Olympus reveals seven new snappers

It’s that time of year, when all the technical bods gathered in Las Vegas to wonder at the latest innovations at the world’s biggest technical showcase – CES. And it’s also the cue for camera manufacturers to roll out a vast swathe of new and hopefully improved models for their adoring public.

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We’ve already seen what Canon has on offer; next up is Olympus, which has revealed a total of seven new cameras – one of which it says will challenge the future designs of compact cameras. So let’s take a look at it.

The Olympus E-PL2 is compact and lightweight and claims to offer beginners the chance to take SLR-quality stills and movies, as well as offering a good choice of lenses including 16 dedicated Micro Four Thirds lenses and three new conversion lenses – Wide, Macro and Fish Eye (prices start from about £60). Moving on from the E-PL1, the lens is now lighter and sensitivity now extends to ISO 6400. Expect to pay around £500.

Enthusiasts and professionals looking for a second camera are being served by the XZ-1, a compact camera that promises clear pictures in low light, which has long been an issue with compact digitals, and looks to rival the likes of the Canon PowerShot S95 with its fast f1.8 lens. Sensitivity is upped on most of its rivals – at ISO 6400 – and it has a 10-megapixel sensor. Priced at around £399, the general verdict from those techies lucky enough to get their hands on one in Las Vegas has been good so far.

With an optical zoom of x22, sports shots should be a breeze with the compact Olympus SP-610Z, which is Eye-Fi card compatible, allowing automatic wireless uploading of pictures to a computer or website. Priced at around £170.

And for those of you who are tough on gadgets, take a look at the latest range of waterproof, freeze proof and shockproof Tough models – the TG-610 (£250) and TG-310 (£200). They now feature a sliding double lock mechanism to protect cards slots, battery and ports as well as a lens barrier for protection when taking underwater images. They feature 14-megapixel sensors and the ability to shoot in 3D and be charged via USB.

And for newbies on a budget, Olympus has introduced the VR-310 (£130), a very compact camera with a 14-megapixel sensor, creative Magic Filters and the ability to shoot movies at 720p HD, as well as the VG-130 (£99.99), which comes in pink and black.

For more details head to www.olympus.co.uk/cameras

Dell at CES: Streak 7, Venue Android phone, XPS laptops and Alienware

Dell outlined its plans for the year ahead at CES. Okay, stay with me – heads off desks at the back. Why? Because apart from being about as hip as a shoulder, there’s some exciting stuff coming out of the company in 2011. Its main focus? Build and expand on its most interesting brands, introducing the Streak 7 (the tablet), XPS with a 3D screen (high-powered laptop) and an updated Alienware line, the world’s most popular gaming systems.

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Dell Streak 7

The Dell Streak 7 runs Android 2.2 on a NVIDIA Tegra dual-core processor, fronted by a 7-inch multi-touchscreen with Gorilla Glass (which is tough enough to withstand some awfully cruel looking pen jabs, according to YouTube clips).

As an Android-tablet, there’ll be the full Flash experience, as well as thousands of Android Market widgets, games and applications. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and front- and rear-facing cameras allow for video chatting over 3G or Wi-Fi.

Venue Android Phone

Beauty is everything for the Venue –that’s why it has a huge 8-megapixel camera and a vibrant, high-contrast 4.1-inch AMOLED display. Not only will pictures look great (although the HTC 7 showed us that more megapixels doesn’t mean better pictures) but they’ll display perfectly on the colour-rich display.

It’s got more of that Gorilla Glass, although this time it’s been curved to help fit the contours of the face. There’s a 1GHz processor, too.

XPS Laptops with 3D

Leading Dell’s laptop line-up is the 17-inch XPS, featuring a 3D display (although you’ll need to buy the required NVIDIA NVision 3D glasses separately, misers). It’s also got all the high-end features from earlier XPS models, such as JBL speakers, an integrated subwoofer and a HD webcam.

Gaming fans will be pleased to know that the 3D is powered by the NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M graphics card, and paired with an Intel Core i7 processor, so it’s no slouch in the gaming stakes.

It’ll also double-up as a 3D Blu-Ray player, able to plug-in to a compatible 3D HDTV for 3D Blu-ray disc playback and PC gaming on a stereoscopic 3D TV.

Alienware

Alienware will have two main offerings in the coming months: the new M17x, Alienware’s first 3D-capable gaming laptop, and the world’s only MicroATX desktop with full 3D HD capability and liquid-cooled CPUs.

The Dull

Dell also launched its first-ever consumer marketing campaign: “You Can Tell It’s Dell.” What a difference a rhyme makes – apparently the campaign’s 14,000 ads have generated billions of impressions worldwide.

CES 2011: ZTE light and other goodies

ZTE used to be a bit camera shy. It’d hide its achievements behind mobile phone brands like Orange or Vodafone, despite being responsible for 99.8% of 3G dongles on the UK market. Then last year, the Chinese company launched a series of smart-priced Android smartphones that established the brand. In 2011, it’s expanding on that success, with more 3G and mobile Android solutions on offer.

ZTE-Light

This year, however, the company’s Android offering is not a phone, but two tablet computers.

The ZTE Light was originally launched in late 2010, but 2011’s enhanced version seems much more promising. It comes with a 7’’ TFT capacitive touchscreen (resolution 800 x 480), runs Android 2.2 (which means full Flash action), 512MB RAM voice capabilities, as well as SMS/MMS functionality.

It’s also a slimmer 12.6mm thick, and weighs a mere 389 grams. Despite being a lightweight system, it pumps out some heavy tunes thanks to the wise inclusion of DOLBY Surround 3.0.

The other tablet is the perhaps unoriginally named ZTE Light 2. Inside you’ll find a 1GHz processor, up to 4GB RAM (madness!), a multi-touch screen at 1024 x 600, DLNA support and data transfer rates up to 14.4 Mbps and 5.76 Mbps down/uplink.

Mobile Modems

Beyond tablets, there’re plenty more mobile modems to come. Two new dongles, the AL621 and MF820, will plug into Windows USB ports with bandwidths of up to 20MHz. That means that the two could reach download/upload speeds of up to 100/50 Mbps. The MF820 also supports HSPA+ 42/11 Mbps downlink/uplink rates, so it’ll work with UK networks, should they choose to send data that fast.

The new ZTE MF91 Mobile Hotspot is also equipped for both LTE 100/50 Mbps and HSPA+ 42/11 Mbps downlink/uplink rates, which means it’s basically a speed-upgrade across the board for ZTE. It’ll also be able to tether up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices – around double the number of Wi-Fi devices in the standard home.

Casio unveils Bluetooth enabled digital wrist watch

Just as mobile phones went from convenient personal calling to inseparable lifestyle companions, the humble wrist watch is set to follow in their footsteps. No longer will we be using our watches to just tell us the time, they will have far more important things to do.

Casio-Bluetooth-Watch

Casio has just unveiled plans for a new watch that will be Bluetooth low energy enabled using recently developed technology allowing it to communicate with our smart phones. All new smart phones will shortly carry Bluetooth low energy wireless technology allowing them to pair up with networks of other devices. At first glance putting this on a watch may seem a rather wasteful use of development resources; after all, a watch just tells us the time right?

Wrong. This technology will transform our digital watches into highly useful smart phone aides. For example, once your watch is paired to your smart phone it will be able to perform many useful jobs including:

  • Checking with the smart phone to maintain the correct time automatically
  • Notifying us of any incoming calls or emails sent to our smart phone
  • Answering our smart phones ring alerts or vibrations through a single button press
  • Setting new smart phone alerts or alarms through a single button press.
  • Doing all this without any loss of battery power. In other words, the button-cell battery life of the watch will be unaffected by all this new connectivity.

The plans for the new watch were released at the International Consumers Electronics Show, recently held in Las Vegas and Casio is looking to have a prototype ready this year.

CES 2011: Golla cases and bags for your gadgets

If Santa was good to you this Christmas and bought you a new phone or even iPad it is time to start thinking accessories. So by now you have got to grips with it and you want a new case. When you have something as valuable as the iPad you need something stylish and functional to carry it around. A quality bag or case which does not fall apart on you after 2 weeks can sometimes be hard to find. Golla have cases and bags for iPhones, eReaders, cameras and laptops and they announced their 2011 range at CES 2011. Here are some the best.

Golla

Golla introduce the G-bag in 5 colours with the grey being my favourite with the stylish design. With a magnetic flap, it’s easy to open and close. A G-bag can be used for an iPad or laptop using the padded compartment. The straps can be folded away so they no longer drag on the floor. Golla show their flair for design with the laptop bags as they have a dedicated laptop compartment with velcro fastening to keep it in place. They also come with a screen cloth to keep your laptop clean. There are several more compartments to keep your accessories, keys and wallet. The designs tend to be letters or floral designs on the flap and will suit men and women. A lot of the new designs are in denim as it seems to be the rage, good for a more casual look.

If you a new DSLR camera, then how about camera bag? Golla’s cam bags are padded and two removable walls in the bags to provide extra space when needed. They come in 3 sizes and the large cam bag has extra slots for memory cards, outside pockets for ease and a top handle to carry when your shoulder hurts. The small size is for compact cameras.

The new range of cases for mobile phones has been given an extra pocket which is perfect for storing earphones or loose change. Some of the cases have a carabiner attached which is useful for sporty people as you can clip it to your bag or belt. The new Golla collection will be available from April in Currys and phone retailers.

CES 2011 Press Events: CES Unveiled, Sony & Panasonic

Barely had we finished the tidying up from New Years Eve when we found ourselves rubbing shoulders with press and senior members of the tech industry on-board a plane headed for this year’s CES in Las Vegas (baby!).

After a day of wondering around the strip and watching people gamble at breakfast, we were grateful to attend the show’s official press preview events and keynotes. The first day’s programme included talks on the state of the consumer and global consumer electronics industry as well as CES Unveiled – a crammed packed (in every sense) preview of products being launched at the show – some of which we will look at in more detail in our next article.

The second pre-show press day (held on Wednesday) featured press conferences by the majority of the world’s largest consumer electronics companies. The result of which meant that the Venetian now resembled the scene at an airport when all the flights are cancelled. People on laptops lined the floors, the previously tranquil press room appeared to have been hit by an Apple laptop flash mob and long lines of impatient press snaked around every corridor, queuing for rooms called things like ‘Galileo 1006’ and ‘Casanova 605’.

Nevertheless, and after around forty minutes of queuing, we eventually made it in to the Panasonic press conference. We know everyone loves a sound bite, so here’s one to keep you going. According to the firm, 3D TVs will account for 32% of total TV sales by 2014. They also announced they will launch five new 3D camcorders this year – presumably so we all have something to actually watch if and when we replace our perfectly good HD flat-screens with the 3D variety.

Panasonic’s other major announcement was its growing focus on ‘web connected’ (IPTV) televisions – demand for which they predict will grow rapidly over the next three years. As part of this increased focused on IPTV, the company announced that Viera Cast will be renamed to Viera Connect and will feature a marketplace with an extended choice of in-house and 3rd party apps. The company also announced the launch of an Android powered tablet (in three sizes) which can be used to interact and stream content to a compatible Panasonic TV.

Leaving the crowded corridors of the Venetian behind, we jumped on to the Las Vegas monorail to attend Sony’s press event at the main convention centre. Upon arrival we were given a pair of 3D glasses – a pretty obvious indication of what to expect in the presentation!

Things kicked off with a bit of showbiz as the company showcased the forthcoming ‘Green Hornet’ movie (yes, you guessed it – in 3D!) complete with the movie’s stars Seth Rogen and Jay Chou appearing on stage in a car.

Razzmatazz out of the way, Sony outlined its vision of “3D World” by showcasing a range of forthcoming 3D products such as 3D Blu-ray players, 3D Bloggie, 3D Cybershots, 3D… we think you get the idea! They also announced the launch of the forthcoming Xperia Arc smartphone which is the company’s first to feature the mobile version of the Bravia Engine and comes with a 4.2” ‘Reality Display’.

Sony’s ‘Future 3D Technologies’ section included a pair of futuristic (or retro, depending on your view point!) wrap-around 3D goggles and also, more impressively, a working demo of a glasses-free 10.1” portable 3D Blu-ray player. Picture of both can be seen by clicking on the thumbnails above.

Apart from their new products and apparent aim to add “3D” to their entire product range, Sony’s other message was their focus on leveraging the power of their network of products and to allow them to seamlessly connect to each other. They also announced that there were over 60m accounts in the Sony Network and that ‘network services’ represents a key new business area for the firm.

Stay tuned for our round-up of the products, both good and bad, that caught our eye as we racked up the miles pounding the exhibition floors. Links will appear below in due course.

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