Monday 24 October 2016

Tech review: Weckler on the latest gadgets

Published 25/09/2016 | 02:30

Panasonic Lumix TZ100
Panasonic Lumix TZ100
Lenovo Yoga Book

Our Technology Editor reviews the Panasonic Lumix TZ100 camera and Lenovo Yoga Book

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Great zoom and very good photos

Panasonic Lumix TZ100 Price: €710 in Conns Cameras Rating: 4/5

I've raved before about Panasonic's Lumix LX100. Even at almost two years old, its picture quality and flexibility keep it among the best compact cameras you can get for under €700.

But it's missing one thing: an extended zoom. The LX100 gives you a 3x optical zoom which, while appreciated, makes it limited for some as a travel camera.

Panasonic now has a slightly smaller camera with a similar sized sensor that extends the zoom right out to 10x. That's the 35mm equivalent of 250mm, which can capture objects quite clearly even at a very significant distance away.

I brought this camera abroad with me to two different work events that required steady, decent photos in darkened conditions almost 100 metres from the subject. The TZ100 did the trick fairly admirably.

Particularly impressive was its stabilisation. When you zoom in to something far away on a compact camera, even the tiniest of jitters in your hand is going to make the picture jump and shake like there's an earthquake under way. But the TZ100 wasn't phased, smoothing micro-movements and giving me nice, crisp shots of Tim Cook on stage in San Francisco from all the way back Row Z. Its autofocus was really fast, too.

The TZ100 is generally aimed at beginners or novices who just want to switch it on and start shooting. This is good in that it's easy to use as an automatic that works immediately. There's also a red button for instant video recording (either full HD or 4K), again with stabilisation applied to avoid shaky videos.

One big advantage to the TZ100 is its super-compact size. You can slip this in a pocket without much trouble. Another is that it recharges using a common Micro USB cable (the same as used by most smartphones and portable gadgets). There's a nifty pop-up flash and an electronic viewfinder, too.

The image quality is generally very good. The TZ100's lens lets in a lot of light (f2.8) at its widest (25mm or 1x zoom). When you zoom to the maximum, it lets in a lot less (f5.9). This is fairly normal, but bear it in mind when shooting in low light situations.

If image quality is the be-all and end-all, you'll get one or two higher end products at around this price (such as the LX100). I'd also have liked a flip-out screen for total flexibility. But for portability, decent zoom, solid picture quality and a high-performing all-rounder, the TZ100 is a very good choice.

Buy now from Conns Cameras

A flexible friend for students

Lenovo Yoga Book   Price: €499   Rating: 4/5

Of all the products at this year's giant IFA tech show in Berlin, the one that interested me most was Lenovo's new Yoga Book. When closed, the 10-inch Yoga Book looks like a super-thin laptop, measuring just under a centimetre thick. But opened up, it's like a double tablet with what appears to be two 10-inch screens.


However, one of the screens is, in fact, a hard keyboard that doubles as a notation transcriber. You can put any piece of paper against it, start scribbling on it with any pen, and the Yoga Book will record that handwriting as digital text. (You can also write or draw directly on the surface using the digital pen that comes in the box.)

Otherwise, it acts as a hard keyboard (Lenovo calls it a 'Halo' keyboard) that performs as an advanced version of typing on a tablet screen keyboard.

It comes in either Android or Windows versions. (The latter is €100 more.)

The machine is being aimed chiefly at those between 15 and 30 years of age who need something for regular (if light) productivity purposes and who have become used to typing for extended periods on hard surfaces.

According to Lenovo, up to 40pc of college students now type on tablet screens during some part of their working day.

Its Halo keyboard 'learns' from your typing-usage patterns. If you often tap on the edge of a certain key, for example, it will learn and - over time - credit you with having tapped that key. It also has some predictive-typing technology built in which is calculated to speed things up.

While Lenovo has mostly left the stock OS on the Android version alone, it has added the ability to open four different windows on the desktop screen. These can be used with most apps: Lenovo says that 734 of the top 1,000 Android apps are compatible (although not Snapchat or Netflix).

Internally, there's 64GB of storage, which is expandable via an SD memory-card slot. With a battery life of up to 15 hours, both Android and Windows versions of the device use Intel processors, although these stop some way short of laptop-grade Core i3 or i5 models.

Buy now from Lenovo

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