Category Archives: High/Low column
Hi/Low: Mechanical Keyboards

Mechanical keyboards are beloved of serious typists everywhere (including me) for their click-clacky goodness. So what’s the difference between a cheap one and an expensive one? I found out for my latest Wired column

keyboards1Sometimes a family runabout is all you need, though, and the Rosewill is far superior to laptop keyboards or the cheap rubber dome keyboards that come with desktop computers. So, it’s not a bad investment for those who write a lot or play games…. If, like me, you spend every day clacking through thousands of words, I’d recommend spending the extra money on the Das Keyboard Ultimate S. The cost is much higher, but it pays off in typing speed, comfort, and the satisfaction you get from using a tool with superior build quality.

Hi/Low: Fountain Pens

Stepping away from tech for a bit, I tested out two fountain pens: a cheap $25 Lamy and a $125 Delta.

InkyCynics will dismiss using a fountain pen these days as a needless hipsterism, a tacky bit of retro nostalgia that serves no real purpose. I disagree. A good fountain pen is a piece of precision engineering and design, and will serve you well for many years. Using a fountain pen is about making a deliberate choice to buy something that you can use repeatedly, rather than something you use once and loose. If you want to write casually, get a Bic disposable and throw it away when you’re done. But if you want to have something that looks cool and is a pleasure to use, get a fountain pen.

Should you buy a cheap or expensive camera lens?

Just posted at, a column on the differences between a $350 and a $1500 SLR camera lens.

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A good photographer takes the time to understand their equipment so they can get the best image, irrespective of how expensive their kit is. If you spend $350 on a lens and really learn how to use it, you’ll be closer to the ideal of photographers like Cartier-Bresson, who used good equipment to take great photos. 

Cloud Storage: Commercial vs Roll-your-own

Just posted at, a column on cloud data storage services, and roll-your-own vs commercial versions.

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That makes Dropbox a better solution for those who just want to install and use it, although you can end up paying a lot if you need more space than the free version. For those who don’t mind getting down and dirty with the technical details, ownCloud may be the better option, as it gives you more flexibility and lets you take control of your own data in the cloud. 

High/Low: SD Cards

Just published on Wired: a look at low- and high-end SD Cards, and what the differences between them are.

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So you’ve just bought yourself a nice new camera. You’ll need an SD card to store all those images on. Do you save some scratch and go with the cheapest SD card, or do you splurge and opt for one of those expensive versions that come with names like Ultra or Extreme? At first glance, it seems like a no-brainer: The cheaper cards offer much more space for less money. So, why would anyone spend more on a smaller card?

High/Low : Gaming PCs

For the first installment of my column High/Low, I look at Gaming PCs.

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These rigs are built to handle the incredible demands modern games put on them, rendering state-of-the-art graphics quickly and smoothly to create a realistic gaming experience. At least, that’s the theory. The conventional wisdom is that a cheap PC will produce a jerky, low-resolution image that ruins the immersive effect of modern games. However, we found that a $700 computer was more than capable of running one of the most demanding games out there at high resolution, and that most gamers don’t need to spend more than this.