Technology

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Not just point and click
The PowerShot S90 continues the PowerShot S-series tradition with impressive, fully manual features that deliver excellent image quality and user experience, including: Canon’s Dual Anti-Noise System with an f/2.0 wide-angle lens, a 3.0-inch PureColor II LCD display, and an intuitive new lens Control Ring. The PowerShot S90 also features Canon’s Dual Anti-Noise System which combines a high sensitivity 10.0 Megapixel image sensor with Canon’s DIGIC 4 image processor.

Photographers can capture full resolution images – even in tricky lighting conditions – with the Dual Anti-Noise System taking maximum advantage of the available light, while substantially reducing image noise. A really nifty feature is the intuitive lens Control Ring, which enables users to adjust the settings of various functions by twisting the selector at the base of the lens barrel to the left or right. The Control Ring can be used as a quasi-manual zoom offering a closer view of subjects in 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 105mm steps.  Additional settings can be assigned, such as ISO (in 1/3 stop increments), shutter, aperture, focus and exposure compensation – giving photographers a satisfyingly tactile experience. Lastly, the PowerShot S90 also offers RAW format shooting and support for Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software, making it easy to integrate the camera into a user’s digital workflow.

R5,495 from orms.co.za


Ready, steady, navigate
In-car GPS navigation is a great tool for both road warriors and the occasional business traveller. Garmin’s latest navigation device offers the usual array of navigation features, but its large 5-inch (12.7cm) LCD and thin 1.6cm profile makes it one of the more attractive GPS navigators on the market. The Nüvi 1410 bundles with a 12v car power adapter, suction cup mount, and a USB cable. You can connect the Nüvi 1410 to your Mac or PC should you wish to make use of some of the management tools that will allow you to, among other things, plan a trip on your PC and download the route data to your GPS device and update the software on the device with virtually no hassles. 

Interestingly, the Nüvi 1410 also charges via your PC’s USB port.  As is to be expected, the amount of POIs (Places of Interest) preloaded onto the device is very impressive. The Gamin Nüvi 1410 also has the capability to connect to your cellphone via USB, thus turning the GPS device into a hands-free speakerphone. This will also allow you to call the number of a listed POI without ever touching your phone. In terms of navigation, the Nüvi 1410 works beautifully. The maps load much quicker than any previous Garmin GPS we have tested and, thanks to the large LCD, it’s also now much easier to manually search the maps for an exact location.

R4275 from garmin.co.za

No PC required
Although the Photosmart A646 looks almost the same as its predecessors, there are a few distinct differences between it and its predecessors. For starters, HP included a large 3.4-inch touch-sensitive LCD with a stylus to match. There are also plenty of editing features to choose from, allowing you to quickly apply changes before you print your photos. The printer also features a multi-memory card reader which accepts all the popular memory card formats, while PictBridge support allows you to print directly from a PictBridge-compatible camera. We were also impressed by the built-in Bluetooth support, allowing you to print photos either via Bluetooth, such as your cellphone, or directly from your camera’s memory card. Impressively, it takes around a minute per print and the quality is very good. Best of all, you don’t need to connect it to a PC to work. Take it anywhere, plug it in, and print. The photo quality is great, and although only very dark images seem to be over-saturated, a few of the built-in editing tools can sort that problem out.

R1,980 from hpshop.co.za


Light as Air
At only 13.9 mm-in thickness, the Sony VAIO VPC-X115 is one of the world’s thinnest notebooks, even beating Apple’s Macbook Air by millimetres. The screen on this notebook is an 11.1-inch wide LCD with a maximum resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Looking a little closer at its specifications, we were disappointed that it only featured a 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z-540 processor. This puts the VAIO VPC-X115 at a bit of a disadvantage when compared to the likes of the MacBook Air. In all fairness, the decision to include a solid state hard drive and 2GB of DDR2 RAM was a good one, and in the end this notebook does not perform too badly.

TheSolid State Drive, although a mere 64GB, offers superb performance and also adds to the impressive battery life. Speaking of which, the 8-cell battery, which is also incredibly thin, offers an average battery life of around 7 hours, something that is largely thanks to the low-power Atom CPU. Even though its size seems inhibitive, it still features everything you could want from such a portable device. There is an Ethernet port, VGA output, two USB 2.0 ports, an SD memory card slot, and a Memory Stick Pro slot. What is interesting is the way in which Sony incorporated the network port. To make it fit into the thin form factor, Sony designed a flip down network port which will keep the port protected and hidden when not in use. Another nice design element is the rubber feet at the bottom of the notebook, two of which can fold out to give the Sony VAIO VPC-X115 a slight lift when it is placed on a desk. The Sony VAIO VPC-X115 is ideal for the frequent traveller, but don’t expect it to handle heavy-duty photo editing on the road.

R14,999 from  sony.co.za

Wireless voice, wireless music
The Altec Lansing Backbeat 906 is a wireless headset that will not only allow you to listen to your music wirelessly, but you are also able to pair it with your notebook or cellular phone to make and receive voice calls. The in-ear headphones produce good sound quality, although it could have done with better bass reproduction, specifically when listening to music. In terms of comfort, when using the Backbeat 906 the only thing that can get a bit annoying is the rubber cord that keeps the two earpieces connected. This is not a major issue, but if you are considering this product for daily use it is worth keeping in mind.

The second Bluetooth dongle that ships with the headset is designed to connect to your MP3 player or PC, but this is used only on devices that do not have native Bluetooth A2DP support. The battery life for both units is very impressive, while the supplied dual-cord charger allows you to charge both items at once. Should you wish to use this with your iPod, you can create a second Bluetooth pair with your mobile phone. When you are listening to music and a call comes through, the music will mute and you’ll be able to answer your call.

R1499 from www.plantronics.co.za

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