A TRUNKFUL OF TIPS
G etting a new tech toy can be like tackling a Rubik’s Cube, twisting knobs and pushing buttons to get what you want. And each model is different, even when they come from the same maker. Here are some universal truths:
• Extend battery life by not looking back at too many pics on the camera.
Those LCD screens drain the juice.
• Go with “optical zoom and ignore the “digital zoom,” which just crops
• Get a stand-alone memory card reader. It saves the camera’s battery and
can be faster and easier for transferring photos.
• Back up photos to CDs or DVDs, and use brand-name disks.
• Try the video mode built into many; it can be fun and convenient.
• Don’t be embarrassed to return a phone in the trial period. After the trial,
carriers aren’t embarrassed to charge the termination fee included in your contract.
• Keep that user’s manual handy. Few phones offer the built-in help files com-
mon on computers and other gadgets.
• Don’t shut it off for a few minutes to save battery power. Turning it back on
uses more power than letting it idle on standby generally would.
• Keep camera phones at the highest resolution. Even that typically yields lower photo quality than you’d like.
• Improve snapshots by exposing the camera phone lens to light for a few
seconds before shooting.
• Buy accessories, like batteries and chargers, anywhere but cellphone
stores with their high markups.
DIGITAL VIDEO CAMERAS
• Even worse than on still cameras, LCDs drain batteries, so limit playback.
• A second battery, even a knockoff from batteries.com, saves aggravation.
• Using a cheap (less than $150) set-top DVD recorder to copy your tapes of
raw footage to disk makes for easier playback and editing.
• But don’t erase a tape after copying it to a DVD—the cassette still has the bettter resolution.
• Forgo the built-in special effects. Fades look better in PC editing software.
• Don’t pay more for a camcorder that can also take still photos: That money could buy a dedicated camera that takes better pictures.
• Upgrade hard-drive space; emptier drives last longer.
• Every PC needs virus protection. Norton, McAfee, and others are good: free protection is available at free.grisoft.com. Connect securely to your broadband Windows PC from anywhere with the free service at logmein.com. It’s worth the effort to set a password for your Wi-Fi network.
U. S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT
March 14, 2005, (pg. 52)
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