By Marc Saltzman
Q: I’m looking for options on displaying my
digital photos. Any suggestions?
A: I would highly recommend a digital photo frame.
At first glance they resemble a regular photo frame
you can hang on your wall or place on a table, but
instead of displaying only one paper photo, a digital
frame can cycle through hundreds of digital photos
like a slide show every few seconds, minutes, hours
or days. These frames are a great way to enjoy (and
share) memories that might otherwise be left unnoticed on your computer’s hard drive.
Transferring your digital photo to the frame is as
easy as inserting a memory card or USB thumb-stick
or attaching a cable to your computer’s USB port to
copy photos onto the frame’s internal memory. In
some cases, digital photo frames offer Wi-Fi connectivity, enabling them to wirelessly access photos on
your computer in another room (as long as you have
a wireless network). Many new digital frames can also
display video clips recorded on your camera or play
music files (such as MP3s) through built-in speakers.
Digital photo frames come in a variety of sizes
and features. All of them require power, so be sure to
place them near an electrical outlet.
Q: I’d like to get my treasured album collection into digital format. How do I do this?
A: If you haven’t been able to part with your old
records, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there’s a great
way to enjoy them on your computer, portable music
player or through your car stereo. New turntables
can be connected to your computer’s USB port to
convert your vinyl into digital music files.
The software included with the unit serves two
functions: It lets you record the audio from the turntable onto your computer’s hard drive (in real time—
a 20-minute side takes 20 minutes to record), and it
cleans up the hisses, pops and crackles—unless you
want them for that authentic vinyl effect!
These turntables can handle both long-play albums
(331/3 rpm) or smaller 45 rpm records (“singles”)—and
some can handle older 78 rpm vinyl. Note: If you want
to “burn” a disc to listen to in the car, your computer
will need a CD or DVD burner.
Q: Can you give me some basic tips on making DVDs from my old VHS tapes?
A: Similar to some products that let you convert your
old records into MP3s or CDs, handy solutions exist
for transferring old videocassettes onto DVDs. The
process usually requires a connection
between your old VCR and a computer
before burning a disc to watch in a
To connect your VCR to your
computer, you need either a video
card with audio/video input jacks
(such as many ATI “
All-in-Wonder” video cards) or a stand-alone video capture card (such as
the Dazzle products from Pinnacle
Systems), which can plug into an
available USB port.
Both solutions work in a similar
fashion: You install the analog-to-digital
conversion software that ships with the
products, connect your VCR when prompted and
press “Play,” and then click “Record” on the computer.
Another option is a DVD/VCR recorder and
player. These are like the standard combo DVD/VCR
players that you use with your TV, but the DVD player
records as well. Some models allow you to record a
DVD directly from a VHS tape.
Q: I’m worried about driving while talking on
the cell phone. What are my options?
A: Wireless headsets offer a sensible solution to this
safety issue. The latest-generation headsets are
lighter, more comfortable and easier to use than
The first step is to make sure your cell phone has
Bluetooth wireless capability (most of them do
today). Then, follow simple procedures on the phone
to set up the connection with the headset. Once
you’ve done this, you can put on the headset, turn it
on and leave your phone on the car seat or in your
pocket or purse. Any incoming calls come directly to
For outgoing calls, many headsets feature voice-activated calling. Checking whether you need to pick
up milk is as easy as saying “Call home.” C
electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? Send them to:
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
Or fax to (425) 313-6718,
or e-mail to
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
The Costco Connection
Costco carries a variety of digital picture frames in
the warehouses and online at costco.com. For converting LPs to digital format, check out Ion Audio
USB turntables featured in the warehouses and at
costco.com. To convert VHS tapes to DVDs, consider
the Sony DVD/VHS recorder in the warehouses and
online. Also, Bluetooth wireless headsets are available in most warehouses and on costo.com.
a leading high-tech
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