Tag Archives: diana ciuca

The Kodak Zi8 Review

by Diana Ciuca

I have a few too many video cameras at my disposal recently (I’ll post a video to show you). Given that, I was able to compare the new Kodak Zi8 to them and help you, the loyal consumer looking for a great gift this winter, find the best product that fits your needs Remember when Motorola Razr phones were all the rage? I do. Every 7th grader had one that fit nicely into their pocket while I had an unpopular yet better quality, bulky Nokia phone – my brick. Now that I’m older, I have a purse and don’t worry as much about the huge bulges in my pocket, so I will naturally opt out for better quality, yet chunkier things – much as our society now does with phones. One of those things is a camera. My mom bought a nice Canon camera that was affordable, large, and great quality.
Now, back to video cameras. People tend to treat the new Flip Cam as they treated Razr phones. They’re cool, hip, desireable — BUT the quality is sub par. Sure, it has a USB jack like the Kodak Zi8, but it hardly has the quality. The Kodak Zi8 features both Macro and Distance shooting (which doesn’t work as well if you’re right in between both). It also has a feature that sends it miles apart from the competition: a mic jack. No, not necessarily so that you can hear sound (although I’m sure you can do that), but so that you can have better sound quality in your videos as opposed to a dissonant sound from afar.
I also compared the Zi8 to my red flip HP v5040u (gosh, that’s a mouthfull) and the professional Canon we use to shoot our interviews. All of these offer HD recording at 1080p (p = pixels, presumably). Although the Canon fares way above the rest, it is also the most expensive and least pocket-worthy. I would not randomly throw it into my purse as I would with my HP v5040u or Zi8. Those are camcorders meant to be sold to the populace, for the common man, the average joe. And for that reason, you need to know that you are getting the best product for the most appropriate price.
According to Tiger Direct, a website perfect for comparing electronics, the Zi8 is around $180 (but only $150 at Walmart). and the Flip UltraHD is $140. From the HP Direct site, the v5040u is $150. Thus, you get what you pay for. I find the Flip Ultra HD not user-firendly given its tricky touch screen and multiple options, and it also lacks in video and photo quality. The HP camcorder is similarly difficult, although cool with its flip-out capabilities and light for dark situations. By far, I prefer the Zi8 since it is easy to use, has great quality video and camera, and fits the best in my purse. I guess its not the fancy name that counts, but the use you find out of it. By far, I would go with the Zi8.
If not, just use your bulky digital camera’s video capacity to get the job done – although it won’t have the massive storage capabilities (each camcorder comes with a memory card with a heft GB memory like 40GB) or quality of the aforementioned products. Try out the products at a store nearby, but whichever fits best is your hand, purse, or pocket is ultimately the right fit.

Check out the Kodak Zi8 at: http://store.kodak.com/store/ekconsus/en_US/pd/Zi8_Pocket_Video_Camera/productID.156585800
And don’t forget to look for my videos that I’ll be posting soon.

Ice Ice Baby by Diana Ciuca

Ice, Ice, Baby.

Cool, clean, cute: ICE. Ice watches are simple, silicone, and stylish. I apologize for all the alliteration but these watches really have got me amped. I have a watch: it’s black, metallic, Kenneth Cole, but it doesn’t particularly stand out. However, it is functional, as watches are. I suppose that is another often overlooked point; not only are watches fashionable, but they conveniently tell you the time.

Now, instead of having to dig in your purse or pocket to whip out your cell phone to check the time, you can easily look at the nice accessory on your wrist known as a watch. I hope they haven’t lost their practical value since cell phones have rapidly replaced them.
Now that you’re convinced that life without a watch is meaningless – and that a cell phone is not a watch – allow me to demonstrate why an ice watch is the hottest new thing to grab. While working, I complimented a customer whose watch seriously stood out (prior to being introduced to Ice watches) was one with a studded faceplate and braided-texture silicone band akin to an ice watch.

Similarly, a week later I read an article in Neurology Now featuring Cindy McCain, John McCain’s wife, sporting a similar item in white. I was given a purple one to review. That’s the beauty of these ice watches: they come in such a variety of colors that they can be easily matched or mixed up. While I’m bland and prefer black, nothing stopped my mother from “borrowing” my watch and receiving some praise about it, too. Even if my fancy customer and Cindy McCain might have worn different brands than Ice Watch, only this brand has so many different colors, from plain white with different faceplates to a plethora of band colors to match the season (check out their new winter line!). Buy them and wear them like skittles, or have only one that makes you stand out every day.
For more info, check out www.ice-watch.com.  My video is coming soon!!

Matt and Kim Concert Review

By Diana Ciuca

I have great difficulty characterizing concerts. They are composed of the quality of music, the band and the crowd. That’s a given. But, concerts can be phenomenal for a singular reason, possibly a gag (like balloons or feathers) or a beautiful person (there are tons of those at concerts), not necessarily a combination of those three factors. Last night, the Matt and Kim concert was amazing not because of their unique music or the insane crowd, but due to the band’s energy.

Kim, with the widest, goofiest smile on her face, hopped around the stage when she was not beating her drums vigorously. She occasionally stood on the drums, ever-raising the audience’s energy level. The variety of their songs did not matter, everyone just ate it all up with smiles on their faces the whole time. However repetitive the songs may have seemed – you can’t expect too much diversity from only a synthesizer keyboard and drum set – the duo threw in a few exciting covers, like Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend” and Major Lazer’s “Pon De Floor” which featured Kim wildly shaking her booty.
Finally, Matt announced that he was playing the last ‘thong’ (since apparently that’s what he slipped and said at a concert in Louisiana where he got too man thongs thrown on stage). He prefaced it by saying that this is a song that you should listen to if you ever need to cheer up, and that’s all I could think of while dancing to it.

I also have a tendency to go unprepared to concerts, either bringing the wrong shoes or too much stuff. By now I should be an expert, only wearing sneakers and bringing a cell phone and wallet. This concert was a point in case of my stupidity. At the Passion Pit concert, I lost my bag; at the Against Me! concert I lost my shoes. Now, I somehow held onto both but wasn’t as able to fully enjoy the constant motion of the crowd. My huge purse hung around my neck as I pushed and was shoved around. I had just gotten acrylic nails for the first time, and was so afraid of breaking a nail. As girly as that may sound, my alternative was to protect my nails and fist pump throughout the concert. Somehow no one was bothered by my Jersey Shore-like habits since they all were in their own realm of joy.

This was a happy concert. You could just lose yourself in the high energy and strong beat. I was happy as a lark (singing causes dopamine release in birds, surprisingly). So, I highly suggest that even if you may think all their songs sound the same, they are worth seeing for whatever price even if the concert was only $15. I left less stressed and sporting everybody’s sweat, not only mine, but also sporting a big, albeit exhausted, smile.

Air Concert Review

AIR Concert Review by Diana Ciuca

What do an isosceles triangle, parallelogram, two vertical rectangles, a right triangle and a semi-circle add up to? The fantastically abstract name design (that would make your geometry teacher proud) of the French techno-pop band, AIR.

I hopped out of the car concerned that I was late. It was nine-ish. That, to me, meant that half the set was over and I would never be able to capture the full essence of AIR. I was wrong on two counts. Firstly, when I walked in the theater, people were still mingling as if the show were about to start much later. Next, in one song or two, I would be able to capture the full essence of AIR (whether that’s a good thing or not).

Similar to Ratatat and Animal Collective, AIR provides psychedelic visual effects to complement their technologically-infused melodies. Surprisingly, the venue matched this aesthetic quality of the show. This was a chill show. By no means did it require being smushed by crowd surfers or the sweaty guy next to you. Obviously the trend of more experimental technopop bands (Passion Pit, Arctic Monkeys, Band of Horses) migrating to the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami is a sign of the suitability of the venue. Yet, the venue can only go so far.

Unlike I expected, the music was not the most riveting portion of the show. Undoubtedly, the low bass reverberated through the crowd seats like a mild earthquake, but the rest of the tones were too light to be appreciated without any visual aids such as lighting effects. Nevertheless, the poetry of AIR’s works are not in their lyrics (for instance, LOVE: Love, love, love, love), but rather in their evocative combination of guitar textures with creeping sound effects. The have a quirk for artiness and abstraction, but that sometimes leads to an under-appreciated mystique. Their mixing pretentiousness should not be mistaken for a simplistic noise, yet instead should be characterized as a minimalistic harmony of keyboards and guitars.

The show was short. Too short. I was waiting for the intermission so I could quickly take a restroom break. But, all my waiting was in vain as the show ended around 10:37. Much too soon. Five minutes prior to the end I was futilely expecting a short break, but when my break finally arrived, I was disappointed. At least the duo finished with an energetic triple encore featuring their most popular song Sexy Boy. The audience members stood up, danced and jeered as energy pervade throughout the crowds and seeped into their skins.

If you desire quirky, upbeat music, look further. AIR is the definition of chill. Their laid back music borderlines boring, but can similarly spark a profound interest in the subtleties of harmony.