Q Could you recommend a device that can convert slide images to digital images? What should I be looking for as far as quality, and what kind of prices would I be looking at?
A You need a film scanner, which uses backlighting and optical scanning to create a digital image that is sent to your computer via USB. There are flatbeds with transparency backs, but you are better off with a dedicated film-scanning unit. You can also scan film negatives and convert them to positive digital images.
You can spend $50 for something little better than a toy, up to $5,000 for a professional model. Usually, about $250 for a model from Pacific Image or Plustek is a good fit for amateurs.Quality over zoom
Q I am going to Alaska and want to buy a superzoom camera to get good pictures of the glaciers. My budget is $300 or less. I was looking at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40 (24x zoom) for $299, but I heard that image quality was lower than the older DMC-FZ35 (18x zoom), which is $219 on Amazon. Which will make me happiest long-term?
A The better image quality pays off every time you take a picture. The extra zoom range does so rarely -- and 18x already is good. At $219, the DMC-FZ35 is almost 50 percent off and is a top pick in its class. Get the DMC-FZ35.Tubes and Bluetooth
This week's recommended system combines the warm sound of vacuum-tube audio with the wireless convenience of Bluetooth, even if its sounds like a contradiction.
In the past, I have written about the $799 T-2 vacuum tube amplifier with USB connection from Neuhaus Laboratories (www.neuhauslabs.com). The recently introduced Neuhaus T-1 is a hybrid design that combines transistors and vacuum tubes to provide warm tube sound in a smaller package for $499.
The T-1 has two analog connections, an optical digital connection, USB and built-in Bluetooth. Pair your iPad, iPhone or other Bluetooth device with the T-1, and you can wirelessly stream music to your system from wherever you are in the room. You will have a remote control and media server in the palm of your hand. Of course, you can connect your computer to the USB port, as well.
In my office, I use a T-2 with $249 Arx speakers from the Audio Insider (www.theaudioinsider.com). The exotic leaf tweeters of the Arx sing when combined with vacuum tube amplification. I can't think of a better match for the T-1.
Many would consider this elegantly simple mix of high tech and retro complete at $748. If you want to listen to the radio, stream Internet radio from the Bluetooth device or add the Sony XDRF1HD tuner for $99. Want vinyl? The Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB will plug right in for $200, or you can go up to the $499 Pro-Ject Debut III USB for something more audiophile.
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