Archive for October, 2012

Mini Review: Nexus 7 Tablet

Trying out the Nexus 7 tablet this week and thought I would share first impressions. This is Google’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, a product not intended to complete directly with the iPad, but rather fill a niche in the content delivery category. So far, I’ve been really happy with it. For those unfamiliar with this diminutive tablet, it’s manufactured by ASUS and retails for $200 through various outlets (I bought directly from Google). Mine also came with a $25.00 credit for the Google Play — which is the online space Google uses to sell media like books, music, and movies. I really like the fact this tablet arrived pre-installed with all my Google account information. Basically, all I had to do was turn it on and enter my Google password. One of the things that really attracted me to this tablet over the Kindle Fire HD is the fact it runs an unaltered version of Android. The Amazon tablet is built on Android, but it has a custom operating system that sits on top and doesn’t allow the user to run standard Android apps. No worries about that with the Nexus 7. I also like the design and construction. The iPad has a smooth metal back, which I’m not crazy about. The Nexus 7 has a textured rubber back, which I think makes the tablet easier to hold. The screen is not quite as nice as the iPad, but it’s IPS, so viewing from an angle works fine. Here’s my quick list of pros and cons for the Nexus 7:

1. Solid construction
2. Fast processor
3. Good integration with Google apps
4. GPS and mapping

1. No HDMI out
2. No rear facing camera
3. No SD or micro SD card slot
4. Bad internal speaker

Despite the negatives, I think the Nexus 7 is a great product. I’ll even go so far as to say I like it a little bit better than the iPad (although Apple has a better selection of apps). We had a Samsung Galaxy Tab here at work a while back and I really enjoyed using that tablet as well. There are probably some folks who are just going to prefer Android over iOS and I’m beginning think I might be one of those people.

Add comment October 4th, 2012

The Golden Era of the SLR


I was thumbing through some old Popular Mechanics magazines recently and came across a bunch of ads for Japanese SLRs from the late ’70s. For those only versed in the language of megapixels and memory cards, there was a time when cameras captured images on film (how novel!). SLR stands for single-lens reflex — basically, a camera with a mirror in front of the shutter that would flip up when a photo was taken to expose a frame of film. SLRs were a big deal back in the day since they allowed the photographer to see through the same lens that was capturing the image. You see before the SLR, the rangefinder was king. The rangefinder didn’t allow a person to see through the lens taking the picture, so the photographer had to rely on a parallax viewfinder to get a shot in focus. SLRs gained in popularity among professional photographers in the late ’60s, but the amateurs were largely ignored until the mid ’70s. One of the early consumer SLRs was the Minolta SRT-101, but this was still a fully manual camera, meaning the photographer had to set the exposure time and f-stop using dials and rings. But with advances in technology, microprocessor computing power was harnessed for use in SLRs. The real breakthrough came in 1976 when Canon introduced the AE-1. This camera allowed the photographer to shoot automatically by letting the camera choose the appropriate shutter speed and/or f-stop based on data from the light meter. The AE-1 also incorporated copper plated acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) in the camera body, which reduced the overall weight and brought manufacturing costs down. Interior mechanics were also given a modular treatment, bring the total number of internal parts down and further reduced manufacturing costs.

My favorite SLR of the late ’70s and early ’80s is the Minolta X-570. This camera is similar in many respects to the AE-1 which I also like very much, but I feel the Minolta has a more refined designed. In particular, I like the simple arrangement of controls on the top of the X-570 which are well marked. The viewfinder is also nicely implemented with an LED display for shutter speed. Also, while Canon made great FD mount lens for the AE-1, I like Minolta’s MD lens just a little better. Plus, with an adapter, I can use M43 lens on the X-570. If you are looking a great SLR, both of these cameras are worth considering.

Add comment October 2nd, 2012


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