These days, we take things like touchscreen displays and Wi-Fi for-granted. But what if I told you about the existence of a camera in the year 2000 that had a huge touchscreen with a stylus, could create photo galleries and upload them to the Internet (email too) and even had a built-in web browser? This wasn’t a concept – it was the Ricoh RDC-i700.
Before we get to its communication and ‘data management’ functions, let’s talk basics. The i700, which cost $1200 when it was introduced, had a 3.3 megapixel CCD, 35-105mm equiv. lens, 1cm macro capability and a whopping video resolution of 320 x 240. It had a hybrid AF system consisting of ‘passive’ and TTL modes, an optical viewfinder and that monster 3.5″ LCD. Photos could be saved internally or on a CompactFlash card.
With the pen and touchscreen the i700 let you create databases to hold your photos, put them into templates that you’ve brought over from your PC (in Word or Excel format) and create galleries that you can then put on the Web. Naturally, you could also use the pen to scribble on your photos.
Now the crazy stuff. The RDC-i700 had a PCMCIA slot which could hold a compatible modem. This allowed you to e-mail photos to friends, upload galleries that you’ve created and send them to a modem-equipped PC, bypassing that silly Internet thing. If you’ve used the camera’s ‘Text Mode’ you can fax the results to your local Kinkos (gotta keep the throwback theme going here). To top it off, you could check out your GeoCities page via the i700’s built-in web browser.
If you need the communications capability the i700 offers (and have the telecommunications degree to get it all working), there’s literally nothing like the i700 on the market. Nothing. Buy it. On the other hand, if all you care about is snapping attractive high quality digital photos in an uncomplicated fashion, you can find all you need in a pure camera costing hundreds of dollars less.