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Life Offline: Gateway DC-T23 Pocket Digital Camera


Gateway Pocket Digital Camera
SummaryNice little 2.1 Megapixel camera with flash, but no autofocus.
Pros• Still, movie, and webcam in one!
• Very handy size
• LCD viewfinder
• Includes flash
• Very decent picture quality
Cons• Wish it had autofocus
• Chews through batteries when using flash
• Changing settings can be tedious

Shortly before Christmas and with a trip to January's CES coming up fast, I decided that I needed a new digital camera. The Olympus D-490 that I bought a few years ago still takes great pictures and a has real power-zoom lens. But it was too bulky to slip into my pocket and too heavy to make the cut for being carried around in my trade-show shoulder bag.

So I hit the shopping search engines, used the reviews, and first bought a Logitech Pocket Digital 130. I spent a total of about 15 minutes with it before bundling it back into its box for a quick return trip. The thin metal housing didn't feel right in my hands and I found I really missed having an LCD to see what I just captured. But most of all, its fixed-focus lens couldn't take a sharp picture any closer than 6 to 8 feet - which was no good for taking product shots.

After a little more searching with Google, I stumbled upon Gateway's DC-T23, placed my order, and a few weeks later it was dropped off on my doorstep by the UPS guy. Although it's not perfect, I ended up keeping the li'l guy and here's why.

In Use

The camera really is small and about the size of a couple of stacked packs of BubbleYum. Although it's silver case is attractive enough, it's all plastic and feels it. It might survive a drop onto carpet, but if it hits a hard-surface floor, it's a good bet that it won't be the same after! It can slip easily into a pants or shirt pocket with plenty of room left over, but will cause somewhat of a telltale bulge.

Simply put, the DC-T23 has a great feature set and good-enough picture quality for the way I use it, i.e. photos for web use, and probably for good quality 4 x 6 inch prints as Gateway claims, too. I've included four examples of my photographic skill below, so that you can get a feel for what the camera can do. (You can click on each shot to see a full 1600 x 1200 image.)

Shot 1: ~1 foot, no zoom

Shot 2: ~1 foot, with digital zoom

Shot 3: Night in Vegas

Shot 4: ~3 feet

Shots 1 and 2 show that the DC-T23 really does take decent shots down to about 12 inches, as long as you set the switch to Macro mode at distances below about 2 feet. All the shots above were taken without flash and at the "native" 1600 x 1200 resolution. Shot 3 demonstrates its low-light capabilities, while Shot 4 shows that the fixed-focus lens has adequate, although not super depth-of-field.