Digital Camera Woes (is it just me?)

I still have my Pentax 35 mm that I bought used in 1985. Completely manual, took awesome pics unless there was user error. As is usual in our household, I moved on to a digital point-and-shoot way after they first appeared on the market, and after much research, bought a Canon PowerShot A70, 3.2 MP. Photos were not nearly as sharp as my beloved Pentax, but that was easy to overlook - I could fit this camera in a purse or even a coat pocket, email the photos, print as many as I wanted, and delete the crappy ones. I used that Canon for years, even after I was told that inexpensive digital cameras should be viewed as high-end disposables with a 2-year life expectancy.

The Canon started having trouble saving and deleting images, but it had had a good life, so I bit the bullet and bought the highly-rated Nikon Coolpix S210, 8 MP. I wasn't impressed, but hey, it was a $120 camera and it fit in my pocket. That was December 2008. By fall 2009, the Nikon was plagued with random over-exposures and focus issues. I no longer had the receipt for the camera, so couldn't return it even if there was a one year warranty, which was doubtful. Another round of research and I bought a Panasonic Lumix ZR1 for about $250. Great camera. Takes HD video that is awesome. Then it crashed and burned after about a month, giving me error messages that required me to turn the camera off and back on after every picture. Exchanged it for the same version, and so far so good.

The boys have May birthdays, and thinking of the upcoming trip (and then Ryne has a Washington DC trip later in April), I figured maybe I should buy them each an inexpensive digital camera. Disposables were an option, but then we would have to lug them around, and how many would be enough? So, Bob and I went to Target, found some Polaroid brand cameras that were on sale for about $40-50. They had to at least be better than the disposables, right? Of course not.  Opened up the better of the two, iZone Series 5 MP (reg. $70) and knew were in trouble right away. Lightweight, cheap feel. No focusing. Funny colors. And Rocky wasn't scared of it (he hates to have his picture taken, but apparently only if you are using a real camera):

Needless to say, the cameras are going back to Target - the flash doesn't work on the one we opened anyway - and we are nudging the price point up a bit.