Important note: This is actually two products, the Kodak DC-20 combined with the freeware LX-DC software.  Since LX-DC is freeware and available to everyone, I will not review it per se.  However, since it is a vital part of using your DC-20 with the 200LX, it will, of course, be mentioned.

 Vital Statistics

Publisher/Manufacturer: Kodak
Contact: http://www.kodak.com
Price: $199.95  

About the Product

The Kodak Digital Science DC-20 is a digital camera for the masses.  It doesn't have many frills.  In fact, it doesn't really have any.  But there's one thing it does have, and that's the ability to connect with your palmtop.

The DC-20 is probably the most inexpensive digital camera on the market.  And there's good reason for this.  It lacks most of the features that drive up prices.  It comes with an assortment of software, all of which can be ignored for the purposes of using it with the 200LX, and it comes with a battery.  But:

Curiously enough, the lack of these features creates a camera which is ideal in one way: it is very small.  It's only about as large as a deck of cards; perhaps a little shorter and a little wider.  Thus, it makes an ideal companion to the 200LX, as it can be carried along in a small pouch, briefcase, purse, or whatever.  Plus, it increases the battery life to an incredible variety.  I don't take a lot of pictures with my DC-20, but I do take a fair number, and I haven't changed the battery since 1996.  Whooooo-ey!  (The DC-20 uses a 3V lithium photo battery; Energizer's model number is EL123AP.)

The flash is the one thing that I really wish the DC-20 was equipped with.  It would be better if it could take pictures in sub-optimal lighting condition and be able to illuminate the picture decently.  However, most of the other limitations can be overcome, if not elegantly, then functionally, by using your DC-20 with your 200LX.

You'll need the serial cable for the camera, the serial cable for the 200LX, and a 9-pin male to 9-pin male null-modem adapter (the one that comes with the HP Connectivity Pack is great).  All of these are fairly easy to get; the camera comes with its own cable.  Once you have the devices connected, you need only turn the camera on and run LX-DC on your 200LX to access the camera.

LX-DC is a fully System Manager compliant program, which is nice.  It can connect to your camera at up to 115,200 bps.  Once you're connected, there are many things you can do.  The biggest one, obviously, is look at the pictures.  Now, the 200LX's screen is not going to look as nice as a full-color LCD screen.  But it does help you see what the pictures you took were.  This has the effect of making up for the DC-20's lack of an LCD screen.  Perhaps not very well, but it's better than nothing.

Another nice feature is being able to save your pictures on the 200LX, either on the C: drive or on your flash card.  This means you can take, save, and erase pictures in a virtually never-ending cycle (depending, of course, on how large your flash card is; the images are about 130K or so apiece for the high-res pictures).  You can choose to save pictures either in CMT or PCX format.

You can also control the camera from the 200LX.  One very nice feature LX-DC has is that it allows you to control the camera's timer.  Normally the camera takes pictures as soon as you push the button.  With the bundled Windows 95 software, you can set a time delay of 10 seconds.  But that's not very useful; often you'll need a longer delay, or want it shorter, and who wants to be able to only take time-delay pictures only when they're near a desktop?  Fortunately, LX-DC allows you to put in a variable number of seconds to delay picture taking.  And of course the 200LX is much more portable.  And then, of course, there are other things you can do to the camera, such as change the resolution mode or erase pictures.

One big concern is: how long does it take to download each picture?  Surely, through a serial cable, it can't be too quick.  And, it isn't, really.  But it's not really any worse than doing the transfer over to a desktop.  I took a picture of my computer and downloaded it to the 200LX to test it out.  The result: it took 15.28 seconds to download the picture, which was a high-res image.  HOWEVER, this was at 115,200 bps, which may not be possible on some 200LX's, especially the slower, non-clock-doubled variety.

Kodak now has a new camera, the DC-25, which is a much-improved version of the DC-20.  It includes an LCD screen, a flash, and a CompactFlash slot for memory expansion.  Of course, the price is also much inflated.  In any case, if you're thinking of getting a DC-25, don't plan to use it with your 200LX.  LX-DC doesn't work with any cameras other than the DC-20, even the very similar DC-25.

The Verdict

If you're looking for a good camera to partner with your 200LX, and you can live without a built-in flash, and you don't need super high-resolution, go for the DC-20.  It's a great camera for the price, and it fits nicely with the 200LX.

Copyright 1999, David Sargeant.
Last Updated 1-2-1999

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