Results tagged “gadget” from kwc blog

Canon 5D II vs. 50D

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There's just been an avalanche of camera announces with Photokina and they've been trickling out week-by-week. It's amazing that I can stay surprised, but I am. Even when expected, announcements like Sony's 24MP, full-frame, 5fps A900 can still impress. Then there was the Nikon D90, which amazed me with it's HD video capabilities -- I've been holding off on an HD camera for awhile in the hopes of improvements, but this is just a huge leap towards my needs. Too bad I'm Canon.

Canon definitely didn't start off with the biggest bang. The Canon 50D shows some improvements: 15MP, Digic 4, 4x resolution on the LCD screen, 1-1.5x noise improvement, ISO 12800, AF microadjustments, and improved Live View with two new autofocus modes. But with a 40D and 30D already in my gear bag, this is probably a wait-for-the-60D decision. It also ends up being slower than my 40D due to the larger MP size: 6.3fps/60 jpeg burst vs. 6.5/75 for the 40D. (update: a commenter below notes that the 40D was actually 6.3fps in actual use, making the two equal)

But, of course, Canon came out with the announcement that everyone expected -- though, given that it's been expected for over a year now, is it really fair to say that it's still expected? Yes, the Canon 5D II is real!. Well, I definitely didn't expect 1080p video! Forget the Nikon D90. In addition to the better resolution, the 5D II one-ups the D90 by allowing longer clip lengths (12-30 minutes vs. 5 minutes), external mic jack, continuous auto white balance, simultaneous photo capture, and autofocus.

The rest of the camera specs are a little more bland. It mostly looks like the love child of the 50D and the previous 5D, with some niceties like ISO 25600 thrown in. Still, I've long wanted a full-frame body as carrying around a 30D and 40D is like having two of the same camera.

And the iPhone tension increases

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I just made it through the long guided tour that Apple posted today for the iPhone. There weren't any real surprises, but it manages to start connecting all the dots and gives a greater impression of day-to-day usage.

Of course I want one. But I have to defy all my experience-gained common sense about Apple products (never buy a 1st-gen Apple product) and gadgets in general (8GB is not enough for a convergence device) if I were to get one. I also find the 2-year contract doubly insulting. Usually the 2-year commitment is to pay off the subsidy for the free phone you just got (e.g. the $500 RAZR is now free with 2-year commitment), and it's not as if I'm not going to buy phone service for this. It poorly frames the device for me: I just think about how much the iPhone will improve over 2 years. Maybe Apple will get rid of this requirement at the last minute.

So do I get one? Not sure yet. Maybe they'll sell out everywhere and I won't have to worry. If I can wait a year to get a TiVo HD, surely I can wait for an iPhone, right?

Arrived, finally

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My Mimoco Chewbacca usb drive has arrived at long last (Mimoco wrote a letter to apologize for the long preorder delay). It's all good -- the protohoodie is even more hilarious than I thought it would be.

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Hot new Dyson Slim

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My Dyson is jealous of the new Dyson Slim. They managed to squeeze their Ball into the new slim design for extra maneuverability and it's more... orange-y.

Gizmodo Photos

Wii'd up

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I got my Wii, an extra Wiimote + nunchuk, WarioWare Smooth Moves, Madden 07, and (of course) Zelda: Twilight Princess. I played a game of Madden '07 so I could ignore the Saints being beaten by the Bears, broke-in my Mii on Wii Sports, and I played several crack-smoking levels of Wario -- odd(ly) fun(ny) is how I can best describe it. Zelda: Twilight Princess remains on the shelf -- I wish to savor it, much like how one saves the best part of a meal for last.

My Wii Code is 1418 3492 0962 8370. Get your own WiiBadge at WiiBadge.com!

FYI: Although it was not my source, I highly recommend Target for future Wii purchases (unless you're going for the $50 trade-in that Gamestop is offering). Targets in Sunnyvale and Mountain View had 70-80 Wiis. Best Buy had 30. Circuit City had 18.

I think I'm getting a new phone

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I get the widescreen iPod I've always wanted plus a smartphone? Sick.

update: and the Apple Web site now has fancy video tours

One more thought: this is the first time I haven't been jealous of Japanese cell phones.

Newest gadget

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Luckily for d, gadgets do not have to be limited to things that play music or store photos. A gadget for me is anything that displays cleverness with respect to its function: double points if the gadget itself gives you more insight into the nature of the function. Thus, my latest 'gadget' is a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Why is d lucky? Because I consider the Dyson a gadget, it provides as much entertainment as using an iPod, much in the same way some might consider the weather channel on the Wii a game.

My aunt and uncle showed me their Dyson vacuum cleaner a couple years back and I've wanted one ever since. It feels like a vacuum cleaner designed by someone who really, really likes vacuuming. There's no height adjuster, just a simple switch you can hit with your foot to raise or lower the brushes. It also has a wand with extra long reach that you remove from the Dyson like Excalibur.

The best feature, though, is a clear bay in front in which you can watch the collected spin round and round, growing into a larger and larger gray-black Hedora monster. When it fills up, which actually happens frightfully quick, a simple switch detaches the bay from the vacuum cleaner. Your role then switches from vacuumer to hazardous waste disposal. You carry the chamber by its handle at arms length over the trash, stick the bottom of the chamber deep into the trash where you don't have to see it, and pull the trigger.

This visibility of collection is both fun and dangerous. I like watching the dirt swirl together like a mini tornado, but this dirt swirl also makes it clear that your carpet is never clean. The first time I used it, I got it to the 'max' line in a quick spin around the apartment. The next time around was less, but I have the feeling that no matter how many times you use the Dyson, it will collect something, even if it has to rip every stray fiber from your carpet. A particularly OCD person might be compelled to vacuum every hour, which could convince your neighbors that you're on amphetamines.

My only worry with the Dyson is that like most vacuum cleaners nowadays, it is mostly made of plastic. I don't see it lasting the 20 years my Kirby vacuum cleaner did. But I guess like any good gadget, it requests that you upgrade it every couple of years.

Update:

Photo of the Dyson's first run:

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mimobot R2

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meta and I thought for certain that the last of the series would be Princess Leia (there's always Series 2). An R2 seemed possible, but I thought they would have to be really creative with the ear buds to pull it off. Even as a passionate R2 collector, I'm not sure that this one works well enough for me to regret my Chewy pre-order. For all its cuteness, it needs more, for lack of a better word, R2-ness. It's as if an ewok painted itself to look like R2. I would happily buy one if it were not for Chewy, but as I mentioned before, there is always Series 2.

Stormtrooper mimobot

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The Stormtrooper mimobot has been announced -- one more left to go (big bets on Leia). I couldn't hold off any longer so I ordered Chewy.

Chewy!

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Methinks they are saving Leia for last.

"Switching" to Mac

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I should soon have a brand-new 15" MacBook Pro at work. It's not really switching, as my primary machine will remain a beefy dual Xeon Windows machine, but it will be nice to finally be able to live in both environments. I was very nearly considering getting a MacBook for personal use, but a lucky scratch-and-win contest changed that. But perhaps it made my work upgrade choice easy: as I already have relatively new Windows desktop and laptop, a Mac laptop is just icing. I won't get to use it for personal stuff, but lets take things one step at a time.

Any software recommendations? For my last Mac experiment, I took a liking to Adium and Quicksilver.

As I constantly and annoyingly complain, $799/85,000 points is a bit too much to pay for HD TiVo, especially when you have monthly service charges added on top. It now appears that the price point is beginning to crack: Gizmodo has a link and special offer code that knocks $119 off the list price. Hopefully the Christmas buying season will see more special deals and even more price reduction.

Dealzmodo Supplemental: TiVo Series 3 $680 - Gizmodo

Mimoco Star Wars

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I'm a sucker for mimobots -- designer flash drives -- even if I own none so far.  How many flash drives out there come with their own hoodie? I've biding my time for over a year now just waiting for just the right design. I really wanted Magma, but it was a bit too expensive for me at the time and, alas, the limited series is now forever out of stock.

Mimoco has announced they are selling out the Star Wars franchise, which is guaranteed to get me to irrationally ignore pricing and make me spend, spend, spend. So far they've announced the Darth Vader model. There are three more TBA. Vader is on preorder now.

Mimoco Star Wars Mimobot Series 1

Oh so close to breaking Sony boycott

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I've long followed the slow path to release for the Sony eBook Reader (aka PRS-500). Every time I move (about once a year) I seem to need yet another bookshelf. I have resorted to selling off a bunch of books to Book Buyers, but still no room. eBooks have long seemed like a great idea -- I can 'keep' my books but make room on my bookshelves -- but without any good execution, i.e. low resolution. The Sony PRS-500 is a huge leap across the gap: the electronic ink display is 160 DPI and can display everything from book text to manga. Just imagine those bulky, throwaway weekly Jump Comics collections condensed into the palm of your hand. * Hot: display that looks more like paper than a computer screen * Hot: can play mp3s, for those of us that like music with our books. Just imagine the possibilities for something like my Japanese language podcasts -- you could have an entire new breed of 'audiobooks'. * Not: you have to use the craptacular Sony Connect store * Reviews: Engadget Hands On, Gizmodo Hands On

Boycott note: I've been on a 'soft' boycott of Sony products, which I technically broke by buying a used PSP and memory stick. Although it was for a charity auction, I will say that I mostly regret the PSP purchase, as I believe the PSP fell far below its potential due to Sony's predictable mismanagement of that system. Fool me once...

Day of the Video: TiVo

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Update: m sent me the link for the $199 lifetime service transfer option. You need to do it before the end of 2006. I'm hoping that I can get one before then with my rewards points.

It's here! Series 3 TiVo, or rather, TiVo HD. It looks like everything you could want in a TiVo -- I especially like the new front panel that tells you what programs are being recorded -- but there is one glaring omission: no TiVoToGo and otherwise incomplete TiVo Desktop support (mp3s, but no high-res photos). They hint that they might fix this, but after taking so long to push this out the door, I'm disappointed. I've always planned to keep the old 140-hour Series 2 around, but its silly that I can't get everything in one box.

There's no word on whether or not it will be available using TiVo Reward points, but the list price is the expected $800. Instead of lifetime, they're offering a new 3-year prepaid plan for $299 -- in other words, the same price as lifetime, but a whole lot shorter. Granted, 3 years is a long time for an electronics device with a hard drive and is close to its actual product lifetime -- my series 1 died after 5 years -- but my opinion is that TiVo wants to cut into the folks selling their lifetime TiVos on eBay. There is no confirmation yet of the "transfer lifetime service for $199" ad screenshot that made the rounds.

Engadget has an early review and some videos. site is currently slow due to the plethora of tech announcements

Day of the Video: Apple

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Overall, I'm disappointed, maybe because I expected a major new device like a Video iPod or video-streaming airport, though the latter is very difficult to get right. Pretty much every site I read overpredicted for this event, which perhaps relates to the fact that it has been a long time since Apple has pulled a 'wow.'

Instead of going for one big wow, today's announcement was mostly a parade of updates. For something approximately a wow, they had to do continue their more recent trend of pre-announcing (is this Apple we're talking about?). The 640x480 video upgrade was major to me as it took the video from being iPod-only to something I might watch on a big screen, and the revamped iTunes 7.0 is nice but overdue (did anyone think that the video browser was laid out well?). The inclusion of Disney movies in the movie store is minor given Amazon's Unbox, which offers many more movies with just as many silly encumberances (I'll use neither), and the updates to the iPods were mostly minor (brighter screens, bigger storage, better battery life, new cases) with the exception of the new Shuffle -- it got a lot more attractive. The biggest item, the iTV, is months out and isn't even capable of recording TV -- it's just another box through which you can buy more stuff from Apple. It's one thing when an Apple device induces you to buy more stuff from Apple, but this really just looks like a dedicated box to fill Steve Jobs with money.

  • iTunes 7.0: The UI got a minor major revamp, which was necessary: the left pane was getting very overloaded with each successive Apple media event. There is a new album/DVD cover art flipper that looks similar to the freeware app CoverFlow (update: CoverFlow licensed their tech to Apple), which necessitated Apple finally offering free cover art (Musicmatch did this for me 6 years ago!), and there are some other needed tweaks like making the controls for iPod sync a first-class citizen.

  • iTV: Perhaps the biggest announcement was the pre-announcment of a set-top box, the iTV (side note: what is it with Apple and pre-announcements nowadays?). As far as I can tell, it's a Mac mini that just runs iTunes/Front Row. There are no input jacks for it to record TV, so most of the video will have to be purchased from Apple unless you really, really like vodcasts. I'm patient enough to wait for any show to hit DVD, so I've only purchased a TV show once when my TiVo couldn't record two programs that were on at the same time. This might be attractive for the person who likes TV but doesn't want cable.

  • aluminum Nanos: what do you do when everyone complains about scratches on their black Nanos? Make it out of metal and give people colors. As far as I can tell, that's the only big change to the line; no mention of video support though the screen and battery life have been improved.

  • Shuffle 2.0: Jobs now claims it is the World's Smallest MP3 player. I actually think is it a tad bit larger than the quarter-sized ones I've seen, but it doesn't matter too much -- it's tiny. At this form-factor, the absense of a screen finally makes more sense to me.

  • 640x480 video: at long last, the video on the iTunes store is now 640x480. I've previously whined about how 320x240 is far too small to pay money for -- it's only good enough for the iPod and looks like crap on TV -- so I'm very happy to see a more respectable encoding used.

  • Movie store: leaked awhile ago, there are now 75 Disney-related films on iTunes for purchase. yawn. I'm not a person who cares about this sort of stuff. I'd rather buy CDs because I can play them on non-Apple devices without having to reburn a playlist, and I'd rather buy a DVD because even if that is a more locked format than a CD, I actually own the DVD and I'm free from Apple deciding what devices I get to play my movies on.

  • updated iPods: gapless playback is nice -- though I had a plugin for Winamp that did this 7 years ago -- but I could care less about playing video games or inputting search text on a scrollwheel.

Gearing up for Series 3 TiVo

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TiVo's been a bit weird about the Series 3 release. They setup a page on their Web site that allows you to signup for news on the Series 3 release. I of course signed up, but have yet to have a single e-mail from them with any details. But that doesn't mean there isn't news leaking from TiVo Corp into the wild. They ran an ad in a industry trade magazine talking about the upcoming release, they announced the $800 price to Popular Mechanics, and the ad to the right reveals good news: current users will be able to transfer their lifetime service to the new units, though $199 isn't exactly cheap, but neither is the $800 unit.

The rumor mill has the release of the TiVo Series 3 pegged at September 17, so I'm crossing my fingers that news holds true. It's football season time and I've been looking forward to being able to sleep in instead of waking up at 10am to watch the morning games. I'm also hoping that they offer the Series 3 on their TiVo Rewards page; otherwise I have 50,000 TiVo Reward Points that I've been building up for nothing ;). If I have to spend real money on the Series 3 I might be in trouble -- September 12th is an Apple media event and a video-streaming Airport or a Video iPod might eliminate my disposable income.

All set for the housewarming

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I've managed to put the finishing touches on my computer setup, which just about covers everything I needed to do to get everything in order for the housewarming -- d's got all the other stuff covered. We were running out of wall space, so I was a bit worried as to where I was going to hang my biggest Comic-Con acquisition, an Usagi drawing by Stan Sakai, when I saw this nice big blank space on the side of my computer. A couple minutes later I had the setup you see here:

I'll get a better scan of the drawing (as well as all the other Comic-Con goods) when I have a bit more time.

I'm a winner!

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(crossposted from spare cycles)

I've been picking up some of the Tour Mania scratch and win cards from my local bike shop and today I won a Livestrong laptop! I am excited as this being my first-ever big prize win. Of course, I'm the last person that needs another computer and I'm not-so-excited about the taxes for the sucker, but I'll figure that out later.

You can also be a winner -- you can even play online at trekbikes.com. If you win a Madone 5.2 I'll trade you ;).

livestrong laptop

The 30D is here

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But I didn't bring a lens to work so I have to sit and stare at it all day. How cruel. Help! GadgetGuy! Save Me!

Update: As parakkum, honeyfields, d, and m can attest, I giggled the first time I pressed the shutter button on the 30D. The frame rate is so fast in comparison to my Rebel. The Rebel is like "click. click. click." The 30D is "clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclick." The camera still awaits its in-the-field test with fast-moving objects, but I think me and 30D are going to be good friends.

Well, there goes my bank account

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I just ordered a Canon 30d -- I'm hoping it's worth every penny because it's quite a mound of them. I'm trying to take my cycling photography to the next level and -- even though I'm not quite ready for it -- the 30d should alleviate some of my gripes with the Rebel 300D (hard to tell if things are in focus with viewfinder, can't activate AI servo independently, slow startup, low fps, etc...). Although I was jealous to see one of my co-workers with the Canon 5d, the 30d should actually be a better for action photography.

In other action photography news, as of Tuesday that wonderful blow-up-stuff show now has the rights to some of my photos for their Web site. Irony is delicious.

Gadget packaging

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Consumer Reports and this derivative Wired article address one of my biggest pet peeves: plastic packaging. I hate it when something I buy takes first blood. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't ever recall having this problem with products I've bought in Japan. America seems to be the land of the sadistic plastic packaging obsession, though it's also the land of the wondrous Apple packaging that's just too pretty to throw away.

Back

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No time for full posts, but some random bits:

  • In a correction to my previous Japan trip log, I'd like to proudly state that I now have a DS Lite. ota, m, and I waited in line at the Ikebukuro Toys R' Us and were able to pick some up. I promptly bought a copy of old-school Dr. Mario, which doesn't use the capabilities of DS Lite in the least, but I'm looking forward to trying some other games out. I did pick up a copy of the 'America' travel assitant, which I will play around with to see if it is good enough for reverse English->Japanese usage.
  • Jangara Ramen in Akihabara/Omotesando makes me sad to eat ramen in the US again.
  • All-you-can-eat food in Japan is awesome. We had all-you-can-eat dessert at Sweets Paradise in Ginza for ~$13 and all-you-can-eat shabu shabu at Mo Mo Paradise in Shinjuku for ~$15. I suggest that you visit these places first when visiting Japan, as your stomach will start to shrink from the smaller Japanese food portions the longer you're there. I think I lost weight despite the constant consumption of highly sugared vending machine drinks.
  • I think I should have been using Japanese soap and shampoo my whole life. It's possible that it's the California desert climate, but my half-Japanese skin didn't feel the least bit itchy like it does with US products.
  • Is Karl Rove indicted, or no? I'm confused.
  • Lost is finally going somewhere, just in time for the season finale this week. It sure does make me think that the entire first half of the season was a waste.
  • TiVo let me down on recording the Giro di Italia. Bad TiVo!

Akihabara is awesome

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... but if I lived there I would quickly spend all my money on every gadget and toy ever known. I visited both the old Akihabara with the various small shops with various specialties as well as Yodabashi Camera, which is pretty much Akibahara sanitized and compressed into a single giant building. My purchases were as varied as Akihabara: a SATA/IDE to USB converter, model Shinkansen trains, an LED light on a cellphone strap, a Godzilla toy out of a capsule machine, an R2-D2 bottle cap, and pixel blocks for recreating Nintendo sprites. Yes, a bunch of crap, but now I own it all. I would have bought a radio and hopups for my unfinished R/C car if only I had a bit more room and actually remembered what I needed.

One of the coolest things I saw was that they have video games where you use trading cards to control the action. In a military strategy game, you manuever and command your units by moving their cards across the table. In a soccer game, you control your lineup by positioning your player cards on the table. We tried one of the more boring card games that just involves sticking your cards into the machine, but we didn't get beyond the tutorial section -- that darn goblin just wouldnt die!

I also saw a Nintendo DS Lite for the first time. I would buy one if they weren't sold out everywhere. I didn't fully understand the coolness of that platform until y's sister showed me an America travel program that teaches American English. It fully utilizes the two screens of the DS. If you select a phrase to 'say' something in English, you can display that phrase upside down on the top screen so that the person you're talking to can read it. You can also use the touch screen to practice writing English phrases displayed on the top screen. There's currently programs for America, Germany and Thailand, among others, but that's not too helpful for me as they are all in Japanese. I wish that all of our Japan guides could be compressed onto a signle DS cartridge.

It cleans while it maps

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A co-worker of mine strapped a laser on top of a Roomba and turned it into a mapper: Roomba Mapper. For $2000 you could build one of our own :).

Canon Camera Upgrade Lust

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Photo Marketing Association (PMA) 2006 is over and a couple Canon cameras caught my eye*. Both have me thinking, "Upgrade! ... at a much later time when I have more money... which of course means that there will be even newer cameras to catch my eye."

The first is the SD700 IS Digital ELPH. I've used ELPHs since the S400, which I replaced with the smaller SD300 after I wore the S400 into the ground with constant abuse. I didn't see the SD300 as much of an upgrade as a replacement, but it did add faster startup times and a much smaller body. If I hadn't broken the S400 I would probably still be using the older ELPH today.

SD700 front SD700 back

The SD700 is the first new ELPH since the S400 to really get my attention. First off, the Canon engineers have finally figured out how to stick 4x zoom into the tiny ELPH form factor. Then they added Image Stabilization (IS) and ISO 800 on top of that. There are other features to admire in the SD700, but it's these three that set it apart for me against previous ELPHs. My ELPH is the camera I always have on me and it's the camera that I rely on to get the shot regardless of the conditions. The IS and ISO 800 capabilities would give me additional flexibility in darker situations (e.g. restaurants) without having to resort to picture-ruining flash and the 4x zoom would get me that extra step closer to my subject.

30dThe second camera to catch my eye is the EOS 30D, which is a new addition to Canon's Digital SLR line. I'm currently using a Digital Rebel 300D that's excellent for it's price tag, but has plenty of shortcomings for cycling photography. The EOS 5D has given my camera cravings since it's announcement, but it's $3,000 price tag keeps it out of my reach. The full frame sensor is also an argument against me buying it for sports photography as my 70-200mm f/4 lens would no longer be the 112-320mm f/4 lens it is with the Rebel 1.6x crop factor. I probably couldn't afford the extra $1000 to upgrade the 70-200mm and a 1.4x extender might slow down the lens too much**.

The EOS 30D is an attractive compromise. At $1400 it's less than half the price of a 5D but can shoot 5 frame per second (fps) -- that's 2 fps faster than the 5D. It doesn't have the full frame sweetness and big viewfinder of the 5D, but the 1.6x crop factor provides that economical zoom. Another compromise is the smaller 8MP sensor versus the 12MP 5D. Some of the other niceties:

  • RGB histograms
  • Improved AutoFocus (the bane of my Digital Rebel)
  • Simultaneous RAW and JPEG recording
  • 30 JPEG/11 RAW photo buffer
  • 0.15s startup time -- I've lost far too many photos due to the slow startup time.

Don't get me wrong -- if offered to buy me either the 5D or the 30D I would choose the 5D without hesitation. But part of the gadget-buying-lust fantasy is the small, minute possibility that one might actually someday have enough expendable income and the 30D looks like you get a lot for what you pay for.

* Some non-Canon equipment caught my eye as well, but I committed on the D-SLR line and I like my ELPHs
** One could always crop the 12MP photo of the EOS 5D down to 8MP or 6MP and come up with the same 'zoomed' photos, but that's yet another extra step of processing.

lenticular_stamp1.gifThe Netherlands is releasing plastic 'video stamps.' The is the same technology that you've probably seen in the past with pieces of plastic you tilt back and forth, but it appears that it is done much better. More info at Gizmodo. I can't wait for the day that this becomes a consumer-available product and I can print off videos of my nephew for my parents to stick on their fridge.

Link roundup

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My dorky quote for the day

I had two teachers for algorithms class. One spoke as if conversation were a non-returning recursive function

I'm clearing out the Firefox tabs. BoingBoing appears to have beaten me to posting some of these, oh well

Convergence!

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Canon's newest camera will have it all: from bp's/meta's pizza button to the latest in AI sensing/reminder technology for the "Pee Break Now" indicator. But which button calls my mom to tell her to come and pick me up?

I'm waiting for the model with GPS.

credit: bigconig's posting on dpreview

Case-ari iPod nano case review

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case-ari caseI just received my Case-ari iPod nano case, which will replacing my homemade Altoids case. The Case-ari case is similar to the premium Vaja leather cases, but about half the price as they ship from Georgia instead of Argentina and they don't offer any customization.

I approve of the Case-ari case so far. It comes with a detachable belt clip and plastic screen protectors that you stick right on the screen and scrollwheel. Strangely there is no protector for the center button. The inside of the case is plush and there is a separate cleaning cloth. The customer service, from what I have seen, is good. Within a couple hours of my order they called to let me know that my chosen color was out of stock and gave me the choice of choosing a different color, cancelling, or waiting. The case also arrived with a free Case-ari keychain and signed personalized letter. All little things, but quite a lot for a $24.95 product when compared to the crap you might find for the same price in the Apple Store.

I liked the Altoids case, but I never quite finished it and it felt silly carrying around something as large as a regular iPod to transport a nano. I may revive the Altoids case for snowboarding or the like, but otherwise the Case-ari case will be absorbing most of the blows.

New Apple laptops

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Intel dual-core Apple laptops, $1999+, and Intel dual-core iMacs. Maybe one of these days I'll finally pickup a Mac... or maybe after I recover from the purchase of my TV. Also cool to see Apple embracing video blogging and podcasting with iLife '06. An interesting tidbit from the announcement was that Apple sold 14 million iPods last quarter. That's a whole lotta white earbuds.

Note that at this time, the Apple.com homepage is still advertising the "new iMac G5" and "new Powerbooks." Hope they didn't produce too many of those.

update: apple.com has finally updated with the new products

Yes! HD TiVo!

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HD TiVo

I bet the farm on this one, just about. I got my TiVo credit card so that I would have enough TiVo reward points. I bought a new HD TV and put it on my TiVo card. All because a couple years back TiVo said they would deliver a CableCARD-based HD TiVo in early 2006.

I've been glued to this year's CES coverage just waiting for a TiVo logo to appear. If they were going to keep their early 2006 promise it had to be announced by CES. My mood was getting down when there was no news throughout the first day of the expo. Finally, the news is rolling in on the new TiVo:

There's also some hot screenshots from the TiVo Desktop 2.3 client. The one I like the most is this one showing PSP and iPod video export. There's also this one showing a more TiVo-ish TiVoToGo.

All photos courtesy of www.megazone.org.

Farewell Mr. Sony

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Three years ago, all of the remotes on my coffee table were Sony: TV, TiVo, PlayStation 2 and VCR. Now all that remains is that ancient device, the VCR. The PS2 remote has been surplanted by a Panasonic DVD remote, the Sony TiVo is out on loan, and now the TV will end up on Craigslist.

By the way, a lesson to all of you trying to get HDTV from Comcast, you don't need to pay the $5 for the set-top box or get a CableCARD or switch to digital cable or do any other nonsense. If your HDTV has a builtin tuner, then you should be able to get any broadcast HD channel by plugging in the cable to the back of the TV. You'll get HD ABC, Fox, etc... You won't get ESPN HD, Discovery HD, or any of the other pay channels, but you won't pay extra either.

Brilliant Apple engineering

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As my co-worker heads to the Apple store to get his iMac repaired, I think I have finally deduced Apple's Master Plan. Many of you are familiar with the bugginess of the first revision of any Apple product. These first revisions tend to be recalled or otherwise need repair. These first revisions are also most frequently bought by early adopters and Apple's most devoted. So here it is, Apple's secret Master Plan:

  1. Intentionally introduce flaws into first revision of product
  2. Customers bring in products for repair at the Apple Store, where they see shiny new Apple products
  3. PROFIT!

Great weekend so far

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  • Trader Joe's sells Niman Ranch organic bacon. d and I finished off the whole pack. Actually, we finished off all but about five pieces. The remaining pieces must have been finished off by bacon gnomes chomp munch chomp
  • Got tix to the Live 105 Not So Silent Night concert on Dec 9 with The White Stripes headlining
  • USC clobbered Stanford 51-21
  • Two of my pants were rescued from buttonlessness
  • Bought an R/C car (still need to pickup a radio and battery)

The only bad news is that I bought the R/C car because it was on sale at San Antonio Hobby Shop's going-out-of-business sale. Their banner says that the owners are retiring after 40 years. I may have to make several trips there before they close, though the shelves are already starting to look pretty picked through. I should have gotten started on my kite camera project earlier as I don't know if there are any local shops that will be able to sell me all the parts I need anymore.

Hands on iPod with video, mixed impressions

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I got my first hands-on experience with the iPod with video yesterday. My immediate impression was, "It's bigger," even though it's smaller. They aided this illusion by shrinking the scrollwheel (comparison pic). The more interesting comparisons came once I picked it up and started playing with it. Perhaps it was a matter of expectations. If someone had said, "Checkout the new iPod photo with new screen," I probably would be more favorable to it. Two disappointments came to mind:

  1. I felt strained watching video on it's tiny screen, though this may have been because the first video I watched was the Fantastic Four trailer. Although the screen had beautiful colors, I felt that I had to concentrate to watch, something I don't have to do when I watch video on the larger screen of my PSP. I was biased against it going in and nothing I experienced changed that.
  2. The ergonomics are much worse. I appreciate that they made the iPod thinner, but they also decided to change the plastic face of the iPod. Instead of the smooth, rounded edges of the third- and fourth-generation iPods, it's back to the old sharp edge of the first-generation iPod. It didn't feel as comfortable sitting in my hand as I tried to manipulate the smaller scrollwheel.

I hope that this is not Apple's final statement on handheld video playback. Apple usually tries to one-up it's competition when it enters a new space, but now I feel like they have to catch up. The only advantages they have are in video content and software, especially now that I see that Sony wants to charge $20 for software to put content on your PSP. These are not advantages that I underrate, but the handheld experience currently does not measure up to them.

Toys, toys, toys! (Nano edition)

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Screw the new iPod with video -- thanks to d I have a svelte small tiny iPod nano. My Elph is jealous. My only problem is that I don't have a sock small enough to hold it. Thanks d!

update: d got some baby socks (0-3 months) for my nano. They fit perfectly. Scary small. My baby nano.

Apple gets video

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ipods.video.JPGI've long wished for an iPod with video out that I could sync with my TiVo to transport my TV shows around. Now it looks like I will get something close as there is now an iPod that can playback video with video out as well as an a new 'FrontRow' media-center-like app, a new iMac with remote, TV shows for $1.99 via iTunes, and music videos. Today's laundry list of announcements show that Apple has thought about the full video experience that they wanted and waiting until they could have all the pieces in place: iPod, iMac, and store.

$1.99 is a really good price for TV shows IMHO, even if the video resolution is a bit low (324x240). It matches well againt the per episode cost of DVDs and comes with the additional benefit that you are only getting the episodes you want and sooner. It should also give Apple some leverage with the music industry, which is already losing sales due to the pricing of DVDs versus CDs. It's hard to argue for more than $0.99/song when an hour long TV show is only $1.99.

The iPod is ultimately a generic storage device, not a music player, and with the addition of photo and now video capabilities it is a more complete portable device for media. Video was the last pillar of standard media and they now have them all.

Sony bloggin'

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After blasting Sony in my review of the Connect service, it's only fair that I list some of their cooler announcements that have hit the Net today.

VAIO PocketSony has finally launched a real iPod competitor. The VAIO pocket appears to be slightly larger than an iPod and features a color screen, ability to sync with digital cameras via USB, 20GB of storage, video playback (where does this video come from?), and weird G-Sense touchpad that you have to watch the flash animation to even begin to grok (instead of a dial, it's a 2-D raised grid that you move your thumb across). It's only in Japan, and it also costs over $500, so Apple probably isn't going to worry just yet. It also doesn't appear that it will win any beauty competitions.

In typical Sony fashion, it comes with an uber remote with LCD display. Also, in typical Sony fashion, they've stubbornly insist on converting all of the music into ATRAC format when transferred. I've already discussed how annoying this is. To me, this one annoying feature ruins the whole deal. Another deal-breaker for me is the fact that you have to use Sony's SonicStage player, which I also already discuss my annoyances with, as have others (Note: apparently Sony has already announced that there will be an update to SonicStage by summer's end to address the rampant criticism).

sony u70Another bit of news, and my reaction on this isn't as mixed, is that Sony has released a not-quite tablet PC, that IMHO is pretty innovative. It's very small as computers (click on the photo for more images), and I think it would be a good device to have around the house for channelling your media. In that regard, it may be difficult to find a niche: the screen is too small to make it usable as a day-to-day laptop, and despite the remote and earbuds it's not really a portable music player, so it all comes down to how many people have an extra $2K to spend on a computer that's easy to tote around the house as well as read e-books on (a market that still as yet has not materialized). I withhold judgement for now as to whether or not it would be useful for watching movies on airplanes, as I can't tell whether or not it has a built-in DVD drive.

Finally, Sony has finally released a widescreen laptop.

A new toy

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shredderAfter experiencing an incident of identity theft awhile back, I decided that I wanted to get a shredder. While I was browsing the different models, I decided that if I was going to be doing something as anal as shredding sensitive documents, I might as well make it fun, so I splurged for the Fellowes PS70-2CD. In addition to shredding fifteen sheets at a time, it can also shred CDs and credit cards. It makes such a satisfying sound when the CDs are being eaten. Now that's entertainment.

WARNING: there may be no shreddable materials left in the house by the time pqbon gets home.

Classifying stuff

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By way of Avi Greengart, I came across Michael Gartenberg's technology classification. It's simple, but I like it:
Stuff you can't carry (ex: desktop computers, DVD players)
Stuff that needs its own bag (ex: business projectors)
Stuff that goes into your bag (ex: notebooks, some Pocket PCs)
Stuff that fits into your pocket (ex: some Palm PDAs, cell phones)
Stuff that's invisible (ex: watches, key chains, clothing)

Portable WiFi Server

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Sony has a portable 802.11b file server available in Japan. In addition to supporting most major file protocols (CIFS/SMB, NFS), it can also act as an ethernet bridge. You can also install any other Linux software you can get your hands on. Joi Ito's got one and claims it has about 9 minutes of battery life. The specs seem very similar to OpenBrick. If you're in Japan you can order one here.

Looks like Sony beat Intel/Roy Want to market with personal portable servers, but I hope Intel hurries up with one that runs for more than 9 minute sans power adapter.