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IT and Internet briefs

May 26, 2004

Optical vs digital zoom

WASHINGTON — Digital cameras often tout their "digital zoom" capability. When purchasing a digital camera, ignore this feature. Optical zoom capability is to be preferred over digital zoom, since digital zoom uses technology to enlarge artificially the image that you see through the viewfinder or on your camera's LCD screen. Optical zooms don't rely on digital gimmickry.

Notebook speed queen

Notebook computer makers offer drives in three speeds these days: 4200, 5400, and 7200 revolutions per minute (rpm). The faster drives will make a noticeable impact on your system's performance. The latest 7200 rpm drives, from Hitachi/IBM, while more costly, may be the better value in the long run. They'll make everything from the operating system to program files load more quickly. The 7200 rpm notebook drives also do not generate more noise or heat than their predecessors.

Appreciate your input

Want to ensure that your PC is available when need it? Keep a spare of essential input items, such as the keyboard or the mouse. These items are typically those that malfunction the most - and the ones that users think the least about. If you spill coffee or water on your keyboard, it will typically die instantly. Your mouse, too, is anything but indestructible. These components are relatively inexpensive, so it's a good idea to have backups nearby.

Notebooks: the touching is key

When purchasing notebook computers, many people spend lots of time reading about the speed of the processor, how much memory is installed, and how big the screen is. But what's often most important on a notebook is the part you touch: the keyboard and the input device. Don't buy a notebook without touching it. Or if you do, ensure that the vendor you purchase from will accept returns. Large mail-order vendors such as Dell allow trial periods.

News hub

The Web is awash with news. But where can you go to get the latest news from multiple sources? Newshub (www.newshub.com) provides headlines and news stories from around the world, updated every 15 minutes. News is categorized under popular headings, such as World, Technology and Sport. You can tailor Newshub to suit your preferences, so that when you arrive at the site, the news that you like to read is highlighted.

Longer zoom ranges means poor optical quality

The quality of a digital camera's lens as a direct correlation with the quality of the pictures the camera will take. Don't be impressed by large zoom factors in lenses. Although it's optically possible to make lenses with a "5x" or "10x" zoom range, lenses with longer zoom ranges almost always sacrifice optical quality. Shorter zoom range lenses will be preferable if image quality is your ultimate goal.


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