic filing system of the Copyright Office (eCO).

Persons wishing to submit electronic applications to register copyrights of such photographic databases or groups of published photographs should contact the Visual Arts Division for permission and guidance on electronic registration. Notwithstanding the ordinary deposit requirements for group registration of automated databases, an electronic application for group registration of an automated database consisting predominantly of photographic authorship must include the image of each claimed photograph in the database. The interim regulations also allow applicants to use forms other than Form TX, as appropriate, when submitting paper applications to register group automated databases.