Security Cams You Won't Find In Pop-Up Ads

NEW YORK - It's been impossible in recent months to go anywhere near the Web without running across a pop-up advertisement for the X10 security video camera.

Of course, the visual cues in the ads--there's usually a smiling, scantily clad model involved--tend to suggest the cameras are intended for a more prurient use than watching an empty house. But that doesn't mean the security camera business isn't a serious one, particularly in a country on the defensive against terrorism. If it's not already apparent that the use of security cameras is on the rise, it soon will be.

Companies involved in all manner of security practices, from biometrics to surveillance cameras, are seeing an increase in business and interest in their stock. One example is Armor Holdings (nyse: AH - news - people), a Jacksonville, Fla.-based company that manufactures and sells security products such as body armor for law enforcement agencies. Its stock sold for $14.30 per share on Sept. 10, but jumped to $19.92 on Sept. 17, the first day the markets were open after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Since then it has priced above the $25 mark, before settling in the $21 range.

It's no surprise that an established electronics company like Sony (nyse: SNE - news - people) has updated its line of surveillance cameras and recording devices, given the surge in interest.


  Sony's security cameras: no pop-up ads

Last week Sony released two cameras, the color SSC-MX13V and the black-and-white SSC-C13V. Each camera is only 5 inches in length, making them an alternative to larger cameras. The company is positioning the cameras for use in places such as lobbies, corporate offices and convenience stores, but considering their prices--the color camera sells for about $360, while the black-and-white version sells for about $290--home use is not out of the question.

Both use a technology that Sony calls Super HAD. It allows for capturing clear images in low-light conditions by placing a tiny lens over each pixel of the charge-coupled device, which is a type of computer memory charged by light.

The cameras also have a backlit compensation technology that allow them to compensate for conditions when light is reflecting into the lens in such a way that it would normally distort images of any object between the camera and the light source. That means that if a bad guy walks toward the camera with bright car headlights shining behind him in a parking lot, the camera is able to adjust and focus on him.

Alongside the cameras, Sony has launched a hard-disk recorder that works with existing security camera systems. The HSR-X200 contains an 80-gigabyte hard drive and is capable of recording up to 671 hours of video images shot at a rate of one picture per minute. It also supports three different types of removable storage media, including Sony's proprietary memory-stick removable flash cards, CompactFlash, and IBM's (nyse: IBM - news - people) Microdrive technology. The recorder has a suggested retail price of $1,950.

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