Digital Life: Get snap happy with Sony's little gem
Olympus and Panasonic co-operated last year on a new type of digital camera called Micro Four-Thirds.
It promises (and more or less delivers) pro-quality pictures in a consumer-friendly compact body with interchangeable lenses.
Sony decided it wanted in on the small-size-but-pro-quality niche and then devised its own incompatible version. Clever, huh?
That's a shame because in many ways the Sony Alpha NEX-5 is highly covetable. Sony calls it the "world's smallest inter-changeable lens digital camera", and who are we to argue?
Yet you couldn't call the solidly attractive design pocketable. Sony sells just three lenses as options with the NEX-5 but, even with the tiniest one attached, the camera has a bulbous shape.
So jeans pocket, no; jacket pocket, maybe. But it's still miles more portable than those chunky cameras beloved of the pros.
The key thing is that NEX-5 pictures come mighty close to pro quality. Remarkably capable even in bad light, the Sony is endowed with another crafty trick known as high dynamic range, which takes three pictures of the same scene and combines them into one for best results. When it works, it's astonishingly good.
You could carp about the flimsy detachable flash, the lack of a viewfinder and how altering even simple menu settings is a confusing mess.
But those flaws and lack of compatibility aside, the NEX-5 will find a place in any keen snapper's heart. It costs from €600 to €640 depending on the lens.
Last week was a big one for tech news, between Apple's event in San Francisco and IFA, Berlin's huge electronics trade show.
Apple launched its music social network Ping and refreshed its iPod line-up. Its Apple TV box was downsized into a small package designed to rent movies over the net.
Apple also gave a sneak peak at software updates for iPhone/ iPad, including nifty features such as wireless printing.
In Berlin, Samsung took the wraps off its iPad competitor, the Galaxy Tab. The Tab went down a storm even though Samsung kept pricing to itself until close to launch next month.
Sony talked up its plans for a music and video site to rival iTunes called Qriocity (curiosity, geddit?). It won't be available in Ireland initially but let's hope it improves on Sony's previous failures in this space.