Affordable digital SLR, plasma TV vs. LCD, GPS for RV

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Distributed By McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Q. I am in search of a quality, user-friendly digital SLR camera. I have never owned one but have had many point-and-shoot cameras. I am wondering what you recommend for less than $800 that is beginner friendly and takes quality pictures.

Ellie Mendesh

A. These days you don’t even have to spend $600, let alone $800, to get a great starter outfit. You can currently buy an Olympus E-520 package with two kit zoom lenses for under $550 or a Pentax K2000 package with two lenses for $530. Not only are both manufacturers’ lenses excellent, but their zoom ranges also will allow you to cope with most any subject, near or far.

You could spend more for a more advanced camera body with a single lens, but I think for most people having two good lenses is much more meaningful than having a camera with higher specs and more bells and whistles.

Q: I understand the downsides to plasma TV vs. LCD TV include higher cost to operate plasma and if you look at it from an angle, it is washed out. I am not really concerned about the difference in power consumption, but the viewing angle is an issue. Have manufacturers figured this out yet?

Steve Sell

A. You actually have it backwards. It is LCD TVs that are prone to suffer from washing out at an angle, not plasma TVs. Plasma TVs are an emissive technology, meaning the imaging element itself emits light. LCDs use backlighting and are more prone to washing out at sharp viewing angles. Some of the latest LCD TVs use new backlighting technology and may be less prone to washout, so be sure to compare specific sets.

Though you do not care about the power issue, other readers may care, so I will address it as well. Modern plasmas have greatly reduced power requirements compared with their forebears, and the difference is now marginal. The Web site recently compared power consumption among leading TVs and said, “It can be seen in the tabulation that the Panasonic TC-P50G10, which includes Panasonic’s new neoPDP energy consumption reduction technology, sits just above the top of the energy consumption band for the LCD HDTVs considered. It may be time to downgrade the perceived significance of the power consumption advantage of LCD HDTVs over plasma HDTVs.” You can read the complete article at

Q: I read your column about GPS units with interest. We’re still traveling with the ole map! We travel with a high profile (12 feet 3 inches) RV and have been unable to find a GPS that will filter out roads with low overpasses. We’ve held off buying a GPS until we can find one that better suits our needs in this regard. Can you help?


A. The Garmin 465T is the one for you. You can program in your truck, trailer or RV’s dimensions and it will take care of the rest, steering you on a route safe for your vehicle. At $599 list, the $465 street price it may seem pricey; but once you have experienced the benefits of GPS (especially for long trips) you will wonder how you ever did without.

Life on the road is why people get an RV in the first place, after all!

Send Don your questions

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