Backing up from a camera to a flash drive, car stereo woes

Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 3, 2007

Q: I have a 2GB portable flash drive. Is there any way to backup my digital camera pictures directly to the drive when I’m on vacation?

-Ken Byrom, Cranberry, PA

A: Wow, this is a great idea! I do not know of a way and as far as I know you must connect the flash drive to a computer and use it as a conduit to transfer pictures from the memory card to the flash drive. If any readers know of a device that will allow you to do such a transfer, please let me know.

My recent column regarding backing up pictures and memory card failures generated a lot of mail. A few readers recommended backing up pictures to online sharing or file storage, which is possible if you have time and a fast internet connection while on vacation.

Given the popularity of the iPod, readers who own one and are interested in backing up their digital camera pictures should check out devices that download from the camera to the iPod, using the iPod’s hard drive as the backup device. The best one I have seen is from Apple themselves, called the Apple iPod Camera connector. It plugs into the iPod and provides a USB port for connecting the digital camera for quick and easy image transfer. It’s only $29 and gives digital photographers a good excuse to buy an iPod!

Q: I have a 2005 Toyota Camry and the sound system seems quite distorted. Is there someplace I can take it that will check the radio & cd player & speaker system to see which is performing poorly, or if both are at fault? I am led to believe it is usually the speaker system, but want to find out if the radio unit puts out a good distortion free signal before upgrading the speakers.

-Archie Landin, Minneapolis, MN

A: Since your car is a 2005 it is likely that it is still under Toyota’s bumper-to-bumper factory warranty, so I would recommend taking it to a Toyota dealer. Before we do we should look at the problem and the possible causes so you do not end up with a distorted or damaged system again.

First of all, my kudos for wanting to improve the sound quality of your car’s audio system. If you ordered the high-end system from the factory, replacing the speakers is much less likely to make an improvement and may in fact sound worse than it did stock. If you have the car’s basic sound system, replacing the original equipment speakers with quality models from a speaker manufacturer will yield a large improvement in sound quality at minimal cost, without altering the factory appearance of the vehicle. I did this myself with my 1997 Miata, replacing the original speakers with a model from Boston Acoustics. Not only did it sound much better, but it could play louder, too. This is because the Boston speakers made twice as much volume per watt than the factory speakers. It is the equivalent of doubling the head unit’s amplifier power and the specification is called “sensitivity” or “efficiency”.

It is possible you have damaged speakers by playing the system too loud. This causes the amplifier to create distortion, which damages the speakers. If you have been playing it loudly, this is almost certainly what caused the problem. If you replace the speakers with upgraded models, look for ones with a high sensitivity rating.

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