Samsung adds touch of class to camera market but loses focus on price
Samsung Galaxy 2 camera
Price: €450 Rating: ***
Is Samsung's Galaxy 2 camera a total breakthrough or completely superfluous? If you already have a high-end cameraphone and a decent camera (ie, me), it is the latter.
The device sticks a 4.8-inch, fully-powered Android touchscreen on to the back of a decent (though not outstanding) camera, with a 21x zoom.
For anyone who finds cameras fiddly and unintuitive, the advantages are obvious: it is almost identical to using a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. That means sharing photos immediately through Instagram, Facebook, Gmail or any other smartphone app you like.
On the other hand, this doubles the price of a camera which, in photo quality terms, is more comparable with a €199 rival than a €450 device. I can definitely see the appeal for cameras using smartphone touchscreens but, in an era of five-inch, 20-megapixel cameraphones, this is a lot of money to spend on a mid-range snapper, even with the touchscreen advantage.
A FUNKY ALTERNATIVE TO A LAPTOP BAG
BookBook by Twelve South
Price: €90 Rating: ****
I've never been one for bags. But I'm often forced to carry one around, as transporting my 11-inch MacBook Air around in a bare sleeve looks and feels weird. That was until I got my hands on Twelve By South's funky BookBook cover. It's a (hardened) leather laptop sleeve dressed up as a venerable old book.
Aside from looking cool, it's extremely well made, with plenty of padding and very nice to the touch. It's also a lot more security-conscious than most laptop sleeves (who wants to steal a book?).
It doesn't mess about with extra pockets, either, which keeps the entire package slim enough to walk around comfortably with.
The same sleeve is available for iPads.
GET YOUR HANDS ON AN AIRFRAME
Kenu Airframe Portable Car Vent
Price: €25 Rating: ***
Anyone paying attention last week knows that using your phone in the car is about to be cracked down in an unprecedented way. Looking at the new rules, it appears that the key offending element is the physical use of one's hands.
This apparently means that using your phone to make or take calls, or to dictate messages and emails by voice (in a 'hands-free' fashion) is still okay. In this context, if you simply buy a holder such as Kenu's Airframe, you can apparently avoid penalties under the new regulations.
The new rules remain very incomplete, leaving many elements up to the individual discretion of gardai.
BARGAIN NEXUS 5 OUTSMARTS ITS RIVALS
LG Nexus 5
Price: €420 unlocked, from free on contract Rating: ****
I've always been a fan of Google's Nexus devices. The tablets (Nexus 7) are sleek, fast and very modestly priced. The phones, too, give almost everything you want in a high-end smartphone at a much more pocket-friendly price than rival products from Apple or Samsung.
Over the past fortnight, I've been using LG's Nexus 5. Like others of its ilk, it's a pure Android machine, which means it doesn't have the extra (complicating, gimmick-ridden) layers and (unused) apps that manufacturers like to impose on us.
Like other Nexus devices, LG's Nexus 5 has great power (2.3Ghz quadcore chip) and is superbly designed.
It's also geared to be up to date with the very latest version of Android (in this case, 4.4).
As a phone, this five-inch smartphone is great in all but one regard: its battery life.
I find it to be at the lower end of the scale, regularly requiring a recharge by late afternoon. It's also tough to get on the traditional 'business' operators (Vodafone and O2). But for the money, this is a superb smartphone.
IPAD FANS WILL LOVE THIS TYPE OF GADGETRY
Incase Origami Workstation
Price: €30 Rating: ****
While iPads are starting to fade from business life, those who still use them often depend on connecting them to keyboards. If you already have a Mac wireless keyboard, Incase's Origami Workstation is a nice way of fitting it all together. It acts as a protective case and a set-up stand (via velcro straps) for the keyboard and iPad. It's designed to allow both vertical and horizontal iPad layout. It's good for those who need to power through typing sessions.