My Love/Hate Relationship With Sony Digital Cameras

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sony-wx9smSony's Cyber-Shot WX9 is a great camera. It takes 16.2 megapixel photos and can record HDTV 1080/60i quality video. WX9 even shoots 3D panoramic images with only a single lens although it cannot display these on the 3-in LCD screen. 3D display uses HDMI connection to 3D-capable HDTV.

In the past, I stayed away from Sony's cameras because they used Sony's proprietary memory stick. The WX9 uses the standard SD card that most digital cameras in this class utilize these days. Unfortunately the WX9 uses a non-standard connector requiring a custom USB cable. It is an excuse to sell you a proprietary docking station which no one buys.

The problem for me is needing to carry a host of cables around just to download or charge my electronic devices. Luckily the cell phone companies have finally moved to standard USB connectors. Hopefully camera vendors will follow suit sometime in the future. It is very annoying not being able to recharge a battery operated device or to download photos because you can't find the right cable.

The excuse used to range from connection quality to power requirements but the new USB standards eliminate all excuses except the need to sell a proprietary docking station. New USB power standards move past the half amp limitation and provides a more dynamic, active interaction between the USB host and device. In fact, power many be sourced in either direction versus the host-only power supply currently used with most systems. This is done to accomodate new configurations such as connecting a tablet to a display. Now the power can come from the tablet or from the display.

On another note, it is nice to see that vendors are putting more help online. The WX9 can almost be used without a manual because of its context sensitive help system. Still, there are things I would like to see changed. For example, the default display would cover the camera's mechanical controls including all its buttons and dials. Most of the help system is designed to explain how the features work.

What I found interesting is the ability to delete the online help. That makes sense but the only option would be to restore it. It would be nice to replace it although that means providing the tool used to create it. As systems move towards HTML5 it may be possible to utilize more generic tools to do this.

I finally found my cable so I could download the photos I took at the Mercer Science and Engineering Fair.

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William Wong

Bill Wong covers Digital, Embedded, Systems and Software topics at Electronic Design. He writes a number of columns, including Lab Bench and alt.embedded, plus Bill's Workbench hands-on column....
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