That glimmer of hope some are seeing in the economy may be the glint of a diamond or the sheen of a silk scarf. Buoyed by signs of life in the real estate and stock markets, wealthy Americans are spending more freely on luxury goods, according to the Wall Street Journal. Then there's the rest of us. Fortunately, we found something for everyone in the products tested by Consumer Reports. Here are some high-end appliances and electronics that earned top marks in our tests and some less-expensive alternatives that don't sacrifice performance.
Some tech gadgets have a space-age allure, and digital cameras are no exception. But photographic devices have been around for well over a century, and some camera companies are fusing more tried-and-true features and design elements with today's technology. This everything-old-is-new-again approach appears on some of our newly tested advanced and basic cameras.
Several tech blogs recently reported rumors that a smart phone HTC is expected to unveil next week will include a new kind of imaging sensor, called an "Ultrapixel" sensor: Instead of the usual type of sensor with one layer of pixel sites, this one will actually have three 4.3-megapixel sensor layers, which roughly adds up to 13 megapixels. Opinions differ on what the term Ultrapixel may really mean.
Although most new cameras this year won't have the same mind-blowing 1.8-gigapixel resolution of the U.S.-military-backed ARGUS-IS camera, which will be used for aerial surveillance, many new consumer models are showing an uptick in resolution. Most have 16 megapixels, but some are shipping with 18 and even 20 megapixels. One example is the recently announced 18-megapixel Coolpix S9500 superzoom (pictured).
Nikon has included rugged waterproof protection and wireless connectivity in its new 16-megapixel Nikon Coolpix AW110 point-and-shoot ($350), which also features a 5x zoom and a GPS. And clumsy swimmers will be glad to know that this Coolpix is also waterproof to a depth of 60 feet (which, at the moment, is the deepest in its class) and can survive 6.6-foot drop.
Nikon Image Space, which goes live January 28, is a new cloud-storage service that allows photographers to store or share images or video using one of two types of free accounts. The basic account, available to anyone regardless of the type of camera they own, offers 2GB of online storage space. But for those who can verify that they own a Nikon digital camera, the company is offering an account with a whopping 20GB of storage.
At the recent Consumer Electronics Show, companies unveiled cameras with built-in Wi-Fi, as well as a variety of apps and accessories, to help connect your camera wirelessly—much the way smart phones work. Panasonic has now included another popular feature found on smart phones—NFC (near-field communication)—on two Wi-Fi cameras, the first models we've seen with that technology.
At CES this year, most camera makers are unveiling new rugged and/or waterproof models—but Olympus has been among the most aggressive, by offering no less than three of these cameras.
At this year's CES, one major trend was confirmed: As smart phones ramp up their camera and camcorder features, companies that make the latter two devices have had to adapt to keep up and to offer features you can't find on phones (yet, anyway).
Although Pentax announced just one new camera at this year's CES show—the 12-megapixel MX-1, $500, an advanced point-and-shoot—here's what's really made people take notice of the company: It also announced that it would be offering a new online purchasing program where buyers can customize their Pentax Q10 cameras by color.
Tens of millions of Americans will watch Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on Feb. 3, but you can be part of the halftime action—or maybe even watch Beyoncé's midgame performance from the sidelines—just by taking a photo.
At CES 2013, Sony is displaying two stunning full-frame cameras: The SLT-a99 DSLR and the Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 point-and-shoot. Each is 24 megapixels—and each costs $2,800.
The most intriguing introductions from Fujifilm today were two new advanced cameras: The 16-megapixel X100S (replacing the X100) has a fixed f/2 23mm lens and cost $1300, while the 12-megapixel X20 (replacing the X10) has a 4x manual zoom lens and cost $600.
In the past, Canon has avoided introducing devices with wireless features, excepting its printers. But today, the company has changed course: Four of the eight new products it's announcing—two cameras and two camcorders—include wireless capabilities: the 16-megapixel PowerShot Elph 130 IS ($200) and a new concept model, the 12-megapixel PowerShot N ($300), and the Vixia HF R42 ($500) and the Vixia HF R40 ($400) HD camcorders.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: