The Best Binocular Under $100

This is one of my best finds.Among my many interests is birding. I have more than 300 species, which ranks me a more than a novice and less than someone whose observation of something rare will be immediately accepted by his fellows. One of the ways birders impress one another is by purchasing high-end binoculars–say in the $1,300 to $1,500 range. If birding is your fowl obsession, this is a fine way to spend money, though not an entirely necessary investment. The best bins won’t make up for an inexperienced or sloppy birder. But, the do signal a serious intent. (One of the best birders I know, however, uses a decades old pair of $200 bins that are almost falling apart).Most birding binoculars start at $300-ish.

The Best Binocular Under $100But, what if you’re a new birder, a young person, or someone who just wants a nice pair of inexpensive bins for looking at clouds or watching the neighbors? Well, most low-end binoculars are pretty sad. Look through them long enough and blindness may not seem like such a bad alternative.So, I was very pleased when more than a year ago, Pete Dunne, the noted birding author, introduced me to these fine binoculars. The Nikon Action series takes advantage of inexpensive, but high-quality, Chinese optics and manufacturing.

The result? A very nice pair of 7×35 bins (Model 7215) that sells for as little as $49 online (do a search). The 7×50’s, heavier, larger, but better at dusk and dawn, sellfor a bit more.These are fine binoculars. They are what I keep under the front seat iof my car for unexpected sightings. They are what I loan to friends and recommend to new birders. When I let fellow birders look through them and ask them to guess how much I paid for them, the usual answer is $300 or more. Are they perfect bins? Of course not, but you would have to spend several times as much to get anything better and most people (who have never looked through really great binoculars) can’t tell the difference.Nikon also offers the somewhat more expensive Action EX series, which are waterproof and more rugged. Not that I have had any problems with the Actions I already own. I have not tested the EX series, so I can’t tell you if they produce images as good as the earlier models. I suspect they are fine. BTW, friends don’t let friends buy “zoom” binoculars because the optics are so lousy. And I wouldn’t even think of recommending the Action zoom models.

Targus Bags for the iPod Generation: Orange is “Edgy”

Hello, Young Urban Professionals, have I got a bag for you. Actually, I have four of them, all new bags from Targus ($60-$120) designed with the iPod generation in mind. See the iPod peeking from the pocket on the outside of this briefcase? In case you, the urban sophisticate, need prompting as to what the pocket is for, there is a logo that looks like the iPod’s round control surface right there on the front. Notice that the iPod pocket (which has a hole for inserting a headphone connector) sits where many manufacturers put their first cellular telephone pockets, back when handsets were the rage. The phone is now in the case.The Urban Messenger Bag (are there rural messengers, too?) also has an iPod pocket on the outside, though you may have to click on the picture to find it there on the left side of the flap.I really don’t mean to poke fun, butTargus Bags for the iPod Generation: Orange is "Edgy" I couldn’t help myself after reading the first two paragraphs of the press release. These people are hard core, in the Women’s Wear Daily sense. Here goes:”Targus, Inc., maker of the world’s best-selling notebook cases and accessories, today launched the Urban series of laptop cases with an edgier look and feel, aimed toward young professionals. The four styles in the Urban collection include the Urban Messenger, Urban Topload, Urban Backpack and Urban Travel Roller.

Targus has coupled brighter colors with an urban-like design to offer young professionals an alternative to the traditional, uniform notebook cases.“The Urban collection’s edgier appeal offers a unique and stylish alternative in the marketplace for young professionals carrying notebooks,” said Steven Robert, Targus general manager. “We created a more trendy and fashionable line of cases to appeal to the young professional’s desire for design and functionality, featuring vibrant colors and personalized pockets that carry a notebook and all essential mobile accessories.”Edgier colors, look, and feel? Urban-like design? Personalized pockets? Do they have your name on them? When did orange become edgy? Should I call this the Stephen Robert fall collection?Seriously, I’ve had many Targus bags over the years and they’ve always been a good value for the money.

They wear well and I’ve never had one fail me–which I can’t say for some lots-more-expensive bags. Still, it’s hard for me to think of a computer bag as a fashion accessory. However, as I am too old and live too far out to be an “young urban professional” I’ll have to yield to the judgment of the focus groups that I am sure had some part in the design of these bags. Maybe if I get one, I’ll be cool again? (Like I ever was).Targus bags are available universally and if you don’t want (or can’t afford) to buy a high-dollar bag, these just might project your “unique and stylish” (yet edgy) urban image. While letting everyone know you have an iPod, of course.