It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing colors, people are
loosening their belts, and manufacturers are releasing a flurry of new and exciting
toys to play with. It’s not enough to just take pictures anymore—gadget
geeks know it’s all about what you do with them afterwards. As a card-carrying
member of the GGA (Gadget Geeks Anonymous), I thought I’d share some of
the electronic goodies you don’t want to miss as you fill your shelves
for the holiday shopping rush.
The Power of i
It seems every year there’s a new iPod to talk about, and 2006 is no
exception. First on the wish list is the latest generation of portable music/photo/video
players from Apple (www.apple.com). This version boasts a brighter 2.5” screen,
and another increase in storage capacity, with 30GB and 80GB versions now available.
In a furtherance of the company’s goal to take over every segment of
the portable electronics market, the new version of iTunes offers games for
the iPod as well.
A World Away
Sony Electronics (www.sony.com) introduced the GPS-CS1, a global positioning
device you can use to map out your photographic excursions. Clip it onto
your camera bag, and when you get back, upload the data to the computer.
It will sync the time, date, and locations with the information collected
by your Sony digital camera. Add in mapping technology courtesy of Google
Maps, and you have a great way to track your photos.
The Better Part of Valor
Discretion, especially when it comes to cellphones, seems to be a dying art
these days. Sony Ericsson (www.sonyericsson.com/us) is looking to change
that. Their MBW-100 Bluetooth watch, developed in conjunction with watch
maker Fossil, displays caller ID information on an OLED display behind
the watch face. If the call can’t be taken, press a key to send the
caller directly to voicemail. The watch can also control music functions
on the phone. Gadget geeks can now be known far and wide as the politer
half of society.
No Red Herrings Here
When it comes to spy movies, getting framed is a great plot device. For a gadget
geek, the term is a bit less sinister. This year there are a variety of digital
picture frames to choose from.
Fidelity Electronics’ (www.fidelityelectronics.com) new line of Digital
Picture Frames use 5.6x8-inch LCDs to view images directly from a memory card.
The DPF-5600F supports images up to eight megapixels, and the DPF-8000F supports
images up to 12 megapixels.
MediaStreet Inc. (www.mediastreet.com) expanded its line of frames with the
addition of the Pure eMotion 128. The frame has 128MB of internal memory,
and a multi-card reader that accepts SD/MMC, MS, SM, and CF cards, and
can display photos one by one, or as part of a slideshow set to music.
Smartparts (www.smartpartsproducts.com) introduced two new digital picture
frames for viewing JPEG images. The frames come in 10.4- and 5.6-inch viewing
sizes. The larger frame is housed in a 12x10-inch frame with an acrylic bezel
feature; and accepts a wide range of media cards. The smaller frame is housed
in an 8x7-inch, genuine wood exterior, and offers a built-in SD/MMC and MS
DigiGear Inc. (www.digigearinc.com) took a slightly different path, offering
a kit that allows users to display their images in 3D. The starter kit includes
rendering software, one photo frame, and a 4x6 and 6x4 lens for either landscape
or portrait photos. Refill packs include four frames, and two each of the
Honey, I Shrunk the Camera
The five-megapixel Leica M3 camera from Minox (www.minox.com) is the kind of
gadget you can’t help but look at and say “awwwww”. It
has all the power and quality expected from a Minox camera, and it fits in
the palm of your hand. It has 32MB of built-in memory, and accepts SD media.
Photos on the Go
Another big category this year is enough to make a geek break out in a wide
grin—handheld, portable photo viewers. They now come in a variety
of shapes and sizes, but all of them offer storage and viewing on the go.
Digital Foci Inc. (www.digitalfoci.com) released the Picture Porter Elite
in 40GB and 80GB flavors. These handheld albums have a built-in media card
reader in addition to the on-board memory, and feature a 3.6” LCD
for viewing images in a slideshow or individually; as well as allowing
you to zoom, rotate, pan, and view EXIF and histogram information.
Epson (www.epson.com) has two new models on the market this year, the P-3000
and P-5000 Multimedia Storage Viewers. Both feature a four-color 4” LCD
screen to view, store, and playback video, photos, and music. The P-3000
has a 40GB hard drive, while the P-5000 boasts 80GB of capacity. Both have
slots for CF and SD memory cards and allow viewing of a range of file formats
including zooming, and rotating select RAW files. The units incorporate PictBridge,
USB 2.0, and can also connect to TV monitors for playback.
Jobo AG’s (www.jobo.com) Giga Vu Pro Evolution was developed with the
professional photographer in mind. With a variety of advanced features, like
RAW file decoding, and storage options up to 120GB. Along with slots for
memory cards, it makes for a good companion on a photo shoot. The unit also
has a TV-Out option and can play music and videos.
Focusing on the Problem
Lensbabies LLC’s (www.lensbabies.com) next generation product, Lensbaby
3G, improves upon an already great gadget that lets a user focus on one area,
with the rest of the shot in a graduated blur. The 3G adds the ability to lock
the lens into place at the press of a button, instead of the photographer being
forced to hold it at the correct angle. Read: repeatability and control.
A Different Point of View
The Zigview S2 from Argraph Corp. (www.adi-digital.com) is a nifty remote,
detachable 2.5” LCD, which attaches to a DSLR viewfinder and provides
a live view of what the camera sees. This new version improves upon the original
Zigview, adding higher resolution optics, a CCD sensor with 270,000 pixels,
and a rapid refresh rate. Geeks never have to worry about trying to get shots
from odd angles with this little gadget.
The Hoodman (www.hoodmanusa.com) H-RAV is a right angle viewer that fits
all Canon, Nikon, and Fuji DSLRs, as well as select other cameras. This
right-angle viewer includes a built-in diopter with 1x and 2.5x capabilities,
as well as 360 degree rotation for getting those hard-to-line-up shots
low to the ground.
Last But Not Least…
To round out the Gadget Geek Wish List are a few items from HP (www.hp.com).
The company has several new high-definition media storage options, including
an HD-DVD external hard drive; an expandable storage product called the Media
Vault; and the new Pocket Media Drive, a USB hard drive that comes in either
80GB or 120GB