Kodak Zi8

I’ve been reading previews and reviews of the new “pocket” cameras from Flip and Kodak, etc. for the past few months. Luckily, there’s something called the Mother/Father-in-law gift fund, so I took the plunge with the Kodak Zi8.

At the current pace of HD cameras, I just couldn’t justify the $1,000 price for a great personal video camera when it will be obsolete in a year and when the Kodak is just . . . wait for it – $150 at Amazon! Full 1080p resolution and image stability – nice additions in my opinion.

I’ll keep this brief (and might post some sample footage later). This is a teat little camera. It performs better than any other camera I’ve had (Sony Hi8 and Sony HDD camera). I use 720p mode and it does great. I especially love the 60 frames per second mode for super clean slow motion. I can’t wait for soccer season with this little guy.

Low light performance is especially good (compared to others I’ve had). I haven’t tried 1080p resolution since I don’t have a TV supporting it, bit it plays back fine from the player.

I’d there is a draw back, it’s that my current computer (Core 2 Duo with decent graphics mind you) won’t play the files smoothly. Theylre quite a chore to decode. I’m betting on future machines to handle this easily (I hope!).

All in all, the portability of this camera along with it’s above par perfoance for the price is a great deal!

Update: I tried VLC player and the videos play like a champ. I also bought the $10 remote – great price and let’s me review from TV easily.

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iPod Car Integration

If you’re like me, then you like cars. At the same time, you like the tech that goes into cars (go to cars.cnet.com for a good lesson). For years, I have been looking for a good way to integrate my iPod/iPhone with our minivan (2002 Mazda). I looked at FM modulators, but they just plain stink at getting the sound through. I looked at changing the head unit of the stereo, but it would look horrible . . . so, I was sunk.

Until this Christmas. I finally found what I was looking for. The website I used, icarkits.com, has the Neo brand iPod car kit. No FM modulator at all . . . it overrides your car’s CD changer controls to give a direct connection to the audio system. And, it’s as good as that sounds . . .

I installed the system myself (seriously). All I had to do was pop off the dash cover, unscrew the CD player, plug in the wiring harness (they supply the correct one) and I was ready to go.

It sounds . . . well, perfect. And, to add to that, I can control the next/prev track and search my iPod just like a cd . . . from the controls of my car, not the actual iPod! Also, the docking connector charges your iPod. And, yes, it works with my iPhone 3G and my wife’s 3GS.  Also, we can still use the 6-disc changer that is in the dash.

I just wanted to share the joy . . . this is a great little device for getting your iPod linked into your system. And, they make devices for many different models of cars.  Hopefully this post will save someone alot of hassle with FM modulators and searching.

Grocery IQ

OK, so I bout this iPhone App about one year ago and use it every trip to Wal-Mart. I know, it seems extra geeky to use your phone for a grocery list, but if you used it, you’d see what I’m talking about. I can organize the isles of the store allowing me to simply make a “loop” around the store . . . it’s great not to have to spend all my time going back and forth looking for items on a list (yes, I am a man after all). I can also save favorites to a list to allow me to go through common items to add to my next list – very convenient.

Then, enter the 2.0 version . . . take all the great stuff about the first version, then add the next three unbelievably useful features:

  • List sync – I now can share my list (or vice versa) with my wife. Now, you could just stop there and realize how cool that is (phones sync up with a server and keep the lists in sync), but realize that you now don’t have to discuss what’s needed at the store. When you think of it, just enter it and the other person will see it. So, no matter who goes to shop, your item you need is always in their list.
  • Coupons – there are ads (small) in this version, but you do get coupons that you can print or email. I don’t use this (yet) because I’m not accustomed to coupons, but it’s nice to have the feature nonetheless
  • Bar Code Scan – and, yes, this works surprisingly well. You just hold an item up to your phone (camera), then it scans it in and adds to your list . . . product name, details, etc. are all included. This is more of a novelty for me (I type in my items like I want them named), but for things you see in the store and want to add, it’s pretty slick.

So, in conclusion, buy this app. It’s just .99 and worth much more than that.