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Handhelds Graphics Software Hardware

Disposable Digital Cameras Have Arrived 585

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the and-here-it-is dept.
damiangerous writes "American chain Ritz camera has begun offering disposable digital cameras for $10.99. The price includes 4x6" prints and a Photo CD of the camera's 25 photo memory. Pictures can be deleted, but there's no LCD."
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Disposable Digital Cameras Have Arrived

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  • It's not _disposable_ it's _reusable_. The camera is returned to a
    Ritz Camera store where the pictures inside are downloaded to a CD
    or printed. The camera itself is kept by Ritz and recycled to another
    customer. In other words your $10.99 is a _rental_ of the camera
    with processing of the pictures included in the rental price.

    There's a picture of one of these cameras here [technogadgets.com].

    The USA Today article has some more details [usatoday.com]
    on the camera and its use including the fact that it is likely to be sold at Walgreens
    and Walt Disney theme parks (seems like a good idea to me).

    The camera has a 2-megapixel sensor.

    John.
    • by BWJones (18351) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:05PM (#6583047) Homepage Journal
      Hmmm. I suppose that it could be cheaper than film alternatives, but I want more and in the long run, an investment in my Canon digital camera will be cheaper while giving me more control.

    • by el-spectre (668104) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:06PM (#6583056) Journal
      True, that is just the common term for the concept. Reusable film cameras are often referred to as 'disposable', even though they are reused in much the same way.
    • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:07PM (#6583059)
      Any bets that the're using a modified USB port, or using 802.11b?

      I have a feeling these suckers'll be hacked faster than a Cue:Cat .
    • by soundnfury (638010) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:08PM (#6583065)
      Of course, you could throw it out. Then it'd be disposable. Well, disposed....of.
    • by zeoslap (190553) * on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:08PM (#6583070) Homepage
      Depending on how they recyle these I wonder if it would be possible to recover other peoples pics from the reused memory card ?
      • by netsharc (195805) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:44PM (#6583351)
        I was about to say "they probably don't have any customer accessible ports, because when people can download the pictures, they can just do that and then reuse, instead of returning, the camera", but this is slashdot, the screws won't stop us. So I do wonder how Ritz plans to stop people from cracking the cameras open, download the pictures, and reuse them indefinitely, depriving them (Ritz) of profit?

        Encryption? Proprietary image format? (Did they manage to persuade a digital camera manufacturer to design a new chip, for what price?)

        Oh wait, but but it doesn't necessarily need memory cards, most (usually cheaper) cameras offer on-board memory, I'm guessing that's what they probably have. It'll be pretty hard trying to get access to what's in that RAM chip soldered to the PCB. That and a proprietary plug should stop a lot of people.
        • I was about to say "they probably don't have any customer accessible ports, because when people can download the pictures, they can just do that and then reuse, instead of returning, the camera", but this is slashdot, the screws won't stop us. So I do wonder how Ritz plans to stop people from cracking the cameras open, download the pictures, and reuse them indefinitely, depriving them (Ritz) of profit?

          2 minute thought on this: Have an RFID tag with a key that emits to the camera. If the camera doesn't sense that, and the case-removal screws are taken out erase the pictures. If the RFID key doesn't match a checksum, erase the pictures.

          You could even, rather easily, destroy the hardware after deleting the pictures.

          I think this would be rather silly to do, but it's possible. You just have to make it more expensive to hack a single camera than it is to buy a real camera. If the station for unloading cost $200 in parts, they still make a profit (many cameras to one base station) but the user would take a hit spending $210.99 for a 2mp digital camera with no LCD.
        • by debugdave (153189) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @05:07PM (#6583526)
          It's hard to decide whether I want to moderate or post...
          Coming from an ex-Ritz camera employee, if you want to go through the work of engineering all of that, printing them out and all the rest of that work Ritz does, it will cost you more (in time and materials) then it will to have Ritz do it in 1 hour.
          Then again you will spend less money and get better quality images if you buy a 35mm disposable camera (about $5 for 24 exp)and then get them to burn you a CD at 1600x1200 resolution (1.92 mega pixel equiv.) for ~12 dollars.

          just my opinion

          dave
          • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @06:03PM (#6583828)
            > Coming from an ex-Ritz camera employee, if you want to go through the work of engineering all of that, printing them out and all the rest of that work Ritz does, it will cost you more (in time and materials) then it will to have Ritz do it in 1 hour.

            To which I say "Print them out? WTF d00d?"

            Ritz' target market is "Less-technically-inclined people who want to print their pictures out and look at them in photo albums with their friends."

            There is another market out there, however: the market for "Ten-dollar 2-megapixel digicams, and who the hell ever prints their photos to dead trees anyways when it's cheaper/faster/easier to just email the pics to your friends?"

            The relative sizes of these two markets is what will determine whether Ritz' business plan succeeds or fails.

            Netpliance of I-Opener fame made the same mistake - their target market was "people for whom AOL was too complicated and who didn't want to buy a $799 eek-its-scary e-machine computer thingy when they could have a $99 flat-screen appliance that'd give them the ability to do email and teh intarweb for $20/month."

            Part of why Netpliance failed was that there was a small - but sufficiently large - market of people who thought "$99 flat-panel PCs that can be h4x0r3d to run Linux! Wow, I gotta get me some of that! The parts alone are worth $500!"

            Moral of the story: Don't be nearsighted when it comes to your target market. Think ahead and make sure you're aware of any other markets, particularly non-target markets that break your business model.

    • by timmyd (108567) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:14PM (#6583114)
      The camera costs $10.99, which includes a set of 4-by-6-inch prints, an index print showing thumbnails of all 25 shots, and a photo CD, allowing for further home or commercial printing. The CD also contains Mac and PC software for viewing, saving, printing or e-mailing photos, which need not be installed in the user's computer.

      I'm trying to figure out what keeps the user from permanently "renting" this camera (downloading the pics to the computer and then deleting them off camera). Anyone want to fill me in?

      • I'm trying to figure out what keeps the user from permanently "renting" this camera

        It's called firmware Kyle. It's a chip that'll only let you take the set ammount of pics before disabling itself.

      • by drdanny_orig (585847) * on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:55PM (#6583438)
        I'm trying to figure out what keeps the user from permanently "renting" this camera (downloading the pics to the computer and then deleting them off camera).

        The DMCA, maybe?
      • I'm trying to figure out what keeps the user from permanently "renting" this camera

        A simple non-standard camera-to-PC connector, even only on the camera side, would deter most casual attempts.

        A camera with the public key can encrypt all uploaded pictures to deter nearly everyone without the corresponding private key. For added security, use multiple key pairs for different batches of cameras (so that if one key is compromised, not all the cameras are compromised).

      • by MyHair (589485) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @05:04PM (#6583500) Journal
        I'm trying to figure out what keeps the user from permanently "renting" this camera

        The current 'disposable' film cameras have some reusable innards (I think), some breakable innards and a cardboard outer shell. From the pic at Technogadgets it looks like this camera has a molded plastic shell, but perhaps it is molded shut and has to be broken to get to the interface. That could be one control to discourage 'permanent renting'. Perhaps the breakable shell holds the lens in place or maybe if the shell is broken too much light will leak and ruin the picture quality of future pics.

        Or, maybe the I/O interface is proprietary and/or the processing lab has a device that contacts the chip package leads directly. Sure, a few web pages would go up describing how to read from it, but look at Xbox and Playstation. They're cracked, but it doesn't seem to be significantly impacting their business plans.
    • Cheap rental (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TFloore (27278) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:35PM (#6583284)
      25 4"x6" prints, an index print, and a cdr of the images?

      Walmart runs prints from a digital camera (bring in your own cdr or flash card) for $0.29/print. That runs about $7 for 25. Index print and cd-r will be an extra $1-2.

      That's $8 in product, for $11, or only $3 for the rental of a 2MP digital camera, which makes perfectly good 4"x6" prints. (Bearable, but not good, 8"x10"s.)

      That's not bad at all, for people that primarily want prints, and not just digital images. Myself, I have a digital camera, and my preferred output is just the cd-r with image files. I get prints made, but far fewer than I keep image files on cd-r.

      I'm curious how many rentals each camera has to make to pay for itself. $3/rental, camera probably costs... less than $100. Say about 30 rentals to pay for the camera and related labor expenses?

      I can see how this would be a good thing at theme parks, where people are likely to rent and return them in the same day, possibly several times per day... They'd reach break-even in a month, and after that actually start making money.

      The nice thing from the business point of view is that the continuing costs are lower. You just wipe the storage card and recharge the batteries, and you rent it again. Don't have to pay a couple bucks in film every time you rent the camera. The battery cost is higher than for a "disposable" film camera because the power draw is higher, but without the LCD, not that much higher.
      • Re:Cheap rental (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kombat (93720)
        The nice thing from the business point of view is that the continuing costs are lower. You just wipe the storage card and recharge the batteries, and you rent it again. Don't have to pay a couple bucks in film every time you rent the camera.

        Wrong. The camera does use film. I've read about these in "Popular Photography and Imaging." Though the images may be captured digitally, they are stored on plain old 35mm film.
  • by zeoslap (190553) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:03PM (#6583032) Homepage
    Seems pretty cool although disposable is a bit of a misnomer because they are really just recyclable, not like Ritz is throwing all the bits in the trash after processing them.

    Not being able to review the pics instantly is a drag too as its one of the main reasons I like using digicams (well that and not having photo guy check out my, um, arty pics) and I'm also a little dubious of their claims that a 2 megapixel camera can give you decent prints at 8x10, all that being said having a self timer is neat and I'm sure they'll be pretty popular.

    In fact thinking about the recycling a bit more, I wonder if you could ever grab somebodies old pics off of a recycled unit.... I know you can recover deleted pics from a normal digicams media.... Something to think about.. :)
    • It should be mentioned that the current film based 35mm "disposables" are also almost 100% recycled when you turn in the camera for photofinishing. I do not believe there is such a thing as a disposable camera.
    • You might as well use a film camera.

      1. You get great resolution.

      2. You have a permanent, compact record of the images.

      3. At Walgreens, it costs less to get your film developed and digitized onto CD. Prints cost more. $10.99 doesn't seem very competitive when you can get better resolution, higher resolution negatives, and 36 exposure for about half the price. Plus you get to keep your fancy film camera.

      If you can afford a decent Canon digital camera, it's worth it as a replacement for film. A disposable
  • by way2trivial (601132) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:06PM (#6583051) Homepage Journal
    how long do you think. before they are reverse engineered?

    how hard could i tbe to determine the method used to download the pics, and then sell a cable & driver for 20$?

  • Same thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajiva (156759) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:06PM (#6583053)
    How is this any different from a standard 35mm disposable camera? I can get one of those, and get the same features but for half the price. Its not "Digital", but I can get a PhotoCD, index prints, etc for about $7.
    • Re:Same thing (Score:3, Informative)

      by nathanh (1214)
      How is this any different from a standard 35mm disposable camera?

      You can delete pictures and shoot them again. Can't do that with a film-based camera.

    • Re:Same thing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by appleLaserWriter (91994) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:15PM (#6583128)
      With the 35mm disposable camera, the plastic body can be reused, but the film must be processed and discarded. The result is a nasty chemical mess every time you decide to take pictures. The digicam downloads its data to the printer, and is immediately ready to be sent back out to take more pictures.

      The 35mm disposable camera may be less expensive today, but every beautiful picture you take of the mountains contributes to the destruction of those same mountains. The digicam only needs to be manufacturered once, so the environmental impact is reduced. Prices will quickly fall as vendors compete for market share.
      • Re:Same thing (Score:3, Insightful)

        by donutz (195717)
        With the 35mm disposable camera, the plastic body can be reused, but the film must be processed and discarded. The result is a nasty chemical mess every time you decide to take pictures. The digicam downloads its data to the printer, and is immediately ready to be sent back out to take more pictures.

        Just because there isn't film needing to be replaced each time with the digital camera doesn't mean that it's creation doesn't cause pollution. I don't have any numbers available for comparison, but I know tha
    • Re:Same thing (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RobertB-DC (622190) *
      Well, for one thing, it'll actually be "Digital".

      My mom, despite a reasonably technical background, bought a Kodak PLUSDigital [pricegrabber.com] camera -- which sounded to her like a "disposable digital" camera. In reality, it was simply a standard, film-based camera with CD-ROM processing included in the price. Of course, the price was several buck$ higher than she would have paid for a regular disposable camera.

      I don't think she's gotten around to developing the pix yet, so I don't know how well the concept worked.

      Mea
  • I'll take it! Just don't expect me to return it...
    • I was thinking about this. It looks like they are shooting more for a rental market though. I'd be surprised if they can actually manufacture these things, create prints, and a CD, and still make money at $10.99, unless they get a significant number of reuses out of the camera (in which case it is proabbly cheaper for them than a disposable film camera) So I wonder if they'll require a deposit. It'd sure make them a lot less convenient, and reduce the market (no kids for instance). I guess that if they
  • Misnomer? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DogIsMyCoprocessor (642655) <dogismycoprocessorNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:08PM (#6583067) Homepage
    Why are these called disposable? Won't Ritz just check the battery and put it back out for sale until the mechanicals wear out or electronics fry? Or maybe they'll advertise those as "previously-disposed" cameras? Isn't this actually a form of rental? Maybe consumers feel they are getting a better deal if they "own" the camera.
    • I'm more interested on buying 16 of them and tearing them apart, for 160 bucks (plus some RadioShack parts) you get a 32Mp array that could be attached to a telescope or anything optical.
  • How long until.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by halightw (539485) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:08PM (#6583068)
    ...a clever individual figures out how to download the pictures and reset the camera at home? That way you could basically get a basic digital camera for $10. Is there anything that requires you to return the camera within a certain period of time?
  • by Jaywalk (94910)
    You can just get a regular disposable camera and send it to one of the places that offer digital images with developing (like Snapfish [snapfish.com]). About three bucks for a disposable camera and three for developing. And if you lose the camera (which is why I get disposables anyway) you're only out three bucks, not eleven.
  • Sounds like an excellent canidate for hacking a cheap web cam, or put in the bottom of a bowl so your parents will look into theirs and feel comforted that you are home safe.

    Wait. That's an MS idea. Damn.

  • It sounds fantastic. I've used disposable cameras a couple of times and they are definitely a handy thing to be able to buy. And now you can delete bad shots and get a photo CD? This is why I love living in the 21st century.

    Anyone know who actually makes these, what hardware they run on, etc.? How hard would it be to hack it, maybe take out the chip and dump your pics without ever hitting the 25 photo nuke point?

    Anyway, hackable or not, I would definitely choose one of these over a normal disposable cam
    • by switcha (551514) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:18PM (#6583144)
      And now you can delete bad shots

      Doesn't this seem like a bit of a semi-useless feature? Most of my bad shots, I can't even tell are bad until I get 'em on my laptop. There's a couple I can decide to delete just from the camera's screen, but I'd say that with most of my bad shots, I didn't know they sucked when I took the shot.

      So without a preview (review?) unless someone walks in front of you right as you take the shot, or some other way you know it's screwed up, it's just like a disposable film camera, in that you pay out the nose, only to get your shots back and have 2/3 stink.

  • From the NYT text:
    Ritz Camera has begun to sell (and in Wisconsin, Walgreens is test-marketing) a single-use digital camera...
    And I was just in Milwaukee earlier this week! In a Walgreens, even!!
    Oh well, just have to have someone there mail me one I guess.

    BTW: As others have surmised, this puppy will be reverse engineered in no time at all. I've got my $5 on September 24th.

    --
    • I've got my $5 on September 24th.

      That long? If they've already released them to a test market, I'd give it about a week. Especially now that Slashdot has mentioned it, geeks everywhere will swarm to Wisconsin to buy a few and see how they work.

      Expect a hack for this before they even hit stores outside the test market (likely meaning they'll never hit stores outside the test market, since Ritz will very quickly discover that they've started taking a HUGE loss when people buy these but don't return them
  • by SoCalChris (573049) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:10PM (#6583080) Journal
    Sounds like a good source for some inexpensive CCDs.

    Now I can build a camera for my telescope cheaply.
  • 2 megapixels won't get you superior 8.5x11 prints. A 300 DPI print would be 2550 x 3300 pixels, which is ~8.5 megapixels. A 150 DPI print would be 1275 x 1650 px, which comes out to ~2.1 megapixels...

    People who need good prints for school/work need larger pictures, but then again most of us have cameras already.

    Judgment: decent deal for families or people skeptical of digital cameras. Maybe it will encourage the sale of full-fledged digital cameras, who knows.

    • Even most Photographers (capital P) agree that 200-250DPI is sufficient for production quality prints at normal viewing distances.

      2MP still doesn't get you there, but 300DPI is more than one needs.
  • You can bet... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dmayle (200765) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:12PM (#6583102) Homepage Journal

    You can bet that somebody is going to figure out how to open it and extract the images without destroying the camera, and then Ritz camera is going to have a loss leader on their hands.

    It's going to be just like the cuecat. Many, many geeks are going to acquire them, and not recycle them in the way that allows Ritz to make it's money back...

  • Hacking them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andyring (100627) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:14PM (#6583110) Homepage
    Well, it's a foregone conclusion that it'll take about 30 seconds to hack one of these, so you get a halfway decent digicam for $11.

    Obviously, if the camera store can download the photos quickly, it can't be very hard for the rest of us. It's probably got either a hidden/internal USB connector, or some proprietary thing (unlikely, would require new equipment at all the places to print/burn the pics).

  • by piku (161975) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:14PM (#6583116) Homepage
    ...we have over 200 posts here all asking the question, "How long until someone figures out a way to hack this camera?"
  • Missing the Point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imaro (584142) <imaro2@sioGIRAFF ... minus herbivore> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:14PM (#6583119)
    While its is undoubtably possible that I am the one missing the point, it sure seems like Ritz is off its rocker. The major benefit of digital camera IS the lcd screen. The whole point is to take pictures that you are certain will be good. While the concept is coming, and it sure is fun to delete things randomly (which is exactly what you would be doing with the delete feature), I think there is a lot more ground that needs to be covered before I'll be picking this over a different disposable camera that is cheaper and has comes with a free photo cd.
    • Without an LCD, I don't want it- its just not useful!
    • by Schezar (249629)
      From the article: "Kaplan says he hopes to have a model with an LCD screen out by the end of the year."

      If that version is also cheap, then that's that.

      I'm betting they're waiting on the LCD version. The first roll-out is probably a test to see if they get their cameras back or not. If this is hacked, or people just plain lose them, it's a lot cheaper to lose a less expensive model.
  • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:14PM (#6583121)
    Well, there's either 2 ways (2 models).

    One is properity IR connection. The other is a headphone jack that somehow sends/receives data. And it DOES connect through a usb dongle to either type of camera.
  • by Zerth (26112)
    If this is truly a "sale" and I can pay cash for it, I'm getting me one of these. I could use a few cheap optics.
  • by Schezar (249629) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:15PM (#6583130) Homepage Journal
    Heh.. Almost EVERY post up till how has had the basic idea of "this is sooo going to be hacked: cheap digital cameras for all!"

    Honestly, I love slashdot. As we read, there are thousands of geeks pondering ways to circumvent whatever protection Ritz has installed on these things. Even better, odds are Ritz has no idea. It will probably take them a few weeks -after- the cameras are hacked before they even notice.

    Then, the lawsuits will fly, but by then it will be too late. The cameras will be re-released with stronger protection, and shortly-after they'll be hacked as well. Ritz will at this point likely give up altogether and drop the product. End result: every geek on the planet gets a cheap digital camera (or three).

    Buy them early, in case Ritz catches on! In five years, these things will be as "cool" and "old-school" as the old Cap'n Crunch whistles.
    • That or everyone will figure out really fast it's a crappy little camera and hacks will be only for the novelty of it. And they will throw away their camera (or three) and get a good one.
      • That or everyone will figure out really fast it's a crappy little camera and hacks will be only for the novelty of it.

        Exactly. For all the "Wow, 2MP for $11!" posts, I wonder how many people have thought about the quality of the lens, or the non-adjustable (and probably very high) jpg compression level used by the camera, or just how crappy the auto-focus probably is? (And that's for the brand-new cameras; what if you get one that's been reused a few hundred times?) For that matter, is this camera a tru
  • Despite my immersion in this field, as far as taking pictures is concerned, I'm sticking with film. I like/trust negatives as a storage medium. I also get Picture CDs created when I process my negatives to give me easy access for later PhotoShop manipulation. But long term, I trust negatives.
  • 8x10? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jpsowin (325530) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:27PM (#6583224) Homepage
    If they really think 8x10's will turn out very well on a two megapixel sensor, they must be kidding themselves. Sure, they can enlarge it, but the quality of the camera is minimal and blowing it up will just make it look worse. However, for 4x6's this should be fine, although I'm sure people who are used to regular cameras will be unimpressed.

  • I guess their research showed a low amount of technical people there? Remember the cue-cat came out in Dallas first. "The Silicon Prairie" I guess they don't want people to reverse engineer it before it gets to market. BTW, what happened to the disposable cell phones that slashdot talked about a few years ago? I wonder if they'll use some sort of DRM such as MagiGate or SD to keep people like us from getting our pics without paying?
  • by jonhuang (598538) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:39PM (#6583315) Homepage
    What it says. [dpreview.com] looks like a fairly small camera, flash, plastic, "Dakota" brand?
  • Matrix EFX (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jayrtfm (148260) <jslashNO@SPAMsophont.com> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:42PM (#6583325) Homepage Journal
    These sound perfect for doing a "Matrix" type effect. 45 of these could be used to make a nice 3 second sequence for less than $500. If disposable film cameras were used, registration would be a bitch.
    Now it's only a matter of time before it pops up in Bar Mitzvah videos.
  • PKI = unhackable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dcgrigsby (167583) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:43PM (#6583340)
    If I were building these things, I'd do it like so:

    Each camera has a UUID -- a universally unique identifier, like a MAC address.

    Before sending the camera out, I'd create a pair of public/private keys. I store the public key on the camera, the private key at the camera store (or centrally, whatever, so long as it can be retrieved later during processing).

    When the camera takes a shot, it is stored *only after being encrypted* using the public key.

    When the camera comes back for processing, the private key is retrieved (thanks to the UUID) and used to decrypt the images.

    W/O the private key, the data retrieved is worthless. Generate a new key set before sending it out again.

    This being the case, I'd use standard USB or IRDA or whatever and not worry about people violating my rights by reverse engineering the system.


    Mozo - DVD sharing networks [mozo.com]

    • Not at all. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SharpFang (651121)
      Just makes the hack a bit more difficult.

      Flash the encryption memory with "null" key.
      Add a circuit to circumvent the encryption.
      Since the encryption would work like "fifo" just remove the encryption chip and replace with plain bus buffer.
      Get the CCD and attach it to self-made "backend" circuit.
      Just hack 'doze box they use to download it and steal damned keys.
      Brute-force the encryption if weak.

      There's no uncrackable solution.
  • Is it... (Score:5, Funny)

    by macemoneta (154740) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:45PM (#6583360) Homepage
    ...hacked yet?
    No!

    Is it hacked yet?
    No!

    Is it hacked yet?
    No!

    Is it hacked yet?
    Fine! Yes, it's hacked! Are you happy now?

    Does it run Linux yet?
    Arrrrgh!
  • I just found an article [thewbalchannel.com] that says they are planning to release one w/ an LCD. If the first batch has 'disappeared' into the shoeboxes of geeks, we'll never get the LCD models!

    Wait, plan, then strike!

    Here are a couple more tidbits: I believe this is similar to a older kodak camera [broaddaylight.com], in which case the interface is probably a serial to 1/8th jack.

    This /. post [slashdot.org] describes a possible icky drawback (60 bucks down, 39 refund on return ) Hope that isn't the case!

    This is a little more detailed about the marketing [privatelabelmag.com] behind the camera, and it gives the location of the test store.

    If this post is not karma-whorelicious, your money back!

  • by tinrobot (314936) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @04:51PM (#6583411)
    Sure, Ritz makes money selling cameras, but the core of their business for years was selling film and development for those cameras.

    With digital, that part of the business evaporates. Sure, they can sell printer ink and flash cards, but so does everyone, and they can't sell the 'service' of developing the film and printing, which has a huge markup. Last time I got film developed at Ritz, it was something like $25 a roll. When I got my first digital camera three years ago, I stopped using film -- and stopped going to Ritz. My story is typical, I'm sure.

    I see this as the last act of a company clinging to a decades-old business model.
  • by The Master Control P (655590) <ejkeever@NosPaM.nerdshack.com> on Thursday July 31, 2003 @05:20PM (#6583592)
    What is this, the latest fad? "Disposable" everything? Instead of filling up the dumps as fast as possible, we should try to get *reusable* commodities. Get a real cell phone, a real camera, and some cheap plastic plates and cups that you can put in the attic after the party. It's amazing what people will do for convenience.

    More specifically about this one-time digital camera - They removed the only real advantage that digital cameras have: the ability to preview. In this case, you still turn the stupid thing in when you're finished playing with it.
  • The Japanese have had fairly low-resolution (640 x 480) single use digital cameras since at least Nov 2001. I saw them there on a trip to Tokyo.

    Rich.
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Thursday July 31, 2003 @05:44PM (#6583697) Homepage Journal
    I'm going to try it out... I have the good fortune to live near Dallas, one of the test markets (info thanks to this link [dpreview.com] from another poster).

    That is, if I can get through the cloud of Clueless Salespeople.

    Despite their positioning as photography experts, I haven't had the best of luck at Wolf Camera (part of the Ritz family). We took some film to them one time, in the hopes that they would push-process the low-light pictures, and got no better results than we would have had at Wal-Mart. Having to explain push-processing to the clerk should have been our first tip-off. :P

    So this time, I called the big store in the industrial section of town (Harry Hines Blvd store). They sounded knowledgeable, but said they didn't stock them. I was referred to the suburban Irving location.

    The clerk in Irving... didn't know what I was talking about. He said I'd have to hold for the "camera person"... hello, I thought the store was called [Wolf|Ritz] Camera, shouldn't they all be camera people? While waiting, I asked the non-camera person where he was located... he mumbled a bit and gave me a location several miles south of where I really, really thought the store was. Asked him for the store's address... boy, that really threw him for a loop! He found it, finally, and it was right where I thought it would be.

    But when I talked to the "camera person", it turned out I didn't need to make the trip. At first, he said "Yeah, we have plenty of digital cameras." Explained the concept of "single use" to him. "Yeah, we have Fuji and Kodak, but we only develop the Kodak". Now, he was talking about the disposable film-based cameras that come with "free" developing to CD. It took a while to explain to him about this new product, big buzz on the 'net... so he gave me the number of another store. That's 15 minutes of my life I won't get back.

    So I called location #3. This guy seemed very clueful, and assured me that yes, they have it... yes, they develop it... no, it's not the film-based version, it's the real single-use digital camera.

    I'll head over there after work... details will be posted here! Hope my wife doesn't get upset about my new toy...
    • I made it to the Wolf Camera in Richardson (suburban Dallas), and found out what this poster [slashdot.org] had already discovered: the $10.99 price doesn't include developing. It's another $10.99 for the prints and photo CD -- though it should be pointed out that that's not much different from their regular price, IIRC.

      The purchase itself was no problem: walk in, find the single-use camera section, and a cardboard display full of "Digital Single-Use Camera" was perched on top of the original display. Grabbed one, paid
  • by Luckster7 (234417) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @07:21PM (#6584295) Homepage
    They informed me at the store that it was a 1MP camera, not 2. The packaging does not say anything reguarding this. Also it does NOT include 4x6 prints, it's includes a cd with the pictures however. This matches what the box says:

    FREE Photo CD
    FREE Index Print
    * Camera price does not include processing

    The I/O connector is a PCB card edge with 10 wires. Kind of looks like the cassette port on a C64.
  • by morcheeba (260908) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @08:37PM (#6584661) Journal
    I just rushed out to the store and got their catalog. I'll just transcribe the best parts:

    New! Available in June in selected areas
    - Delete & Retake last shot
    - self timer
    - Return the camera to Ritz Camera or Wolf Camera and get:
    -- 25 hires prints
    -- index print
    -- Your pictures on a Big-e CD

    $10.99 Camera Only
    Digiprint processing package: $10.99 (Frequent Foto Benefits not applicable)

    Avalable at selected stores in the following areas: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Birmingham, Chicago, Dallas, North Carolina, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tenessee, Washington DC.

    I talked to the lady in the store, and she said that only the stores with a Pioneer system would be able to process it (whatever that is). There was only one store in the RTP area that had this, and they were already closed at 7:45 pm.
  • by Cyberllama (113628) on Thursday July 31, 2003 @09:28PM (#6584978)
    There's really nothing that obliges you to return the camera to Ritz to have the pictures developped is there? It seems to me you could just find a way to modify the camera so you dont' need ritz to download your pictures and then you'd have a 11 dollar 2 megapixel digital camera that you could use as many times as you wanted (rather tahn returning it to ritz where they'd simply resell it).

    The only flaw with this theory is that they've likely got the pictures stored in some proprietary manner that makes it difficult to extract the images for the average consumer.

"Your stupidity, Allen, is simply not up to par." -- Dave Mack (mack@inco.UUCP) "Yours is." -- Allen Gwinn (allen@sulaco.sigma.com), in alt.flame

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