Kodak digital cameras vs. others, digital cable company ratings

 Week of May 16, 2004

Q: Did you recently write a review about a Kodak digital camera saying it was very good for the money?

Dick Smollen, Minneapolis, MN

A: No, that was not me. My own tests and reviews I have read tell me that Kodak’s EasyShare cameras are good, but just a bit behind their competitors in terms of image quality. This has made it hard for me to recommend them as I try to narrow my recommendations to the absolute best products available. Right now I think that Canon is doing the best job of any digital camera manufacturer. Their product line is excellent across the board and prices are competitive with other manufacturers.

While I constantly test and recommend products, there are several reasons I do not write reviews. First of all, I reply to reader emails and between that and writing my column, I am plenty busy as it is! Second, many of my readers have told me they prefer a straightforward, direct recommendation from me rather than a bunch of reviews to sift through. Last of all, there are plenty of people writing detailed product reviews and I think readers would much rather have someone to answer to their questions than another product reviewer.

If you are interested in reading digital camera reviews and making direct comparisons, the best place I have found is Jeff Keller’s Digital Camera Resource Page, found at www.dcresource.com. Jeff’s tests and writing are very down-to-earth and tend to be easy for novices to understand.

Q: I have Cox Communications for cable service and I am thinking of upgrading to digital cable from regular cable. What kind of impact would digital cable have on the picture of my seven year-old TV, and would there be an improvement on recorded media such as VHS tapes or recordable DVDs?

Rod Bottger, Wichita, KS

A: Cable quality varies from company to company, city to city, and from digital to analog. There is no guarantee that digital cable will produce a better picture than analog cable, and it is possible for it to be worse. For a very basic description of how digital cable works, check the past columns archive at www.donlindich.com and read the column dated February 6, 2003.

I do not know the status of the Cox Cable system in Wichita, but other than reader comments about the lack of network HDTV channels on the Cox system, I have never received a complaint from a Cox cable customer. A check of cable company ratings at www.jdpower.com shows Cox to have the highest reported image quality of any cable company. More telling to me is reports from fellow audio/video enthusiasts in other parts of the country telling me they felt the picture from Cox digital cable was comparable to that from digital satellite service from DirecTV and Dish Network. This is high praise, and I personally have yet to see a digital cable signal that was that good. I have not seen cable from Cox yet but I plan on checking it out in another city as soon as it is feasable as they seem to be doing a great job.

Based on the information I have available on your service provider, I believe you would see an improvement in your television picture and video recordings if you made the switch to digital cable. Why don’t you just give it a try? If you upgrade and decide the difference is not worth the price, just cancel the digital service and go back to analog.

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