Reviewed: Nikon Coolpix A, Dell U2713HM monitor , Bang & Olufsen H6 headphones, Logitech Wireless All-In-One Keyboard, Atari Flashback 4
Nikon Coolpix A
I suspect that the concept of paying more than €1,000 for a compact-sized camera (with no zoom) sounds a little strange to many people. But for camera enthusiasts, it's simple: give us a small camera body with a large sensor and easily accessible manual controls that facilitate photos outside the capacity of cameraphones but without the heft of bigger DSLRs.
This is exactly what Nikon's just-released Coolpix A offers. It is a high-end metal machine housing a large, high-quality 16-megapixel sensor. The latter feature matches the sensor size of much larger, bulkier Nikon cameras and results in very sharp, detailed, impressive photos. The 28mm (equivalent) lens goes to F2.8, which is fast enough to capture quite a lot of low-light scenarios without a flash, while also giving reasonable depth of field. Other than the quality of the images, the most impressive feature of this camera is its speed: I zipped through photos, while starting it up takes less than a second. This is crucial, given what the camera is supposed to be for (capturing quality photos quickly). I also used the manual focusing ability quite a lot, especially for close-up (macro) shots, which sometimes threw the camera's auto-focus off.
A bonus feature is its on/off mechanism: because it uses a small lever (as opposed to a button) to turn on and off, it never accidentally switched itself on in my pocket, where I often carried it. If you're looking for a more dynamic point-and-shoot, go for something cheaper.
This is for real photo enthusiasts.
Dell's monster monitor ticks all the boxes
Dell U2713HM monitor
Price: €850 from Dell.ie
I generally find it hard to get excited over large monitors. If I were a 20-something, Netflix-bingeing web or graphics designer, living and working in an apartment, it might be different.
But as an older house-dweller – even one who sometimes binges on Netflix – it's hard to give such a machine a natural, permanent berth.
This is the context in which I took in Dell's high-end (if awfully named) U2713HM monitor. It started on the study desk, but it felt a little too big. I couldn't move it into the living room, as there's already a 40-inch telly there. So it landed on the kitchen table, where I tinkered with photo-editing or snacked on TV shows over breakfast or dinner.
The 27-inch LED display ticks virtually all of the boxes someone with a need for a top-end monitor for under €1,000 could look for. It has great (2,560x1,440) resolution, which makes your online movie streams look crystal clear. It's slim enough not to take up too much space on a desk, kitchen table (which is where I used it most) or bedroom unit. And it's very useful if you're working with images or need to have multiple windows open at any one time.
In other words, this is a great monitor. But it's looking for a niche audience. And I'm probably not it.
Handy keyboard a good investment as touchpad to replace the mouse
Logitech Wireless All-In-One Keyboard
If you're really not a fan of Windows 8, look away now. But for those who have recently upgraded to Microsoft's latest edition of Windows and are looking for quicker keyboard operation over time, Logitech's TK820 keyboard is worth looking at.
In a nutshell, it's a slim, wireless keyboard with a (large) touchpad built in to the side.
The touchpad is designed to replace your mouse. In this way, it is aimed at accessing Windows 8 features – such as the sidebar with settings and controls – a single swipe rather than trying to aim with a mouse.
All in all, it supports 13 Windows 8 gestures, including four-finger swipes for minimising or maximising windows.
The battery-powered keyboard is comfortable to type on, although it cuts out the numeric keypad that is usually to be found on the right-hand side of a work keyboard.
My guess is that it's only a matter of time before touchpads replace the mouse, so this is probably a decent investment.
On a budget: Atari's blast from the past still packs a punch
Atari Flashback 4
Price: €60 from Argos
At the time, we thought we were so cool. Friends who didn't have the magical black box projecting 8-bit pixellated gremlins on to their tellies just didn't know what they were missing.
Today, you could fit the top 75 Atari 2600 games – each of which once needed a bulky cartridge – on to a gadget the size of a USB stick.
And that's what AtGames has done with the Atari Flashback 4. They're all there: 'Space Invaders', 'Centipede', 'Asteroids', 'Missile Command', 'Breakout'. But instead of something the size of a small pen, AtGames has recreated a similar-looking black console with buttons to make it feel more authentic.
There are ports there to connect older Atari joysticks, the console comes with two wireless game controllers. Although the controllers are a little finicky, it's great fun.