MM: Steeler Hat

By on Mar 29, 2010 | 1 comment

I took this a long time ago testing out a new camera so I thought I’d add it to the weekly macro shoot.

MM: A Colorful Dreary Day

By on Mar 29, 2010 | 2 comments

Macro Monday – A Colorful Dreary Day, originally uploaded by StevoFC. I was hoping to get a photo outside for “Macro Monday” but it’s so dark and rainy. So, while I was at work I saw a large bag of Skittles sitting on Dave’s (my boss) desk. I figured I would find some color for a photo somehow!

Review: Kodak Playsport

By on Mar 26, 2010 | 3 comments

A few weeks ago I posted some unboxing shots of the newly released Kodak Playsport. I think I have used it long enough now to write a fair review of the product. Features I will begin first discussing some of the features of the Playsport. It is capable of 4 video modes, WVGA, 720p, 720p 60fps and 1080p. It is also capable of one still photo setting of 5mp. I am sure the 1080p quality level of recording is a huge selling point, but I tend to use 720p for the most part. The size/quality ratio just seems to be better for 720p. I feel that if I use 1080p for most videos, it is basically overkill and will just fill my card much faster than necessary. The 720p 60fps mode uses the same storage space as a 1080p video, but when there is a lot of motion this mode is clearly the best. It is very smooth with little to no motion blur when recording at 60fps. It is great. Truely. Unlike the Kodak Zi8, the Playsport does not have an external mic jack or a macro mode. But, the focusing distance on the Playsport is fairly short so the macro mode isn’t really a big deal. Also, like many other pocket video cameras the Playsport does not have an optical zoom, only digital. Digital zoom in my opinion is practically useless, but others might care to use it. Build Quality The best part about this pocket video camera is the build quality. As soon as I originally took it out of the box I knew it was built well. It has a nice weight to it and is very sturdy. It has a rubberized coating to make it very easy to grip. The rubber grip is needed for easy handling while the camera is wet, because after all the Playsport is completely waterproof up to 10ft. Video/Photo quality The video quality of the Playsport is great considering it’s price tag and general size. In low light, still photos and videos are fairly grainy, but I totally expected that to be honest. The video filesizes are fairly large, but once again, it’s expected when you are dealing with high resolution video files. Below is one short sample video I recorded in daylight. This is not the best sample, because Flickr reencodes the videos, but it gives you a general idea of the clarity, and the EIS (electronic image stabilization). Also are 2 sample still photos. One was taken in sunlight, the other at night. Sound Quality The sound quality on the Playsport is average. It contains a built in mono condenser microphone. It picks up sound from a fairly decent distance, but if you are in any sort of wind forget about getting usable audio. Indoors it works fairly well because there shouldn’t be much wind, at least we hope so right? Other Comments and Issues Getting the files off of the Playsport on my iMac is fairly simple. All you do is connect the device via the included USB cable and it mounts just like an SD card reader would. There is one major bug though. When you remove the files from the device, it starts using the same filenames over again. This is a major problem if you want to put all of your videos and photos in the same folders, you might accidentally overwrite one of your older files. I hope a firmware update is released to fix this issue quickly. Conclusion Overall I am happy with my purchase of the Playsport. I also purchased an 8gb class 6 SDHC card to go with it. 8gb will get about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours of recording time depending on the quality setting you are using. If you need more storage, it supports up to a 32gb SDHC card, but remember the battery will most likely die before you run out of storage if you have larger than an 8gb card. Fortunately, the battery is easily replaceable, so you can buy extra one for about $20 if you need more recording...

MacBook Unibody Review

By on Mar 23, 2010 | 1 comment

I have recently been looking to purchase a new laptop, and of course I wanted a Mac.  I had been debating on when to make my purchase, and which model to buy, the MacBook or MacBook Pro. One week ago my current laptop had experienced a failed LCD screen.  I decided that rather than repair this 5 year old laptop I would purchase a new computer.  I have always wanted an Apple, and have said “the next computer I buy will be a mac”, since 2001.  This time I determined I would purchase a Mac.  While researching prices online, I was able to locate a store (MicroCenter) selling new MacBooks for $799, and my local Apple store was happy to match the price for me.  The following post is my review on the MacBook that was released last fall. Build and Design Those familiar with the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro will immediately feel at home on the MacBook version, which has a similar rounded-edge profile, LED-backlit screen, and glass trackpad. The main difference, as most people will immediately notice is the choice of materials. This MacBook is all plastic.  Apple had built this Mac from a single piece of polycarbonate, the same material used in various other products even bulletproof windows.   Creating the MacBook’s main case out of a single piece of polycarbonate plastic results in fewer parts, fewer screws, a lighter weight, and better durability.  The result is a consistent white color, and a smoother surface without the sharp edges of the earlier generation. Instead of pads in the corners on the bottom of the MacBook, the entire surface is one giant rubberized foot secured by eight Phillips screws.   Apple’s other unibody laptops, the battery is not user-replaceable, but Apple says that the battery gives you between three and a half and seven hours of juice and up to 1000 charge cycles before being reduced to 80 percent capacity. Apple says that the battery should take about five years to reach that point, but each user’s results will vary. Specifications and Features This MacBook stills uses an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, with 2.26GHz as the processor speed. The 2009 MacBook, like its predecessor, has 3MB of shared L2 cache. And although the MacBook maintains the same 1066MHz frontside bus as before, the new model supports 1066MHz DDR3 RAM as opposed to 800MHz DDR2 RAM. In regards to graphics, this MacBook uses the same Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics processor, which shares 256MB of RAM with the main memory, as both the previous version and the 13-inch and low-end 15-inch MacBook Pros.  A nice feature compared to the low end MacBook Pro, is that this laptop has a 250GB hard drive compared to the 160GB hard disk given by default on the 13” MacBook Pro.  While comparing this MacBook to the Pro version, it does lack a SD Card reader and Firewire port. Display Apple has changed the backlight on the new MacBook over to LEDs, which use less power and reach full brightness instantly, eliminating the dim, hazy look of a just-powered-on laptop screen. The screen looks spectacular. As with all glossy screens, be prepared for screen glare outside, from windows outside, or just any type of lamps inside your house. Ports and Connections Although it includes a slot-loading optical drive where as others do not, it offers no dedicated analog microphone input (the headphone jack has to be switched using software), no SD card slot, and a mini DisplayPort connector, which can’t actually be used for connecting anything without a $29 adapter. Two USB ports look quite alone on the left hand side, when other laptops offer 3 or 4 in some cases.  My only complaint is the two USB ports are pretty close together, so I could see in cases where different USB cables or thumb drives will make it harder to plug in two devices at the same time. Trackpad Much like the MacBook Pro, the MacBook offers a gigantic multi-touch trackpad with no buttons – the entire thing depresses like one big button. I am in love with multi-touch already, and found it extremely easy to navigate around the OS with no issues.  I actually have been using the Trackpad more than an external mouse, however that may change.  I do not want to add additional wear if unneeded, so I plan on purchasing a Bluetooth mouse soon. Performance The Intel Core 2 Duo and Nvidia GeForce 9400M in the MacBook give it some definite kick, especially when coupled with Snow Leopard. After pressing the power button, it reaches the desktop in only 20 seconds. Every application I open starts immediately, I’m assuming partly from the hardware specs, and other from Snow Lepoard.  I can’t believe how well everything just runs. Conclusion Even though I had originally looked to purchase a MacBook Pro, the fact I was able to price match a new MacBook for $799 had made the choice clear.  I could not justify spending the $400 dollar difference for the base MacBook Pro, even though they are rumored to be updated soon.   This MacBook however still rocks, besides the lack of a swappable battery, however this Mac improves upon the previous generations in every way.  Regardless of the fact it lacks an SD card reader, this MacBook fits all of my needs, and I am looking forward to spending some quality...

MM: Spring Is Here

By on Mar 22, 2010 | 3 comments

Macro Monday – Spring Is Here, originally uploaded by StevoFC. Another post in the “Macro Monday” feature. It is a beautiful day here, about 70 degrees. The sun has been going in and out all day and I caught it out for a second and snapped a quick photo. Spring has finally...

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