New storage options
By Marc Saltzman
Q: I’d like to capture holiday memories this
year in video. Can you explain the new storage formats?
A: A couple of years ago you might have bought
a MiniDV tape- or DVD-based camcorder, but
today two newer (and better) storage formats are
available: flash memory and hard drive.
Flash-memory-based players use those postage-stamp-size memory cards typically used in digital
cameras. With these camcorders you can easily
transfer video to your PC (for editing, sharing or
archiving) by popping the card into your PC’s or
printer’s memory-card reader. Flash-memory camcorders are typically smaller and lighter than their
While hard-drive-based camcorders cost a little
more than flash-memory camcorders, they can store
a lot more video (many dozens of hours) without
having to replace tapes, DVDs or memory cards. A
USB cable is required (and included) to transfer
video from the camcorder to a computer.
Both types of camcorders also let you take
To future-proof your investment, consider a
high-definition camcorder, available in both flash-memory and hard-drive varieties. Video from
a high-def camcorder looks and sounds spectacular
on an HDTV. These camcorders also shoot in wide-screen format, like a feature film, so you’ll be able to
fit more of your memories on the screen.
Q: I’d like to buy my husband a GPS system
for Christmas. What should I look for in making my selection?
A: GPS navigation systems are very popular these
days, and for good reason. Not only can they help
you reach your destination by giving you turn-by-turn directions (by communicating with satellites
hovering above Earth), they’ll also help you get back
on track should you take a wrong turn at
Albuquerque, as Bugs Bunny used to say.
Whether you are in your car, on a bike or on
foot, GPS units are great for finding nearby points
of interest such as hotels, gas stations, bank
machines, tourist attractions and restaurants. In
fact, many GPS devices let you select what kind of
food you’re in the mood for, such as Chinese or
burgers or vegetarian, and will direct you to the
nearest relevant establishment!
Your husband might like some of the extra fea-
tures found in many GPS sys tems today:
■ Text-to-speech translation, where
the GPS unit will say the name of the street
to turn onto
■ Multimedia playback to store
and play your digital music, photos
■ Varying screen sizes, from 31/2
inches to 5 inches and larger
■ Bluetooth connectivity, which
offers hands-free phone conversations when your cellphone is nearby
■ Real-time traffic information in
supported cities, an optional service that
redirects you around congestion, accidents
It’s a common misconception that GPS units
require a monthly fee. This isn’t true. Once you buy
the unit, it’s yours to use free as often as you like.
The exceptions are the optional traffic service and a
map upgrade, which can be purchased annually.
Q: I know improvements have been made to
make transferring photos from my camera
to my computer and printer easier. But it still
can be difficult. Any ideas?
A: Transferring photos to a computer—for editing,
archiving or e-mailing purposes—can be a tricky
proposition for many. Usually this involves connecting the camera to a computer via a USB cable or taking the memory card out of the camera and inserting
it into the correct reader on the PC or printer.
An interesting new product, the Eye-Fi Wireless
SD memory card, simplifies this process by introducing wireless into the equation.
As long as you’re within range of your home
wireless network, this 2-gigabyte SD memory card
will automatically and wirelessly upload photos
directly from your SD-compatible camera to your
Windows or Mac computer and/or favorite online
photo-sharing, printing and social networking site.
Neat, huh? 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 camcorders in flash-memory and hard-drive formats, as well as GPS
systems, in the warehouses and at costco.com.
You can also find the Eye-Fi at costco.com. Many
electronics at Costco are backed by free technical
support through Costco Concierge services.
a leading high-tech
reporter, contributes to
more than three dozen
prominent publications, appears on radio
and TV, and is the
author of 14 books.