Is the GR Digital IV camera worth the price?

Ricoh has updated its premium compact camera, from the GR Digital III to the – surprise surprise – GR Digital IV.

So what’s new about the latest model? Well, Ricoh has updated its image processors, and introduced an image stabilisation system to help prevent camera shake. Its autofocus speed should also be faster thanks to Ricoh’s Hybrid AF system. Ricoh claims it has cut focusing time to just 0.2 seconds. There has also been a change in the LED screen – which now uses Sony’s WhiteMagic RGBW technology, so should be brighter than your average screen, while using less power.

ricoh-gr4

There is also an electronic level that is capable of highlighting inclination from the horizontal, and tilting, which is useful if you take a lot of shots of buildings, for instance.

Looks-wise, the Digital IV looks much like its predecessor, which means it’s not exactly beautiful to look at. In fact, some may find its plain boxy black body decidedly unappealing. However, if you’re happy to spend a bit more, you can take advantage of Ricoh’s grip customization service – this means you can choose between a leather, carbon or metal hand grip, which is an unusual feature. Or look out for the limited edition model, which comes in white with a leather camera strap and metal lens cap.

While pundits praised the Digital III a couple of years ago, they were not so keen on its pricetag – at £530 it was pricey for a compact – and the Digital IV is little better – priced at £500. Plus, by the way, an extra cost if you want a camera strap or lens cap.

Image quality was excellent on its predecessor and Ricoh reckons it has got even better thanks to a tweaked optical filter, and new processing engine, even though it sports the same 10 megapixel CCD sensor under the hood.

Get more information at www.ricoh.com/r_dc/gr/gr_digital4/

Vita Audio R4 and R2i: Premium all-in-one stereo systems

Design? Stylish. Components? Hi-tech. Sounds? Great. Sounds great, right? Vita Audio, a UK-based audio company, has released two premium all-in-one stereo systems that are sure to get your visual and aural attention – the R4 and the R2i.

Vita-R4

Audio R4
The big brother of the line-up, the R4 aims to replace any existing audio solution in your home. It’s got a multi-format CD player, iPod dock, USB playback, DAB/FM tuner and auxiliary inputs – all outputting at 80 watts.

As a premium product, it’s stacked with high-end features. The slot-loading (awesome) CD player lets you listen to audio CDs, MP3s and WMA discs, while the radio not only supports DAB and FM, but the new DAB+ standard.

The real jaw-dropper, however, is the RotoDial. Sitting atop the player, it’s the universal way to control the system. If you’d rather skip songs without getting out your chair, however, simply pull it off the top and it’ll work as a remote control. Use it to navigate through music on your docked iPod, for instance, or switch between audio inputs.

Or just put it on a chair’s arm to look cool – the aesthetics are really nice. Of course, what else would you expect from a device that’s colour options are “Rich Walnut veneer, Dream White and Midnight Black”?

The remote is just one of the many nice touches that make the R4 a really well-put together piece. Another is the gold-plating on the two auxiliary inputs, or the way the system stores headphone volume separately from speaker volume, so you needn’t worry about blasting your eardrums when you plug in a headset.

Vita-R2i

R2i
Just like the R4, the R2i’s cabinet is machined and hand-crafted from high density fibreboard, giving the system excellent acoustic properties. It’s also got DAB+, a line-in for MP3 players, an iPod Dock and some auxiliary ports.

What it’s missing, then, is its bigger brother’s CD player, USB playback and massive output – the R2i pumps out a much smaller 20 watts.
The plans for the remote control are also scaled down. The RotoDial still exists, but it’s fixed to the stereo. For remote control duties, you’ll have to make do with a slim-line extra controller. Sure, it’s not ugly, but the wow of the detachable RotoDial is definitely missing. The R2i is cute, and much cheaper, but is nowhere near as awe-inspiring as its older brother.

It must be Loewe: New high-end Individual range of LED TV range

Latest Gadgets were invited to take a look at the high-end of high-end televisions at Loewe. Loewe are a German manufacture of quality flatscreens, and their latest, “Individual” range, looks set to continue the firm’s tradition of “meaningful innovation” with a frankly stunning flatscreen.

Loewe-Individual

Energy efficient, LED backlit and with Full HD 400 Hz motion picture display the Individual range starts well and then gets better.
Individual is almost like a bespoke television, with the ability to add features that matter to you. The dual channel versions of the Individual TV are equipped with the integrated Loewe DR+ hard disk recorder, with 250 GB of onboard memory for HD recordings.

An HDTV tuner is integrated as standard affording terrestrial, cable reception, and satellite-based digital reception in Compose 40, 46 and 55, while 24p motion picture display affords perfect playback of Blu-ray disks and retains the all important “film look”.

Connectivity on the Individual is also impressive. I’ve used a lot of DLNA systems, the worst of which have unattractive file browsers and clunky navigation. The Individual has one of the best looking navigation systems I have seen and was the first time I’d used an onboard connectivity option and not pined for the elegance of XBMC or the Apple TV.

Loewe MediaHome enables, images, music and videos to be played via USB or the network. Even better MediaNet, enables Internet content such as Internet radio, Internet video or Web TV to be viewed. Best of all, Loewe say there will be software updates, enabling new functions over time, so you are no longer at the mercy of whatever website/streaming service was popular at the time when you bought your TV.

Priced firmly in the “if you have to ask” range of goods, the new 40 and 46 inch LCD televisions will be available from the end of May, with the 55 inch available from July and the 32 inch from August.

Bang & Olufsen BeoVision: 46 inches of style and substance

Hot on the heels of Bang & Olufsen’s 40-inch BeoVision television comes a new, larger version. This one is a 46-inch model that will be available from April. The BeoVision 10-46 is essentially the same as its little brother but with a viewing area that is 32 per cent larger.

These extra inches may appeal to all those who believe bigger is better. However, if there is someone else in the house who needs convincing over the need for such a sizeable piece, there have been a few changes in style that are worth highlighting.

BeoVision

First of all, the rear cover is now white, instead of black. This works with the aluminium frame to help lighten the look of the TV and will appeal to those who don’t just want a large, black hole gracing the corner of the living room.

The other new feature is the fabric grille that covers the speaker at the front. You can pick from a choice of six colours – black, blue, dark grey, silver, orange or white – so you can choose one to blend or contrast with your living room. As the grille is attached by magnets, it is easy to change around if you fancy a new look, or decide that orange is too distracting or black is just so last year.

If blending with your home décor is of limited interest, don’t worry, the techy side of things is all in place. The BeoVision 10-46 is HD-ready and has an LCD panel with edge-type LED technology and a 200 Hz refresh rate to help keep the image smooth and stable. There’s also integrated surround sound and DVB-HD module, plus the facilities to add up to five extra speakers and several set-top boxes.

Of course, B&O are not known for being a budget brand, so – although we don’t know a price just yet – it seems safe to assume that the BeoVision 10-46 may remain a dream for most of us. However if you win the lottery and decide to go for it, this could be a screen that appeals to both the masculine and feminine sides of your brain.

Loewe’s beautiful new high-end Mediacenter

The new Mediacenter from Loewe is a monster. It sets the benchmark for any cross-media platform. It’ll play your CDs and DVDs and can receive any radio via antenna, cable, satellite or the web…are you excited already? You should be.

With this beast any precious digital files that you’ve got stored on hard drives or within your own network can be accessed, as can those from your tech soulmates the iPod or iPhone. Rather conveniently it’s also possible to control the external Blu-Ray Player via this nifty gadget – all you have to do to get the most out of your Blu is push a button on the Assist Media remote control which will also help you browse through your collection with ease. Sweet, eh?

Loewe-Media-Centre

The Mediacenter is built to connect directly to the TV set and it’ll use the screen to display all music sources (and CD / DVD artwork) on a clear interface. The center can be used with any TV supporting an HDMI connection, and so it’s not only restricted to the Loewe range. Because of this, we’ve found that the Mediacenter is simply one of the more accessible multi-room platforms about.

Indeed, one of the highlights of this beauty (apart from the high-class shiny, sexy exterior) is that all audio sources can be streamed to secondary rooms, where the Mediacenter can be operated by means of the aforementioned remote control.

We’re not done yet – the Mediacenter has three versions – the Loewe Reference Mediacenter, the Individual Mediacenter DR+ and the integrated hard drive-less Individual Mediacenter. On the first two, all of your songs can be saved centrally on two integrated hard drives totalling 320 GB while the latter model comes without that luxury. The Reference one takes around seven minutes to “rip” each CD and the name of the artist along with track information that can be altered at any time. As an additional option, music files can be copied from a PC onto the Mediacenter hard drive via the network and, as an added bonus all data is backed up on the second integrated drive (160 GB) – so the loss of special music files is near impossible.

The device is made to be hung on a wall with a slick profile of just 74 mm, including the wall mount which is supplied – a table and floor stand are also available on request. For more information visit the official Loewe website.