Find your voice with two new voice recorders from Olympus

Olympus has just released two compact, easy-to-use VN voice recorders, which are perfect for taking notes and ‘writing’ shopping lists as well as practising for speeches, presentations and lectures. The VN-7700 is £39.99, while the VN-7600 comes in at a very reasonable £34.99.

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Both can be operated hands-free, thanks to their voice-activated recording facility, so you can quickly add to a shopping list or send yourself a quick reminder even while you’re driving or typing or holding the baby, or whatever.

You can choose from three recording qualities (Q/SP and LP), and Noise Cancelling technology should ensure you get clear dialogue even when there’s lots of background noise. You can choose to balance sound quality against recording time depending on your needs.

The VN-7700 has 2 GB of storage, which allows you to record more than 1100 hours of recordings on LP mode. The VN-7600 can record 55 hours on LP, to store on its 1Gb of memory. Both have an excellent 80 hours of battery life.

Other features include a timer recording functionality, alarm, variable speed playback and repeat and continuous playback modes (VN-7700 only). It is also possible to save up to 200 recorded files for playback in each of the four folders, while a 16-point index function allows you to mark important sections of a recording so it is easy to find and play them back. The VN-7700 also allows recorded files to be divided or repeatedly played back in segments, which is great for long recordings.

The recorders will be available from July from Amazon, Comet and Dixons. More tails at www.olympus.co.uk

Snap a rainbow with Olympus cameras

Okay – I have to admit it – Olympus won me over with from the start of its latest announcement when it said that it had brought out a purple camera. Now, I know I’m not supposed to be all girlie and be swayed by such trivialities, so let’s get back on track and take a look at the technical specifications.

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The Olympus VR-310 also comes in red, black and silver and offers the benefits of a 10x super-wide optical zoom, which should enable you to take great group shots or snap distant objects in great detail. The 14mp snapper has seven creative Magic Filters and 720p HD Movie – all for the price of £130.

For another tenner, you could snap up the Olympus VR-320 (exclusive to Jessops) It has a 12.5x super wide optical zoom lens,14 Megapixels, HD movie, Face Detection and Shadow Adjustment. This cute compact is available in black, red, silver and navy blue.

If you’re tough on your gadgets, you might want to spend a tad more and go for the Olympus TG-310, which is waterproof, shockproof and freezeproof. Capable of shooting HD movies and 14 megapixel still photos with the dramatic realism of 3D, the camera has Eye-Fi card compatibility, which means you can automatically upload your pictures and movies wirelessly to your computer or website. The cameras can also be charged through USB. The Olympus TG-130 costs £160 and comes in blue, orange, red, white & silver.

Finally, if your budget can stretch considerably higher, the retro style of the Olympus E-PL2 may well appeal. This latest in the Olympus PEN series is lightweight and compact, and Olympus says you will get SLR-quality shots thanks to Live Guide, which teaches beginners step-by-step how to capture great images. Like an SLR, the camera features interchangeable lenses, plus there are six Art Filters (which can be layered) to add colour and drama. The cost of this flexibility? £529.99.

For more log on to www.olympus.co.uk

TG-810: Olympus gets tough with its latest camera

Olympus-Tough

Okay – hands up anyone who has managed to trash their camera through their foolhardy and careless ways? I see you – and so did Olympus – which has brought out what it claims to be its toughest camera to date. The latest tough guy to come onto the market is the Olympus TOUGH TG-810, which, according to its maker, is crushproof up to 100Kg – so unless you’re around the 16 stone mark, you should be able to sit on it, plus it is resistant to water, cold temperatures, scratches and shock.

Function-wise it offers HD movie recording and 14-megapixel stills, as well as electronic compass and three-sensor GPS. Along with its glare-resistant LCD screen, it sounds like a good companion for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors, whether walking, biking, hiking or skiing.

In silver and black, the TG-810 has a sliding double–lock mechanism and metal lens barrier for protection and can survive in temperatures down to -10 degrees C and water depths of 10m. A built-in manometer will ensure you don’t take it too deep – and skiers will be glad of the Tap Control function, which lets you operate the camera by tapping the body – great if you’ve got thick gloves on, or, indeed if you’re underwater.

The Tough camera comes in at £269.99 and is due to be released mid-late March.

If you take your camera out and about but are maybe not quite so adventurous, having a camera that can take great stills AND video is a real bonus – after all, unless you’re actually on a photography field trip, carting around two different cameras is a just a bit of pain.

Enter Olympus (again), which has come up with the first camera capable of taking both movies and 16-megapixel still images at the same time. The Olympus SZ-30MR is one of the camera makers’ Super Zoom models (which means it offers a 24x wide optical zoom) and also boasts Dual Engine TruePic III image processors – which is what gives it the ability to record in more than one mode simultaneously. So as well as taking movie and stills at the same time, you could record two movies at once – in wide angle for instance and close up, or with a filter (there are seven Magic Filters on offer for movie recording).

Olympus has another camera up its sleeve – the Olympus SZ-20, which offers 16-megapixel images and 12.5x wide optical zoom as well as a Smart Panorama function and a Starlight Mode for taking sharp images at night even without a tripod.

Both cameras have built-in flash, onboard manual, USB charging and 3D shooting mode for stills. Both come in black or silver.

The SZ-30MR comes in at £299.99 and will be released in April, while the price of the SZ-20 is yet to be announced.

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

Olympus DM-Hi series: Voice recorders that speak for themselves

Olympus is aiming high with its latest family of voice recorders, the DM-Hi Series. Along with the usual facilities you’d expect from this kind of device, they offer voice guidance, voice activation, MP3, audio diary, text to speech, audio books and support Daisy (a multimedia presentation of printed matter for those who are unable to read it for whatever reason).

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The new DM-Hi Series professional recorders offer CD-quality multi-format playback and recording with a host of features. Olympus is pitching the slightly more expensive 8 GB DM-5 as a recorder for everyone, including the blind, visually impaired and dyslexic, with its Voice Guidance, which can be set to automatically read out information such as mode, format, file name and file number – and even the contents of .txt text documents. You can also search for files or create calendar entries simply by speaking to the recorder.

Olympus is also aiming the recorders at anyone who wants to get the best, crystal clear sound, wherever they are, thanks to its linear PCM, MP3 and WMA compatibility – whether that’s business professionals, journalists recording interviews, photographers taking notes or students recording lectures.

The DM-Hi Series is no one-trick pony – as well as its recording facilities, it offers media player capabilities, up to 8GB flash memory, a microSD slot, a large backlit colour display and rechargeable battery, so you can enjoy a wide variety of media for work and leisure, including audio recordings, music, audio books and podcasts.

The DM-3 can store (but not display) images, while the Visual Index feature on the 8GB DM-5 lets users assign images to specific files so they can browse by photo rather than file name The DM-5 also has voice-guided menus.

The file management software supplied is also compatible with both PCs and Macs.

Expect to pay £229.99 for the DM-3 and £249.99 for the DM-5.

Find out more at www.olympus.co.uk

Olympus LS-5 Linear PCM digital recorder: Mobile mini sound studio

Listen up journalists, musicians and podcasters! Olympus is launching a new digital recorder this month, which it claims allows you to record and edit your work while you’re on the move.

At a tad under the 200 quid mark, the Olympus LS-5 Linear PCM Digital Recorder records 24but/96kHz PCM audio files, which can be edited in the device at the touch of a button.

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It comes with 2GB of memory (which at the highest quality offers around 55 minutes of recording time according to Olympus), which can be expanded up to 32GB using the SDHC-compatible SD card slot. To help you make the most of the space, files can be divided, partially erased and transferred between the internal memory and SD cards.

It’s vital to be organised in this kind of work – whether you’re recording a series of interviews, a step-by-step podcast for your website, or laying down a track – so the ability to set practical index marks both during recording and playback is vital, allowing instant access to your files. You can also use the supplied Olympus Sonority software to save files to multiple folders on a PC or Mac, where they can be split, marked, indexed, partially deleted and browsed by intro.

Running on two AA or Ni-Mh rechargeable batteries, you should get an admirable 23 hours recording time on full batteries, which should be enough for most tasks.

At around £99 less than its predecessor, the LS-11 (which had 8GB of internal memory and garnered some decent reviews for its rich and crisp sound, while acknowledging it was pretty pricey), the LS-5 may well have hit the right mark pricewise, so whether you’re at a concert, covering a breaking news story, or even doing professional voiceovers, the LS-5 is offering quite a lot for a little outlay.

Indispensable gadgets for the beach

In typical fashion, the British summer has taken a turn for the worse – at least in the north anyway – meaning thousands will be swiping last minute bargains and flocking to sunnier climes. Latestgadgets looks at those essential gadgets to spruce up lazy days on the beach.

Beach-Gadgets

Amazon Kindle 3

Perfect for taking all your books with you on holiday. Read our special feature on it here…

Twister Beach Towel Game

The perfect accessory if your holiday’s mission has romantic inclinations attached. As gathering up the single talent on the beach and inviting them to twist, turn and position their bodies in the way only Twister manages, is extra fun when the girls are in bikinis and the guys are in their Speedo’s!

Olympus Mju Tough-3000

Technology and sand does not normally like each other. But whilst posting enviable images of ourselves lapping up the sun on Facebook or sending loved ones back home photos of us smiling on the sands, digital cameras are now as an essential item in the beach bag as the sun cream. And this is where the Olympus Mju Tough-3000 ‘unbreakable’ camera may be the wisest choice of camera to accompany the beach balls and towels. This ‘well-hard’ gadget comprises of an exceptionally durable spec, being able to handle drops as high as 1.5 meters, dips of up to three meters, and will ‘weather the storm’ in excessively high or low temperatures. Some measly grains of sand will therefore prove powerless to the Olympus Mju Tough-3000. At 140 GBP, with its 12-megapixel sensor, 3.6x optical zoom and 1GB of internal storage, we reckon this latest admission to Olympus’s Mju Tough range deserves a place reserved in the suitcase.

Suntracking Beach Chair

A ‘must-have’ for sun worshippers, whose sole intent of their holiday is to return with a deeply bronzed, to-die-for body. This folding beach chair can swivel 360 degrees ensuring you are always in the sun without the painstaking task of having to get up and move the towel. The Suntracking Beach Chair also reclines into three positions and comes equipped with a detachable pillow and integrated sun canopy. Although for $149.95 the majority of us will probably continue to wrestle with our towels.

Finis Swi MP3.1G waterproof MP3 player

It goes without saying that an MP3 player is a ‘must have’ item to attend a day on the beach with us. Although how annoying is having to reluctantly prize the headphones out of our ears as we wearily take a dip in the sea? Although with the Finis Swi MP3-1G Waterproof Mp3 player, having to forsake music whilst we take a dip or run the risk of water logging our favorite gadget has been effectively ruled out. By replacing conformist headphones with slightly less conventional bone-conduction technology, when the units are strapped to a snorkel mask or goggles, music will vibrate through the cheekbones and into the inner ear. What could be more perfect than swimming amongst the corals to Cold Play?

Zoku Ice Lolly Maker

This one’s a definite if you have kids, as costing just 40 GBP will probably save you a fortune in the endless amounts of ice lollies children demand whilst at the beach. Simply pour drinks into the Zoku and within ten minutes they will come out refreshingly frozen, saving you the time, energy and money of taking regular trips to the ice-cream van.

Olympus gives E-P2 a facelift

Earlier in the year the Olympus unveiled its new E-P2 compact digital camera. With a jet black styling it was supposed to continue the brand’s march into the competitive micro four thirds sector.

Now, it has another look – something its manufacturer call ‘stylish silver’. It certainly looks very nice, but is there anything beneath the gloss?
The aim behind this camera is to improve upon the previous E-P1 model and one change is apparent from the outset. The large electric view-screen is a marked improvement on the optical viewfinder and makes it much easier to take and review all pictures.

There are also some attractive editing capabilities. These sometimes feel a little gimmicky as if trying to persuade the rest of us that we can get professional quality pics despite having little skill and even less talent. Nevertheless you can get easy access to some quite stunning effects. You can add colour, make images bolder and even try a bit of air brushing to show all your friends in their most flattering light.

All in all, then, there is an impressive amount of kit and a worthy new entrant into the ongoing battle in the micro four thirds sector. This has come on leaps and bounds in the last year.

Sitting between the compact class and the more sophisticated DSLR models. These allow you to benefit from interchangeable lenses and a larger MOS sensor, all in a body no bigger than the larger compact cameras.

These have quickly started to earn their stripes and each new introduction raises the bar. By producing what is an undeniably effective and easy to use model, Olympus hope they’ve produced a camera that can mix it with the best of them. Time and the whims of the buying public, will as ever have the final say.