Though the increasingly competent cameras in smartphones are making the digital compact all-but obsolete, there is still a healthy market for novelties like the Digi Cam and Digital Harinezumi 2++. Another decidedly lo-fi cutie from the same product stable is the Sun and Cloud "self-generating" pocket camera. Its battery can be juiced up via USB, but the palm-sized snapper offers users greener charging options in the shape of a PV panel on top and a hand crank on the side.

The 6 x 6 x 8 cm (2.36 x 2.36 x 3.14 inch), 190 g (6.7 oz) Sun and Cloud camera is built around a 3-megapixel CMOS sensor, and though its up to ISO800 sensitivity won't grab you a flash-free, low-light shot, the built-in LED flash should help in this regard. The camera offers 15 creativity filters/modes and a self-timer, and is capable of 640 x 480 resolution video recording at up to 30 frames per second, with files stored in AVI format. The lens has three distinct zoom settings (for macro, portraits and landscapes).

To the rear is a small LCD screen for preview/playback (no specs are given), a menu wheel and physical programmable mode selection buttons. There's a microSD card slot to the side, though the unit doesn't come supplied with a card.

Charging the device's battery via USB will take about 75 minutes, the PV panel on top can do the same if it bathes in about 12 hours of bright sunlight, or there's a hand crank to the side. Pumping away at 100 - 150 turns per minute will give you about 60 seconds worth of power or between 4-8 images. The crank can be turned in either direction. A charge status indicator above the power button will keep you updated on progress.

The Sun and Cloud camera is available now in either black or white from A C Gears for US$199.

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