Archive for the ‘Hardware Reviews’ Category

Last week I had the opportunity to play with a new (and at the time unreleased) Sony PMW-F3k motion cinema camera at Samy’s DV EDIT in Marina Del Rey. I have to honestly say that when I was initially invited to check it out, I almost didn’t go. I’ve been so excited to receive my Red EPIC, that I haven’t even paid much attention to what’s going on with all the other manufacturers out there.

The Sony PMW-F3k (“K” just stands for kit) has two packages, one is the PMW-F3 which is just the body for 14k, or the PMW-F3k which comes with a 35mm, 55mm, and 85mm lens (PL ma incl) for 21k. Amazingly Jody Eldred, producer/director/writer/cinemetographer for many many shows NCIS, JAG, Nativity was there to give us a “pro’s & con’s” of the camera.

Execs from Sony gave us the short canned sales powerpoint presentation, and then let us watch RAW footage that was shot the night before. I was absolutely astonished. The footage, un-edited, was absolutely jaw dropping gorgeous. Linear lines of gradients were captured flawlessly, using only natural lighting, there was no noise what-so-ever that I could see with the naked eye.


Jody explained that he had been given the camera only a few nights before (he now has his own) and was asked to simply record random footage, but it was none-the-less amazing. I know that some people may think that $21,000 is a lot for a camera, but this isn’t the “Daddy filming and afternoon at the park” camera, this is a Cinema level camera, for only 21k, typically it’s easy to spend 50k-70k on a camera of this quality. The Sony PMW-f3k is lightweight (less than 7 lbs for the body alone) fully loaded is hard to say though. It’s has compact body that makes it an excellent choice to be used as an A or B cam.

One of the largest (aside from quality) advantages of the camera is that it’s a familiar and easy to use format, Sony’s AVCHD (mpeg-2 SD) which if you’ve shot and edited with a Sony cam before you’d know this goes right with your workflow.

Now I might even dare say, I just might whisper… that the Sony PMW-F3k could go toe to toe with the RED Epic-S, but wait, just waiiiit, I have yet to fully test the Epic (or EPIC-s which the PMW-f3k should be in the same ballpark as far as specs, quality and price). I do believe Sony with their Super 35mm imager has a strong chance of contending with RED on this one.

Ok so I’ve told you the good, so your probably wondering what’s the negatives right? Jody had mentioned that the viewfinder is garbage, and it would be wise to invest $600-$1000 for a new one, which is in my opinion relatively cheap for what you actually get. Also I noticed, along with a friend of mine, that the colors seem slightly hrmmm “faded”, the color red just didn’t seem as vibrant as it should have been, almost washed out. This could be contributed to the fact that it was a prototype unit, and some functions on the camera didn’t even work yet, it also could be attributed to improper settings, so don’t take my word as written in stone, yet. Other than that, there really wasn’t any issues with the camera, and I am now eye-ing it for my next B or C cam purchase.

For the full list of specs CLICK HERE.

 

*Note: the second picture has a Fujinon lens on it, and it is NOT included in any of the Sony’s packages (the lens cost $88,000!!!)

Advertisements

A couple weeks ago Apple sent me a nice letter and a little box. They had sent me a free Magic Trackpad as a gift for nondisclosure information and I was thankful for the small gift. The Magic Trackpad measures 5×5 roughly, slightly larger than the trackpad on your Macbook Pro, and functions exactly the same. Is it innovation? Not really. Is it cool? Kinda. Do you need one to replace your Magic Mouse? Not in my opinion.

I’ve been using it for a couple weeks now, actually, it’s been connected for a couple weeks sitting right next to my magic mouse (which I use with my 27″ iMac). I used it for a day, and then was pretty much over it. It’s really about personal preference, and after about 10 minutes of whipping around on the web and iMac, the tips of my fingers whether its on my Macbook Pro, or on this new trackpad, I kinda get this irritating feeling on the tip of my fingers.

If you’ve always wanted a over sized touch responsive trackpad for your computer, then “Oh My Gawwwd”, this is for you. Rotating pics in preview is nice, and flipping through the always over sensitive Finder in Coverflow view is nifty, but the novelty wears off pretty fast. The build quality as always with Apple Wait…what about that iphone 4 antenna gate problem? is top notch, it’s solid and sexy. For power users, I’d say give this a pass, even at their price of $69. Or don’t take my word for it, but I’m sure you’ll think the same thing in a week.

I picked one up today from the Apple store, figured I’d give it a spin. It had been looking at me everytime I walked into the Apple store, so I figured what the hell. I asked the Apple sales peeple (yes I spelled people “peeple”, because there just so cute with there non-knowledge, but there Apple peeple so you love them anyways) if anyone had ever actually used one ‘hands on‘. I was met by a few peeple who took interest and told me that they had both tried it a “while back” but these new pen/pads should be the “real deal”.

I set it up, which of course was simple as prom night, and then I took the much to long tutorial that treats you like a retarded monkey (complete with the “good job, you’ve successfully clicked on an icon“) . I immediately opened up Photoshop CS4 and created a new canvas with 2,000 dpi, and a 3k x 3k workspace. I picked up the pen and started to doodle. It was precise, I give it that. Much better than the old Wacom pens I tried about 7 years ago, a world of a difference. However I had more problems with it than I expected.

While it did work fine with my screen space/size (27” flickering iMac) , I should have bought the large Bamboo, not the Medium…so head’s up to any future purchasers. Selecting certain icons on the far left and far right were kind of a pain in the ass.

The pen tool is responsive, however the tip is made of plastic (at least I think it’s plastic) and ever so slightly and minuscule-ly sticks. Not anything drastic, but just ever so slightly enough to mess up intricate details when drawing or sketching. It should be made of metal, that would for sure make it completely fluid with no sticking, and the trackpad, which is also a plastic material, should be glass like the iPhone. This imperfection was enough to totally bomb my Picasso drawing of Tiger Woods caught in the moment of heat.

A major annoyance and one I can’t figure out why it was added, was that you don’t have to touch the pen to the pad in order to move the cursor, it works from a half inch away. This is ok when you want to move the cursor around the desktop but it also moves the pointer an inch before hitting the pad and then moving an inch back to start drawing once you actually place the tip on the pad.

I doodled for a good hour in Photoshop CS4 before I became extremely bored and irritated that I couldn’t fluidly move about without tapping a palette button by accident, and couldn’t draw straight lines or sketch well. At times my hand would accidentally touch the (touch responsive) touch pad, moving the pointer or popping a menu up, which drove me completely nuts. I’m sure there is a feature in the settings to turn this off (pen only mode I figure) but whatever.

So next I attempted to mess around with the multi-touch pad feature. Zoom in & out, rotate pictures, browse back and forth through web pages with the flick of one or two fingers, scroll up and down web pages. Then I realized something. My Magic Mouse does all of this (minus the rotating the pictures, which on my Macbook pro it can). It also was not very responsive to my touch (but the ladies tell me that I definitely “have the touch”). Rotating the pictures in preview kinda worked 70% of the time. Same with the two finger zoom in & out, it kinda worked. Nothing as close to the iPhones touch responsiveness.

For a $108 bucks, it’s a great price for what it can do, and if your just using it to sign signatures, or doodle for high school, sure it works just fine. It is a quality constructed device, and it looks damn sexy, but for a professional artist, or a hardcore enthusiast, I’d suggest trying a higher end model, not in the Wacom Bamboo product line (this is a more standard consumer line), but in the professional series instead. The large Bamboo uses the same touch and pen device, just the touch pad area is increased, so expect the same results.

For everyone else, buy a Magic Mouse, and if you already have one, your good to go. I’m taking this back tomorrow.

The Palm Foleo was announced today by Palm (of course). It’s not a laptop, but a “Smartphone companion”. To me it’s a small laptop, another gadjet to lug around, another travel tech case to carry. Besides making Palm INC stocks move up 2.6% (tad more after close), I can’t see a logical benefit in this product.

Palm Foleo
About 3 years ago I purchased the Palm Lifedrive, and was no longer fond of the stylus operation after about a month, so I end up purchasing the bluetooth folding keyboard, and ultimately I ended up leaving both at home since I’m not to fond of keeping track of my wallet, mont blanc pen, two razor cell phones then adding more shit like a palm pilot, and a folding keyboard…my point being, if I am already carrying around this shit for battery life, thick as a dictionary “Smartphone” did you really think I wanted to carry a thin laptop to accompany it?.Seems like the R&D team had no new ideas, and the consumer market was hoping for a new Blackberry or something magical.

Now out comes the Foleo, a 10″ screen essentially laptop, that allows you to type longer emails, browse the slow ass web on a larger screen. Even funnier, they brought back that retarded sandy nipple feeling mouse pointer, and left out a touchpad, or even a touch screen. Pros? Sure …as long as Palm sticks to the Linux OS, it should run smooth on the microprocessor and eventually someone will re-create a better GUI, and allow the Foleo to have more usability. Or hell, you could probably flash the OS out of it, slap on Knoppix, and wifi/bluetooth hack every smartphone around you! With a sticker price of $500.oo, without the carrying case, I’m sure only a complete Palm fanboy would whip out the plastic on this one. You can see the Palm Foleo in all its “un-glory” on it’s page HERE

Recently on a dual quest to find a reasonably priced, and decent performance projector, one for the office and one for the master bedroom at home, I decided I would maybe try a DIY projector kit. Well 30 minutes later, after reading the how to’s, I decided that wasn’t the best idea. I didn’t want to have to program (or diagnose) anything else in my home, and these days, I like things to be simple, with Windows xp, Vista, Suse, Knoppix, Smoothwall, OSX, I have plenty of things to update and troubleshoot, a new projector, heck, I just want it to w-o-r-k. So I re-geared my goal, and decided to find a nice projector I could buy retail, and hopefully be under $1000 for a single unit. With projectors, majority are in the $750-$1500 price range for really nice performing projectors. But being a techie, I knew that the cost a replacement bulb would have to be researched as well…You see, if your not familiar with projectors, while they offer good performance for meetings, seminars, and in home, an widescreen movie, the bulbs lifespan is relatively short.

I found that when a projector was cheaper in price, the bulb was pricier, and vice versa. A cheap bulb was around $120, and cheap meaning it wasn’t the best the unit could handle, or didn’t produce as many lumens (not as bright of an image). I called a buddy of mine who owns a company that does “Smarthomes” digitally upgrading and renovating houses to bring them into the next century. He reffered me to this site : www.lumenlab.com/pm_projector.php , where lo and behold, there was a $500 projector! Now I was very skeptical at first and thought, “shit I didn’t even find decent ones on ebay for this price, how could this be any good?” . Well great things come in small packages (*sometimes) and this is one of them. First off the specs are “as good” if not better than majority of the higher end performance projectors than I had been looking at. It has AV, S-Video, TV (coax) and VGA pc inputs , which is quiet a few more than some of the other ones. It comes with a remote control and tv tuner, which on others was an accessory. And best of all, the lamp (bulb) costs only $30.00 to replace it.

Now Im not a fan of cheap things, unless its cheap, and yet top of the line, which normally, never cross each others path. But in this case, I settled for it, and when I recieved the projectors I wasn’t dissapointed at all. For the office it works perfectly, and for the home even better. I would have to say the only “odd” thing I could say about it, is the contrast is rated at 350:1, which may seem low to most standards (common LCDs and Plasmas are up to 10,000:1 ratio) but for some reason, its much brighter than its rated. I understand on the website it says that most manufacturers specs on their projectors are grossly inflated, and that they just used “actual specs”.. I guess that makes sense.

Logitech G15 Keyboard

Posted: June 1, 2006 in Hardware Reviews

I'm not to sure why they incorporated the word "gaming" into the name of the Logitech G15 "gaming" keyboard, its everyday usage as a gming keyboard is worse then a swapmeet version of a "killer" keyboard. I was anticipating it when i first heard about it almost a year ago, and when i recieved it a few months ago I can honestly say that I was a little excited to see this keyboard with backlighting and an LCD screen that could read out important in-game-music-CPU information. First off this was a marketing push by Logitech, as the keyboard didnt support many games off its initial release (2), and they were shitty games. As to date, I have yet to see a single piece of software that utilizes this keyboard. Secondly, lets talk about the actual backlight brightness and the settings. The brightest setting cannot be seen unless its almost pitch black in your surrounding environment. The "lighter" settings is almost impossible to tell that it was switched from "bright". The software that comes with the keyboard has to keep a background running service in order to allow you to use the macro keys, which doesnt take a huge amount of resources, but gamers like "next to none" when it comes to processes running while gaming, any service that is not absolutely needed for the system to run, it should have been incorporated into a sub-system within the keyboard. The G15 has two USb ports that are convieniantly located towards the top of its base. This would be a definite plus if it wasn't for the fact that the USB ports do not supply enough power to effciently use the both of them at the same time. I tried pluggin in a microdrive and the drive contiuned to fail over and over, this was to be expected since its essentially two lines pushed into one (the one that goes into the back of your mobo). If this were sufficient enough, we would see portable laptop hardrive enclosures using this same method.

As for comfortability, the keyboard sucks, the tips of your fingers hurt after extended use, I'd rather have used a laptop…ok maybe not but you get my point. After about two months of use, the WASD keys 'paint'(?) started to flake off, revealing a clear plasic key unnderneath, I found that using fine grit sandpaper, (400 then 600 grit) and smoothed the edges, as well as making the entire key glow. Now you cant tell any lettering anymore on it of course, but we all know where the keys are located anyways.

The LCD is a total POS, not emitting a blue light (it looks almost indiglo in the advertisements), its a backlit shitty yellowish tint, like that of the old Ti-80 calculators…wonders what photoshop does for marketing. The LCD is not capable of much, and since I disabled this services associated with the keyboard, all it does is say "Logitech", nothing else. Worse yet, its not programmable. Thats right, its even on Logitech's website, in order to take advantage of the LCD, the game makers have to code it into the game, which none have, and most likely none will.

So lets walkthrough this together, the lighting on the keys suck , the key pressure, use and feel suck, the LCD function and lighting suck. The dual USB's suck, I ended up replacing it with a Saitek, which by the way was about 40 bucks cheaper.

So save your money and buy something much more usable, buy a saitek, or maybe we can cross our fingers and hope they come out with a forcefeedback, Gel covered with backlighting, bright as hell too, keyboard with a programmable LCD, all for under $100 bucks….but hey thats just hopeful thinking.

-David