Monday, March 10, 2008

Gear- Electronics

MP3 Players: As with laptops, there's no reason to bring an iPod that has a regular hard drive. While older models of iPod do seem to function above 10,000', the cold hard facts dealing with newer operating specs and much, much slimmer size cause standard hard drives to crap out far lower than older models. Here's the reason: a disc inside a hard drive hovers in between a reader (which looks like an old record needle) and passes an electrical charge through the disc to "read". At higher elevations, there are fewer oxygen molecules to provide a buffer in between the reader and disc. Thinner air also allows the disc to wobble more, where it impacts with the reader and resulting scratches lead to lost memory. This continues until the disc is rendered inoperable.. which is very bad in-case that wasn't already clear. As a result, flash memory is the way to go. No moving parts, faster response time. The iPod of choice? A super-small iPod Shuffle, fully loaded with mp3s and ready to rock. Another positive aspect of this system? It's compatible with my solar charger, discussed further below.

I have this incredible knack for trashing digital cameras about as quickly as I pick them up. At one point I went through three cameras in three weeks- all for different reasons. What I have found is that point & shoot with fragile & "cute" little telescoping lenses end up crapping out more quickly than others. This thanks to all the moving parts and places that junk can get inside and mess everything up. Case-in-point: Try taking one of those underneath a CH-53E and watch what happens when 120mph rotor wash get sand flying. One died on me five seconds after I pulled it out of my pocket and turned it on that day. So, minimal moving parts is absolutely necessary for more ruggedized environments. The Cybershot DSC-T200 is Sony's latest iteration and has all sorts of amazing features like a massive touch screen LCD and 8 megapixel resolution. For whenever I need it, the thing even has something called a "smile detector". But as with all things Sony, costs are incremented thanks to accessorizing everything in the camera. Need a memory card? Sony specific. Need another battery? It'll cost you! Which leads me to recharging this thing. The camera only comes with a wall charger to get the battery more juice and despite multiple emails to figure out options/ alternatives, haven't gotten anywhere. After spending a frustrating day wading through emails and customer service, the DSC-T200 definitely won't be able to take any pics of me right now with it's "smile detector" turned on. Grrrrr.. But more important than a morass of customer service mediocrity, this camera worked like a champ when on that -47 degree Mt Fuji climb so I'm dummy cording this little bad-boy and bringing it along for the ride.
By far and away, the largest disappointment I have come across in this whole electronics prep has been my interface with a company called Solio. Here you have a company that makes solar chargers and is essentially focused on interface with electronic items. Getting responses out of them is like pulling teeth. Better yet, they don't have a Sony compatible connector, or something that works with their wall outlet charger. I'm totally fine with understanding that these are two unique companies (and that Sony has to make things difficult with it's own special equipment). But if Solio is in the business of making adaptors for it's product to function, wouldn't it make sense that they would make a Sony adaptor? And more importantly, that Solio Customer Service might spend more than 15 seconds to try and assist when contacted multiple times? Hopefully their charger works because there seem to be many broken parts of that company.

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