Friday, February 16, 2007

Fab Four: January 2007

First Glimpse magazine
January 1, 2007 • Vol.4 Issue 1
Page(s) 24-25 in print issue

As winter’s grip tightens, our desire to relax and have some fun heightens. This month’s Fab Four picks are all about living it up. Among our favorites are a camera you can take on the slopesor on a tropical getawaywithout much fear it’ll be ruined, and the new nano, which brightens things up with some springtime colors and packs in more entertainment per charge than ever before. And the (PRODUCT) RED version gives us the chance to warm our hearts by doing something good.

digital camera

OlympusStylus 730


Why: If you don’t want to worry about whether your gadgets can keep up with your rough-and-tumble life, but you also don’t want to be weighed down by a bulky device, the new Olympus Stylus 730 is for you. Whether you’re into mountain biking or toddler wrangling, the Stylus 730 is built to survive splashes, falls, dust, and snowstorms alike. So whatever hits youfrom a toppled Big Gulp to dusty trailsyour camera will likely keep on clicking. The Stylus 730’s durable design doesn’t sacrifice a slim form factor. The body is 2.4 x 3.8 x 0.83 inches (HxWxD), and it features a 3-inch LCD, so even in its petite package the Stylus 730 won’t make you squint to see what you’ve framed. This 7.1MP camera packs practical features, including Digital Image Stabilization Mode, which reduces blur and increases crispness; Digital Image Stabilization Edit, which allows for in-camera retouching; and Bright Capture Technology, which helps capture great flash-free photos in low light.

Bottom line: All-weather? Alright.

mp3 player

iPod nano
$149 (2GB), $199 (4GB), $249 (8GB)

Why: The new iPod nano is thinnerif you can imaginethan its previous generation, comes in five colors (options determined by capacity), and boasts a longer battery life (24 hours) and a 40% brighter color display. It comes in three sizes, 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB, which can hold approximately 500, 1,000, and 2,000 songs, respectively. Color choices include silver (2GB, 4GB); green, blue, and pink (4GB); and black (8GB). If you choose the special edition (PRODUCT) RED ($199; 4GB), Apple will donate $10 to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS in Africa ( (PRODUCT) RED-branded iTunes gift cards are also available at Apple’s Web site. The nano’s new body is made out of aluminum to offer more durability. As with all iPods, the nano only supports iTunes ( You can rip your own CDs and import them using iTunes, or you can buy audio files from the iTunes store. The nano can store and display image files and play podcasts and audiobooks (from iTunes), as well.

Bottom line: World’s most popular player.


Motorola MOTOKRZR K1m

Why: As sleek as its popular predecessors in the RAZR line, the new MOTOKRZR K1m from Motorola is 0.7 inches thick and 1.7 inches wide. Its dark pearl-gray glass gives it an urban sophisticate look. This multimedia-focused phone features a 1.9-inch color screen, Bluetooth, an MP3 player, and a 1.3MP camera, which provides video capture and playback. The specific array of multimedia services available depends on your carrier. At press time, U.S. carriers were Alltel (, Sprint (, and Verizon Wireless ( Verizon subscribers can use KRZRs to download any of the 1.4 million songs available from Verizon’s V CAST Music service. Alltel users can access Alltel’s Axcess Broadband network, which includes broadcasts of live television. Sprint customers can subscribe to Sprint’s Power Vision for more than 50 channels of live TV and on-demand video, as well as NFL Mobile, which delivers video highlights, real-time stats, and injury reports.

Bottom line: Elegant multimedia performer.

wild card

Sony HDR-UX1 AVCHD DVD Handycam Camcorder

Why: If you’ve been looking to upgrade your camcorder, Sony’s HDR-UX1 Handycam may be just the thing. It features a 10X optical zoom and a 4MP still image capture, and it lets you record directly to DVD. You can record to a DVD in SD (standard definition) in MPEG2 or HD in AVCHD (Advanced Video Codec HD). Using DVD+R Dual Layer discs, you can record one hour of HD (1080i) content. Depending on the recording format, you can play back your DVDs in most DVD players, computers, Blu-ray Disc players, and Sony PlayStation 3 video game consoles. It supports Sony’s MemoryStick Duo, so you can transfer still images to your PC for printing or emailing. The high-quality Carl Zeiss lenses are treated with layers of special coating designed to increase contrast and color saturation and decrease glare and flare. The built-in microphone records in 5.1-channel Dolby Digital surround-sound, and the Super NightShot Infrared System lets you shoot video in low light. The HDR-UX1 isn’t Mac-compatible.

Bottom line: Worth splurging on.

by Naomi Graychase

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

MP3 Players For The Holidays: Hot Portable Player Options

It’s no surprise that MP3 players are among the most sought-after CE gifts this holiday season. Even the most tech averse among us are becoming tempted by the ubiquitous (and ever more affordable) portable music devices. Carin Clevidence, a 38-year-old Massachusetts-based mother of two--whose only foray into the world of technology is the laptop she’s writing her novel on--has put one on her Christmas list.

First Glimpse, December 2006
Read the whole story.

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Fab Four: December 2006

Tis the season for joyful giving and receiving; a time for gathering with friends and family to capture memories and enjoy the company of the people you love. Our Fab Four this month are all gifts that keep on giving. A camera that the whole family can use; an MP3 player that does it all; a super-cool mobile phone; and a high-quality home-theater projector that’s perfect for showing “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and all the other holiday favorites.

First Glimpse, December 2006
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Budget-Friendly MP3 Players: Quality Players that Won't Break the Bank

Whether you like to listen in your car, on the treadmill, or as you’re walking across town, digital music is definitely the way to go. Strapping on your old portable CD player or--gasp!--cassette player looks and feels a lot like toting around a circa-1986, brick-sized mobile phone. But with so many features, forms, prices, and sizes, how do you know which player is right for you (and your budget)?

First Glimpse, October 2006
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You Oughtta Be In Pictures: The Year's Best Digicams

It’s been an especially good year for the digital-imaging crowd. Whether you are a casual shooter who trots out her camera only for birthdays and weddings, a bold adventurer who dreams of capturing big moments from atop mountains and beneath waves, or a serious amateur photographer who shoots everything from portraits to sporting events, we’re willing to bet your world got a little brighter (not to mention a whole lot more fun) if you bought one of this year’s new digicams.

First Glimpse, November 2006
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Fab Four: October 2006

Just in time for Halloween, our October Fab Four includes an old-fashioned favorite masquerading in new clothes, a sweet little MP3 player full of lots of tricks and treats, a smartphone wearing many (many) hats, and a camera that is dressed to impress. This month we’ve gathered the best and newest devices from the affordable and practical (FlashDiscs for only $5 each) to the powerful and professional (Palm Treo 700p) so that you can usher in the fall season with something just right.

October, 2006
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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Best Digital Cameras For Women

Best Digital Cameras For Women
We Want Form & Function

by: Naomi Graychase
CE Lifestyles, August 2005

Choosing the right digital camera can feel a lot like choosing the right car--part beauty pageant, part serious quest for the right set of features to fit your budget. Fortunately, when you set out to buy the perfect camera, you don’t have to deal with pushy sales managers or get approved for financing. You do, however, have to wade through a market that’s become flooded with a variety of cameras offering a dizzying array of features and styles. So, what’s a girl to do?

First, you’ll want to decide two important things: How much you can spend, and what you’ll use your camera for. Once you have a general idea of your budget, and a sense of whether you’ll be taking snapshots or looking to adjust your own aperture settings, ask yourself a few lifestyle questions. Do you want to be able to hand your camera to someone on vacation without also handing her the manual? Can your kids, co-workers, or technologically impaired spouse take photos with it? Will your camera feel like a brick or a cell phone in your purse? What if you want to shoot your daughter in action at her soccer game? Are you frequently holding a baby, an umbrella, or other things, which make it important that you be able to navigate menus and shoot photos using only one hand? Are you likely to drop your camera in the pool or shoot lots of photos in the rain? (See the “Underwater Action” sidebar.)

If, like most women, you primarily want to take snapshots, and you want to spend $200 or less, you’ll sacrifice some quality and some features and you may have to make some concessions when it comes to size. Your $150 camera is more likely to remind you of a minivan than a Maserati, but it will still be useful. If you’re willing to spend a little more, Canon, Kodak, Kyocera, and Sony all make excellent cameras that hover in the $250 to $300 range. Among our favorites are the 5MP (megapixel) Canon PowerShot A95 ($299; and the 4MP Kodak EasyShare CX7430 ($279.95; (For more on budget cameras, see the “Best Buys” sidebar.)

When it comes to making decisions about resolution, we recommend 3MP or higher. If you want to enlarge your photos--for example, make prints that are 8 inches x 10 inches or larger or blow up details--look for digicams with 4MP resolution or higher. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of your images. (For more on selecting the perfect camera, see the “Fab Four Female-Friendly Features” sidebar.)

If having a slim, highly portable camera is your main objective, we recommend an ultracompact device. Our favorites are the Casio Exilim EX S100 ($299; and the Canon PowerShot SD20 ($349). The 3.2MP EX S100 is about the size of a credit card and the thickness of a pack of gum, but still offers a 2-inch LCD. The SD20 is slightly smaller than a pack of cigarettes, comes in flashy colors, such as “garnet,” “Zen gray,” and “midnight blue,” but offers only a 1.5-inch LCD. If you find you rarely have two free hands, you can operate both of these cameras one-handed (although that’ll be more of a challenge for lefties).

Also leading the pack in the ultracompact category are the Panasonic Lumix FX7 ($399; and the Canon PowerShot SD300 ($349). The 5MP Lumix FX7 prevents blurry photos by detecting jitter and automatically moving the lens to correct it and it features a 2.5-inch display, the largest LCD in this class. The 4MP PowerShot SD300 features a 2-inch LCD and an impressive 3X optical zoom.

The Miss Congeniality award goes to the 4MP Kodak EasyShare LS743 ($299). This is the camera anyone can use--children, spouses, co-workers, strangers who take your photo on vacation. It’s an excellent starter camera for someone nervous about going digital, and unlike some of the other EasyShare models, it’s also relatively pretty and petite.

If shooting high-quality action images is what you’re after, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 ($399; is a home run. It has it all: looks, features, and convenient size. It comes in two colors (red and silver), serves up 7.2MP resolution, and 3X optical zoom, and you can capture high-resolution shots at up to at 1.1fps (frames per second), perfect for preserving every motion of that winning goal. It also shoots high-grade MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) movies with audio and provides a 2-inch LCD. But like so many superstars, it’s also a little high-maintenance. This camera takes some getting used to, and it’s tough for beginners to fully take advantage of all its perks.

For a more user-friendly, but high-end, digicam experience, Nikon offers the Coolpix 7900 ($399;, which was specifically designed with women in mind. New to the market, the Coolpix 7900 caters to the woman who is willing to spend a little more in order capture beautiful photographs with a sharp-looking, ultra-portable digital camera. While it isn’t the prettiest camera in the bunch--we’d give that honor to the PowerShot SD20--at 7.1MP, it’s a cut above many of its competitors. Lightweight and full-featured, the Coolpix provides cutting-edge technology, such as its built-in “D-Lighting” software, a one-button fix for overly dark photos, and software-based automatic red-eye removal. Its 2-inch LCD is the perfect size, and while it offers an exceptional level of control, you won’t have to wade three menus deep--or take a photography class--to access the best ones.

Last, but not least, for the serious photographer who wants to change lenses, zoom up to 12X, and enjoys the feel of a traditionally sized 35mm camera in her hands, we recommend three options: Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-FZ5 ($499.95), Konica Minolta’s DiMage Z5 ($649.99;, and DiMage Z20 ($399).

Fab Four Female-Friendly Features

Unless you’re looking for professional-level control, the perfect camera should be as easy to slip into a purse or pocket as your cell phone. Just like buying shoes that are too small means you’ll never wear them, buying a camera that’s a little cheaper and a lot more bulky means you’ll wind up leaving it home gathering dust when you could be out capturing keepsake moments.

Who has time to sift through three menus to find the red-eye-reduction or self-timer? The Kodak EasyShare line won the ease-of-use category hands down. First timers or those who don’t want to waste any precious time getting to know their camera will do well with these picks.

While looks aren’t everything, you should indulge your sense of style. Sleek looks, slim designs, and enticing colors all enhance the joy of going digital. Liz Lange and Nikon even offer a co-branded camera (Coolpix 3200; $399.95; designed by Liz herself. (All proceeds benefit a national children’s charity.)

Squinting isn’t a good look in photos, and it isn’t a good look for the one behind the camera either. Some stylishly small cameras entice you with their pixie-sized good looks, but the trade-off is a screen the size of a postage stamp. Buyer beware, especially if you’re far-sighted.

Underwater Action

The submersible Pentax Optio WP ($400; features a rust-resistant metal exterior, rubber sealants, and lens protection that lets you shoot in the rain, in the snow--or even in up to five feet of water. With 5MP, a 3X optical zoom lens and a 2-inch low-reflection monitor, you don’t have to sacrifice quality for durability, which makes it perfect for the adventurous, aquatic, or just plain clumsy shutterbug and her family.

Top Five Cameras For Women

These are not your mother’s cameras. They can shoot video, record audio, go underwater, and “de-light” (which we found delightful). We tested 13 cameras from market leaders Canon, Sony, and Kodak, as well as strong contenders Casio, Nikon, Panasonic, and Konica Minolta. It was tough to choose, but these are our five pic picks for women.

Nikon Coolpix 7900
High-tech, high-resolution, ultra-portable, and handsome to boot. This 7.1MP camera will please point-and-shooters and more finicky photographers, too.

Casio Exilim EX S100
So slim it could almost fit in your wallet, and it won’t break the bank to buy one. The 2-inch LCD is the jewel in this pretty camera’s crown.

Canon PowerShot A95
An affordable, easy-to-use 5MP camera. Its only downside is its super-size.

Kodak EasyShare LS743
For nervous beginners, or those with no time to waste learning the ropes, this 5MP beauty is the best camera you can buy for under $300.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX7
Easy on the eyes in more ways than one, this gorgeous ultracompact boasts the largest LCD in its class (2.5 inch), 5MP resolution, and a rapid-fire shutter speed.


A picture may be worth a thousand words, but how much are you willing to pay for the camera that takes it? If finding a high-quality camera for less than $300 is your goal, we recommend these five cameras: Canon PowerShot A95 ($299), Casio Exilim EX S100 ($299.99), Kodak EasyShare LS743 ($299), Kodak EasyShare CX7530 ($299), and Kodak EasyShare CX7430 ($279.95). Of these five, the Casio Exilim is the sleekest and slimmest; the Canon PowerShot A95 is the chunkiest, but the most fully featured; and the PowerShot A95 and Kodak EasyShare CX7530 are the only cameras we tested that offer 5MP with a price tag of $300 or less.

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