"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mr. Gadget Guy

Yes, yes ... I have been shirking my blogging duties of late, sorry folks. Sometimes RL (Real Life) does intrude on the cyber world; don't you just hate it when that happens?

In fact, I've been so out of touch that apparently I'm the last person on Earth with Internet access to discover the very bizarre "Shoes" video, or even worse, Gary Brolsma the Numa Numa guy. I mean seriously, ten million freaking people have seen this video since he released it in 2004, and I'm just now hearing about it? Damn, my "hip quotient" has got to be in negative numbers here.

But wait, there may be some hope for me yet. In the photo on the left, I hold in my hand the latest toy I acquired this week, an iPod clone made by Sansa and sporting the decidedly un-sexy name of the "e-250". (Sansa also nicknames the device "The Lil' Monsta", a tag I like even less; I think instead I will simply call it my "Faux-Pod.") With two gigabytes of memory, it will hold oodles of choice tuneage and also plays FM Radio, photos, and videos ... although I suspect I might go blind trying to watch them on its tiny screen. Despite a few very minor but occasionally frustrating quirks in the interface, I give it an enthusiastic thumbs up. Unlike some other lightweight plastic MP3 players I looked at, the Sansa has a rugged "liquid metal" back panel which gives it a nice, solid heft. Battery life is excellent: I've been using it all week for at least an hour or two a day and have yet to need a recharge. Best of all, I got it for a mere $89, which compared to $149 for a 2-gig iPod Nano is a great deal.

Techno-nerd that I am, I confess that I've always been a bit of a gadget freak. I do loves me my digital toys, so it's a bit surprising that I have yet to decide on a new camera. In the last installment of this thrilling saga posted here more than two months ago, you may recall that I was torn between the Canon S3-IS long-zoom P&S and the well-respected Nikon D-40 Digital SLR. Since then I've been able to put my hands on both models at my local Big Discount Store, which unfortunately did little to help me decide between them. I liked the D-40 for its solid feel and excellent quality, and according to my nephew the professional photographer, Nikon is the only brand on the planet worthy of serious consideration. But given how few photos I take, I have a hard time getting past the $549 price tag, and also thought the 27-82 mm zoom range was a bit limiting. I also was hesitant about its proprietary battery pack, lack of image stabilization, and the fact that the 2.5" LCD screen can't be used as a viewfinder when composing shots (which, to be fair, is the case with any DSLR). The Canon, on the other hand, uses common AA batteries, has a more flexible 36-432 mm zoom range, and also shoots video -- which the Nikon does not. But when I actually held the S3-IS, it didn't have the same "pro" feel as the Nikon, in fact it seemed more fragile and almost toy-like. And to muddy the waters even further, Canon has just announced that this model is being discontinued, to be replaced with the S5-IS which ups the megapixel count from 6 to 8 and increases the size of the LCD screen from 2" to 2.5" along with a host of other upgrades. The downside is that the S5 will not be available until July, and for at least the first couple of months is likely to command a price close to its suggested retail of $499. However, the introduction of this new model could cause some dealers to discount the S3 even further in the next few weeks.

Now, to confuse me even more (if such a thing is possible at this stage), I've been reading glowing reviews of a new Fuji superzoom comparable to Canon's, the Fuji Finepix S700 (right). With seven megapixels, a 10X optical zoom giving an effective range of 38-380 mm, picture stabilization, a big bright 2.5" LCD screen, and full VGA movie mode, this camera seems to be one heck of a deal at only $215. At that price, I might go ahead and get this thing just for grins, and if for some reason I really don't like it, at least I haven't blown a big wad of cash. But to be honest, I can't see what's not to like. If anyone has any personal knowledge about this model, please drop me a line. At the moment it's looking like this camera could very well be my next gadget.


  • At 6/20/2007 08:57:00 PM, Blogger Sphincter said…

    I want the Finepix s700! I've had great luck with my little old Fuji, and had a 35mm Fuji before the digital rage. Hey, my cat may need a new camera for his 11th birthday, coming at the month's end...


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