TECHconnection Smart ideas about your music and photos
Q: How can I use Bluetooth technology to
listen to my music wirelessly?
A: When you think of Bluetooth, chances are you
visualize someone talking on a hands-free headset.
Am I right?
While that’s one application for this convenient
technology, wireless music playback is another—an
increasingly popular one. As long as your smartphone, tablet or media player has Bluetooth technology—and chances are it does—you can listen to
your favorite tunes, wirelessly, on a nearby compatible speaker in your home, out in the yard, etc.
Because Bluetooth is a universal standard, you
can use any of the major mobile operating systems
to stream music to a speaker, be it Android, Windows Phone, Apple’s iOS or BlackBerry. Previously,
speaker docks that require you to snap in a device
worked only for a specific make or model (usually
Another benefit of wireless streaming: You can
still use the device—for reading email, browsing the
Web, playing a game, etc.—while listening to music
instead of leaving it docked in the speaker. Some
even serve as as speaker phone.
Bluetooth offers excellent sound quality, and it
won’t interfere with any other wireless technologies
you might have in your home, such as cordless
phones, microwave ovens or Wi-Fi gadgets.
Once you buy a Bluetooth-enabled speaker, all
that’s required is for you to “pair” it with your
smartphone, tablet or media player. It’s super easy
to do and required only once. Your Bluetooth
device will then work up to 30 feet away from the
speaker. This also means you can control volume
and song selection from across the room.
Q: My new smartphone has a built-in
camera, so why should I still have a sepa-
A: Smartphones have more or less replaced many
stand-alone devices—such as GPS navigation units,
portable video game systems and media players—
but a camera isn’t something you should substitute.
Oh sure, it’s incredibly convenient to take photos with your smartphone (because you never leave
home without it), and upload shots to Facebook,
The Costco Connection
Costco offers a variety of speaker and docking
systems with Bluetooth technology to let you make
the most of your music library. You’ll also find a full
selection of the latest cameras in the warehouses
and online at Costco.com.
Twitter or other sites and services. But when it comes to
quality, zoom, storage and
battery performance, your
smartphone doesn’t live
up to a camera—even
those inexpensive point-and-shoot models.
For starters, phone
camera sensors are very
small and don’t take in as
much light as stand-alone
cameras. That means images
taken with your phone in
dimly lit environments will be
less than stellar.
Plus, smartphone cameras
generally disappoint in regard to
start-up times, image stabilization
and shutter lag (the delay between
when you press the shutter and when
the photograph is taken). Pictures might
look OK when viewed on your smartphone’s
small screen or Facebook status update, but they’ll
look awful on a computer or television. The quality
of the camera’s sensor dictates image quality—not
the number of megapixels, as that simply increases
the image size.
Also, smartphone cameras don’t offer optical
zoom, and instead have digital zoom, which doesn’t
capture images as clearly. These days even point-and-shoot cameras offer at least 5x optical zoom—
and up to 20x zoom—within a slim body.
Finally, shooting photos and videos, and editing and sharing them, can drain a smartphone’s
battery considerably. Batteries in stand-alone digital cameras are bigger and better for the task at
hand—and not shared with other tasks such as
phone calls, email, Web browsing, games and apps.
To change with the times, today’s digital cameras have a number of features borrowed from
smartphones: built-in Wi-Fi to wirelessly send
photos to a computer for safekeeping or uploading
to a website; GPS “geotagging” to stamp the media
with geographical information, allowing you to see
where the images were taken on a map such as
Google Maps or Bing Maps; and the ability to “tag”
people by name so whenever you take a photo of
them going forward it will show their name, and let
you easily search for someone, too. C
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will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
a leading high-tech
to more than three
on radio and TV, and is
the author of 15 books.
He’s on Twitter at