With iPods, PDAs, cell phones and countless other electronic gadgets consuming our lives, how do you wade through the USB-cable mess to figure out which one to choose?
Will you even understand how to use it, or will it end up in the closet along with the Betamax?
You come here. We'll look at the stuff you can afford and then use without taking an introductory class. I'll test each item out, and then report back to you.
One of the questions I hear most frequently is: How do you get video onto that PlayStation Portable, iPod, SanDisk Sansa or other portable media device?
It's usually easy enough to upload your music, a few pictures or maybe a podcast, but most of us haven't taken the time to go to the next step: Make your portable a truly hand-held video player.
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At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last January, I bumped into an upstart company that easily allows you to transfer TV programs, movies, sports games and even concerts onto your portable media player for free.
Basically, the iRecord — $199 at http://www.irecord.com and various retailers — is only a bit bigger than a deck of cards and has two buttons on top. A white button turns it on, and the red button records.
All the user has to do is connect a TV, TiVo or DVD player using standard RCA or S-video plugs, and then run the single USB output port to an iPod, cell phone, PSP or even a USB storage device.
You can then transfer live TV or something you have on your TiVo or DVD player to your handheld by pushing one button.
Think of it as an old-fashioned VCR.
Remember when you wanted to record a TV show and would put a tape into the VCR and push "record" when your show started?
It's the same idea with iRecord. Simply push the red button and the program is automatically compressed and transferred to your device. Easy as that — no other programs, software or confusing steps needed.
If there is a drawback, it's that iRecord transfers in real time. So I usually set it up and then leave the house or do other projects. That way, when I'm on a plane to the latest hurricane or foreign country, I have programs or concerts that are fresh, clear and easy to play and watch.
iRecord also upgrades the software all of the time; the latest upgrades added a pre-programming function and some new video output formats.
You can now also take video from your personal camera and send it directly and easily into these same portable media devices.
What I like about this unit is that it is small, very user-friendly and there aren't a ton of cables. Also, there's no extra software to upload and learn.
Next up, the cameras of the future.
I currently carry several cameras in my gadget bag, both digital still cameras and video cameras.
One that I enjoy and one that has come in quite handy is the Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2. Basically, it's a compact 720p high-definition video camera that also sports a 7.1 megapixel still camera.
For a little tyke, the thing shoots pretty well and syncs to my PC easily. As I'm also a Mac user, I had to read up just a bit to get the video to load into my iMovie software, but once it was on the desktop, it worked well.
I recently used this camera during our reports on O.J. Simpson from Las Vegas.
He was headed back to Florida and airport officials wouldn't allow any of the large television cameras inside the terminal, so I headed inside with my little Sanyo.
Security officials allowed me to use this personal video camera, and I got footage of O.J. along with his security detail just a few minutes later.
The camera performed perfectly and even kept a stable picture despite the crush of people inside the airport.
Here you can see the video — it has been compressed for Internet viewing — but on my camera and on my TV at home it looks HD clear.
The audio is the microphone on the camera, nothing external plugged in.
You will need the new SD HC card for recording. No tapes needed, and you can find an SD HC card with reader in most electronic stores for about $85 with 4GB of memory. So far, I have what seems like an hour of video and the card isn't filled.
As for the still camera feature, one more megapixel would be nice, but then again, this is for video and they have improved on the quality, or so they say.
But now Sanyo has upgraded the video quality big-time. Last week, Sanyo announced the new Xacti HD1000, which has full 1080i HD video and also a 4-megapixel camera. My gadget-addicted friend Greta van Susteren has already ordered one.
I look forward to taking this new camera in the field and seeing whether a few of the kinks in the older model have been ironed out.
Like the Xacti HD2, the HD1000 fits in your hand like a small pistol. It'll be on sale in about month for $799.
The HD2 can be found all over the Web for $599, and I am still very happy with its performance.
Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.