Posts Tagged ‘digital’

New Kindles – Inexpensive eBook Readers

New Kindle

Last week Amazon announced several new versions of the Kindle, their popular eBook reader. Not only will the new Kindles be inexpensive, but Amazon is lowering the price of the current Kindle.

The Kindle that Amazon has been selling for $114, and the one that I own, will now be $99. That Kindle has a gray scale screen and a built-in keyboard. It also has Amazon’s Special Offers, which are ads that appear in certain areas, but do not interfere with the text when you are reading.

Amazon will now also have a $79 Kindle which is basically the same, but without the keyboard. The screen size and quality will the same, but the unit itself will be smaller because they were able to completely cut out the keyboard. Unless you take a lot of notes, the physical keyboard is kind of superfluous anyway. The four-way controller will still be available for moving around the screen and an on-screen keyboard will appear if you need to type something.

A new Kindle Touch with a touchscreen and Wi-Fi will sell for $99 with Special Offers. 3G versions of the Kindle Touch and Kindle with Keyboard will also be available for an additional cost of $40 or $50, depending on the model. All of these have black and white screens, which I find excellent for “easy-on-your-eyes” reading.

When I reviewed Amazon’s first Kindle in June of 2008, it was selling for $349. The new Kindles are better and obviously much cheaper. These new Kindle’s will make great holiday gifts at affordable prices.

Sonos Multi-Room Music System

The Sonos 5-Speaker S5 Player
The Sonos 5-Speaker S5 Player

The Sonos 5-Speaker S5 Player

Once you have your entire music collection in a digital form, you don’t want to play around with records, tapes, or CDs anymore. You just want to listen to your music. Of course you can do that on the computer or on an iPod or other portable digital music player. But sometimes you want really good quality sound for your listening pleasure at home. That’s where the Sonos Multi-Room Music System comes in. The Sonos S5 player is a fairly small device, but it has 5 built-in speakers so it sounds great. If you add a $99 ZonePlayer and the Sonos will work with your wireless router allowing you to move it anywhere in the house….or you can buy an S5  for every room in the house. With a ZonePlayer attached to your wireless router, each S5 Player will work with your wireless network. At $399, the Sonos S5 is not cheap, but you get a lot of sound for your money. For the most part, setup is easy.

Although the Sonos controller is great, it is pretty pricey at $349. Luckily you can also use a free app on the iPhone or iPod touch to choose your music. You can also control the music right from your PC. No matter which option you choose, if you have more than one Sonos player, you can play different music in each room and you can control the volume of each room separately. If you are having a party, you can play the same music throughout the house. In the “good old days” you had to invest in a special sound system for each room and put wiring in the walls to accomplish the same thing.


The Sonos S5 is one of the best choices for a whole-house, high performance, wireless digital music system. Setup and implementation are easy. The S5 ZonePlayer has excellent sound quality. The $399 S5 ZonePlayer gives you a lot of sound and ease of use for your money. Although there are a few incompatible routers and you may have to adjust any software firewall that you may have, everything just plain “works”.

If you can afford one for every room of your home, your home will be brimming over with music. Yet, if you only want to purchase one, with the addition of a ZoneBridge, you can move the S5 Player to any location in your home at any time for music where and when you need it. You can use its alarm function to wake up to or use its sleep function to turn off automatically.

Being able to control the system from your iPhone or iPod Touch is a nice additional feature that can save you some money.

The Good:

  • Good design
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Compatible with wide array of music services
  • Plays a wide variety of formats
  • Good interface
  • Good value
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Alarm & sleep functions
  • Can be used with NAS and other devices
  • Can be used with iPhone and iPod Touch

The Bad:

  • Some software firewalls need adjustment
  • Expensive controller

You can real a more detailed review with pictures at

Canon Rebel T1i Review

Okay, I think I am in love with a camera! I’ve never said that about a camera before, but the Rebel T1i has really turned my head. I looked at the Rebel about 3 years ago and thought it was a good camera, but the changes that Canon has made have turned it into a really good camera.

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Olympus Stylus Tough-6000 Digital Camera Review


If you happened to see the commercial of the little boy who uses an Olympus Tough camera as a “throw and fetch” stick for his dog, you might wonder if a camera could be that durable. Well, I am here to tell you that it can. While I might not be as careless as that little boy, I put the Olympus Stylus Tough-6000 through some pretty rugged testing and it took everything I threw at it without blinking. It is waterproof, shockproof, and basically — very tough!

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Fujifilm FinePix Z30 Camera Review

FujiFilm Z30
FujiFilm Z30

FujiFilm Z30

The Fujifilm’s FinePix Z30 is a pretty point-and-shoot camera with a somewhat unique design. It comes in a shocking  pink, an intense bright orange, and a vibrant purple. That plus its rounded corners certainly set it off from the crowd.

I love bright colors, but unfortunately, the bright metallic look of this camera make it look a bit toy-like.  Also the designers didn’t take functionality seriously enough. The camera has no place to comfortably place your fingers to hold it when you take a picture. Although the two rows of rubberized buttons on the back look good, every time you want to press one, you have to put on your glasses to find just the one you want. Oh, and you have to open the battery door to plug in the USB cable.

The Z30 is a 10-megapixel camera with a 3x optical lens and a nice-sized CCD. Although the pictures were good, I found that many of the flash pictures had unevenly distributed lighting.

Have I said enough?? Take a pass on this camera. What is amazing to me is that the A150, a similarly priced and sized camera from the same manufacturer (Fujifilm), was one that I really liked. The A150 had impeccable design and took great pictures. (Check out my review of the A150).So take a pass on this camera and check out the A150 for a good entry-level digital camera.  The Z30 retails for $149. The A150 goes for $129. So a higher price is not necessarily a better camera.

Here are my pros and cons fro the Z30:


  • Compact size
  • Good manual on CD
  • Numerous continuous shooting, self-timer and flash modes


  • Poor lens placement
  • Body feels flimsy
  • Control buttons too small and close together
  • Poorly placed USB port
  • No place to grip
  • 4-way directional control which is on the buttons, is difficult to use
  • Not many manual controls
  • Nested menus that can be difficult to navigate

My full review with pictures, specs and more details is at Hardware Secrets.

Check out the prices: Best Buy Digital Cameras

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