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Lab Notes Blog

by Daniel Grotta

July 5, 2010

Tags: eBooks, eBook, ePublishing, e-Publishing, Price, Daniel's entries, Publishing industry

For as long as there have been bookstores and booksellers, the one word that authors, agents and publishers dread hearing most is... remainder.

For those not familiar with publishing argot, remaindering is when bookstore sales falter and books remain unsold and returned, so the publisher tries to cut his losses by offering the work (more…)

Book Clubs Still Ace eBook Prices
by Daniel Grotta

June 26, 2010

Tags: eBooks, eBook, eReaders, eReader, Sony Reader, Price, Apple, Amazon, Book-of-the-Month-Club, Barnes & Noble, iPad, Kindle, iBook, ePublishing, e-Publishing, Book clubs, Daniel's entries

Today the postman brought two books that I had ordered from the Book-of-the-Month Club: David Weber’s newest Honor Carrington novel, "Mission of Honor," and Dominic Lieven’s acclaimed "Russia Against Napoleon." As you can correctly infer, I have an avid interest in anything and everything to do with the Napoleonic Era. Among our 5,000-plus library (more…)

Amazon Makes Good
by Daniel Grotta

June 25, 2010

Tags: Kindle, Kindle 2, Amazon, eReaders, eReader, Daniel's entries, Price, Customer service

A couple days ago, I was feeling rather foolish and suckerly, having plunked down $259 for a Kindle 2 on June 3rd, only to see the price plummet $70 a little over two weeks later.

That brutal reality is fairly typical of how the computer and consumer electronics industries have introduced price cuts over the years. If (more…)

Sooner Than I Thought
by Daniel Grotta

June 22, 2010

Tags: iPad, Apple, Kindle, Kindle 2, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Nook, eReaders, eReader, DRM, Digital Rights Management, Daniel's entries

Back on June 3rd, I clicked the Buy button on and purchased a Kindle 2.

For $259.

In an earlier blog, I predicted that prices on eReaders would fall rapidly and precipitously, as pressure from the iPad and next generation tablet competitors start eroding eReader market share. Only, I didn’t quite realize (more…)

First Impressions of the iPad
by Daniel Grotta

June 17, 2010

Tags: iPad, Daniel's entries, Apple

We finally bit the bullet last week, went to our friendly Apple store, and ordered an iPad.

Of course, they were completely sold out, so the Apple rep accessed my iTunes account, reserved the model that I wished, and promised (more…)

When It’s Over, It’s Over (or Not!)
by Daniel Grotta

June 12, 2010

Tags: e-Books, e-Readers, Daniel's entries

Last Friday I paid for, downloaded into my Kindle, and read straight through the trio of novels by the late Steig Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. (They happen to be, respectively, #3, #2, and #1 on The New York Times current bestseller list.) Although Larrson (more…)

Coming Soon to a DSLR Near You
by Daniel Grotta

November 8, 2009

Tags: Daniel's entries, DSLR, HDTV, HD Video, Trends, Movie making

Digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras have completely changed the way serious amateur and professional photographers produce their pictures. Instead of film, we capture our images electronically, process and perfect them on a computer, and then either output on a photo printer or post to a Website. That this would happen was no surprise to industry analysts and technology journalists, who had been predicting the death of film and the triumph of DSLR photography ever since the first primitive digital cameras hit the market several decades ago.

What no one really expected was that the DSLR would also revolutionize movie making. (more…)

Report from PhotoPlus East, Part I
by Daniel Grotta

November 1, 2009

Tags: Daniel's entries, Photo Plus East, Trade show report, Olympus, Leica, Phase One, Lighting

PhotoPlus East (PPE) is the big four-day camera show held every October that's aimed primarily at professional photographers, and not the retail photo industry. So, unlike trade shows such as CES (in Las Vegas in January) or Photo Marketing Association (in Anaheim in February), no under-wraps pre-production models were on display behind closed doors for technology journalists and industry analysts. (Those behind-behind-the-scenes confidential meetings are one of the reasons why we tend to have advance notice about cameras and other equipment and software before they’re announced to the public.) What PhotoPlus does provide is an overview of current state-of-the-art photo equipment, a place to meet and talk with our colleagues and contacts, and a glimpse of industry trends - all under one roof at the Javits Convention Center in midtown Manhattan.

Here are a handful of cameras and a lighting trend that caught our interest at PPE: (more…)

Printers by the Pound
by Daniel Grotta

May 31, 2009

Tags: DigitalBenchmarks Lab, Printer testing, Printers, Daniel's entries, Printer reviews, Computer Shopper, Sony DPP-FP97, HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer, Xerox Phaser 6128, Kodak ESP 9, Epson Stylus Photo 2880, Lexmark X204n

For nearly a year, DigitalBenchmarks Lab has had hot and cold running printers, with different models coming and going just about every week. We put each through its paces – testing for speed, performance, image quality, value, media costs and so forth, comparing it to others meant for the same market – write the review (most often for Computer Shopper at present, since we’re doing almost all their printer reviews), then pack it up, ship it out and set up the next one.

It’s become an interesting routine, but last week, we had to laugh, when we received delivery – one after the other – of a teeny 2.63 pound Sony DPP-FP97 Digital Photo Printer, a sensible 31 pound Lexmark X204n monochrome laser all-in-one, and a humongous 189-pound, 44" HP Designjet Z3200 Photo fine art giclee printer. (more…)

How We Test, Part II
by Daniel Grotta

May 7, 2009

Tags: How we test, Daniel's entries, Printer testing, Computer Shopper, DigitalBenchmarks Lab, PC Magazine, PC Labs, Printers, Lexmark, Testing, Test script

For well over a decade, we were regular members of PC Magazine’s elite testing team at PC Labs, where we put a wide variety of products – digital cameras, scanners, image editing software, laptops, desktop publishing programs, etc. – through a lengthy, rigorous series of tests. The magazine published four printer roundups a year, so every three months, our team would hibernate in the lab for about a week, putting in 12-hour days as we tested, evaluated and reviewed a bunch of printers. (Of course, we did similar testing marathons for other PC Magazine roundups, so we pretty much lived at the lab for a good part of the year.) Yes, it was hard work, but it also was lots of fun.

And responsibility. (more…)

How We Test, Part I
by Daniel Grotta

April 29, 2009

Tags: DigitalBenchmarks Lab, How we test, HP xw4600 workstation, Lenovo w700ds, Testing, Test script, Daniel's entries

One of the most frequent questions we’re asked from both clients and the general public is what equipment do we use in our lab to test hardware, software and accessories. Having spent more than ten years as PC Magazine/PC Labs’ photo and imaging experts, you might think that we’re outfitted with a panoply of exotic instruments and state-of-the-art devices that would make any techie or engineer salivate with envy. Therefore, you might be surprised to know that (more…)