Get your scissors and tape ready. Kevin is making a list!

Each year, I release a list of hardware and software recommendations for newspapers. With newspapers spending less this year, I’ve trimmed this list to items which tend to be of most interest. So get your scissors and tape ready. Here’s my 2009 list of recommended hardware and software for newspapers:

Mid-Priced Cameras

It's a great time to purchase a new camera. The mix of quality and prices has never been better. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Canon 450D (Rebel XSi)

Even though it’s been on the market for over a year, the 450D still packs a lot of punch for the money. With a resolution of over 12 Mb, the Rebel XSi boasts LiveView, which allows you to see the image you’re shooting through the screen on the back of the camera, as well as the ability to shoot up to 53 continuous pictures at 3.5 frames per second. And it’s hard to beat the ever-decreasing price, which is getting closer to $500 with each passing day.

Nikon D5000

Just released in April, The D5000 is built upon the small chassis of the D60 but adds many attributes of the D90. A notable feature borrowed from the D90 is high-definition video capability. The D5000 can record video at 720p (1280×720 pixels at 24 frames per second), and video can be captured using a Nikkor lens. With a resolution of 12.3 Mb and a speed of 4 frames per second, the $729 price tag seems almost too good to be true.

Scanner


Epson 4490

Epson continues to offer the best scanners for the money. The 4490 has been around for over a year, but it still offers the most bang for the buck. At a minimum, scanners should be replaced every two years. The quality of the scans depreciates significantly after about 18 months. If it's price that’s holding you back, Epson has models starting at $49 and, if you want to spend a little more, the Epson V500 offers twice the resolution for $199. For value and quality, it's hard to beat the 4490.

Desktop Computer


iMac

For page layout and design, you can't beat the iMac. Well, you can beat it (Mac Pro), but you'd spend about $1,500 more (with the monitor) and rarely notice the difference in speed. For $1,499, you get 4 Gb ram and a built-in 24 inch monitor.

Software


Adobe Acrobat Pro 9.0

The latest rendition of Acrobat includes two features that make it well worth the $150 upgrade price. The first is Acrobat’s ability to convert fonts to curves, relieving users of all the printing errors that can occur when CID fonts make their way into PDF files. The second is the Color Conversion tool that actually works the way you hoped it would. With a couple of click of your mouse, all colors are converted to grayscale, cmyk or whatever.

GIMP

A free application offering many of Photoshop's features. Available on both Mac and PC platforms, GIMP lacks the ability to work with RAW format images, but includes most other features used by newspapers when editing photos. It's very handy for folks who normally wouldn’t have Photoshop available, yet need an option for quickly changing the wrong color format or resolution. Free downloads are available at gimp.org.

Backup Drive


LaCie Big Disk Quadra
LaCie has built my favorite backup disks for a long time and they continue to bring home the awards to prove their merit. The Big Disk Quadra offers four interfaces


- eSATA


- USB


- FireWire 400


- FireWire 800


to satisfy just about any computer specifications. Available in several sizes, the 2 Tb version lists for $399.


Online Tools


Publish2.com

Create your own Web page - increasing traffic to your site - using links to content that’s already been created on other sites. It couldn't be easier. Plus it's free.

Ning.com

Don't go to the trouble of programming your own social networking site when Ning does it for you for free. In just a few minutes, you'll have a site up and running. To see an example of a site created by a newspaper, visit gosmokies.ning.com.


Video Cameras


Sony Webbie

here are two versions of this handy camcorder. Both offer high definition video and 5 MP still photos. The audio is excellent for the price and the camcorders are small enough to fit in your jacket pocket. Choose from two styles and several colors. $169-$189.


OK. Go ahead and tape this to your wall or - better yet - your boss's wall. There's a good chance it will still be there in 20 years.

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