The Telegraph
Sunday , June 12 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shutter star

With smart phones packing in 8-12 megapixel cameras these days, what’s a camera maker got to do to stave the onslaught? Packing in better internals into slimmer cameras is certainly a step in the right direction, and I take Canon’s latest in the fashionable IXUS range — the 310 HS — out for spin.

Any which way you look at it, the 310 HS is a looker. With its distinctive curves and angles, the 310 HS sports a durable stainless steel body that’ll slip into any pocket, yet withstand the rigours of carrying it thus. There’s a smattering of controls on the top like power, zoom and exposure modes, but apart from that, pretty much everything is accessed via the massive 3.2-in touch panel which dominates the rear of the device. You will definitely want to try this out in the shop before you buy — the touch panel, while it works well and is responsive, isn’t for everyone (much like touch screen phones, I guess).

But it isn’t just a pretty package, this camera. The ‘HS’ tag in its name denotes the presence of a backside-illuminated CMOS sensor and the Digic 4 image processor, both of which are designed to allow the camera to be better at picking up light in dim situations and be quick and speedy in its performance/shooting, a big draw over the shooters in smart phones these days.

In shooting with this camera in a variety of situations, the image quality is good and colours are natural, possibly a little on the punchier side. Low light images are noteworthy, as is the full HD 24 frames per second video shooting. Beginners will also like the Enhanced Smart Auto mode which auto-detects up to 32 different scenes, and adjusts the exposure and focal settings accordingly to the various lighting conditions.

The 310 HS then packs in full HD capabilities with HDMI output, excellent build quality and very impressive low-light performance, and the only major stumbling block is the pricing, really. The IXUS range has always carried a premium tag, and you can pick up bigger-zoom rivals for less.

• Rating: 8/10
• Price: Rs 20,995 lURL:

Media master

I’m a big fan of media boxes that let you play high-quality digital content on your TV screen, but they’re often tedious to use for anything but file playback due to their single function remotes. The ScreenPlay DX HD from Iomega differs in one critical manner — a large full QWERTY remote control is supplied to navigate the media centre. It’s pretty useful when you pull up the web browser and have to type in the search term or your usernames/passwords, and the heft and size means you’re losing the remote under sofa cushions. Ironically, the menu navigation isn’t the easiest, using this remote, and possibly an additional navigation-only remote might not have been a bad idea. Quibbles aside, the ScreenPlay DX HD is a capable device, with a choice of 1TB or 2TB internal storage, and it comes with WiFi USB dongle for wireless network connectivity. There’s also up to 1080p Full HD playback, support for a wide range of file types and for media streaming through the DLNA protocol from other compatible devices in the house. Buy this one only if you’re looking to use your TV for heavy Internet browsing.

• Rating: 7/10
• Price: Rs 12,999 (1TB); Rs 14,999 (2TB)
• URL:"

Hi-tech hybrid

Tired of tablets and phones? How about something that combines the two, yet keeps them separate? Try the Asus PadFone on for size — it’s a 4.3-in Android smartphone to carry around, and when you want to get some serious work done, you dock it into a 10.1-in tablet dock, and the display switching is done dynamically, so that if you’re reading emails or browsing the web on the phone, it expands itself seamlessly once it’s connected into the pad. Now, all Asus has to do is work on the name…

• Price: To be announced
• URL:"

Talk back

Many of us need to record phone conversations for work, and most phones either require additional software to do this, while others simply can’t. The Call Mynah offers an interesting take on call recording with a device that looks like a phone and connects to your own phone via Bluetooth. When you want to record a call, you actually speak and record through the Mynah instead of your own phone, and you can transfer the files from the Mynah to your PC later. And since it works on Bluetooth, it can work across phone platforms.

• Price: $199
• URL:"

Rock on

Think you have it in you to be a DJ but scared off by the initial outlay? Gemini has launched the FirstMix, a simple USB-based controller with two scratch wheels, rotaries and a cross fader. All you have to do is connect the panel to your laptop and select the tunes you’d like to start mixing! Gemini ships the FirstMix with MixVibes’ Cross LE DJ software as well to get you started.

• Price: $100
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