Backward-compatible Sony Digital 8 offers innovations at...


May 24, 1999

Backward-compatible Sony Digital 8 offers innovations at fair cost

Periodically, a piece of technology comes along that's so intelligently designed, so innovative and reasonably priced, that you want to pinch yourself. Such is the case with Sony's new DCR-TRV310 Digital 8 camera ($1,099).

One of the main selling features of the Digital 8 line is that it's backward compatible with existing 8mm and Hi8 technology. That means you can play your old 8 and Hi8 tapes on the new machine. Digital 8 cameras can even use the same type of 8/Hi8 tape as the old cameras (which is much less expensive than DV or MiniDV media).

The D8s also have the next generation of computer connectivity called FireWire (or IEEE 1394 in geek parlance) which offers a high-speed bidirectional link to your PC (if you have a FireWire card).

The DCR-TRV310 has a color viewfinder and a gorgeous 3.5-inch pop-out LCD monitor. It's loaded with such other features as a picture stabilization system for eliminating jittery camera shots, many on-camera effects, a still-image mode and an infrared transmitter.

For $70, you can get an infrared receiver and beam images directly from the camera to your TV. Sony says its Lithium-Ion batteries deliver up to 10 hours of camera time.

The only drawback to the DCR-TRV310 (vs. Mini-DV cameras) is that, at more than 2 pounds, it quickly becomes heavy to hold. The controls are also not as well thought-out as on some of the Mini-DV cameras we've seen recently. But given the price (half as much as cameras offering similar features), the backward compatibility and the quality of the output, these are minor quibbles.

Information: 800-222-7669 or

-- Gareth Branwyn

$8.75 device makes resetting crashed iMacs much easier

The iMac is a heck of a machine, but it's vexed by a few troublesome idiosyncrasies. One of these is a bizarre design flaw: no reset button. To reset a crashed iMac, you have to insert a straightened paper clip (a.k.a. an "ejectrode") into the reset hole on the side of the case.

All that's changed with the oh-so-simple iReset Buttons ($8.75).

An iReset Button consist of a translucent polycarbonate switch with two thin, long prongs connected to a C-bracket. The long edge of the bracket contains a piece of adhesive tape. On top of each prong is a nub.

When installed on the iMac's side access panel, iReset Buttons sit on top of the programmer's reset and interrupt switch pinholes, with the prongs positioned inside the holes.

If the need to reset arises (and it will), a firm press of either nub activates the appropriate switch on the Mac's motherboard.

It seems absurd to pay $8.75 for a simple plastic switch, but it's worth the convenience of havingto hassle with the paper-clip method. If you're an adventurous "crash test dummy" (someone like me who insists on monkeying with the latest alpha and beta software), or you have an iMac otherwise prone to freeze-ups, you should consider one of these doohickeys.

Just think of all the paper clips you'll save!


-- Peter Cohen

You can find full reviews of these and other gadgets at www.

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