Sharp CE-AG03 (1997)

In the mid 1990's Sharp launched a very successful PDS series called (Power) Zaurus. Aimed at business consumers the Zaurus quickly became a powerful companion with a wide variety of features. One of the demands for such a device was of course a digital camera. Canon had already marketed PCMCIA digital cameras (CE300 / PowerShot 30) and so Sharp did too (CE-AG series). The CE-AG03 was the second digital camera of that kind and was intended for the Zaurus MI-500 series. It was announced by Sharp on 1997-06-23.
 
In retrospect the Zaurus was a beautiful device, it featured IrDA, internet, hand writing recognition by pen, photo recording possibilities and so forth. The CE-AG03 digital camera fitted perfectly and not only featured a swivel lens but also a 4x optical zoom (doubling) and macro feature. Two aperture settings allowed to shoot pictures in bright and dim light settings. When using the camera, the Zaurus device allowed the user to chose three quality settings where VGA resolution was the highest. A button on the camera took the snapshot after the scene was composed. Images could be instantly reviewed, altered and/or send by mail or over the internet when a phone line was connected. The MI-506 also had a built-in fax modem with 14.4kbps transmission speed.
 
The quality of images did not differ much from any regular VGA digital camera of that era. I took some test shots with my Zaurus as you can see in the pictures. Downloading images could either be done by infrared port, through a serial connection cable or over the phone line. Since I lack these items and cables I took some screenshots of the Zaurus. The MI-500 series was available in three edition, MI-504 with 4MB internal memory, the MI-506 with 6MB internal memory and the MI-506DC as a bundle with the digital camera CE-AG03. It was possible to extend the memory by buying proprietary memory cards. The digital camera card also had a 4-split or 16-split multi-function as you can see in the images above. It was possible to paste taken photos into the address book and the Zaurus was compatible with it's predecessor digital camera card, the CE-AG02.
 
I was very fortunate to acquire such a set from a first hand owner who bought it when it came out in 1997. The set I own was used primarily in a construction or realtor's office because there was a whole bunch of original photos still stored on the Zaurus, dating back to 1997. Some of the pictures you can see in the above gallery. The Zaurus and the camera both still work fine to this very day although the battery is dead.
 
The CE-AG03 roughly cost $299 and the Zaurus MI-506DC another $1,299 but you needed both to take pictures.

Specifications

  • Brand: Sharp
  • Model: CE-AG03
  • First mentioned: 1997
  • Marketed: yes (in Japan only)
  • MSRP: $299 (camera only)
  • Imager Type: 0.35MP 1/4" CCD
  • Resolution: 640x480
  • Internal Storage: -
  • External Storage: Sharp Zaurus
  • Lens: f=3.9 - 7.8mm /F2.4 ~F8
  • Shutter: electronic shutter
  • Aperture Range: F2.4 ~F8
  • LCD screen size: -
  • Size: 124 x 89 x 24mm
  • Weight: 77 gr.
  • Remarks: Only compatible with Sharp Zaurus MI-500 series

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