Gear of the Year

Digital Cameras & Digital-Audio Players

May 19, 2005
Outside Magazine
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 Pro

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 Pro    Photo: Mark Wiens

Apple iPod Photo

Apple iPod Photo

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 Pro $600

Sony's 7.2-megapixel DSC-V3 nabs Gear of the Year by combining the soul of a pro-level SLR with silicon guts capable of punching out truly tack-sharp images. Thanks to a blindingly fast processor, you won't have to forfeit now-or-never moments to "shutter lag"—that maddening pause between hitting the button and nailing the snap.

1. Thanks to its Real Imaging Processor—one of the speediest in the biz—the V3 will fire off eight pics at a respectable two frames per second before coming up for air. And that's at full resolution.

2. Some of the best photo ops occur after dark, but it's tough to set up a shot you can't see. At least, it used to be. Select the V3's infrared mode and frame up your otherwise blacked-out subject via a surveillance-cam-style black-and-white view.

3. The V3's magnesium-alloy-and-plastic body flies in the face of the market's tiny-is-best obsession. A good thing? You bet. While the V3 still fit inside my pack lid, its rubberized right-hand grip was easy to hold on to—even with sweaty digits—during a white-knuckle Latin America bus ride.

4. Almost all digicams—and let's not forget some cell phones—can shoot movies, but few offer the V3's TV-screen quality and 30-frames-per-second clarity. And with its anti-reflective 2.5-inch LCD preview screen, reliving your directorial debut is easy, even in bright sun.

5. You won't find a competitively priced digital camera that can capture movement with such rapid autofocus and shutter response. Even with the zoom fully maxed out, I snapped a perfectly focused shot of a mountain biker coming in hot around a bend at dusk.

Apple iPod Photo $499

The killer app of the digital music revolution leapfrogs the pack by inviting your camera to the party. This 40-gig Gear of the Year champ easily organizes and pumps out 10,000 songs—or up to 25,000 photos, which you can spin through about as quickly as you can shuffle a deck of cards.

1. The lightning-fast 220-by-176-pixel LCD display renders your digital photos in 65,536 brilliant colors. View splashy album-cover art when playing a tune or set some shots to music before plugging into your plasma TV for a very 2005 slide show.

2. Apple's iTunes Music Store—accessed via free OS X and Windows software—offers an impressive music catalog. Albums typically run $10, while single tracks go for 99 cents a click. Jam out to iTunes exclusives from the likes of U2, plus celebrity playlists.

3. No other player offers so many cool accessories. To wit: A media reader will transfer photos directly from your digital camera's memory card to your iPod, FM transmitters will pipe your tunes through your car stereo, and a voice recorder will archive memos, interviews, and lectures.

4. Store contacts, reminders, and text files on the iPod's calendar and scheduler, compatible with Microsoft Outlook and Apple's iCal. An alarm gets you to your meeting on time, and a sleep timer lets you doze off to the Shins without sucking your battery dry.

5. Stuck in Layover Land? Apple stocks its iPods with diversions aplenty. Play solitaire, Parachute, Brick, and other vintage video games. Then test your knowledge of your own music library via Music Quiz, Apple's equivalent of Name That Tune.

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