Saturday 20 December 2014

Digital: Cameras begin the fighback against smartphones

Published 11/01/2013 | 18:00

Was it shock, paralysis or hubris that allowed smartphones to march in and eat digital cameras' lunch? The biggest camera manufacturers are now not Canon or Nikon but Nokia or Samsung.

Granted, the quality of cameras in phones ranges from pretty awful to acceptable, but it's their convenience and connectivity that has won the day. Camera makers have been woefully slow to fight back with hybrid products.

Funnily enough, two have shown up at once, one from photographic grandee Nikon, the other from electronic upstart Samsung. While Nikon may have the pedigree, it's Samsung that has truly grasped the nettle.

The €460 Nikon Coolpix S800c tries hard to look modern but is let down by a positively ancient version of Android. Yes, you can download apps, upload photos via wi-fi and even browse the web. But it's prone to crashing, responds like a beached whale and its battery wheezes to a halt far too soon.

The Samsung Galaxy Camera, on the other hand, feels much more connected to the 21st century, boasting a whopper of a touchscreen and, more importantly, an impressive lens with a wide-angle to 21x zoom.

This lens delivers far better pictures than anything your iPhone, HTC or even Galaxy S3 could dream of. It easily outperforms the Nikon too.

Running the latest version of Android, the interface oozes class and touchscreen power, not to mention the ability to run tons of apps such as photo editors.

Yet the Samsung is noticeably porkier than its ordinary camera cousins and the €500 price tag means you're paying plenty for its wireless connections, which includes 3G if you want to pay for an additional SIM.

www.samsung.com/ie, www.nikon.ie



GAMES



FIFA 13

Wii U

****

EA pulled a similar stunt with the PS Vita version of FIFA, putting out an edition that was 12 months behind that of other consoles, for technical reasons. FIFA 13 for Wii U is actually FIFA 12 with a few Wii U tweaks applied and some features omitted.

That's not a terrible offence because FIFA 12 still plays a good game of footy, though the GamePad touchscreen actions feel gimmicky. Even Wii Remote controllers just don't cut it, so be prepared to fork out for the Pro Controller.

It may be a stopgap version with some technical wobbles, but this FIFA has enough of the flavour of its big brothers to overlook its shortcomings.

Ratchet and Clank: Q Force

PS3

***

The law of diminishing returns applies to the dynamic duo's most recent adventures and QForce struggles to successfully unite a tower defence game with the familiar platforming antics.

As always, the standout moments flow from the creatively barmy weapons on tap as Ratchet and Clank attack and defend enemies and bases. What a shame, then, that you have to source them afresh on every level.

New Style Boutique

Nintendo 3DS

***

No boys need apply, as a surfeit of pink and a cringingly upbeat storyline will deter all but the girliest of girls from this fashion-store management sim. It's a bit of a shame, because New Style Boutique can be engaging in a gentle way and even allows players to tinker with male fashion.

But its target audience of young girls will get the most from this dressing-up drama.

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse

X360/PS3

**

Even by creator Seth MacFarlane's standards, this tie-in to the Simpsons-with-swearing TV show stoops pretty low. It churns out a stream of non-PC gags in the name of parody while welded to an unambitious third-person shooter.

To the uninitiated, it makes Leisure Suit Larry's humour look almost sophisticated while show fans will be underwhelmed by the repetitive gameplay and recurring dialogue.







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