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Digital Home Thoughts - Daily News, Views, Rants and Raves

Last Build Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2016 09:56:09 GMT


Farewell, and Thank You For Everything!

Fri, 12 Oct 2012 23:59:00 GMT

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." - Dr. SeussTwelve years ago today, when I made my very first post on Pocket PC Thoughts, I couldn't possibly predict the journey I was taking the first step on. What an amazing, fulfilling, character-defining dozen years it's been! I'm so deeply indebted to all the people along this journey I've befriended, talked with in our forums, and yes, even gotten into rip-roaring arguments with. It all brought me here. So where is "here" exactly?Back in September of 2011, I shared that I had taken a job with HTC, was moving from Canada to the USA, and was selling the Thoughts Media Network. Over the past year, I've had a truly amazing time working at HTC. It's a wonderful job - it's really amazing the things you learn/realize working on "the other side" of the blogger/OEM equation - but it's also all-consuming. My multiple attempts to sell this network all failed, partially due to my lack of time to really follow through. I won't bore you with the details, but let me give some advice to any business owners: when someone offers you a nice chunk of money for your business, and you're ready to sell, don't drag your feet on the paperwork - you never know when that offer will vanish! Oh, and sell when your revenue and momentum are at their peak; don't hold on too long. Evidently these are lessons I needed to learn the hard way. Lessons to teach my son I guess. :-)So where are things at now? This won't come as a surprise to anyone who has watched what has happened to most of the sites in our network over the past year: all six sites across the Thoughts Media Network will go into a permanent state of hibernation effective tonight. This is the final post you'll see on all of them. I care deeply about all of the amazing content the Thoughts Media Team collectively created over the past dozen years, so my plans are to keep the sites online for as long as possible. One week from now, I'll shut down the forums so no new posts can be made. Right now only comments can be posted if you already have an account that has posted in the past - we've had to lock things down in that way to prevent spamming. If you have a message to share with me but don't have a forum account, please send it to me directly.I'd be remiss if I didn't give one final thank you to the amazing team of people I had the honour of working with over the past twelve years. I don't want to list names, because I'll doubtless forget someone. Suffice it to say though that I've been humbled and blessed by the generosity and effort people put into this community. From the words you've read, the videos you've watched, the spam-free forums you've read through, to the designs of the pages and the code and server loading them when you visit - none of that could have been done without the gifted volunteers who collectively helped me create everything that these sites were. I'm deeply indebted to literally hundreds of people who walked with me on this awesome journey over the past decade. THANK YOU!Also, a big thank you to the community itself. All you who came back here, day after day to read and watch our news and reviews, rants and raves. Thank you for your comments, your clicks, your shares, your views. None of this would be possible without you. Remember too the part you play in the success of any Web site: you matter, so support the sites you love so they can keep doing what you want to see.And so, this is the end. If you'd like to keep in touch with me, please reach out on Twitter (@jasondunn) or check in on my personal blog now and then. What an amazing journey this has been...thank you![...]

A Farewell, and a New Beginning

Fri, 12 Oct 2012 21:22:00 GMT

Since the days of Palms and Pocket PCs, I followed a number of mobile technology sites, and one of them was Pocket PC Thoughts. As the network of sites grew, I read those as well. I remember when Jason announced Digital Home Thoughts (as Digital Media Thoughts back then), I made a not-very-encouraging comment about the new site's ability to cover digital photography stories. Naturally Jason wasn't pleased, but over time he decided I could cover the photography section, and after much persuasion on his part, I came on-board.

It has been a great time: Writing reviews, putting up news posts, and following the latest releases, all with the special Thoughts feel. I have learnt quite a bit, and I have to thank Jason for being such an encouraging person. They weren't kidding when they said Canadians are the friendliest people around!

As the site shuts down and I take my leave, it's not quite the end for me - recently two friends and I have started a new photography blog. Come check us out at Three Guys With Cameras! I look forward to seeing you on there.


Microsoft Skydrive Features Enhanced

Sat, 29 Sep 2012 05:30:00 GMT

"Microsoft just announced a few small but interesting updates to its cloud storage service SkyDrive. Just like your desktop, SkyDrive will now offer a recycle bin that allows you to recover files you may have accidentally deleted."


If you are using Microsoft's Skydrive cloud storage service you may have noticed a change of late. Their new recycle bin feature allows you to delete and restore files with a few simple clicks. They have also announced that a new Excel-based web survey tool will be included in their Skydrive offering. More details are available by clicking on the Read link.


AQ Audio SmartSpeaker With AirPlay

Fri, 28 Sep 2012 21:53:00 GMT

"At first glance the AQ Audio SmartSpeaker may seem like a smart but somewhat unremarkable portable wireless/AirPlay speaker in the vein of the JawBone Jambox or Audyssey Lower East Coast."


If you own any iDevices or like to wirelessly stream music from iTunes, the AQ's SmartSpeaker is a great modern looking unit you may want to take a good look at. Unlike the JamBox, the SmartSpeaker eschews bluetooth for AirPlay. This change allows the SmartSpeaker to not only stream music from iPod Touches, iPads or iPhones but from iTunes as well.

For those of you who do not want to use a device made by Apple, connection to the speaker is also available via the 3.5mm port. Android and DLNA support are in the works in addition to direct connect. No word if this capability will require a purchase of new speaker or will the hardware be capable of supporting the new firmware.


Canon Announces EOS 6D: Canon's Answer to the Nikon D600

Mon, 17 Sep 2012 11:44:00 GMT


Phew, it is going to be a busy day around here for me! Let's start with the main event: Canon has announced the EOS 6D, a cheaper 35mm-sized sensor camera aimed at the Canon crowd. It has a 20 megapixel sensor, but unlike the Nikon D600, Canon has done its old trick of using a lesser AF system: In this case, it is a new 11 point system with just one cross sensor. Canon claims it will be able to focus in darker environments, so maybe it will make up for the single cross point. Or maybe it won't. The rest of the specifications mostly matches up to its status as the kid brother to the 5D-series: 63 zone metering system, 4.5 frame continuous advance, a 3.2" VGA LCD display, a 97% viewfinder, a 1/180 flash sync speed. Video is available, and it is pretty much like any EOS DSLR: 1080p at 24, 25, and 30 FPS. There is also WiFi and GPS built-in, and with the right app on a smartphone (Android and iOS are supported), the phone can be used as a remote viewfinder. Ships in December for US$2100 for the camera alone, or US$2900 with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. See the read link for a preview by!


Canon Releases a Trio of Powershot Compact Cameras: The G15, S110 and SX50 HS

Mon, 17 Sep 2012 11:43:00 GMT


Moving on, Canon also has announced three compact cameras. Let's start with the Canon Powershot G15. It is the successor to the G12, and the main upgrades come in the form of a new 12 megapixel sensor, and a much faster optically stabilised 4x 28-140mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens. The camera also gains a faster AF system and a 3" VGA LCD. 1080p video at 24fps is available, and the camera is also smaller now. That, however, does not come without a price: The G15 no longer features an articulating arm for the LCD, and also loses the dedicated ISO dial. The camera will ship in October for US$500.

Up next, is a modest update to the S100, the Powershot S110. The new model gains WiFi, a touchscreen, and supposedly has a tweaked 12 megapixel sensor. The lens is still the optically stabilised 5x 24-120mm equivalent f/2.0-5.9 lens, and the ring control is still present. In keeping with the "What Canon Giveth, Canon Taketh Away" theme this Photokina, the S110 loses the built-in GPS that the S100 had. Ships in October for US$450.

Finally, there is the SX40 HS update, the crazy Powershot SX50 HS. Crazy because it features a 50x zoom lens. That's right. The optically stabilised 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 lens is the camera's main talking point. Is there anything else to talk about? Same 12 megapixel sensor, and well... 50x zoom lens. Ships in October for US$480. More photos and details at the links below. Canon Powershot G15 and Canon Powershot SX50 HS Canon Powershot S110


Panasonic Announces DMC-GH3 and Lumix G X 35-100mm f/2.8 Lens

Mon, 17 Sep 2012 11:43:00 GMT


Alright. I want this. Who wants to donate? The new Panasonic GH3 is my current mirrorless camera of choice, provided the new 17 megapixel (16 megapixel output) sensor delivers on its image quality promise. It features a new AF system that promises to be really fast with a claimed 0.07 seconds acquisition speed, a new weather-resistant magnesium alloy body, twin control dials, new OLED 3" VGA screen and OLED HD EVF, 6 FPS continuous stills shooting, and the star of the show: 1080p videos at 60 FPS, in codecs that go from 50 Mbps to 72 Mbps, depending on the type. The layout system looks really good (ISO button in the right place), and yea, you can tell, I am smitten. There is no word on availability or pricing, but the latter figures I have been seeing include US$1300 to US$2000. I hope it's the former and not the latter. See DPReview's Preview!

Panasonic also announced the optically stabilised 35-100mm f/2.8 lens. Weather-sealed as well, like the 12-35mm f/2.8, this is a small small lens. It weighs 360g, or 12 oz, and is about 10cm/4" long. Compare this to the 70-200/2.8s legacy DSLRs have to use. Again, no word on pricing or availability. Also, Panasonic teased two lenses, a 42.5mm f/1.2 and a 150mm f/2.8, but since these are development "announcements", don't expect them to come soon. In fact Panasonic lists 2013 to 2014 as possible dates. Panasonic Lumix G X 35-100mm f/2.8 Lens


Olympus Announces E-PL5 and E-PM2 PEN Cameras, X-Z2 Compact, and Two Micro Four Thirds Lenses

Mon, 17 Sep 2012 11:41:00 GMT


Olympus has announced a number of new products. First up are the PEN E-PL5 (pictured above) and E-PM2 cameras. The main new feature is the 16 megapixel sensor that is the same the OM-D EM-5's, which is truly excellent, being a Sony sensor. Other new features include the AF system from the E-M5, and a new 3" touchscreen HVGA LCD. In the E-PL5's case, the screen can be tilted up to 170 degrees, making it possible for self-portraits. BOth cameras offer 1080p video at 30 FPS as well. The main difference between the two cameras is in that tilting LCD screen, and a mode dial with a few extra buttons for the E-PL5. Both cameras still do not offer a built-in flash, instead they will be packaged with a small external flash like their predecessors. Ships in October for US$700 for the E-PL5 with the 14-42 lens, or US$600 for the E-PM2 with the same 14-42 lens.

Next up, the Olympus XZ-2. The original XZ-1 was something unique, as it offered a 28-112mm equivalent f/1.8 - 2.5 lens that was still pretty bright across the entire range. Now in 2012, the same lens is a little less competitive, given that both Panasonic and Samsung have similar cameras that feature a f/1.4 lens at the wide side, which are also wider at 24mm equivalent. The main upgrades are in the new 12 megapixel CMOS sensor, a tilting 3" VGA LCD screen, and a new detachable grip like the E-PL5 above. 1080p video at 30 FPS is present. Ships in November for US$600.

Finally, the lenses. The two lenses are the weather-sealed 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens that does 1:1, and the "body cap" fixed-focus lens of a 15mm f/8, which is only 9mm thick. The former will be available for US$500 in October. No word on the body cap lens, though the Europe price is just 70 Euros. Oh, well, there is the re-release of the 12mm f/2 in black at an eye-watering price of US$1100, though this time around, it comes with a lens hood. There is also a "development announcement" (or what I call the "please-don't-go-we-have-something-up-our-sleeve" announcemnt) of a 17mm f/1.8, which should be perfect for street shooters, but only available in 2013. More photos and details at the following links: Olympus Pen E-PL5 and E-PM2 Olympus XZ-2 Olympus Micro Four Thirds Lenses


Fujifilm Announces XF1 Compact Camera

Mon, 17 Sep 2012 11:40:00 GMT


Phew! Almost done here. Last but not least, is Fujifilm's answer to the Canon Powershot S110. While not quite as small as the S100, it's still smaller than many other serious compacts, like the Panasonic LX7. One thing that the XF1 has over the other cameras, is the bigger 12 megapixel 2/3" sensor like the one found in the X10. The lens is an optically stabilised 4x 25-100mm f/1.8-4.9 one, and actually retracts into the body. To power on the camera, the lens is pulled out first, then the zoom ring turned away from the "off" position. Pretty neat. The other features include a 3" HVGA LCD screen, fast AF, and 1080p video at 30 FPS. Plus, does it not look really neat? See the other colours at the read link, along with a preview! Ships in October for US$500.


It is Time to Stick with Android

Fri, 14 Sep 2012 14:00:00 GMT

"Specs? The UG802 is powered by a Rockchip RK3066 ARM Cortex-A9 dual core processor paired with 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB integrated storage, a microSD card slot for expansion an integrated HDMI connector."


I have been seeing lots of TVs coming out lately that act a lot like smartphones and tablets. Watching a show is no longer enough these days. You have to keep in touch with everyone on Twitter and Facebook, surf the web and look up that actor in that show who does that thing on IMDB. Sadly, a lot of us probably have TVs that do not have all these hip features. While buying a new TV is always a nice proposition, the recent wave of Android on a stick can turn your existing TV into an amazing App experience! The only caveat is that while the sticks are getting cheap in price, don't forget, you will also need a remote or keyboard to go with it!


Nikon Announces D600 FX DSLR Camera, 18.5mm f/1.8 Nikon 1 Lens

Fri, 14 Sep 2012 11:46:00 GMT


Well, after months and months of leaks, here it is. The Nikon D600. It is basically a D7000 with a 24 megapixel FX sensor, and the video functionality from the D4 and D800. So basically the rest of the camera almost reads like a D7000 spec sheet, with a 39 AF point system, 2016 pixel colour meter, a 5.5 FPS frame rate, a new 3.2" VGA LCD, a 100% viewfinder with 0.7x magnification, 1/200 flash sync speed, and a whole raft of manual features. On the video side, it does 24, 25 and 30 FPS at 1080p, and it can stream uncompressed video over the HDMI port. Nikon seems pretty confident that they will be able to deliver on September 18th (a local Nikon employee mentioned their Thailand plant has been fully restored), and the camera will be available for US$2100 for the body alone, or US$2700 with the AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 VR lens. Check out the DPReview link for more photos, and a preview of the D600. On a personal note, I am somewhat crushed that there is no D400 - I have been waiting for a D300 replacement for a very long time. Even if I were to not buy it, I wanted to see Nikon's continued dedication to issuing a pro-level DX body. I guess Nikon has given their intentions here.

On the Nikon 1 side, there is the new 18.5mm f/1.8 lens, which brings a fast prime to the 1 Series. On paper it looks like a decent lens, but there is still the issue of having some cameras that are decidedly not targeted at photographers who like to be in control of their camera. Ships in November for US$190. Photo of the lens at the link. Nikon D600 Nikon 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8


Fujifilm Announces X-E1, Two New XF Lenses

Thu, 06 Sep 2012 09:30:00 GMT


Well, the camera companies really need to do something about their leaks. Anyway, if the X-Pro 1 was tempting, but the price too rich, Fujifilm's X-E1 could be the answer. Essentially, Fujifilm took the X-Pro1, swapped the hybrid viewfinder for a more bog-standard but higher resolution XGA OLED EVF, improved the autofocus, and made it smaller. Oh, and the rear LCD got a downgrade to a 2.8" HVGA one. Those are the main differences. The camera still uses that 16 megapixel APS-C sensor, which uses a special colour filter array instead of the standard GRGB Bayer Array, and produces images I feel are the best of any APS-C sensor. In fact, I am of the opinion the results can come close to a 35mm-sized sensor! Ships in November for US$1000, and US$1400 with the new 18-55/2.8-4 lens.

The two new lenses are the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens which has optical image stabilisation, and the 14mm f/2.8. I am excited about the latter, as I love my ultra-wides. At US$700 for the former, and US$900 for the latter, I think I might need to start saving up soon. Both lenses also ship in November.


Basics Of Home Networking Explained

Wed, 05 Sep 2012 22:30:00 GMT

"As the guy who reviews networking products, I generally receive a couple of e-mails from readers a day, and most of them, in one way or another, are asking about the basics of networking (as in computer to computer, I am not talking about social networks here.)"


This primer may not be new information for readers of this site but it could be a good way to get your relatives up to speed when they ask you to go over and help them set up their internet network. This article explains in an easy to understand manner the various types of networking, components, set up, security and all things home network.

It starts with wired networking and all of the components. Next up are wireless networking, wireless networking security and finally powerline networking. Within each section are concise explains of components, setup and a quick explanation of how each item works.

If you know of anyone who has a question regarding home networking, this is a good place to start.


Top Five Desktop Music Players

Wed, 05 Sep 2012 21:48:00 GMT

"The best desktop audio players organize your playlists, help you keep your massive music collection easy to search, and even sync with mobile players, among other things, but which ones excel in all of those areas?"


LifeHacker's readers were recently asked to nominate desktop music players they thought were the best. Based on the number of votes, the top five choices were Foobar2000, MediaMonkey, Winamp, iTunes and MusicBee. Each program has strength and weaknesses.

Out of the five, I've tried Winamp and iTunes. Winamp was faster and worked well for me but since I am a part time iPhone user, I am unfortunately tied to iTunes. Since it was a hassle maintaining two separate programs I eventually dropped Winamp.

Click the read link to see the full details of the five music players listed.


Have An Extra $500? Build A Dream Media Center

Sun, 02 Sep 2012 16:00:00 GMT

"Between the Blu-Ray player, cable box, laptop, and everything else hooked up to your TV, your home theater situation is a mess. Here's how I rolled all those devices into one awesome media center-the media center of my dreams-for under $500."


Who wouldn't like to have the perfect Media Center working effectively at home, all for under $500? Over at Lifehacker they've made a list of ingredients, written out the recipe, and added some anecdotal information to help you get it built, up, and running. Their claim is that the recipe will enable you to play all of your ripped or downloaded movies, TV shows, and music, your DVD and Blu-Ray discs, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime streaming (depending on your geographic location, of course), plus nearly any other streaming channel you can imagine. In addition, they claim you will be able to play any video game you can install on a computer, from old school emulators to modern PC materpieces. Ok hobbyists, let's get cracking.


Are you Ready for a Wireless Audyssey?

Thu, 23 Aug 2012 14:30:00 GMT

"The new Wireless Speakers are cut from the same mold, but feature redesigned drivers and Bluetooth functionality -- not to mention a snazzy matte white with glossy black finish. $250 snags you pair of speakers, each loaded with two .75-inch tweeters, a duo of three-inch woofers and a dual four-inch passive bass radiators, and all of which are aided by Audyssey's BassXT, EQ and Dynamic EQ DSPs for pushing sound out."


While there are options such as AirPlay or Squeezebox, another option for streaming music is through Bluetooth. Many smartphones and tablets come with this capability, and allow you to pipe your favourite tunes through something more substantial than speakers that are the size of your fingernail. Though with other solutions, including things like uPnP, I imagine that the only benefit of streaming through Bluetooth would be better battery life.


Nikon Announces Trio of Coolpixes, Including World's First Android-based Compact Camera.

Thu, 23 Aug 2012 10:00:00 GMT


Quite a few cameras were announced in the past 24 hours. Let's start with the more interesting cameras: Nikon has announced a trio of Coolpixes, the first of which is probably the only Coolpix I might recommend - the Coolpix P7700. While the P7000 series started off as a Canon G-series clone, the P7700 is starting to become its own camera. The first deviation is in ditching the fairly useless optical viewfinder to accommodate a much brighter lens: An optically stabilised 7.1x 28-300mm equivalent f/2.0-4.0 lens. Pretty impressive in all. The sensor is now a 12 megapixel BSI CMOS 1/1.7" sensor, which looks pretty capable. Other features include a now-articulated 3" VGA LCD, 1080p videos at 30 FPS, lots of controls (including three dials) and RAW shooting support. My real complaint? Nikon should have used this template for the V1. Ships in September for US$500. More cameras and links after the break!

Up next, is something entirely different. The Coolpix S800c is the world's first dedicated camera with the Android OS. Camera-wise, it's a fairly ho-hum travelzoom, with an optically stabilised 10x 25-250mm equivalent f/3.2-5.8 zoom lens paired with a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor, capable of producing 1080p videos at 30 FPS, as well as a 854x480 Pentile AMOLED touchscreen. What makes it unique is the Android OS, which is unfortunately on 2.3 (Gingerbread). Finally, you can add all kinds of effects and share them instantly from the camera provided there is a Wi-fi connection. The camera boots Android separately so you can use the camera on its own; the Android part takes about 30 seconds to boot. While I think it is a great concept, I am not certain it works best on a camera that offers marginally better quality images than a phone's camera. The zoom lens is good, but this would work so much better on something like a Nikon 1... or even a DSLR. Ships in September for US$350.

Finally, the Coolpix S01 is also from the "Let's make our cameras more like phones" department, except instead of adding a mobile phone OS, the camera instead sports a sensor from a phone's camera. Again, I am not sure if that is a great idea. While it makes for a small camera, I am certain the advantages a phone has makes up for the lack of optical zoom in many cases. Will anyone buy 10 megapixel sensor, a slow 3x zoom lens (29-87mm equivalent f/3.3-5.9), a QVGA touchscreen-only camera? Ships in September for US$180. Nikon Coolpix P7700 Nikon Coolpix S800c Nikon Coolpix S01


Canon Announces Powershot SX160 IS and SX500 IS Superzoom Digital Cameras

Thu, 23 Aug 2012 09:59:00 GMT


Let's take a look at Canon's announcement. The first is the Powershot SX160 IS, which is an update to the SX150 IS. Essentially a budget superzoom, the lens has been upgraded to an optically stabilised 16x 28-448mm equivalent f/3.5-5.9 zoom lens. The sensor is now a 16 megapixel CCD; the rest of the camera remains relatively the same. The screen is still a 3" QVGA LCD, and the video mode is still a 720p one. The external controls are similar, as is the AA power source. Canon has promised improved AF and shutter lag performance, after complaints of the SX150's sluggishness. Otherwise, it looks like a minor tweak. Ships in September for US$230.

Next up is the Powershot SX500 IS, which has more in common with the above SX160 than the SX40. It boasts a bigger lens in the form of an optically stabilised 30x 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 zoom lens, and has a 3" HVGA LCD instead of the QVGA one. Oh, and now it uses a lithium ion battery instead. Ships in September for US$330. Hit the link for full specifications and more photos of the cameras.


Microsoft's $14.99 Windows 8 Upgrade Offer Registration Now Open

Mon, 20 Aug 2012 22:30:00 GMT

"If you bought a PC preinstalled with Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate on or after June 2, 2012, just go to and register. We'll send you an email with your promotion code and purchase instructions when Windows 8 Pro is available."


Did you purchase a Windows 7 PC on or after June 2, 2012? If you did, make sure to head to Microsoft's site and register with their $14.99 Windows 8 upgrade offer. If you are eligible, you will be able to purchase a copy of Windows 8 Professional to install on your Windows 7 PC for the discounted price of $14.99. Regular upgrade price for Windows 8 is $40.


Best Stand Alone Keyboards

Mon, 20 Aug 2012 22:20:00 GMT

"Picking the best keyboard for your needs is tough-everyone will have different opinions once they get their fingers on the keys, but there are definitely a few models that stand out above the rest, and plenty that are probably better than the ones that came with your computer."


Recently, LifeHacker asked its readers to vote on their favorite keyboards. Lifehacker then pulled out the top five keyboards from the list of 600 nominations. The resulting list is comprised of a wide variety of styles. From the thin and light Apple wireless keyboard to the mechanical DAS keyboard. The top five favorites are listed as: Apple wireless keyboard, Microsoft 4000 series, Logitech G series, DAS keyboard and Logitech K series.

Hit the read link to see the readers' reasoning behind their nominations.