We added a few new techno toys this year, and after using them for quite a while, I thought I’d give you my feedback on them in today’s blog, and whether I’d spend the money all over again.
Kodak Zi8 digital video camera – I bought this unit for a project I was working on, and since that fizzled, it’s just been sitting in my desk drawer. It’s a nice little camera, about the same size as my Droid Incredible phone, and the quality of the videos, even taken inside the motorhome with just ambient light, are impressive. The only downside is the camera’s built-in microphone, which is basically worthless for outside use. An accessory microphone comes in very handy. I chose the Audio-Technica lavalier microphone. If you need a high quality, small digital camcorder, this is a good choice. That being said, if all you want to do is shoot an occasional quick video of the grandkids playing or your dog chasing its tail, save your money, because your cell phone or pocket digital camera can probably do the job for you. I’d buy it again if I needed it, but a lot of folks won’t use it enough to make it worth the money.
Garmin Trucker 465T Trucker GPS – I really like this GPS. It includes special features for big rigs, and allows you to input your vehicle’s specific height, width, and weight, and then selects routes best suited for that vehicle. It also alerts us to traffic congestion up ahead, suggests detours, and has live updates, all included in the price of the unit. The GPS also has built-in info on truck repair facilities, truck stops, diesel fuel locations, and other data that RVers can use. Another built-in feature I like is that the GPS alerts us to low bridges, crosswinds and other potential hazards along our route. The only complaint I had was that the volume was much too low to be heard, even at the highest setting. A couple of months after I got it, the sound stopped working completely. I contacted Garmin’s support folks, who were not exactly helpful. After getting some feedback from an online users forum, I went to the Garmin website and uploaded new firmware. It took a couple of hours, but it not only restored the sound, it is now much louder. I’d buy it all over again
iMac computers – We’ve had our two iMacs for about four months now, and love them. They are everything we had hoped they would be, and more.The only regret I have is the same one I have about fulltime RVing – I wish I would have taken the plunge years before I finally did! There is one thing I would not do over though; since we were transitioning from Windows based computers to Macs, and a lot of people had told us that there was quite a learning curve, we both signed up for the Apple One to One program, which gave us a year of personalized instruction at Apple stores, as well as online tutorials. We should have saved the $99 each, because we went once, during the first week or so after we bought the iMacs, and since then we have been able to figure out anything we needed on our own. You can’t just walk into an Apple store and get a lesson, you have to schedule them in advance, and sometimes it can be a week or more before you can get in. Who has time for that? By then, you can usually figure it out yourself, or Google the answer. I’d buy an iMac again, but not the One to One program.
Docuscan portable document scanner – The more I use this handy little scanner that we got from TechnoRV, the more I love it. I’ve used it to scan everything from photographs to receipts, along with insurance forms, and ads for the Gypsy Journal. It is fast, easy to use and produces fine, high quality images that I can transfer from the SD/SDHC card to my computer. You don’t have to run a business to find this scanner invaluable. At $99, it’s a good investment. I’d buy this scanner again
Panasonic Lumix FZ-40 – This excellent digital camera has amazing zoom capabilities, fine image stabilization, and shoots videos that are just as good as its superior quality still photos. I think if Miss Terry had to choose between the two of us, she’d probably give me up before she would her camera. It’s bigger than a pocket camera, but not nearly as large and heavy as my Canon Digital Rebel was. In fact, once Terry got the Panasonic, the Canon just sat gathering dust, so I found it a new home. The FZ-40 is much more camera for much less money. As with any good camera, spend a few bucks and get a UV or polarizing filter to protect the lens. Terry also found the standard battery that came with the camera wasn’t quite enough to last an entire day of exploring, and chose to buy an extra capacity battery. I’d buy another one of these cameras. In fact, I may buy another as a backup, especially since Terry never lets me play with hers!
Verizon 4510 4G Mifi – Do I like my Verizon mifi? Yes, I do. Do I hate my Verizon mifi? Yes, I do. When it works, it works very well, and 4G speeds are incredible, under optimal conditions. The only problem is, there are a lot of places and times when conditions are less than optimal. In a 3G area, it’s no faster than any other 3G air card, and even in a 4G area, if there are a lot of other users nearby eating up the bandwidth, it can still be slow. Add in the fact that every so often it freezes up and I have to reboot it, and the mifi has a long way to go to be everything that the Verizon sales reps want you to believe it is. An added drawback is that, in over four years, we only went over 5 gig with our Verizon 3G air card once. Even though we still have and use the 3G air card every day, the 4G mifi has gone over 5 gig every month since we’ve had it. We are not downloading videos or songs, we don’t play games online, and as I said, we still use the 3G air card a lot. So why does the mifi use so much data? One explanation I have received is that, because it is so fast, it downloads everything on a website or blog I go to before I finish reading and move on, while the slower 3G air card may still be downloading by the time I move on. Whether that’s true or not, all I can say is, be prepared to pay the extra $10 per gig for anything you use over 5 gig, or else pay for the 10 gig plan up front. You’re probably going to need it! I don’t think I’d buy the mifi again, at this point, unless my 3G air card died.
Thought For The Day – Sometimes I pretend to be normal. But then it gets boring, and I go back to being me.
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Thanks for the honest reviews Nick, I was very tempted on the mifi, but had heard second hand rumors of the problems you mentioned. I think I’ll wait some more, until they get it right.
We are having exactly the same problems with the Verizon MIFI…we are constantly going over 5G and all we do is email and read your blog !! We are getting ready to look for something new for our internet.
Nick you have proven us right. Or at least convinced us we are right. Ever since getting our Verizon 4G mifi we have gone over our 5 GB limit. We never did with the 3G air card. Verizon store keeps insisting it is us and not the mifi. But we’re not doing one thing different or spendng more time online.
I am happy to read all of your reviews, the one on the 4g, was good. I have heard the same thing from other people so still waiting before up grading. As far as MAC goes I still like my PC so that one was of no value, the rest were great and am looking into a new Garmin.
Another possiblility that I came across on the over limit on air cards period is the fact that there is so many ads being placed on web pages and they seem to be all video. It may be small, but there are several sometimes on the same page. We aren’t downloading it, they are forcing it on us.
Just my take on the time used. We went from 5G, to 10G Mifi returned the mifi and payed the penalty and went with millenium 20G. So far ahven’t heard a thing on overage from them.
This was very helpful, Nick. I posted a link to it on my FB page. Thanks for sharing!
Great stuff and just what we are looking for. Now, if you know of a good printer that won’t take up too much space and doesn’t use too much ink? BTW how’s Miss Terry’s sock loom working out for her?