Monday 19 February 2018

Weckler on Technology: Sony wins the console war with PlayStation 4

The Sony Playstation 4
The Sony Playstation 4
The Sony A7
The Selfie
The Nokia 1520
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler casts his eye over this week's hotest gadgets.

Sony Playstation 4

Price: from €400 (with one controller)

Rating: * * * *

Like a few others, my more intense gaming days are probably behind me. But if I were to dive down again, I think it would probably be with Sony's PlayStation 4, launched yesterday in Ireland.

Having played with the device for about a week, there are a couple of reasons I say this. First, the unit itself is extremely elegant. That means I get away with having it in the living room for at least 24 hours before being told that it's 'an unsightly gadget' or 'a mess of wires'.

Secondly, the PS4 is much closer to what I regard a gaming device to be. In other words, it's not trying to be some kind of 'home entertainment' system like its main rival, the Xbox One.

People will have different views on this, but I cringe every time I hear a tech manufacturer proclaim that they're going to become 'integrated' in our sitting rooms.

And it's a relief that Sony isn't trying to shove voice-control down our throats, either, via a mandatory camera. I don't want to physically talk to my console to switch it on.

Finally, it's much more keenly priced (by €100) than its Microsoft rival.

Sony A7

Price: €1,600 (body only); €2,000 (with 28-70mm lens)

Rating: * * * *

Camera enthusiasts often pine for things such as so-called full-frame quality on smaller devices. The reason many photographers opt for bulky black models is that they let in more light (with their larger full-frame apertures), which makes for better photos. For reasons of physics, it is harder to do this on a smaller camera.

But a year after Sony introduced its astonishing full-frame compact RX1, it has just launched another small full-frame model, the a7. This is different from the fixed-lens, 35mm RX1 insofar as it accepts interchangeable lenses. That makes it a bit bigger, but not as big as a traditional DSLR. While it sports a 24-megapixel sensor, a bigger version (the a7R) will have a 36-megapixel sensor when it launches next week.

There are a few other differences with larger DSLRs, such as a lack of an optical viewfinder. But even with Canon's recent price drop on its 6D price (to €1,700), this has become the cheapest full-frame camera on the market.

The Selfie

Price: €25 (including delivery from

Rating: * * * *

Sniffy columnists and tweeters have been lining up to denounce self-taken cameraphone shots (selfies) as "vain", "narcissistic" and "yet more evidence of a shallow generation".

Of course, the same vanity most definitely does not apply to the columnists' (large) byline photos. Or their carefully chosen Twitter avatars. Oh no.

Happily, we're not all pompous posers. Still, would we buy a gadget dedicated to selfies? That's what US firm Gabba Goods is testing with a small device called 'The Selfie'. It's a simple remote control cable that allows you to take photos from your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad (iOS only, no Android) by clicking a small button at the end of the thin, 1.2-metre cable. The idea is to take more composed 'selfies' than the arms-length, shaky snaps that fill our Instagram feeds.

While it works great, I can't help feeling that it bumps against one rule of selfie-culture: spontaneity. (Having this with you increases the likelihood that you're planning a selfie, which isn't really how selfies work.) That aside, it's a fun little gadget that would make a nice stocking-filler for Christmas.

Nokia 1520

Price: €700 sim-free, expected from free on Vodafone.

Rating: * * * *

IS six inches too big for a phone? The headline metrics can be confusing. While Apple's iPhone 5 is four inches in diameter, Nokia's new six-inch Lumia 1520 is over twice its size. Personally, I like big-screen phones (as tomorrow's specially rated guide to the best and worst business phones in the Sunday Independent will make clear).

Like other Lumias, the 1520 uses Windows. That means that it's decent for Microsoft software but still poorer than iPhones or Android handsets for app selection. It certainly has enough power, with a blistering 2.2Ghz quadcore chip. There's an impressive 20-megapixel camera too. In arguably the fastest-growing niche premium-phone segment (phablets), this could do reasonably well.

Irish Independent

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