Best MP3 Players and Digital Music Devices

Best MP3 Players and Digital Music Devices

Although it’s been more than 30 years since the Sony Walkman made music mobile, and more than 10 years since the iPod began the revolution on personal electronics, devices dedicated to downloading, storing and, of course, playing music still remain one of the most popular tech items for both youth and adults.  Whether it’s playing songs you have in your own personal collection or streaming music from Internet-based services via a Wi-Fi connection, these five of the best MP3 players and digital music devices (including portable media players) available today are essential for anyone looking to bring the joy of music with them wherever they go.

iPod Touch – The iPod Touch remains the essential portable music player simply because of how easy they are to use and how pervasive the Apple brand has become.  Sure, the iPod Touch is now basically a smartphone without the phone capability (and there are even apps you can download to provide that), but at its heart the iPod Touch is a simple way to sort, play and explore new music in a way that allows you to have even a vast collection of songs right at your fingertips.

SanDisk Sansa Fuze – Available for less than half of what a new iPod Touch will cost you, the Sansa Fuze has a port for SD cards to let you quickly expand or switch your music library.  There’s also a built-in microphone so you can use the Fuze as a voice recorder, and an antenna that allows you to listen to live radio as well.  Although the screen isn’t as big as other devices, it is still a touchscreen and can support video playback from a number of different formats.

Samsung Galaxy Player – The Samsung Galaxy Player is essentially the Android equivalent to the iPod Touch, offering a 5 inch display and access to a wide-variety of apps in addition to its music download capabilities.  It does also have a built-in FM antenna that allows you to listen to live radio, and sports a front-facing camera and microphone so that with a Wi-Fi connection it essentially can function as a phone or video chat device.

Cricket Muve Music – Nearly any Cricket phone can serve as a music player with the company’s Muve Music service that offers access to millions of songs.  Since many are using their devices as texting, chat or even video phones anyway with any number of apps, Cricket’s Muve service offers a way for users to consolidate devices and use a pay-as-you-go phone that has the memory and capability of devices like the Samsung Galaxy or iPod Touch.

Sony W Series Walkman – That’s right, the Walkman brand is still around, and while you’d expect Sony to have ditched the cassette format of the original, you may be surprised that The Sony W Series Walkmans are now self-contained within the headphones, making it perfect for exercising or even carrying anywhere where you just need music and no extra device.  They hold up to 4 GB of music, and are even waterproof.

When To Upgrade To a DSLR Camera

When To Upgrade To a DSLR Camera

You’ve tinkered with your compact point and shoot digital camera, and while it’s great because it can fit in your pocket and even take some basic HD video, you’ve noticed that the pictures don’t contain the same visual quality as those of your friends with a fancier camera.  If you’re ready to take the next step beyond your basic point-and-click camera, here’s information to help answer the question of when you should upgrade to a DSLR camera.

What is a DSLR camera?

SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex, referring to the fact that SLR camera uses only one lens that can be changed for different purposes.  Because of the use of a single lens, the camera doesn’t need to adjust your view to sync it with the camera’s view – you are seeing what the camera sees. This also allows for larger photo sensors and the ability to take many pictures rapidly.

The D simply stands for Digital, meaning that instead of using film, the camera creates digital images.

Why is a DSLR camera considered better?

One of the mainstream appeals to DSLR is the speed with which you can take pictures.  Because there is only one lens in the camera and a physical mechanism to open to open the shutter as soon as you push the button to take a picture, it moves much quicker than cameras that rely on a sequence of electronic events once you push the button.

The other main advantage of DSLR camera is the ability to switch to different lenses.  Here you can see that upgrading to DSLR is going to require a bit of a chance over the standard compact digital camera in which you have to not only buy separate lenses, you also have to have a way to carry and store them.

A third advantage of DSLR camera is that they are built to be able to take better pictures in low light situations, even without the flash.

How much more does a DSLR camera cost?

Although the price of DSLR’s continues to come down, they are still decidedly more expensive than a standard compact camera.  For around $600, you can get an entry-level model from Nikon, Canon or Sony, which provide the camera body and usually one lens.  More feature-rich camera will cost around $1,000 or more, and then you still need to buy lenses which can start at $200 and also be even more expensive.  The move to a DSLR camera is not a cheap one.

When is it time to upgrade to a DSLR camera?

Here are a few times when you may know you’re ready for a DSLR camera.

–          If you find yourself more than just casually taking photo, or are focusing more on specific subjects or action-oriented events, you may want to consider a DSLR camera. 

–          If you’ve ever wished your camera would move faster, both when taking a picture and getting ready for the next one, you may be ready for a DSLR camera.

–          Additionally, if you have ever wanted to get a wider field of view, or zoom in very far to capture a faraway shot, you may ready for a DSLR camera that lets you switch lenses on the fly to accomplish these two very different tasks.

How to Create Better Home Movies

How to Create Better Home Movies

Just because your digital camera or tablet can capture HD video doesn’t mean you’re the next Akira Kurosawa or Spike Jonze.  But there are steps you can take to make your films more enjoyable to watch so they’re not only enjoyable for you and your family to view again, but they might even be bearable for others to watch as well. Here’s how to create better home movies on the fly:

Don’t skimp– Sure, smartphones make it easy to take videos on the fly, and even tablets can take HD video, but there’s a reason you don’t often see news crews around town holding up their phones or iPads – they’re not best-suited for the job.  If you’re going to be taking lots of videos, invest in a camera that suits your needs that’s designed to be a camera first and foremost.  Then figure out if you need additional features such as external mics, tripods or accessories, and how you will best want to store and edit your creations.

Experiment with your equipment – Spend some time taking videos and learning all your camera’s settings and nuances, so by the time you are ready to film important events, using the equipment is second nature and you can focus on getting the shots you want.

Let There Be Light – Don’t forget the light situation, whether you’re shooting with natural sun, indoors or even providing supplemental lights.  Lighting is the difference between a good shot and a great shot, and also between a great shot and a poor shot.  Don’t backlight your subjects, and even in broad daylight consider using your own light source to enhance foreground and background colors.

Notice Your Surroundings – You may be pleased as punch that you’ve got a great family moment captured at Disneyland, but you may have missed that it was happening right in front of a row of trash cans.  Wherever possible, be aware of your backgrounds and the people in them, and try and best frame your shots, or coordinate the action to take place somewhere that captures the feeling of the location.

Sound Advice – Consider that more than likely, you’ll want to hear the action as well as see it, so make sure you’re recording at a close distance to your subject matter, or that you can pick up the noise you’re looking for.  And be aware of unwanted sounds as well, there’s many a sporting event video with footage of the big play that has nothing but parental encouragement as the audio.

Go Easy On The Zoom and Pans – Nothing ruins a perfectly good video like an ill-timed zoom.  Just when your daughter scores a goal, you decide to zoom in, causing blurry, rapid-fire motion that would make even the Blair Witch sick to her stomach and will help ensure you miss the shot.  If pros zoom at all, it’s very slow and calculated, and most will zoom all the way in and ensure proper focus before even starting to record, then after they pull out and begin taping they slowly zoom into their subject.  You can see how that’s not best –suited for fast-paced action.  Go easy on the panning, too, and if you must move from one focus to another continuously, go as slow as you think you can, and then go a little bit slower.

Learn How to Edit – Most PCs these days come with some standard editing software, and for a couple hundred bucks you can get more serious programs with even greater effects and audio mixing.  When filming, focusing on getting the shots and angles you want, but don’t just post the raw footage to YouTube.  Spend a few minutes in an editing program bringing it all together, and the result will be a video that’s much more pleasant for everyone to watch.