Recently I have been fortunate to have some very positive consumer goods experiences, and each time I have thought to myself "gee, I should blog about this", so in the spirit of completely random things to blog about in one post, here you go…
Ricoh Aficio 3500N Color Laser Printer
I needed a new printer for my home office and there was no way I was going down the inkjet route again. Crikey, with what the cost of ink cartridges are these days it hardly makes sense to replace them, just go buy a new printer and save money. Color laser it was for me… but which one?
A little research revealed a couple of things, first being that there are some very competitive color lasers in the sub $500 range, and secondly, HP has some attractive printers but because their low end offerings don’t have Postscript engines on board (rely on your computer for the processing) they are much slower and HP recently jacked up the price of toner meaning that on a per page basis these printers aren’t nearly as competitive as they look upon first glance.
I ended up buying a Ricoh Aficio CL3500N printer and I have not been disappointed. My total cost on this was $450, which is frickin amazing for a 22ppm color laser! With the onboard Postscript engine this laser is blazing fast, has solid Mac OSX drivers, is fully networkable, and most importantly, the print quality is really impressive. With regard to consumeable prices, very reasonable.
I’ve had this for about a month now and can’t say enough good things about it, I’m really impressed with the amount of product they gave me for the money, and the print quality for images and text is noticeably good.
I love rental cars, seriously I do. Each trip gives me an opportunity to drive something different and because I love cars, all kinds of cars, it’s just good fun for me to plunk around for a week pushing every button, turning every dial, and putting the car through the paces.
On our trip to Boston we had a Chrysler Pacifica (which judging by the number of them on the road are quite popular in that region) and it was a very nice ride. The only problem was that it has big mushy suspension and really tall overdrive gears, which adds up to Jeff getting a speeding ticket for doing 90mph from a MA state trooper. I liked the Pacifica, but didn’t find anything about it that stood out as excellent, it’s just a well built crossover and that’s certainly nothing to complain about.
In Denver I had a Jeep Liberty, which despite being kind of funky looking at first, ended up being a fun car to drive. The rental I drove had 13k miles on it, which is a good age for a car to see what rattles and other quality shortcomings are evident, especially in a rental. The Liberty was rock solid, which was surprising because it’s not a large vehicle. Comfortable to drive, relatively quiet (no rattles or knocking around), and appropriately quick, I enjoyed driving it for the week.
As my time with it progressed I found myself liking the rugged styling, which at first looked a little cartoonish. The interior layout was well thought out and visibility is outstanding. The only criticism I had is that the short wheelbase makes the car kind of twitching, but that’s something one would definitely get used to. That short wheelbase made it drop dead easy to park, I’ll say that.
Canon Powershot SD850 8 MP Camera
I really want to upgrade my Canon 20D digital SLR with the newly released 40D, but I also found myself wishing I had a good point-and-shoot camera to replace my aging Minolta. I bought a Canon Powershot SD850 and am loving it. There’s really nothing negative I can say about it other than I wish Canon would include something bigger than a 32mb card in it, c’mon the price of flash cards has plummeted so couldn’t they include something that holds more than a dozen photos?
With a Digic III chip, the Powershot has the latest in electronics and a bunch of interesting features like automatic face detection and image stabilization with optical 4x zoom. It’s also hard to believe that 8 megapixel cameras have gotten so small, this thing could get lost in your jacket pocket.
As with any camera, the meat on the bone is always going to be picture quality and the Powershot does not disappoint. Really, the images are just beautiful and I’m disappointed using my big SLR now… but I’ll take care of that later this month when I get the 40D. One other performance note is that the Powershot is a fast camera, and that’s always been a shortcoming of point-and-shoot models. Look for me to be carrying this around as a regular in my bag of stuff.