Olympus TOUGH TG-1: Tough but not rough

The trouble with a lot of our precious gadgets is that they’re just that – rather fragile, expensive and a worry when we take them out into the great outdoors.

But a camera is supposed to be taken out and about, so what do you do if you want to take great snaps, but are likely to be out in all weathers, at risk of dropping your snapper, or even likely to get it wet?


The answer is to choose a model that is made to be treated roughly – a model such as the new TG-1 compact camera from Olympus.

This camera is as tough as Bruce Willis in Die Hard – it can survive being dunked in water up to 12 metres, dropped from a height of 2 metres, survive temperatures a low as -10C and being crushed by up to 100kg of force.

And if you want to try your hand at underwater photography, this is the camera to choose – a soon-to-be-available additional housing will enable users to take the camera to depths of up to 45m, while a powerful flash attachment will boost illumination at these kinds of depths.

The camera has a 12mp, high-sensitivity COS sensor and if you’re serious about your photography, there are waterproof lenses for you to use to get more creative. What underwater camera would be complete without a fisheye lens, for instance? This will let you grab wider, dynamic images, while a tele converter lens can increase the optical zoom ratio by 6.8x.

Other features of the Olympus TOUGH TG-1 include GPS and compass, manometer for checking depth underwater, and an LED illuminator for lighting up underwater scenes.

It also has Magic Filters for adding creative effects to both still images and HD movies, and a number of scene modes – including an all-important i-Underwater Snapshot.

The Olympus TOUGH TG-1 is available from mid-June and will cost £359.99; the Fisheye Lens is £129.99, the Tele Converter Lens, £129.99, and the Converter Adapter £19.99.

QuNeo 3D: “The World’s Most Expensive Controller”


California-based tech developers Keith McMillen Instruments (KMI)  announced recently that they’d be unleashing the next generation of music software and hardware controllers for electronic musicians, DJs, VJs and DIY hackers. It’s called the QuNeo 3D Multi-Touch Controller. Yes, you’ve heard this kind of thing before, we know. But this, tech-fiends, appears to be the ultimate hybrid of all those things.

What’s the big deal then? Well err, QuNeo (pronounced kyoo-ne-oh, FYI) seemingly covers all of the functionality of other controllers, while adding some new and rather funky dimensions. Big deal? Yep. The QuNeo provides 27 pads, sliders and rotary sensors with 3D Multi-Touch recognition for pressure, velocity, and location sensitivity, which in-turn allows musicians playing electronic sounds to change their timbre (the quality, brightness and volume…). That means that harder or softer sounds can be varied by simply varying touch pressure – fancy yourself the next Thom Yorke (Radiohead) or Trent Reznor? (Nine Inch Nails, The Social Network OST), then this bad-boy could be for you. The pads are also responsive to X (left – right) and Y (up – down) and recognise multiple gestures for pinching and swiping. Fancy (yet refreshingly simple) stuff, eh?

We admit that with most of the first-gen software that’s come before, the options for controlling music have seemingly been pretty limited. To be fair, us using the term limited might even be a stretch; you could only ever hit a pad, twist a knob or push a button to manipulate sounds and effects (nope, the theremin’s got nuttin’ on this). KMI though, has attempted (and potentially resolved these restrictions) with its new line of Multi-Touch controllers:  SoftStep, 12 Step, and now QuNeo, that transforms musical intent into audio through physical control of 3D Multi-touch sensor technology. Well funky, yeah? The other cool thing about the QuNeo is that it’s built for portability. It’s basically a low-cost iPad-shaped music controller and as such, it fits into most iPad accessories (stands, clips), and cases. It actually feels a lot easier to handle than the iPad itself. Seriously.

See the product in action:

KMI founder Keith McMillen says of the product: “Great musical instruments push back and convey a sense of the physical. They have depth and dimension and show you what they know. We have developed sophisticated and innovative sensor technologies for musicians that enable this next generation of musical instruments – controllerism 2.0.” Nice term there, Keith.

If you needed any further proof of this thing’s quality (aside from our nice words, obviously), the QuNeo has had a viral effect on internationally-recognised crowd-sourced funding platform Kickstarter (it’s the first time a music tech company has actually used this method) with record-setting pre-sales, hitting its original funding goal in just 36 hours. Why Kickstarter? The KMI QuNeo campaign project is doing its level-best to make use of the platform and enable electronic musicians, DJs, VJs, and DIY hackers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and order through a pledge of just $200. Now, as a result, the product is well over 400 per cent funded. Good work.

The QuNeo will be available by March 2012. It will be priced at $200 (around £129) for pre-sale at Kickstarter.com at the following link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kmi/quneo-multi-touch-open-source-midi-and-usb-pad-con.

Getac B300 Rugged Laptop – Shockingly shock proof

I knew I shouldn’t have done it – popped out of the room leaving my three-year-old alone with my laptop precariously positioning within reach of his inquisitive little fingers. It was therefore no surprise when I returned to find my son standing guiltily next to my precious laptop, lying helpless on the cold, stone floor. My attempts to revive the machine were with no avail as the single black line that now dominated the screen, stubbornly refused to disappear, leaving me angrily cursing, “Why don’t they make these things more shock proof?” Although from this month onwards my prayers have been answered with the release of the Getac B300 – a new rugged laptop that won’t perish in an instant at the mercy of a toddler.


The Getac B300 boasts the usual spec we now expect from modern laptops. The 2GB of RAM means handling applications shouldn’t be a problem, whilst the 250GB SATA hard drive is by far from being the largest hard drive but is reasonable. The Getac B300 also includes a DVD drive, as well as a Gobi 2000 Mobile Broadband Module enabling users to be perpetually connected. The battery life of this laptop is also worth mentioning, as possessing an optional dual-battery pack it can survive for up to 22 hours before it requires electricity.

But where the Getac B300 really stands out from the monotonous splurge of laptops saturating the market at present is its uncanny resistance to being damaged. Whilst your fingers may not be able to function, let alone type at -20 C, the Getac B300 will continue functioning immaculately. And its anti-shock assets have even earned the Getac B300 a couple of certificates, as it has an IP65 certificate for water and dust protection and a MIL-STD-810G certificate for shock.

Fortunately my laptop was pretty ancient and was running slower every day, so its final toddler-induced demise has forced me into buying a new one sooner rather than later. Whilst I am tempted by the Getac B300 ‘ruggedness’ and sublime shock resistance qualities, its $3,799 price tag will probably mean I opt for a cheaper model and just more sensible about where I leave it in the house.