Olympus launch new SLR style MILC

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Last night Olympus launched a new range of digital cameras; the OM-D range (although right now, it’s only one model, in Black or Silver). The Olympus E-M5 is a Micro Four Thirds MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera) which harks back to the styling of the OM film range of twenty odd years ago. That slightly large hump above the camera doesn’t contain a prism (like an SLR would), but instead features an EVF (Electronic ViewFinder), and the same accessory mount Olympus use on their PEN range allowing a range of devices to be attached (Macro lights, Microphones, Bluetooth Transfer device).  Fuji has had success with it’s retro styling digital cameras, and I think this particular model comes with a high enough specification to be able to carry it off.

This is a semi-professional camera, with dust and splash proof seals, and also like many professional cameras, comes with the option of a vertical grip (also weather sealed). Actually it’s a two part grip, firstly providing an additional landscape shutter button and grip (making the small camera easier to hold for those with big hands), and then the vertical grip element, with shutter button, two customisable buttons, a main control dial and storage for a second battery.

One downside to the camera is that it does not feature a built in flash, but Olympus are shipping the camera with a small external flash (also weather sealed), so at least it’s not an additional expense, which used to be true of many film SLRs until built in flashes became common. Although not fully articulated, the rear touchscreen will tilt up or down allowing you some freedom in taking pictures above your head or at waist height; you can’t tell from the pictures, but at 121 x 90 x 42mm (without the grip or lens attached), this is quite a small device and could be popular for street photography.

This is a camera I like. With the 12-50mm weather sealed lens kit, it’s going to retail in the UK for around £1150, but with the added bonus that if you pre-order the camera (it’s due to be released in April), official UK dealers will be offering the HLD-6 grip for free as part of the deal (between the lens and the grip and all key components being weather sealed, this makes the package well worthy of consideration when compared to the price of other MILC devices).

If you want to read the full technical specifications, then Olympus has created a special microsite at olympusomd.com where you can see more pictures and the full specs.


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INQ Announce new Android devices

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

INQ announced they would be moving to Android many months ago now, but we now have pictures of the first of the two devices that they have now formally announced.  The first is the INQ Cloud Touch, which should be available (exclusively at Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy for a limited period) in April 2011, which is a traditional touch based Android phone (see above).  Planned to be available in Black, Red and White, the INQ Cloud Touch has the following spec:

Software:

  • Android Froyo 2.2 platform
  • Built with a modular approach making upgrade to Gingerbread easy
  • Instant Messaging for WLM, G-Talk and Facebook Chat
  • Free push email across major domains, including Microsoft Exchange
  • Info Key to quick access to key handset functions
  • Fast unlock for quick access to key functions
  • Backup and sync, plus firmware upgrades to later software releases

Hardware:

  • Processor: Qualcomm 7227 chipset, 600MHz
  • Triband HSPA (7.2/ 5.76Mbps), Quadband GSM, EDGE + WiFi
  • Size: 3.5” inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen display with extended 10mm touch strip
  • Memory: 4MB with option to add more
  • 5 MP autofocus camera
  • 1300mAh battery
  • WiFi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, GPS, FM Radio, accelerometer, compass, ambient light and proximity sensors
  • MicroUSB charging, 3.5mm audio jack.
  • Accessories included: 4GB microSD Card, Travel Charger & USB Cable, Stereo Headset, Quick Start Guide

Although not in the name, INQ have continued their long running Social Networking Support and built in some good Facebook integration into the phone; “Facebook comes alive with a homescreen Visual Media Feed for video, pictures, web pages and newsfeed.

There are one-touch links to Facebook Chat, Friends, Messages, Wall and Notifications. Facebook Single Sign On is activated across the phones and people can check in to their favorite shops, restaurants and clubs with Facebook Places, also active on the homescreen. Facebook Events fully integrates with the Google Calendar on both devices.

The phones are the first mobiles to use the Facebook social graph API, making it easy for people to follow updates from the friends they interact with most.”

Also, the phone will come with the Spotify client, with all relevant Spotify features being available to subscribers.

However, the other phone also looks very interesting. The INQ Cloud Q brings together the same software with a touchscreen based Android handset, but it also includes a QWERTY keyboard in the BlackBerry-style widescreen candybar format.  When we had the choice of the INQ Mini or the INQ Chat, many people went for the Chat as it offered all the same facilities, but with the benefit of the QWERTY.  Obviously, the Cloud Q has a different touchscreen to the Cloud Touch, so it’s not as clear which will be more popular, but yet again INQ are introducing a range of less expensive phones with the same facilities as the top end models from other manufacturers.

Photo of INQ Cloud Q courtesy of Mobile Phones Arena.


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Is this going to be a popular phone?

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

This is the new Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, announced last week, is one of their top Android models for 2011.  Featuring Android v2.3, it has a high specification, including:

  • 8 megapixel camera
  • HDMI port, Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, USB, 3.5mm audio port
  • 480 x 854 pixels scratch resistant 4.2″ touchscreen with 16m colours
  • 125 x 63 x 8.7 mm weighing 117 grams

However, one of the key things about the announcement (and the likes of Nokia should take note here); the phone is due to be available within the next two months; not the 8-12 months we often wait for the latest Nokia model; Sony Ericsson have said it will be available in Q1 this year.

Personally, I think this phone will turn out to be a popular model throughout the year.


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3UK now selling HTC Desire HD

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Although I’m not sure it’s actually available today, 3UK are now selling the HTC Desire HD, with orders due to be delivered by the end of next week.  The HTC Desire HD builds on the success of the HTC Desire and adds a 4.3″ touchscreen as well as an 8 megapixel camera supporting HD video recording, plus it’s one of the devices supported at the new HTCsense.com portal.  3UK are selling the HTC Desire HD on the One Plan for £40 per month (24 month contract), bringing 200 cross network minutes, 5000 texts, 5000 3UK3UK minutes and 1GB of Internet, free Voicemail, and an impressive 6 months free Spotify Premium subscription (although the data usage will need to come out of your 1GB allowance if you use it on 3G).

The HTC Desire HD is also available on lesser plans, eg the Internet Texter 500 plan for £35 per month (24 month contract) giving you 500 cross network minutes, 5000 texts, 5000 3UK3UK minutes, 1GB of Internet, free Voicemail, and just 2 months Spotify Premium subscription.

Of course, if you can’t afford this, the HTC Desire is still good value from 3UK for about a fiver less per month, or you can even get the HTC Desire on the One Plan for £25 per month (24 month contract) if you go for a refurbished stock item.

As always, head to the 3Store for more details.


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3UK bringing newest smartphones to you

Friday, October 15th, 2010

3UK are continuing to provide some of the latest smartphones, and really do seem to be stepping up to have a good mid to high end range of phone options, as well as having a strong low end range of phones.

Within the last week or two, the BlackBerry Torch has become available on 3UK, which, if you are a BlackBerry fan (and after 15 months of using one daily I’m not!) this is actually a good all round device.  One of the first to feature the new v6 OS, yet also combining a touchscreen and a slide out QWERTY keyboard, the BlackBerry Torch offers the best of both worlds.  The BlackBerry Torch will cost some money upfront (eg £149 and then £30 per month for 24 months with 2000 cross network minutes, 5000 texts and 1GB of internet on the One Plan). Please note the new upfront price of £149 should be available from this afternoon (currently listed at £249).

Also, from today 3UK have the Nokia N8 available for pre order today.  Not technically a flagship phone, but still a key phone for Nokia’s future, it’s a very nice device as long as you don’t need a QWERTY keyboard (and if you do and can afford it, the Nokia E7 should satisfy that requirement when released).  On the same One Plan as the BlackBerry Torch mentioned above, the Nokia N8 is £35 per month for 24 months, but with no upfront cost at all).

Head off to the 3Store to see more details of these two phones, and to order.


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HTC also launch two Android Handsets

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

What a week last week was!  On top of the Nokia phone announcements, and the LG Optimus One phone we covered this morning, HTC also launched 2 new Android v2.2 phones last week.  Now, both of these look very interesting devices, so read on for more information on the devices…

(more…)


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LG launch two new Android Handsets

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Last week LG launched two new Android Handsets, the LG Optimus One and the LG Optimus Chic.  However, for now we can all forget about the LG Optimus Chic, as there are no plans to release it in the UK.  However, the LG Optimus One is due in the UK, and due next month too (a note to Nokia: LG, like Apple, can launch worldwide and move from announcement to stock in shops pretty quickly, unlike you…)

So, the LG Optimus One is an Android v2.2 handset, and ships with a 1500mAh battery and a 3.2″ capacitive touchscreen.  There will be a carkit accessory available (at extra cost).  Although it’s a Google phone, one interesting addition from LG is the LG App Advisor which will recommend 10 highly rated applications every 2 weeks (although it will be interesting to see if this is still advising of new apps in a year or two…)

At 113.5 x 59 x 13.3 mm and weighing 129g it’s a pretty good size, although I note the screen is apparently only 256k colours.  It features a 3 megapixel camera, and has WiFi, Bluetooth, G Sensor, Digital Compass and an FM Radio.  It also comes with a 2GB microSD card.

Although I don’t see this as being the highest of specs, I suspect, like many LG handsets, this will be sensibly priced, and sell in quite large numbers, potentially on PAYG more than contract, and will provide many people with their first experience of an Android phone.  It’s out next month, although no word on price yet.

If you are reading this directly on the UK Gadgeteer website, you should also find a video from LG about the LG Optimus One.


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Is innovation returning to Symbian?

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Some people may argue that innovation never left the Symbian developer space, but let’s be honest, of late it’s been more productive to release new products and services for either an Apple product, or Android, and this still continues to some degree; eg we’ve seen London Cycle Hire applications for Apple and Android, but still nothing for Symbian (although there is a new mobile optimised website at cyclehi.com which should work on desktops and mobiles, and is well worthy of a bookmark).

Let’s also not forget that some developers (such as the Jan Ole Suhr at Mobileways, the author of the excellent Gravity Social Networking client for Symbian) have never left Symbian, and have continued to develop really useful applications for the platform.

However, in the last few weeks, I think we’re starting to see a change; firstly, we have Sym4Square, a FourSquare client developed for the touchscreen phones which has now been formally released (see here for information about the beta).  This isn’t the first app to support FourSquare on Symbian, but is the first dedicated app, and seems a pretty complete app too.

Then, we can’t forget Swype, a very popular third party keyboard for Android phones (which allows you to swipe from key to key, and it tries to work out which word you are selecting), has just gone into beta for selected Symbian^1 (aka S60 5th Edition) devices over at Nokia Beta Labs.  It is key, in my opinion, that apps like this are produced, to show that these features can and will be provided for Symbian too (it’s not clear whether is uses the builtin dictionary, or relies upon it’s own, but it certainly seems to maintain it’s own custom dictionary file, and not use the Symbian custom dictionary, which is a real shame).

Finally, again something we’ve already covered (here), but the first platform with a full Online Shopping application (covering the whole end to end process) from Tesco? Symbian.

With Nokia World a week away, and a fair few hardware rumours already out there, it will be interesting to see if Nokia can return to the forefront over the next year…


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Fancy a cheaper Symbian Handset?

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Prices for phones will always drop over time, but whilst many of the network get to a point where they drop the product from their range, 3UK seem happy to continue to sell devices at some amazing prices.  Take for example last week’s price reductions; you can now pick up a Nokia 5230 or a Nokia E63 for £90 on PAYG, and both prices include a £10 TopUp, making the phone effectively only £80!

I used a Nokia E63 for roughly 6 months, and the only real issue I found with the QWERTY device was the lack of GPS, which was solved pretty much completely by purchasing Maps Booster from the Ovi Store (see here and here for a review, and I note it’s on sale even cheaper now); in fact, even on phones with GPS, I often rely upon either Maps Booster, Google Maps, or the latest versions of Ovi Maps to provide cell and/or WiFi location information as this really does satisfy the majority of my location needs.  Occasionally I need true GPS (when driving), but at £80 (plus a few pounds for Maps Booster) it’s definitely worth considering.

The Nokia 5230 (covered before here) is also a worthy device for £80.  This device, as well as supporting a touchscreen, which is becoming a key feature for many people, does have the GPS that the Nokia E63 does not have.  However, as the Nokia E63 is an E-Series device, it includes WiFi, which is the one key feature many will find missing from the Nokia 5230.  If you can survive on 3G alone (and many people can), then the Nokia 5230 may well make a nice budget phone.

Of course, 3UK have a whole range of phones available from budget models right up to top of the range models, so head to the 3Store to see what else they have!


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Archos launch 5 new Android tablets

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Archos last week announced a range of 5 Android Tablets, running from the £99 2.8″ Archos 28 tablet to the £299 16GB 10.1″ Archos 101.  In fact, the models have quite different specs, which are worth checking out:

The £99 4GB (or 8GB for an extra £10) Archos 28 (below) has a 320×240 pixels 2.8” TFT LCD with resistive touchscreen, ARM Cortex A8 processor at 800 MHz, USB2, WiFi, Microphone, G-Sensor, is 100 x 54 x 9 mm and weighs 68 grams.

Then there’s the £129 8GB Archos 32 (below), which has a 400×240 pixels 3.2” TFT LCD with resistive touchscreen (interestingly, Archos say the Archos 28 supports 16m colours, whilst this supports 256k colours, unless it’s a misprint), ARM Cortex A8 processor at 800 MHz with DSP, USB2, WiFi, Bluetooth (note it’s missing from the Archos 28), pre-installed applications (Deezer, Ebuddy, Mewbox, Raging Thunder Lite, Touiteur, Quickpedia), TV out (again not on the Archos 28, and the cable is an optional extra), Microphone, G-Sensor, and is 105 x 55 x 9 mm and weighs 72 grams. It also has a camera on the back.

Next comes the £199 16GB Archos 43 (below), which has a microSD card, a 480×854 pixels 4.3” TFT LCD with resistive touchscreen (back to 16 million colours), ARM Cortex A8 processor at 1GHz with DSP, USB2, WiFi, Bluetooth, pre-installed applications (Webbrowser, Email, Contacts, Appslib, Twitter, Wikipedia, Weather Channel, Ebuddy, Deezer, Mewbox, Racing Thunderlight, Weather Channel, World Newspaper), TV HDMI out (again the cable is an optional extra), Microphone, G-Sensor, and is 135 x 65 x 9 mm and weighs 130 grams.  This also adds an HD camera (although whether a 2MP camera producing 720p should really be called HD is another matter), and it has a built in kick stand for when you want to watch movies.

Importantly, all devices listed (the Archos 28, Archos 32 and the Archos 43 will be available in September), whilst the following two devices are due out in October:

Moving on further is the 8GB (£229) or 250GB (£269) Archos Archos 70 (below), which has a microSD card (only on the 8GB Flash version, not the 250GB Hard Disk version), a 800 x 480 pixels 7.0” TFT LCD with capacitive touchscreen (16 million colours), ARM Cortex A8 processor at 1GHz with DSP, USB2, WiFi, Bluetooth, pre-installed applications (Aldiko, Ebuddy, Wikipedia, Avecomics, HubKap, Deezer, Mewbox, Raging Thunderlite (a 3D car demo game), WordNewspaper, Touiteur, Fring), TV HDMI out (again the cable is an optional extra), Microphone, G-Sensor, and is 201 x 114 x 10 mm and weighs 300 grams for the Flash version, with the Hard Disk version is 4 mm thicker and 100 grams heavier.  This doesn’t have the rear HD camera, but does have a front facing VGA camera instead, and it also has the built in kick stand.

Finally, there is the 8GB (£269) or 16GB (£299) Archos 101 (shown at the top of the article), which is pretty much the same spec as the Archos 70, except the capacitive touchscreen is 1024×600 pixels with a 10.1″ TFT LCD, and is 270 x 150 x 12 mm and 480 grams.

All devices will have access to Archos’ AppsLib App Store for downloading (and purchasing) additional applications for these tablets, but if you don’t need 3G capability (or you have a MiFi device) then many of these may well suit, especially with all featuring Android v2.2 as standard.

There’s much more information, pictures, and full specs over on Archos’ website here, where you’ll notice the 8GB Archos 32 (£129) is already available for sale.  I will also add there appear to be a number of other standard apps included with each device beyond those listed.


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