-The Holiday Help Desk phones are up at 888-900-CNET, 888-900-2638.
You can also e-mail us, email@example.com.
-And as usual, we have a few special guests to help us.
We have CNET's camera expert extraordinaire, Lori Grunin, with her usual collection of holiday cheer.
-Pro of all pros.
-Good to be back.
-Lori now we got on the show.
-Now is the holiday.
-Okay, sit down and watch.
-Lori is here to tell you what not to do.
-Also CNET's head
cheapskate of course, Rick Broida, coming to us from the bunker actually on the phone today and Wal-Mart will be checking in to talk about some of the Cyber Monday deals.
This is, of course, show #2 of our 5 Holiday Help Desk episodes.
-Now, if you guys are joining this live, you can call us in with your questions at 1-888-900-CNET or you can join in in the separate conversation that's live in our chat room.
You can check that out at CNET.com/live.
It'll take you directly to our Holiday Help Desk coverage.
Or if you guys wanna do it through snail mail or what we like to call e-mail these days, firstname.lastname@example.org.
-It takes like a whole minute to get here.
-What is that?
Who uses that?
So it would be of absolutely no use if we just find you the right things to buy, if we didn't find you also the right price to buy them at, and BT is manning the shopper watch for us as he does every week here on Holiday Help Desk, keeping an eye on what happens over at Shopper.com which is CNET's all-shopping engine.
BT what you got for some deals to go this time?
-Some sweet deals.
Now we have about 3 things going on at shopper.com.
This first one is through Dell and it's a
Sharp AQUOS 32-inch LCD ACTV with the magic price of $320.
That's with free shipping.
-So, a lot of--
-I think I bought that stupid TV for like $600.
A lot of this--
-You got [unk].
Let's take it back.
Was it like 3 years ago?
-This holiday season, Black Friday, a lot of 32-inch displays were around $300.
-This is like-- if I ain't gonna rub.
-This is like where you, like when you do car reviews, they look at, you know, horsepower per pound.
This is now finally getting down to dollars per inch.
It's $10 an inch.
-Is that right?
-Yeah, it's about that.
-Basically, you do-- you're good at math.
-That's probably a new low for television pricing.
-It's really good.
-Thank you so much.
I'll see it after the show.
-It's truly amazing.
-I wonder if he did that on-- He actually-- don't be fooled people.
He's been working on that for hours.
-He was in a spreadsheet all morning long.
-Also, this one's from Shopper through Amazon.
We have a Nikon Coolpix S4000 12-megapixel camera, 4x optical zoom, 3-inch LCD panel in the back or 3-inch view panel.
That is a $129--
-Well, what do you think Lori?
-Is that one a go or a no-go?
-$100 off, like-- what do you think about that?
-It's a point-and-shoot.
It's a point-and-shoot.
-It's a good price.
You generally get what you pay for.
-She's in the show with you or what?
-Show you what not to buy.
-And that's what we like about Lori.
-Ladies and gentlemen--
-Lori, it's like point-and-shoot.
Talk to me, will you guys?
-Probably we're talking about the real big boys.
-She's like 12-megapixels, what for?
I also wanted for you guys to check out your shopper.com and Apple TV Deal.
It's $80 for an Apple TV.
You guys should check that out.
I have a pulled up here but, yeah, if you want to check that out, sorry about that.
I'll pull it up later.
A discount on that Apple here.
-$80 on Apple TV.
-I mean that's pretty good.
-That's pretty unusual.
-Someone's doing some gray market there.
-Alright, let's go, let's go over to Rick Broida [unk].
Last time, we talk all your good deals, Rick.
We got you on the phone this time.
What do you think?
Is that a-- did we take your good deals this time or no?
-Rick, tell us about those deals?
-How do I pick, Rick?
-Where is Rick?
There he is.
We had Rick.
Let's get back to Rick.
There he is.
-I don't know if I'm
talking to you guys by phone or webcam or--
-Phone, all phone.
-[unk] or what?
-On the phone.
-What do you mean?
What's confusing about that?
-The good news is-- good news is we don't know either.
So just use both.
-Talk on the phone, look at the camera.
-I'll be in stereo for some people.
-Okay, so the deal today was really great and for those of you who checked in with the cheapskate this morning, you might have gotten it for only 5 minutes but we had a 10-inch notebook for $199.99 ship and it disappeared very quickly.
So being the responsible cheapskate that I am, I found a second one but that went up.
It's sold out in a matter of minutes.
-What are you doing, Rick?
-It's like buying--
-You're supposed to talk to me first.
-Just like buying Windows 7 and getting a free computer to go around it.
-Well, that's-- and the next deal was kinda like that because Microsoft was having a deal where if you bought Microsoft Office 2010 for $279.99, they were gonna throw in a Dell Inspiron Mini 1018, but--
-I love that.
-that deal sold out.
let's just put the netbooks away, put a pin in the netbooks.
Let's not talk about any more netbooks.
-At least we know they're still hot though.
-I got another deal.
Alright, okay, okay.
-Give us a deal we can--
-For that price, yeah.
-Give us a deal we can buy, buddy.
The deal that I believe is still available as of right this moment is a Samsung laser printer over at Buy.com for $39.99.
That is ship and if you pay with Google Checkout, it's down to $34.99.
So it's a $35
laser printer B-PAD.
-That's like insane, ship.
-The cartridge is probably $150.
-You know, we don't talk about stuff like that.
-This is the-- I actually-- I was--
-I'm a people stopper.
-I like the 1 terabyte Seagate drive for 50 bucks too.
Like an external hard drive a terabyte for 50 bucks?
-For a terabyte of personal--
-Unfortunately, that one is gone too.
-It's usually a little fast, yeah, gone.
-What do you think about Cyber Monday, is this the year that Cyber Monday is kind of
over finally as a marketing ploy 'cause it seems like these deals have been awesome for a week.
-Yeah, I think so.
In fact, it was surprising that the whole week leading up to Black Friday, all I hear was Black Friday, Black Friday, and then all of a sudden today, this morning, like the Cyber Monday floodgates opened up.
I think these vendors kind of like said, "Oh, my God, it's Cyber Monday.
We can grab some deals." And there wasn't really anything too spectacular, not that I saw.
-Yeah, I haven't been too impressed either.
Thank you very much.
Of course, we'll be checking back in with you
on Monday and we'll try to let you know in advance if it's gonna be video or phone or both.
We'll keep you posted.
-It would be great, great.
Are you on an iPhone, Rick?
-Yes, I am.
-Has anyone ever heard of iPhone call go that well for that long before?
-Oh, my gosh.
-You know why 'cause he's not here.
He's like in Michigan.
-He's in Michigan, right.
-And I'm in a basement, no less.
-Are you're in a basement.
That's the thing and you got your hand on it.
Everything you're doing is wrong when it's the worse.
Alright, Rick, thanks a lot man.
We'll talk to you Monday.
-Alright, folks, Rick Broida of the cheapskate.
You wanna find him
to find these deals that are elusive at the very least, but if you get one, it's worth it.
His deals are popping all the time.
So it's not like he's just doing them here on the show or just certain times a day.
Alright, we're going to get to your calls momentarily but first, let's take a look at CNET's top pick in one of the categories that is near and dear to our guest editor, Lori Grunin's heart and that is the camcorder technology.
The camcorder sect.
Let's check this out, a Panasonic in our spotlight this week.
I'm Lori Grunin, senior editor with CNET, here to introduce you to my top camcorder gift pick, the Panasonic HDC-SD60.
Just to put this pick in context, it's not the best HD camcorder out there nor the cheapest.
It is the best value, though.
A real HD camcorder with useful manual controls that will please most recipients but at a
relatively same price that leaves a little gift money over for others.
The SD60 is one of the few similar offerings from Panasonic.
They include the SD60, the TM55 and the TM60, which are all identical save the amount of built-in memory.
The HS60 includes a 120-gigabyte hard disk and because of that, it has a slightly different design than the others.
Overall, the camcorder has a comfortable-to-grip design and feels well-built.
None of them have an accessory shoe, so the top of the camcorder simply has a
zoom switch and shutter button for still photos.
Unusual for its price class, the series includes an LED video light for shooting in dim environments.
Panasonic provides a switch on the back of the camcorder to select amongst Still, Video and Playback modes.
It's much more convenient than having to go through the touchscreen.
Along with the Power button, a full complement of ports and connectors live in the LCD recess.
There's a proprietary video and mini-HDMI out, USB and an SDXC card slot.
Though everybody does it,
I dislike the placement of the connectors inside the LCD since that means it's got to be open while you're attached to other devices, which is just kind of awkward.
You toggle between Intelligent Auto and Manual via a button on top of the camcorder.
In both of those modes, the relevant options become available via a fly-out set of icons on the touchscreen.
I find the user interface relatively straightforward and there are also nice iris controls for its class.
One of the more notable aspects of the camcorder is its performance.
It's very good,
not just for its class but in general.
Zoom switch has a nice feel and it's pretty easy to maintain a steady rate with it.
The auto-focus is quite good, both fast and accurate.
Unlike many competitors, it almost always seemed to focus on the correct subject.
Like most camcorders this year, it also includes a second image stabilization option; in this case, Power OIS which is optimized for shooting while walking.
The battery lasts a long time, though it's also larger than most.
Video quality is typical for its price class.
Its exposures are good, though the video might not look quite as saturated as you like especially if you're planning to edit it rather than just playback on the TV.
The low light video is noisy.
It's desaturated and soft.
As long as you don't pay list price or at least don't pay more than the price for the TM60, the SD60 is the best value of the bunch and generally a good buy.
If it's still too expensive or if you've got a pickier videographer on your gift list, check out the rest of our holiday picks.
We've got something
I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Panasonic HDC-SD60.
-Alright, folks, let's get to Lori Grunin now.
-Hi, I'm Molly Wood, host of the Buzz Report, the show about the tech news--
-That's dear Molly talking--
-that everybody is talking about.
-without seeing her.
-I'm right here.
-See it every Friday--
-That was a crazy transport issue, man.
-Hurry up at CNET.com/[unk].
-Lori is like, "it's my turn, dammit."
-No, you just keep going.
-Don't you even steal my thunder lady.
we've got an e-mail comes in for you here from Crisby, Southwest Florida.
He says, "I'm a college student and an aspiring film-maker.
I don't have the funds to get a professional HD camera for my movies, so I'm looking for a prosumer unit with an electronic viewfinder and manual controls that would be a good future-proof choice, at least until I can afford a pro-level camera." So he's on that track.
"I'm torn between the Canon Vixia HF S21 and the Panasonic HDC-HS700.
Which is the best choice
if the number 1 priority is video quality?" Like a game show.
-It really is.
-I know it is and it's always priority.
-Number 1 priority is-- if the number 2 priority is price--
-I don't know that you'll see much of a difference between the Canon and the Panasonic when it comes to video quality.
The differences tend to be pretty subtle.
If you're shooting in low light, I think the Canon may be a little better but for, you know, the usual stuff, especially, you know, as an aspiring videographer unless you're doing street shooting--
-You generally have control over your lighting.
You're setting people out, you know,
if you're doing talking heads, you're doing your own lighting so you don't really have to worry about low light quality.
But if you're, you know, as I said, if you're doing street shooting, I'd probably go with the Canon; otherwise--
We've got the Canon up here now on the screen and we can see it's not some big, large-sized camera.
It's got a high-quality video.
-Well, he wants an AVF.
He wants an AVF and if you want an AVF, then it's gonna be bigger.
-It's gonna be bigger but we're not talking about a really large camera like one of the--
-Oh, no, it's not, it's not like the entry-level pro cameras--
-that cost about $2,000.
[unk] consumer on this one.
-So slightly leaning for the Canon, but like really if you found an awesome price on Panasonic, you'd be happy either way.
-I hope somebody disagrees with me in the chat.
-Panasonic is better than Canon I would say.
-Well, there's always the religious argument--
-But we're not getting into that.
There's always the brand argument but that's not our thing here.
-And that's about $895 cam, looks like best price on CNET Shopper right now.
That Panasonic-- actually, he wants the hard drive.
He offered the hard drivers in the Panasonic.
I would say--
I would say that you could get a much better deal
if you go with a, with like the TM700 or one of the tapeless-- sorry, the HD versions rather than hard drive.
-It's cheaper and-- you don't need all that hard drive space.
That makes it a lot bigger too.
-And the Panasonic is more expensive.
It looks like a thousand dollars is the best price we've got.
Which is why I say, don't go with the hard drives.
So spend less, get a better camera.
-There you go.
-That's why we have Lori.
What do you think about this, the trend of the DSLR film-makers.
That's used to be--
-Well, actually, that's very interesting 'cause that was my first instinct when he said
he was, you know, like trying to learn it.
-I thought he wasn't going there too, yeah.
-That's what everybody is learning these days.
On the other hand, it's nice to get some skills to learn how to shoot video with the camcorder rather than starting from scratch with a DSLR.
-'Cause DSLRs are really finicky, you know.
The shallow depth the field thing is really tricky.
You have to be able to focus.
It costs-- it'll actually cost a lot more 'cause you have to buy a rig to go around it so that you can focus while you're holding it.
So you can't do that for under a thousand dollars.
-Okay, so really even if you are aspiring, the DSLR thing is like more of a fad but the camcorder is still more functional.
-Well, no, it's not a fad.
-I mean it's not--
-I don't wanna say-- right, exactly.
-It's legit if you are really doing it.
-Yeah, but it's the cheap entry point.
-Let's go to line 1 Matt is in the UK.
He's got a question about one of the cameras I think you were just talking about, a specific there.
Hey, Matt, welcome to Holiday Help Desk.
Matt, are you there?
-Oh, you know--
-There he is.
-I'm looking for any camcorder and I've been looking at the SD700 Panasonic.
I would like it to be HD and have a mic input.
-I was wondering if you have any suggestions.
-So, SD700 does all that Lori?
-I believe so, yeah.
-So that was easy.
-That was easy.
Thanks for calling.
Well, hear me out for a while.
Any other features you're looking for that are critical?
What kind of stuff you're gonna be shooting, Matt?
-Turn down your speakers.
-I just want one that's gonna be useful for general use really.
-Well, I mean, if that's the price point you're looking at--
-All I want is the HD and the microphone input.
-Well, the mic input scheme, Lori says you've got that on there, so you're in good shape and make sure you-- you know, mics aren't often talked about.
Lori, what are recommendations do you have, if any, off the top of your head for--
Because people don't utilize the mic inputs in many cases, and if they do, they get dramatically better audio.
And audio makes a picture look a lot better when it sounds good.
-Yeah and the thing is the mics that are on the camcorders tend to be omnidirectional.
So if you're doing something, you're shooting a talking head, you really definitely do need a shotgun mic that goes in the accessory shoe.
-Okay, so yeah.
-I don't know model numbers but there's a relatively cheap Sony mic as well as some cheap Sennheiser mics that are really tend to be well-known as good mics, so--
-Just go, you know,
-Say, you know, "good, good add-on mic for camcorder" and you'll get plenty of recommendations.
-Okay, shotgun mic man on the hot shoe is a great way--
-to get very focused sound right off the bat.
-And it makes it look way more professional too.
-If you're trying to interview, trying to do a man-on-the-street interview--
-It's all about how you look.
-And you just come up with your dinky little camcorder, no.
But if you add a mic to that sucker--
-Now, they get scared.
-Yeah, that's always good if the microphone is bigger than the camcorder?
That's the great look.
-It pretty much is.
-If you wish to do one more call, but if you wanna call us,
but if you wanna call us, 1-888-900-CNET 2638 is our phone number.
Who are we gonna go to next here?
-We'll I think we've got Scott here holding on for an eon and he's got an interesting problem that I think BT's has got a little background on.
Scott, welcome to Holiday Help Desk.
-Hey thanks for taking the call.
-I am poised to buy 2 hopefully plasma TVs.
Some of them are high-end ones of Fred David's reviews.
The Samsung C8000 or C7000
or the Panasonic VTs.
My hang-up is that I really, like a lot of people, I really want to buy the Samsungs but I'm put off by what I hear about buzzing.
There's that often people get these sets home and there's a directional buzzing coming from like dead center, roughly the screen.
-Funny, you should??
-And some work-arounds have been, people has toyed with the right course and mind conditioning, I haven't really seen anything??
-Putting a blank and over it.
-that quite works.
-Yeah, that, you know what it is.
Basically, I was just reading up about
that just yesterday and I was gonna say well, you know, it's the right course or sometimes you know people have even done something that's silly and obviously you've done the reading of like screwing the back panel a little tighter, but beyond that, beyond those 2 fixes right, basically, what it is is the [unk] core for people that are listening, sometimes in buzzing plasmas or LCDs is that this is where some of the electric components are put together and it hits against their back surface of the plastic panel and causes it to buzz, so they suggest putting something like insolation tape on it to prevent it from
buzzing but that may not, in most cases, it does fix it.
It's not something that affects all of the TVs.
I even know you can if it really is an issue.
The manufacturer can come out.
I know it's a pain in the butt, but sends someone to do the repair.
Not everyone is comfortable with unscrewing the entire back of their TV set, pulling it off, messing around with the components in the back, but other than that, I mean you're pretty much??
That's exactly what you have to do.
-Yo, Scotty, you with me, hearing all that saying, "Yeah, buy a TV." It's not my job to go stick
foam-taped unto the back.
-Well, I am, but I actually don't have any compulsions about taking the back off, but??
-Doesn't that void the warranty?
-these are 3000 machines.
-Right, I think it probably does void the warranty.
-Well, honestly, I mean, the easy fix to it is to just buy it somewhere that has, like buy it somewhere like Cusco so that you know the return policies are gonna screw you and if you get it home and it's buzzing, just bring it back, and just you know I mean that's, it's our own kind of pain, but if you were already willing to be able to drive there and put it in the back of a truck, you could always just sort of you know, just keep changing it back until you
get one that doesn't.
The closest place that has any kind of decent deal was, you know, an hour and a half ride.
-Well, I wanna look at something else until the??
There's a BestBuy near me but they don't have these.
-Or they're not very, they're not really good deals right now.
-Now, Scott, just to address, you know, one of your questions was between also deciding between the two TV sets, why would you, why might you go on 1 direction versus the other, and you've read [unk] Myer's reviews pretty thoroughly.
Obviously, the VT25 is like the highest rated,
you know, TV that we have for both 2D and 3D performance.
I think though, obviously, if you look at the pricing for like a 50-inch model, you're gonna get probably a little more bang for your buck for the Samsung because it will cost somewhere around, you know, like $500 less for the same model size.
The main difference I think when you get to that point though is that, the 3D performance on the VT25 is probably gonna be even??
The difference between 2D and 3D is probably even gonna be better with a 3D performance than the Panasonic??
-versus the 3D gap on the Samsung based on, you know,
the refresh rate, and how it displays that.
-I don't know if 3D is a priority for you, but that might be a difference maker, A the price and B the 3D performance.
-Yeah, it's a nice??
I wasn't, I wasn't, I didn't start out shopping for a 3D model, but it's a nice to have.
Hey, Scott, thanks for the call.
-Good luck with your hunt.
Find the TV that doesn't require you to have to go??
-fussed with all the time.
-I think that sometimes happens later on.
-It's something that happens right out of the box.
-I am thinking, I am thinking given the inconvenience of your shopping situation, you should probably go
with the unknown quantity.
-Yeah, it's an hour and a half from the next??
-Skip the Samsung, yeah.
-Yeah, it's a long, that's a long whole to go.
-Alright folks, Lori, stick around.
We need you to stick around for some more camera and camcorder talk and coming up after a very short break, we're gonna be talking to the folks at Walmart.com, the online side to check in on their Cyber Monday deals and how things have been going there.
We'll be back with that as Holiday Helpdesk continues right after this.
-Can you really rid the world of terrorists?
-Why didn't the government prepare for the worst?
Have you ever said to the President, "I think you're wrong?" This story is just breaking.
-I'm Katie Couric in the heart of New York City in [unk].
In above the trench zone, here in Port-au-Prince.
-A world of difference every evening.
The CBSCB News with Katie Courie.
-Your TV may be beautiful but it only does TV.
-What if you could
control everything you love about TV and the Internet all on one screen?
Movies, shows, web videos, e-mails, social networks?
What if the TV of tomorrow is here today?
Say hello to Smart TV.
Imagine the possibilities with the performance of Intel inside your TV.
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See our stories anytime, anywhere, available in the App Store now.
-Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Holiday Helpdesk.
Phones are up at 888-900 CNET, 888-900 2638.
You can also e-mail us, email@example.com, a lot faster to get in on the phone, but think about that in the weeks to go in between these shows, get your question together, especially if it's really
detailed and send that to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Okay now, joining us on the phone as we promised earlier is Kelly Thompson.
She's VP of Merchandizing for Walmart.com and Kelly, welcome to Holiday Helpdesk.
Oop, sorry, okay Kel, I gotta put you on the phone first.
Now, you can talk to me.
-Hi, is this Brian?
-With Molly and Brian Tong, good to have you on board.
-Thank you, nice to be here.
-So, thank you.
Tell us about Cyber Monday, I mean, general terms.
Every year, Cyber Monday is this big crash to get out there and get people
great deals online.
What's different about this year?
-Well this year at Walmart.com, we started it early.
So we started Cyber Week yesterday on Sunday, and basically, we're gonna give customers 6 days to save.
The other thing that's different is that we've got more assortments.
So we've got deep savings on 150 items which is about 25% more than we had last year, and then finally, I think the free shipping is very important to our customers so we've got free shipping on
nearly 60,000 items including all electronics and that's with no minimum purchase, and we believe that lets the customers put that money right back into their holiday budget, so we're pretty pleased about that.
-We're about the tech stuff, electronics here, what are some of the categories that are really moving well with your customers, maybe some that surprised you?
-Well, you know, honestly, there haven't been a lot of big surprises.
We've been watching the customers all year long and Cyber Week is really about offering, you now, amazing deals that we think they'll respond to from listening to them all year,
so you know, TVs, HD TVs are incredibly strong.
We've got a nice element 42-inch LED TV for $449.
You're seeing the customers really kind of, you know, the family center around the TV.
Kind of it's the heart of the home, you know enjoying movie night and that sort of thing.
We've also got a Sony PlayStation 3, there's entertainment value bundle.
Again, thinking about the holidays and gift giving for the entire family.
You know, you see this trend in video games where families are spending time together
playing video games.
And then finally, digital cameras have also been really strong and I think, a couple of years ago, were it used to be all about the point and shoot, you know, we still do a great business in the point and shoot but we've got you know the digital SLR cameras have been trending.
You know, we've got a great Kodak Easyshare 14 megapixel with the big zoom lens.
So, the way I see that is that customer is, you know spending more time, you know valuing experiences more and really wants to take the time and
capture those memories in a really meaningful way and have you know, great digital print to digital images to show for that.
Those are some of the things that we've been seeing play out and then iPod Touch has been a phenomenal seller and we've got a great deal with an accessories kit starting from $210.
You know, that's a strong seller as well.
The Apple products always do actually.
-With all that stuff, all that stuff I get with that iPod Touch.
-That's a lot of swagger for that iPod Touch.
-Well, hopefully that helps you enjoy that iPod
Touch a little bit.
-What are you gonna do, sweep the floor everyday after a big rush of customers and put in little bags for them, that's great.
-Kelly, are you finding that online traffic is??
because you're obviously known as a big store retailer but you've got a lot of online deals and we've been hearing a lot about how Black Friday sales really, in some cases, moved online this year.
Were you finding that as well?
-You know, we've been really, really pleased with the traffic that we've seen, you know, through Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and after Cyber Week, so I would say from our perspective,
we're very pleased with, you know, the amount of customers that are coming online and really it's, you know, the job of myself and my team is to make sure that we're, you know, working hard to delight the customers with the great deals, so it's really great when you have something that you want that also serves something that you need and we're actually seeing that play out in the trends.
You know, we think that traffic will be strong to the sites, you know, for the remainder of the holiday season and our job is just to work hard, to continue to work hard to delight the customers with products and price and convenience.
I appreciate it Kelly.
Thanks for being with us.
-Alright, take care.
-Kelly Thompson, VP of Merchandizing for Walmart.com.
Now before we get back to more of your calls, at 888-900 CNET, I've got a gift idea for you for hooking up your TV to the internet, this whole cord cutting thing without having to go buy a new TV or even game console, or even a Blu Ray deck, cheaper, cheaper, cheaper, come down here as we take a look at the Roku XDS.
If you wanna join the hot new trend of streaming full screen video to your
television without having to connect a computer to it.
The Roku XD series of setup boxes are a very strong choice.
I'm Brian Cooley from CNET here to shine the product spotlight on the Roku XDS.
The original Roku TV boxes were Netflix only, but even at that they were a big hit.
This new XD series offers
even more, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Pandora Radio, MLB, Podcast and more channels while the box itself is less.
It's much smaller and some models start as low as $59.
The Roku XD boxes all had at least 720p hi-def output, built-in WiFi, as well as wired Ethernet, and an HTMI output, as well as the simple little remote.
And the XDS we're looking at is top of the line at $99
and for the additional money, it includes that latest dual-band wireless for solid WiFi playback of even HD material though you will need a compatible router to take advantage of that.
It also steps up the HD output on the back to 1080p.
It has component and optical outputs along with HTMI and adds an instant replay function as well as this USB port for playing video or photo files off a thumb drive.
It really is easy to connect and setup.
It took no more than a few
Once you get it plugged in, you will have to do some 1-time authorization on a computer and to enable your accounts on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Vimeo, etc.
Aside from the marquee channels, you can add or drop others ala cart.
But have you noticed what's missing?
No Youtube or Apple iTunes support.
And Hulu has been announced but not yet enabled as of our shoot date in early November.
Once you request the title from any of these channels, you'll have a buffering time
of around 6 to 15 seconds in our experience.
While that's happening, you'll see a little array of dots.
These tell you the level of quality you'll be getting which depends on both the quality of the source you're about to see and the speed of your internet connection.
The box will scale the quality down if it must to keep the stream moving smoothly.
Most folks prefer that.
Navigating back and forth within the video is not as smooth as when you're watching the DVD or a computer file, but considering it's a stream out on the internet, it's pretty good.
The big question is whether to go with a Roku XD series or the latest Apple TV box.
Now, if you're heavily invested in video on iTunes, wanna use Apple's airplay feature, or wanna watch computer files without first putting them on a thumb drive, Apple TV might be your choice.
But we feel the combination of content offerings, great interface, ease of use and low price on the Roku XDs, make them a very strong series of content.
I'm Brian Cooley with the product spotlight.
-Tons of interest in that Roku boxes here.
Welcome back to the Holiday Helpdesk, let's get to your calls because I know that's what you're really here for.
We've got, let's see, online we have Ben from Texas.
Are you there Ben?
I have a question, I'm looking for an MP3 player for my son and he's not impressed with the new Nano and we were??
-we kinda considered an older Nano that we got on Clarence but we've missed that, at least here locally, and I've been looking at the Sony Walkman that are actually priced pretty well and they say they play AAC files but I wanted to call and see if any of you know if they would play the non-protected AAC files that we already have in our iTunes.
-Yeah, BT is nodding because he just did some editorial or roundup about this or participated in one, I think the
different MP3 players, so those Sony Walkman BT, yes or no?
-Yeah, what we do here in your phone.
-It's a good player.
-You guys take a look at my screen right now.
We have a list actually of some of the top MP3 players that are on the market that play AAC files and these are the non-protected AAC files because a lot of MP3 players actually don't.
So, I know one of your conditions where you're looking for kind of price point somewhere around $100, is that correct?
-You know, the reason we're doing this is that the old Nano ended up in the washing
machine so it's very bad.
-Yes, that can be a problem.
-So, if you check this out, the Zune HD, great interface but kind of a little price here.
If you look at the entire list, I would say one that you can, definitely, the Walkman line to support it, but I would really look at the Sandisk Sansa Fuze line.
Not only does it have great value, not only you do you get it under $100 but it has an FM radio.
It has an equalizer.
Sansa has been known for bringing the best value and feature rich MP3 player for the price
on the market.
-And the only line that's detergent proof, which is important [unk]
-I don't know about that.
-He's joking, just to be clear.
-I don't want it??
-Come on, you know I'm not joking.
-You didn't hear that one from me but Ben I think if you're really looking for one and you know the interface is clean, it's a nice device.
The design is nice as well.
I think you should try and take a look at the SanDisk Sana Fuze line.
-Go to it.
Do not bathe that child ever.
It could go all wrong.
Let's go to Brandon.
He is in Pennsylvania.
Brandon, welcome to Holiday Help Desk.
How can B and B and M help you?
-Turn on your speakers by the way.
-I was thinking about buying a new camera, either the Nikon CoolPix S6000 or the Canon SD1400, and they're pretty similar except for, I think, the Nikon is 14 megapixels and the Canon is 12.
Is there anything else different that makes one stand out with another?
-Lori, what do you think?
-Yeah, I'm just double checking, but I'm gonna go with the image quality on the SD1400 is probably better.
And that's really more important.
Actually, the image quality on the S6000 isn't quite that good.
-Now, Brandon, in particular, what kind of-- what kind of shooting do you do?
What kind of particulars do you have?
Do you wanna have good low-light ability?
Do you wanna have a particularly wide lens?
I'm not even sure what's the difference between these two, but let's sound it up.
-And it's not about the--
like movie shooting too.
We are gonna use this stuff like a movie camera as well as a digital camera.
-Okay, well, one thing to remember that a lot of people don't think about when they plan to use point-and-shoot as their movie camera is the clips are limited length.
It's not like you can shoot your entire kid's play with it.
It's good for like grabbing the winning goal, if that's the length of the clip you really wanna do on these things.
-The other thing is basically on the
S6000, the lens isn't great.
The pictures are soft, but it's fast.
I think the SD1400 delivers better photos.
-Well, Lori let me ask you some of the megapixels thing.
We seemed to have hit the plateau, right?
We're not heading toward [unk] anytime soon.
-Notice how I keep pretending nobody is mentioning resolution.
-It doesn't matter this point.
-Just to be clear.
You don't think the 1400 is better 'cause it's a 14-megapixel camera, right?
-It has nothing to do with the resolution.
Basically, once you
hit up above 10 megapixels, on the point-and-shoots, you're just getting more noise.
It's cheap resolution.
You're not getting in good sense.
That's a good way of putting it.
It's very cheap resolution.
Brandon, that's your answer.
Pretty clear there.
Go for the SD1400.
-That was easy.
-Alright, thank you.
Let's get another one here.
This is Alaska calling.
We've got Linda this one.
Calling about the, oh scanning film negatives.
She's got Lori's number.
-You guys are gonna just go photo film make--
-Don't try this at home.
go [unk] geek out and to do that together.
Alright, Linda what's your question?
-I would like to get a negative scanner because I've got lots and lots of negatives, and I'd like to digitize them so I can share them with my family.
-And I don't know exactly if where to start.
-Let me step in before I let Lori answer it because the key is what's lots and lots.
-Don't do it yourself.
Seriously, don't do it
-Send it out to a service.
Find a good local place that will do it for you.
Scanning film is the most tedious and it's difficult because it doesn't scan very well the first time.
You'll end up having to retouch stuff.
You're so much better getting somebody else to do it especially if this is a one-time thing where you just have old film, that you just wanna get it scanned and have it digitized.
If you're planning on shooting more film and scanning more, then maybe it would make
sense to buy your own scanner, but for what sounds like a one-shot deal, you're better off having somebody else do it.
-Alright, do you have a recommendation on any of those services?
Have you ever used any yourself?
-'Cause that's a little scary.
-Yes, it is.
If they get lost.
-And I have a feeling Linda they're probably isn't some place super local for you.
-Where are you located?
-She's in Alaska.
-Lori right on.
-We think it, she says it.
-Well, Linda is so sweet.
-You are on.
Well, [unk] scan cafÃ?Â©.
We can bring--
-these guys up here.
-They send it to Malaysia.
-Oh, that sounds like fun--
-What else we got?
-I mean I had a long discussion with them about, you know, they go through all these hoops to make you feel very secure about the fact that they're sending it to Malaysia, but--
-For the low-cost labor, yeah.
-Well, they're-- Just-- Just for an industry standard price, they're doing 29 cents of frame, is that what I'm seeing here, that can add up.
-If you've got thousands of what, 4-shot strips.
-It is-- you know what?
Try-- In Alaska, there are maybe tourist-oriented places that will do it.
I remember, you know, when I was on vacation in Canada, I had some drugstore processed my slides for me.
They came out terrible, but--
-Well, I thought she's with some drug dealer.
It was so--
-I don't know why my mind put in there.
-My vacations aren't that interesting.
-But they are.
-So you try some of the tourist towns in Alaska.
But there are maybe some local photo finishers who,
who still just because you're-- Actually, because you're far out, there are maybe some local places that do it ironically.
-But there-- And then I guess my second thing would be to try places in California.
It's-- I know it's sort of a false sense of security 'cause you're not sending them that far relative to I guess around the world, but--
-But there are, I think, there are lots of places in Northern California that could do it.
-I can't make specific recommendations because I don't want to, not having tried
a lot of these places myself.
-You've gotta send--
-your film to Malaysia.
-Your best bet is to go online.
-And to be--
-fair-- Like to be fair, scan cafÃ?Â© does have a guarantee.
-I mean they do it,--
-you know, there are like the 10 reasons for safe.
They've got all that,--
-you know-- They are at least a reputable company--
-Yeah, without slamming them.
-with good consumer reviews.
-Just pointing how the business works.
-So if you feel--
-And you know--
-okay about, you know--
-I supposed-- And I would start with say a small batch definitely.
-Don't send them all at once to the first place that you decide to pick, but- And I mean if you are-- If you do feel like
you really wanna do it yourself, I would look online for used Nikon Coolscan, say 5000 that, that-- Well, the 5000 may be the higher end one.
They, they--It's like 55, 500 and 5000.
So I guess the 500 is the one you want.
But definitely, I mean nobody, none of the major manufacturers makes slide scanners anymore.
So you gotta go on eBay and get like a--
-like you say a Nikon or a Minolta Dimage II or something.
-And those can be had--
-There are some--
-for a couple hundred bucks.
-There are some lower like Plustek I think.
Manufacturers like that still make some cheap slide scanners and, you know, and if it's cheap enough, it doesn't hurt to buy it and try it.
It really depends upon your financial situation.
-Yeah, and when you get your scanner Linda, try the software that comes with them; it tends to be uniformly horrible.
-Remember the try out of the software called VueScan, which is kind of what all the scanning geeks love and you can download that.
Do and try it before you
buy it at whole deal to a nice little download, and it does a very nice job of making your negatives look better 'cause as Lori points out, it's not easy.
-Yeah, especially some of them are black and white.
-That's really hard.
They come out real weird.
Now, that's it.
Go have fun.
That was a very scary answer Linda.
-Linda, are you there?
-Hi Linda, thanks.
-Sorry we put you off entirely from ever digitizing your film.
Well, those children's memories are gonna go away with that generation.
-I have a quick question for Lori actually.
-been like if I were calling in.
This is what I wanna know.
Why are we still not seeing more cameras with Wifi built in 'cause I have to say I don't love the picture--
-quality on my phone, but that's all I use, and I kind of feel like these guys are putting themselves out of business increasingly 'cause I'm not gonna get out my point-and-shoot.
It's because that, that bumps it up into another price class.
It's, you know, the Wifi--
-Does it really [unk].
I think you're saying that 'cause my phone is not that much.
I mean, you know, [unk].
But think about, phones are subsidized.
-You're not, you know-- If-- I supposed if some--
-But a Kindle has Wifi.
You know, for 150--
-bucks, they can put Wifi in a Kindle 3, why can't they put--
-Well, because they have a cheap LCD compared to a camera.
The cameras, they have to-- You know, the LCD, I think, is one of the most expensive components.
People-- People are not demanding it the way, you know.
I see a lot of journalists demanding it.
-But I don't see a lot of people demanding it.
-And the question is really, why doesn't our camera phone get better sooner instead of why isn't there a Wifi in the camera.
-'Cause that's already there.
-In this case.
Brian is exactly
The other Brian.
-It does start to feel like a standalone GPS thing now, I guess.
It's that, you know, I'm sort of starting to think like, look, at this point, the cameras are-- I mean, the iPhone 4, that camera is amazing.
One of the best cameras ever made of any class of device.
-And you got to wonder--
-how long is the point-and-shoot gonna be able to stand alone.
-Well, the manufacturers are increasingly supporting the Eye-Fi cards,--
-which allows you to, you know-- If you want it, it's actually a descent Wifi solution that this-- It can be
-But frankly, the implementations of Wifi I've see in cameras have all been significantly flawed--
-for one reason or another.
-Yeah, a lot of them only work over the land.
Others work upload over the air.
I mean they seem to have two different philosophies on how to use Wifi.
-They drain the battery.
-Even just the browser interface to get access to them is very hard.
Let's get one more call we've got for you before we let you go out here.
It's coming from Gil who's in San Diego.
Hello Gil, welcome to Holiday Help Desk.
-Hey, guys how are you?
What's your question for Lori?
You're on the photo
This is more of what I should tell people to get me for Christmas and--
-The best kind of gift.
So, I have a point-and-shoot.
I have an iPhone 4 and I have 2 small kids and, you know, the frustrating thing is the speed with which the cameras--
-take the pictures and then the blurry image I get after--
-So I'm thinking of getting a DSLR like an entry level 1, then maybe get better at that, but I need-- I'm curious what's the best route to go.
An SLR-- The reason why, I mean Wal-Mart women said that they were trending is because they are the only cameras that are really fast enough for kids and pets, which is what everybody, you know, if their, you know, point and shoot, users are routinely disappointed when they're trying to shoot their family photos.
-Any one in particular you recommend that is, you know-- Again, I'm not interested in becoming the happiest photographer, it mostly is gonna be on automatic.
-I probably say the best deal for an entry level
was the Pentax K-x.
It's really fast.
It's-- To me, the biggest drawback of it are the colors aren't great, but I tend to be really picky about color and a lot of people probably won't notice the difference,--
-How about the Canon T2?
-but it's fast--
-Yeah, the Canon T2i, I've been looking at that.
-Well, the Canon T2i is a very good camera.
It's just more expensive.
That's-And it's also better if you wanna just try to shoot some video.
So, I know the other thing is a lot of people when they move up from a point-and-shoot
don't wanna sacrifice the ability to take the video clips.
-It doesn't-- You can't do auto focus with it, but you know, if you're subject is at a set distance, then you should be okay with just leaving the focus where it is.
-How about these cameras that alight.
They're sort of like DSLRs.
They have that kind of penta prism body, but they don't have a detachable lens.
What do we call that class?
-You mean the-- Well, they're generally megazooms because they all--
-They all-- They all have the, you know, 20 to 30 whatever X lenses these
-They are not fast enough.
-Oh, they're not?
That's a big problem as people want them for just the situation, but they-- they just have really-- They're slow.
-Those are basically point-and-shoots--
-a big ole zoom lens.
And the lenses, because the lenses are so long, that actually slows down a lot of focus in some situations.
I have to say to our caller.
Personally, I have seen-- I know someone who just got a T2i and I am gonna get it just because the pictures that I've seen come off it.
that has displayed in the videos looked really good.
-And you ever--
-It's an excellent camera.
-I mean they cost more.
-It's a little expensive.
-Yeah, they can cost more than that.
-[unk] picture and the reason why you went with the Pentax more than the T2?
-In general, Gil you're gonna love any DSLR that we rate well, that Lori and her team think are good because it's such a different class of camera.
-It changes everything.
-You guys good?
-Yeah, we're good like this.
-thanks for calling.
-You guys, you're done?
-Yeah, I guess.
I don't know.
[unk] ask him the
coffee, do you mind?
What do I do boss, one more call?
Let's do it.
Here we go.
Well, that was a bye bye Will.
It's too late.
We're gonna go to Brett in Palm Springs.
Why do even ask if I'm not gonna listen, right?
Alright, Brett In Palm Springs.
Brett, welcome, you are the last caller in Holiday Help Desk.
Brett, turn your speakers down.
They're killing us.
-There we go.
-Okay Brett what's on your mind?
-You guys, can you hear me?
I am a student and I'm looking for a cheap
buy for Window 7 Home Premium and I can't figure out anything.
I've looked everywhere, it's all expensive.
-Oh, you know, you know, it turns out, if you get a laptop for 200 dollars, they throw [unk].
-We have some--
-No, seriously like--
-it turn-- I think the best way to probably do it is to stock the Cheapskate blog until he has one of those amazing network [unk].
-I've got a laptop for about 2 weeks before Windows 7 came out.
Or eBay the one that you get with Windows 7 and use the restored-- No, it's not gonna work.
-No, it's not gonna work.
-It didn't come with an,
with an upgrade option, I mean like a coupon for an upgrade?
-No, it didn't.
You know what, you should take it back then actually.
I mean that's just bizarre.
-Well, when the best--
-But now it's too old looking.
-The best price is eBay.
I mean it's always eBay.
-I'm gonna bet longer than 2 weeks.
I think I'll have it like a couple of days past the time I could have opted for the [unk].
-Well, you said you're a student, academic discounts.
-Yeah, some pretty [unk].
Right, are you a student?
You said you're a student.
'Cause you're eligible for academic discount.
You can try and find it really cheap.
-Have you tried that Brett, student discount?
-I will try that.
-Yeah, try that.
-[unk] work for that?
-Hit eBay man.
That's where all the-- That's where all the rascally weird deals are and they're fine as long as you're sealed.
-If you go to Microsoft's website directly, and then through their store, they typically have an education section.
I'm not looking at it right now, but you can, you know, as a student, you can get 30% to even 50% off software titles like that.
-Yeah, do that.
-just go to Microsoft site.
I know we can't put up right now but navigate and you should be able to find a good deal if you're a student.
Thanks for that.
Good luck with your-- You are the Cheapskate.
You have a [unk] of the job.
Wooh that's it.
-Wooh, I know.
-Well, had enough?
-And that's for one week?
-Oh, we're good.
Lori thanks for being with us.
-Thank you so much Lori.
That was fun.
-I appreciate it.
Lori Grunin everybody, the digital diva there in New York City CNET headquarters.
That would wrap up our second edition of Holiday Help Desk.
We're back at you every Monday.
Three more to go, I think, right up until 20th of December and we're back next week.
This time, we're gonna have Best Buy on board with their best deals and CNET's laptop expert comes up next time; that's Dan Ackerman.
He'll be joining us also from the New York labs where Lori was coming in from.
So if you have a laptop or tablet question, netbook question, make sure you join us next week and we have the expert there.
It's 4 Eastern 1 Pacific as the Holiday Help Desk returns with myself, Brian Cooley, Molly Wood, and Brian Tong.
See you later.