Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stroller Decision - BOB Revolution

My previous post on strollers is here. I've always favored the BOB strollers, they aren't too expensive, and yet are constructed incredibly well. Out and about, people using them always seem to have enough storage, and can easily move their child around no matter how big they are. The one minor drawback is the size, so we'll probably get a smaller umbrella style or Quinny Zapp for use in tight spaces or travel. As of Tuesday, we are the proud owners of a brand new BOB Revolution in Mesa Orange.

If you've ever thought of getting one, now is the time. REI is having and end of summer sale, with 20% off. I have not seen these prices available anywhere else on the internet. I also discovered that BOB makes a conversion kit to make the stroller into a 3 wheeled cargo cart. Maybe that's why you never see them on Craigslist. Hurry, to save 20%, place your order before 9/1.

We chose to go to our local REI store in Alexandria VA, since it's close to my work. This saved us the shipping costs. The sale is both online and in the store. If you can't make it to the store before 9/1, you can always buy online and pickup in the store later.

Back to our decision, you will find that the BOB strollers get very high marks at several compare sites. In the running for us were the Baby Jogger City series, BOB Revolution, Bugaboo Cameleon or Frog, and Stokke Xplory. These higher end strollers covered a series of uses, some off road, some semi-joggers, some combinations. I like the Stokke, with it's elevated reversable seat. What eventually won us over on the BOB was evaluating the uses it which it will be used. We live in a neighborhood with several quiet streets, but no sidewalks. We also plan on taking it to our downtown, across uneven surfaces, and to a regular vacation house where the driveway is crushed shells and often we cut through the yard. To do all of these, we needed something with good shocks, larger wheels, sturdy construction, and we had to like the way it looked and performed. The way BOB uses fabric at the base instead of plastic, was appealing, the tires were in the right size range, it has amazing ability over rough surfaces.

As I stated before, the only drawback on these strollers, is their ability to travel. At 23lbs (10kg), it's heavy, and the folded size isn't exactly a carry on for an airplane. For travel we're eyeing the Quinny Zapp, because of it's folded size alone. Inside the case, you might not even have to gate check the bag, and one thing I want to be sure of is getting out of the airplane as quickly as possible with a little one. Also in the running are the Inglesina Zippy, and Maclaren Volo. Of course there are always the simple umbrella strollers you see at every store. Cost vs. function may lean more towards costs on the small stroller.


One resource that I found especially helpful were the video reviews posted by Baby Gizmo. You can check out the videos either on their site or on YouTube.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New SLR Cameras

The field of entry level SLRs is getting pretty crowded, with my top 3 favorites each having features, but no one having all features. I'm looking to upgrade from the point-and-shoot, to a digital SLR. Even though these are considered entry level, the complexities, and possibilities are pro level compared to what was available a few years ago.

I'm looking at models by Canon, Kodak and Sony. In http://www.popphoto.com/, the 2008 editors choice in this field is the Canon Rebel XSi, last year the top model was the Nikon D80, and after many years of using point-and-shoot, and considering the shots used for this blog, the Live View and moveable LCD make the Sony A350 is very appealing.

Pros
Canon XSi - good color reproduction, uses SDHC cards like my existing Canon (and laptops), has live view, but has a number of limitations.
Nikon D80 - Feels good in the hand, compatible with a wide range of older Kodak lenses, including older auto focus lenses that don't have the motor in the lens. Uses SD cards. No live view. A good friend uses Kodak, and can offer free advice and tips for this model. Nice Kodak 18-200mm lens with optical stabilization.
Sony A350 - Live View, Movable LCD screen for shots over a crowd, second place in 2008 editors choice from Popular Photography. Best price.

Cons
Canon XSi - limitations on live view, no Canon 18-200mm lens
Nikon D80 - expensive
Sony A350 - worst performance in low light situations. Uses compact flash, not SD.

I'm leaning toward the Sony, since my purpose for getting the camera doesn't include pro-level enlargements of photos. At best, I'm probably looking at 11x17. Plus with the baby on the way, I have other expenses, and the lower cost makes this camera more appealing. Sony is relatively new, but this camera is born from the Konica-Minolta product lines. However, it will require getting a compact flash to SDHC card adaptor, since popping the SD card in the laptop is the easiest way to download photos.

[UPDATE 8/28] Nikon has announced the new D90, which includes in addition to Live View, some type of movie recording. Will this drive down the price on the D80? If they do Live View in a way that doesn't impact auto focus speed like the Sony A300/350, will that lower the price on the Sonys since there is now added competition? I've been eyeing the Sony A300, after I decided there was no real reason for me to need 14M pixels. I wonder if Sony is trying to think of a way of picking off the live view mode as a movie? Decisions, decisions.