I need to produce audio and video podcasts for my company, but we're not Mac people. Are we screwed?
From the company that makes Avid professional video-editing software comes the consumer-friendly Pinnacle Studio MovieBox Plus ($150), which lets you create and edit videos on your PC. As with any application of its ilk, there's a bit of a learning curve--but the features it packs in, such as superimposing one video clip onto another (it even comes with a green screen like the ones weathermen use) and adding surround-sound effects, make it more than worth the time to read the manual. And the hardware for importing video and audio will spare you multiple trips to Radio Shack to pick up some esoteric connector to hook your camera to your PC. --Michael A. Prospero
Every device now has a built-in camera. Which one uses it the best?
The Samsung SCH-A990 ($350 through
What's a good replacement for Apple's lousy iPod earbuds?
A "mass market" version of its $900 custom-fit offering, Ultimate Ears' triple.fi 10 Pro noise-canceling earphones are equally comfortable but cost a slightly less-ridiculous $400. The three drivers (two bass, one treble) within each earbud produce a you'd-swear-you-were-there experience. In one recording of Beethoven's Ninth, I could even hear the musicians turning the pages. Van Halen sounds nice, too. --MAP
What's the best camera for launching my new sideline as a photo blogger?
I want my speakers to make a design statement. What do you recommend?
This eye-catching cherry bomb of a sound system isn't just an innovative place to put your newest house plant. At first glance, this system might seem a little too big, but there's no wasted space here. The Geneva Sound System XL ($1,099) packs two tweeters, two woofers, and two subwoofers into a 2'x2' cube, and tops it all off with a digital hi-fi 600-watt amplifier. The sound quality on this behemoth (also available in black or white) is worth the money. Play your favorite bass-heavy song first, and you'll quickly be hooked. --KT
What's the latest must-have media player to make flight time fly by?
The 60 GB version of the Creative Zen Vision W ($399) can store 240 hours of video--enough for the first two seasons of Lost and the entire Sopranos series (twice). At 4.3 inches across, it has a refreshingly wide and bright screen, and its support of an astonishing array of audio and video formats (although, notably, not
I have thousands of pictures and MP3s. How do I protect all of my digital assets?
As its lengthy name suggests, the
My iPod is the center of my universe. How do I make it play nice with all of my home electronics?
The Griffin Technology TuneCenter ($129) makes simple work out of showing off all those photos, videos, and music stored on your iPod through your home-entertainment system. You can easily view and cycle through your songs, playlists, and other iPod media on your TV using its remote control. You can also play Internet radio stations thanks to its built-in ethernet port, although the TuneCenter was annoyingly tricky to set up with my router. At least Griffin was smart enough to include an s-video output. --MAP
My friend just got the Series 3 TiVo. How do I put him to shame?
You could try the Niveus Media Center Rainier Edition, which, for $3,499, gets you three TV tuners, a 400 GB hard drive (that's 40 hours of HDTV recording, or more than 55 days of continuous digital music, or enough storage for more than 250,000 high-resolution photos), eight-channel audio, FM radio, Wi-Fi, an Internet connection, a DVD/CD burner, and an HDMI output for your new HDTV--and this is its entry-level offering! It features two banks of heat sinks that eliminate the need for noisy cooling fans. Just one complaint: The Microsoft Media Center software on the Niveus crashed several times during our tests. --MAP
If someone's not going to make a documentary of my life, I am. Which camera should I use?
The JVC Everio GZ-MG57 hard-disk camcorder ($700) is a quick jump ahead of the relatively new DVD camcorders, which could become the Betamax of our generation. No more tapes, no more disks, and, best of all, no more dubbing. This extremely user-friendly camera records up to 37 hours and features Dolby digital audio and a "telemacro" zoom (up to 2 inches), which can be either a great thing or quite scary if you're not used to seeing what people really look like that close. While Scorsese's not going to use this to film his next movie, it'll work just fine for any budding Borats. --Helen Barnard