A zoom with a view -- why Capt Bligh would love Nikon's Coolpix
Imagine fitting a rocket engine under the bonnet of a Corolla. Or embedding a computer in your mobile phone (no, wait, they've already done that!).
But what Nikon has accomplished with its new Coolpix P510 is similarly remarkable: shoehorn a telescope into a smallish camera.
Of course, by telescope we really mean zoom lens. But with a huge magnification of 42x (equivalent to a monstrous 1000mm in the old money) the P510 might make you feel as if you're Captain Bligh surveying the high seas with an eyeglass.
That zoom is sufficient to bring you action from the other side of a football pitch, pick out details on a face from 20 metres away -- or spot some savage pirates on the horizon.
Buying a similar zoom for a pro-style camera would cost you several thousand yo-yos and even then you'd be stuck with all zoom and no wide-angle.
That's what's even more notable about the P510's lens -- not only does it offer the world's biggest zoom in a compact camera but it's equally comfortable at home in close-up, with its wide-angle going down to a creditable 24mm.
No other camera comes close, with Nikon besting even its own P500, which sports a "mere" 36x zoom. A range of photo modes and a tiltable rear screen make the camera a flexible shooting partner.
All of this photographic clout comes with some caveats, though, and the P510 does have its downsides.
It's not exactly small but the Nikon is a little tricky to handle at full zoom.
Image stabilisation does a fine job of keeping the photos sharp but you'll have more trouble tracking a moving subject, not least because the autofocus dithers quite a bit at 42x.
While battery life is merely adequate, picture quality overall is impressive even though the P510's low-light performance leaves something to be desired.
The Nikon Coolpix 510 costs €470, www.nikon.ie
The much-rumoured Google Drive finally hit the internets last week after years of teasing. The cloud back-up service offers 5GB of free storage for your files, which sounds a lot but pales beside the 25GB Microsoft is touting for its similar SkyDrive (for a limited time only).
Both these services (and others like them such as Dropbox) give you handy ways to share files between your computers or simply keep back-up copies in case of emergencies.
Ridge Racer Unbounded
Banish all preconceptions that may loiter around the words "Ridge Racer" because, rather cheekily, Unbounded has sweet FA to do with that famous car franchise. Instead, it might better have been dubbed "Burnout in a Split/Second".
Unlike the trademark impossible drifts of yore, Unbounded fuses the car-smashing aggression of Burnout with the collapsing scenery of Split/Second.
Admittedly, drifting still forms the core of the gameplay. Executing a sliding turn at 200kph fuels your boost which in turn can be used to slam opponents off the road or bust open new routes.
The result is barely controlled chaos in which 12 racers jockey for position from start to finish line. Yet the cars' handling is unforgiving, the tracks sometimes inexplicably so too, with not much to indicate what is destructible and what will bring you to a shuddering halt.
But throw in a multitude of modes and a pretty decent track creator and you're looking at a sweet package.
Kinect Star Wars
When Kinect launched in LA in 2010, the biggest cheers came for the tease of an unnamed Star Wars title that would make jedi knights of us all.
Fast-forward two years and KSW can't bear the weight of its own hype. Mindful that the central storyline -- controlling a Jedi with sweeping hands and swaying body -- doesn't hold up for long, we're treated to the bizarre extras of Star Wars dance-offs and a handful of other loosely connected mini-games.
With dodgy motion controls and a real lack of conviction in its raison d'etre -- light-saber battles -- KSW does no one any service.
Inazuma Eleven 2: Firestorm
"It's hard to believe but it seems we're under attack from soccer-loving aliens."
This tasty bit of dialogue early on is both a concise summary of Firestorm's plot and an indicator of the preposterous standard of storyline to expect from this sequel.
Like the barmy original, it combines a long-winded RPG with peculiar stop-go football matches directed via the stylus.
But with the outcome of many matches pre-ordained in service of the plot, it's hard to work up the enthusiasm to play on.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
Another spin-off that deviates so far from the original series as to render it almost meaningless. RE:ORC roots itself in the familiar zombie outbreak but fails to translate into a credible shooter.
Played alone with AI companions, the result is inescapably bland, lacking the tense horror of the franchise.
But even with online friends, the general ropeyness -- glitches, anaemic or overpowered enemies, etc -- is unavoidable.
Bits and Bytes
- Going to the Olympics this summer? Bringing your smartphone to tweet a few photos or post a video on Facebook? "Under pain of death, don't" is the incredible message from London 2012 organisers.
Buried away in the conditions of your ticket is a ban on posting photos and clips to social networking sites.
The organisers have zero hope of policing it, of course, but it shows the Orwellian lengths corporates will go to these days to protect their precious brands.
- Nintendo is reeling right now from poor financials but it wisely knows to look after existing customers.
The new online Customer Service Support Centre enables you to send broken consoles to Nintendo free of charge for assessment and repair.
If it gets fixed, the console will be returned with a fresh one-year warranty.
- RTÉ has beefed up its website by adding a new Life & Style section, incorporating food, fashion, motoring, homes and travel.
Additional content includes recipes, videos, decorating advice, car reviews and community forums.