Nokia Lumia 1020,
Nokia Lumia 1020
Price: From free on operator contract
The march of the megapixel cameraphones continues. Last week, I looked at Sony's impressive new 20-megapixel Xperia Z1 (for which, see an in-depth review on Independent.ie). This week, it's Nokia's Lumia 1020, which has an almost unbelievable 41-megapixel sensor housed within its 4.5-inch body.
The megapixel firepower is quickly evident after a few shots: zooming in on a photo reveals a genuinely unprecedented amount of detail with grains of salt becoming small boulders and far-off pedestrians revealing their hair colour.
In effect, the cameraphone takes two photos of the same shot: a 5-megapixel snap for sharing and a 34-megapixel image for editing. The manual controls, at the top of the frame when in 'procam' mode, are great too.
To be clear, megapixels alone don't make high-quality photos: in many ways, this doesn't compare to a 12-megapixel DSLR with a 50mm lens. But megapixels do add detail to shots and that's what you'll get here.
The cameraphone's slow speed is a disappointment, however. Nokia has opted for a slower, dual-core (1.5Ghz) chip in a unit crying out for a more muscular quad-core processor. One effect is that the camera is slower to move from photo to photo than its rivals. There is also more lag-time in using the phone's general functions than I'm used to in other high-end handsets.
The look and feel of the phone is pleasant: Nokia has always made nice-looking phones. It's a Windows Phone model, so it's good for Microsoft compatibility but not great for apps. Windows Phone has come on a little over the last 18 months but still trails Apple's iOS and Google's Android for usability. Nevertheless, there's a generous 32GB of onboard storage.
Impressive camera – but smaller size means giving up some handy features
Price: €600 (body only), or
€750 (with 18-55mm lens)
Canon's 100D, which I've been using for a while, is a bit of a puzzler. It is presented as a low-to-mid-range DSLR camera housed in the smallest possible case capable of handling full-sized lenses.
This results in a camera that is roughly 15pc smaller than other Canon DSLRs, such as Canon's impressive 700D. I wonder what the point is here.
True, if you're using smaller lenses (like the excellent, cheap 50mm model), it's noticeably lighter. But if you're using a zoom lens (such as an 18-135mm or 18-200mm lens), it doesn't really make much difference.
What the smaller size does mean is that you're giving up a couple of handy features, such as a hinged, extendible screen. For me, that would make me hesitate to choose this over a 700D, which is €100 dearer.
If you really do want a smaller camera with a similarly-sized sensor, micro four-thirds options (such as Canon's Eos M, Sony's NEX or Panasonic's G cameras) are perhaps a better bet. That said, this remains an impressive camera in terms of image quality.
This is more than competent as a camera; I just don't see the advantage in compromising some features for a marginally smaller form factor.
The ultrathin mouse you'll be happy to let run anywhere in the house
Logitech Ultrathin Mouse T630
I remember once having a terrible pain in my hand, which lasted for a month. Was it the new tennis grip I was using? A cold snap in the weather? Or advancing age?
Then I changed the desktop mouse I was using – bye bye pain.
When looking at business tech, we often focus on the big things: laptops, desktops, printers. But the little things can be pretty important, too.
Logitech specialises in work tech accessories such as keyboards and mice. Its new ultrathin mouse should be taken literally – it really is very, very thin. The touch surface is very sensitive but quite comfortable to use. It's wireless, connecting over Bluetooth to your desktop or laptop and, once paired, it can connect to several devices – Logitech has an idea that you might carry it around with you. I think that's a little ambitious for a mouse, but the flexibility may suit some.
Chic and fast, but is no MacBook Air
Sony Vaio Duo 13
When is a laptop not a laptop? When it's also a tablet.
In this era of touchscreen Windows 8 computers, describing new products accurately is getting a little tricky. Some companies, like Sony, are getting creative within the genres and trying new things.
One result is the Vaio Duo series of laptop-tablet hybrid devices. The basic idea is to take a 13-inch touchscreen Windows computer and attach a slide-out keyboard to it.
On first impression, the device is gorgeous: a sleekly designed machine that reeks of premium build-quality. Using it regularly is a slightly more nuanced affair.
The machine itself is fully specced and, with an Intel Core i7 chip and 8GB of Ram, is lightning fast. The keyboard is also a pleasure to use. But I found myself not engaging with the large touchscreen as much as I really should be to justify picking this over a high-end non-touchscreen Ultrabook or MacBook Air.
While I can see some uses for a large touchscreen tablet, they are probably in areas that I don't inhabit, such as high-end design or image editing.
This is a gorgeous device, but I suspect it will prove impractical for many.
The perfect putty for quick tech solutions
Sugru Price: €10 (from sugru.com)
I have a MacBook charger whose plug end got yanked out of a socket too quickly, resulting in exposed wiring. It still works, but is clearly a little dangerous. Instead of forking out €40 for another charger, I just got a packet of Sugru, the so-called 'self-setting rubber'. Now the charger is safe again.
By now, most people know the success story behind Sugru: the Irish woman (Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh) who invented the consumer-industrial equivalent of mala (plasticine) that fixes a seemingly endless number of everyday problems.
The plasticine-like material sets on top of aluminium and most types of metal and is easy to apply out of the packet. It's well worth having a couple of the mini-packs around the place in case of torn fittings or exposed wires.