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 card reader.
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 lenses.
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.