Digital Life: Rocket-launcher not included -- all hail Sony's new uber-camera
Published 23/08/2011 | 05:00
Can you ever have too much technology? That sort of sentiment borders on heresy and is likely to get a man shot round these parts.
But it's a valid question when you look at how much Sony has crammed into the new Cybershot HX9V camera.
Call it the "everything AND the kitchen sink" approach.
Try this line-up for size: sweep panorama, 3D, true HD movies, GPS, compass, 16x zoom, 24mm wide angle, gyro sensor, 16 megapixels, full built-in help manual, and a bucketload of scene modes, including Twilight and 10-frames-per-second burst.
Perhaps Sony just forgot to include a tea-maker and rocket-launcher.
The point here is that the HX9V will be more than a little intimidating to newbies not already put off by the size of the camera.
It's a chunky monkey precisely because it's packed to the gunwales with clever circuitry.
If you can see past its bulk, you and the Sony could become the best of friends as you discover its enormous potential.
Purely in automatic mode, it takes a good snap.
But go off-piste and the camera indulges your creative side with its technical wizardry and superb picture quality.
The automatic panorama function is just awesome and the calibre of the video is right up there with that of a decent camcorder.
True, the RRP is a rather frightening €395 but for the money you're getting a hell of a lot of camera, one that just last week won European Compact Camera of the Year.
When the ground beneath your feet is falling away, standing still is not an option.
Right now, satnav makers are under attack from all sides as smartphones muscle in on their territory.
Undeterred, TomTom keeps pumping out standalone navigation systems such as the Go Live 825.
Its greatest advantage and disadvantage is its display -- at five inches it trumps any smartphone out there for size.
But it also lacks the same touch sensitivity of, say, an iPhone, requiring far more prodding to get it to respond.
However, the extra screen real estate does make it easier to keep track of where you're headed and to show you the TomTom's other party trick: traffic warnings.
When the satnav discovers delays on the route ahead via its internet connection, it'll quickly find an alternative route to save you time.
This incredibly handy service is free for the first year and €50 per annum thereafter.
At €250, though, the Go Live 825 is a big ask when there are plenty of satnav apps for smartphones that cost less than €50.
At a time when we all feel so powerless with our economy in ruins, who wouldn't relish the opportunity to play god? This isn't the Big Guy, though, more a deity with training wheels.
Your people are children of a lesser god, so to speak. Their needs are fairly simple -- a safe place to build their homes and protection from natural catastrophes such as tsunamis.
That's where you come in.
Your 'god hand' can pick up soil, water or lava and reshape the landscape to help your tribe.
It begins as straightforwardly as forming a bridge so the tribe can make it to fertile ground.
But the challenge quickly ramps up to where you're warding off tidal waves with walls of cooled lava or quenching wildfires with scoops of seawater.
Captivating to look at and frequently wrongfooting you with unexpected events, From Dust is only let down by the directionless dullards who worship you.
They're the sort who like to get from A to B via Z, Q or G, often ignoring your carefully-laid plans amid impending disasters.
Nothing improves a racing game more than guns, oodles of them.
Death Rally is a top-down racer loaded with power-ups, weapons and attitude. Though the iPhone/iPad's touchscreen doesn't usually suit twitchy arcade titles of this kind, DR keeps the controls friendly enough to overcome the handicap.
You'll spend many early races trailing the pack of aggressive opponents until your little buggy upgrades to become fast enough and deadly enough to muscle to the front.
Then the racing develops into a furious, relentless fight to the death with bigger, badder cars and guns.
It seems a shame to carp that there's no multiplayer when it costs only 79 cent.
It's tiring recycling the line about "only in Japan".
But that's possibly the only market where a football RPG like Inazuma Eleven could have got the green light.
Yet the mix of soccer-lite meets cutesy manga animation actually works, if you can get over the saccharine sweetness.
Plotwise, it's the usual yarn of plucky underdog takes on cocky champions. But the quirky chunks of touchscreen football gel well with the Pokemon style of player-collecting for a moreish dish of rare charm.
Bits and Bytes
> Amazon continues its mission to dominate ebooks with the addition of the Cloud Reader -- basically an attractive way to read your Kindle books in a web browser.
You might ask why, since you probably already have either a Kindle or computer capable of downloading the free Kindle app.
But it's more aimed at iPhone/iPad owners, so that Amazon doesn't have to give a 30% cut of revenue to Apple for every book sold.
> Dublin Bus users may be familiar with the phenomenon of the timetable bearing little relation to the actual arrival of the bus itself.
A new iPhone app uses the fact that all those buses are now tracked in real time by GPS and, in many parts of the city, can tell you exactly when the next one will arrive.
Get the imaginatively named Bus Time Dublin for free at the App Store.