Welcome to the Pipeline, where we put the spotlight on the mainstream pundits and see what they're up to. This week, John Dvorak shows his sensitive side, Walt Mossberg shows you how to buy a PC, and Rob Pegoraro shows his true colors.

filmWe've always thought of John Dvorak as something of a curmudgeon, and we somehow suspect that he's perfectly happy to be characterized that way. But in his latest column, he reveals a softer, more sentimental side. Turns out Dvorak's got a soft spot for old digital cameras, and waxes nostalgic over the "vibrancy" and "stunning results" he achieved with some old 2 and 3 megapixel digicams. There is, of course, a point to Dvorak's musings, and it's that each model digicam has unique characteristics, and in an age when film has become (virtually) extinct, camera owners may want to consider owning multiple models — including some deemed obsolete — in order to acheive some of the effects once accomplished with different types of film. "You used to be able to buy Kodachrome, knowing you'd get that certain exaggerated look. There were classy black-and-white films such as Ilford. Things got hot when Fuji developed new dyes. Each kind would give you a certain quality that you wouldn't get from any other film. And while I suppose it would be possible to develop plug-ins for Photoshop that mimic the look of certain films, the basic capturing mechanism is now the CCD or CMOS chip. That's the real film. And it's not changeable." While Dvorak's point is a valid one, we don't expect most mainstream consumers to follow his advice and build a collection of digital cameras, any more than they strayed from the 100 or 400 film that they once relied on. But for pros and "prosumers," Dvorak's comment that now could be "a good time to pick up some cheap used cameras," may be all the incentive needed to head off to eBay and add to the collection (please excuse us for a moment while we click the "Buy It Now" button next to that old Nikon).

John C. Dvorak - The Camera Is the Film—Rethinking Digital Photography


Panasonic Oxyride

Seeing how much content The New York Times is maintaining in its online Circuits section almost makes up for the fact that the section no longer exists in print (almost, but not quite). The content is now drawn from several sections of the newspaper, including the Business pages, where David Pogue?s ?State of the Art? column currently appears. This week, Pogue joins most other critics in endorsing Panasonic?s Oxyride batteries, which he tested himself in a variety of devices. His conclusion: Not only do the batteries last longer (at least under certain conditions), but they provide more power while they?re in use as well. ?As it turns out, the power-boosting effect is no marketing concoction; it?s real. In identical flashlights, Oxyrides produce an obviously wider, whiter circle of light than Duracell Ultras. ... The Oxyrides even make power screwdrivers spin faster: 364 r.p.m., compared with 316 r.p.m. for the Duracell Ultras.?

Elsewhere in Circuits, Larry Magid takes a good look at some portable printers and Web-based printing services, Michel Marriott digs Intec?s PSP Pro Gamer?s Kit and Thomas Fitzgerald gives a quick rundown on the Sanyo MM-5600 (which we still think is a little too expensive at $250, even if it does have video ringtones).

Circuits


iMac G5 We always like checking out Walt Mossberg?s PC buyer?s guides, in part because he tells it like it is ? if manufacturers are shipping underpowered boxes and pretending they?re full-featured, he says so. Conversely, he warns you about which features to avoid, even if fast-talking salesmen pitch them hard. Admittedly, if you?re reading this, you probably don?t need his advice on this. However, if your technophobe cousin or grandparents are in the market for a new PC, send them this link ? or rather, print out the article and hand it to them. And don?t be surprised if they come home with a Mac. Mossberg?s top pick this time around is the iMac G5 ? though he admits that most Windows users may not want to switch, since they?ll have to buy and learn new software.

Walt Mossberg - Spring Buyer?s Guide: PC Prices Get Cheaper, But Complexity Grows


ipod photoIn the Washington Post, Rob Pegoraro points to the color iPod as the wave of the future. No, he?s not talking about the new, neon-hued minis; rather, Pegoraro looks at the color screens on the iPod Photo, and likes what he sees. ?Five months ago, Apple shipped its first iPod with a color display, the iPod Photo ? and the market yawned. At $499 and $599 each, the two Photo models cost $100 and $200 more than the next-priciest iPod, not to mention many desktop computers. Now Apple is taking another crack at adding color to an iPod. The price of entry is now $349, and Apple sells only one non-color-screen iPod outside of the iPod mini line. In other words, color now amounts to a feature you get for free if you want more than 20 gigabytes of storage in an iPod.? He?s right, and we think it?ll only be a matter of time before Apple and its competitors standardize on color screens across-the-board in their hard-drive players.

Rob Pegoraro - An iPod of a Better Color

Also this week:

Wildstrom - The New Bluetooth: More On The Beam
Cringely - Patricide: Your Telephone Company?s Biggest Threat for Last-Mile Competition May Come From Its Own Mobile Phone Operation
Baig - Despite kinks, AOL?s new Internet phone service worth try

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The Pipeline: Dvorak's a softie, Pogue has the power, Pegoraro gets colorful