When I was picking up my demo unit of the Sony VAIO EB series notebook for this review, I had a very important choice to make. "Which color do you want?" I took one look at the two computers in front of me -- one blue, one black -- and without hesitation said "I'll take the blue one." Thankfully, I didn't have to make a choice from the entire array of colors that the VAIO E is offered in -- six in total. If you're keeping score at home, they are Iridescent Blue, Hibiscus Pink, Caribbean Green, Lava Black, Gunmetal Black, and Coconut White.
With the rise of affordable, ultra compact netbook computers, many companies have struggled to differentiate their products in the market place. Current trends have placed tiny, low resolution screens, sluggish processing, and cramped keyboards into the norm of the new netbook space. Premium models have addressed these issues by offering larger screen sizes and more powerful computing at the expense of portability and a higher cost of ownership. The Toshiba mini NB205 addresses the very same issues without driving up costs and still providing a highly portable and exceptionally satisfying user experience.
For over a decade, Epson has been producing an ever-improving family of Photo Stylus desktop printers designed to deliver faithfully-rendered, archival-quality digital inkjet prints at remarkably affordable prices. With this in mind, Epson's recently introduced Stylus Pro 3880 is the least expensive 17x22" desktop printer money can buy without compromising image quality.
The hottest gear of 2008 comes in small packages. It could be a wireless Internet browser, a digital reader, a pocket projector, or something equally buzz-worthy. Here's our list of cool products to consider when shopping for that special someone.
1. Net-Savvy Tablet
The Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet is a 4.8-inch touch screen (800 x 480 pixels) with Wi-Fi browser. Besides letting your fingers do the site reading, it's ideal for playing video, music, and slideshows from its embedded hard drive or streamed from a wireless network. If you love Internet radio, you can listen with the earphones or built-in speaker. If you want the ultimate wireless picture frame, just pop the kickstand. Plug the tablet into the optional Archos DVR Station, and you can schedule recordings from your cable or satellite box without paying to download content. The Archos 5 Internet Media Tablets are available in 60-, 120-, and 250 Gigabyte versions. If you prefer a 7-inch screen, there's the Archos 7 Internet Media Tablet with 160- or 320 GB of memory.
The giant balloons in the Thanksgiving Day Parade cry out to be seen on a big screen. The roar of a football game shouts surround sound. Classic holiday movies demand to be seen anew in high definition. And home videos and digital slide shows of gatherings past signal family members to come to the sofa.
The holidays and home theater were made for each other. After all, when the eating's done, it's then that sports nuts and movie connoisseurs get down to some serious holiday viewing. Unless you're a video equipment enthusiast, though, creating a crowd pleasing system can be as elusive as putting together the perfect black truffle soufflé.
Setting up a home theater isn't difficult once you understand how each component contributes to the big picture. Here's grandma's recipe for what you need – or what someone you know deserves.
One TV Screen
There seem to be as many flat screen choices as boxes in the cereal aisle. Don't despair. Your first choice should be a known brand featuring "Full HD" resolution, meaning if you counted the number of picture elements, you'd find 1920 pixels across and 1080 pixels down. The bigger the screen, the more you'll appreciate the lifelike quality of high definition programs. So, a 40-inch model (measured diagonally) is an entry point, but a 50-incher is even better.
LCD and plasma technologies have become such strong performers that you can't go wrong with either type of TV. One example is the Samsung LN40A650, a 40-inch LCD model. Another is the Panasonic TH-50PZ85U Viera 50-inch plasma HDTV. Both come with built-in stands for placement on furniture, but the stand can be removed if you'd prefer an optional wall mount.
A new class of portable computers, dubbed 'netbooks,' burst onto the scene in late 2007. Taiwanese manufacturer ASUS spearheaded the netbook revolution with their playfully named, and ostensibly tiny, Eee PC.
When compared to a full fledged notebook, these computers,weighing between two and three pounds, have limited functionality. You can type up a memo, surf the web, or watch a movie – albeit on a small screen – with ease, but you wouldn't want to edit a home movie, track your finances, or rely on a netbook for any mission-critical application.
A Netbook for Me?
Early models of the Eee PC had limited storage space, underpowered processors by VIA, and were preloaded with Linux rather than Windows. These computers made up for a lack of performance and maturity with a low price-point; you can get an early model Eee PC for as little as $299.
Newer models feature higher storage capacities, more memory, faster Atom CPUs by Intel, larger screens, and the option of running Windows. They are a bit more costly, with top-end models setting you back $499, but this extra cost gets you a more robust computer. It's still not a machine you would want to use as your primary computer, but it's a nice option for commuters and travelers.
Flash memory cards are the film rolls of the digital age with the added benefits of reusability and being compatible with computers and portable storage devices. Carrying spare cards and related accessories when you're away from home or the studio can make the difference between a successful shoot and one in which being out of memory is akin to running out of gas.
Secure Digital (SD) and Compact Flash (CF) are among the most popular card formats used in digital cameras, but there are a few others. So, if you're not sure, check to see which type of memory card your camera accepts. We'll deal you some great deals on cards below, but first let's talk about some of the cool ways memory cards are transcending their traditional roles of simply being seated inside a camera:
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