Not one to be topped by Sony, whose VAIO NR160 lowered the price threshold for owning a Sony laptop to $829, Fujitsu has announced a budget-friendly addition to its LifeBook line. The LifeBook V1010, which starts at $799, combines a 15.4-inch display, 120 GB hard drive, built-in DVD burner, and spill-resistant keyboard in a hefty 6.2-pound package. So far so good, though the baseline configuration includes the super-budget Pentium dual-core processor, which occupies the bottom rung of Intel's dual-core options. The $799 price also only includes 1GB of RAM, so it's a good thing that Fujitsu … Read more
DXG just announced the latest member of its pocket camera family. The DXG-572V can shoot 5-megapixel still images, or record VGA (640 x 480) video at 30 frames per second. While it doesn't have nearly as many settings as your typical digital camera, the 572V does let you change white balance settings, so your incandescent-lit shots don't come out all yellowed. It also features a voice-recorder mode, for taking down voice notes.
Unfortunately, do-everything devices like the DXG-572V tend to end up being jacks of some trades, masters of none. With just a 5-megapixel sensor, a tiny 2-inch … Read more
eMachines has become so regular with its quarterly refreshes, it might be more newsworthy if they didn't announce new systems every three months. But rest assured, if you head to your friendly-neighborhood desktop retailer next week (and possibly even today), you'll find three new eMachines budget PCs on the shelves: the $500 T5230, the $450 T5062, and the $400 T3616. All come with a $50 mail-in rebate as well.
We've been lukewarm on eMachines the past few releases, mostly due to questionable CPU selection. This time, though, we're particularly impressed with the T5230 and its Athlon … Read more
Expensr is another lightweight, Web-based finance tracking site. Like several other sites we've covered recently, this one lets you enter in your income and expenses, and then gives you data about your money.
Expensr's special sauce is that it lets you compare your financial picture to other people who are like you, based on tags. For example, say you tag yourself "married," "San Francisco," and "lawyer." Then you can see how much other married SF lawyers are spending on rent, and if you're living at a level above or below your … Read more
After reviewing lots of personal finance applications, I still haven't found one that serves young adults well. Today's teenagers have already been raised on a diet of advertising, from soda vending machines in grammar school cafeterias to deceptive credit card offers at college ballgames. The newest grown-ups need better information, for instance, about the indentured servitude that could result from trusting the word of high-interest loan sharks.
You'd think that some software company would benefit by serving the hot 18-to-thirtysomething market, often referred to as Generation Debt. Yet Intuit, for one, has decided to start educating tots … Read more
You might remember hearing about the RCA Small Wonder EZ201 just a few months ago at CES 2007. It's the follow-up to RCA's inexpensive, extremely simple digital camcorder, the Small Wonder EZ101. It's finally shipped--just in time for Mother's Day.
The $130 camcorder's predecessor fared poorly in our tests, scoring a disappointing 5.6. Thankfully, this new version makes several improvements over that version, including twice as much on-board memory (capable of recording 60 minutes of video compared to the EZ101's 30 minutes), an SD card memory slot, and a flip-out 1.5-inch LCD … Read more
ActiveAllowance is a complex site that helps families with children manage the kids' allowances and chores. After experimenting with it for a few minutes, it made me hope that my 8-month-old son never, ever grows up. Am I really going to have to manage a list of chores, pay for them piecemeal, and then teach my kid to motivate himself, budget his income, and learn about saving, investing, and so on?
I suppose that's part of being a dad. And a site like this could help me and my wife keep our messages consistent. ActiveAllowance tracks lists of chores and goals, and helps a child budget his efforts to finish the tasks that earn him money. It also helps kids allocate their income based on family guidelines (so much for savings, for charity, and so on). Parents can set it up so allowance money is awarded when certain chores are done, or you can decouple allowance from chores if that's the way you parent.
Kids get their own simplified interface when they log in. From there, they can check how they are doing against their goals, and print "checks" to draw from their allowance funds, which they present to the Bank of Their Parents, presumably in exchange for cash or goods.
The site allows for very detailed management of chore lists, payments for them, and budgeting, and I found it frighteningly complex. User feedback on the site's forums tells the story: it takes time for users to get past the learning curve. There are many who seem to be stuck in the support forums. But once the program is grasped, the transparency and communication fostered--and the degree of consideration required before you can fill out the details--helps families communicate more effectively about money, and ActiveAllowance can motivate and teach children in all the right ways.
My take, though, is this: if your sons or daughters can follow all the ins and outs of their detailed chore list and exactly what income they're going to earn from each task--and if they begin to effectively organize their lives around getting what they want--then you might do well to give them your Quicken password and let them run all the household's finances. And maybe if you get to work each day on time, they'll grant you your own allowance.
Vaguely related: Wired's new Geek Dad blog.
Two more pictures after the jump.
Thrifty laptop shoppers can easily put together a decent system for around $800 or so (or even dip down to $500 if they're brave), but these low-cost machines have always had major trade-offs in terms of components and performance.
We can't speak to the performance aspect just yet, but Systemax has hit the $999 sweet spot with a just-announced Vista Ultimate version of its Core 2 Duo 15.4-inch Pursuit 4155 laptop. It's also got 1GB of memory, a 60GB hard drive, and a built-in Webcam.
The Core 2 Duo T5200 processor is admittedly on the low … Read more
Budget staple Mustek just announced two new jack-of-all-trades digital camcorders. The Mustek DV700TZ and DV530TV are a pair of pocket-sized, budget-priced camcorders that record video to SD cards. The blocky, robotic-looking DV700TZ can capture both wide screen VGA (720x480) video at 30 frames per second or 7-megapixel still images. The curvier, scaled-down DV530TZ has a 5-megapixel sensor and can capture only standard VGA (640 480) video at 30 frames per second. Both gadgets sport 3X optical zooms, swiveling LCD screens, and can function as a camcorder, a digital camera, a voice recorder, a Webcam, and an MP3 player.
Unfortunately, catchall … Read more
Sony has some new cameras on the way, and they're all strangely similar. The company just announced the Cyber-shot DSC-W35, W55, S650, and S700, four sub-$200, 7-megapixel point-and-shoot cameras. They're simple, inexpensive models with the standard complement of snapshot features, including a top sensitivity of ISO 1000 for low-light and high-speed shots.
The Cyber-shot DSC-W35 and W55 replace the DSC-W30 and W50 in Sony's Cyber-shot W-series of ultracompact snapshot cameras. At just more than five ounces with battery and memory card, they're light and easily pocketable. They both use 38 to 114mm-equivalent lenses and include … Read more