Friday, April 29, 2016

Pictar iPhone Camera Grip

Hypebeast reports: [edited]

The device is a case that turns your iPhone into a point-and-shoot, offering dual-stage shutter release that lets you lock focus and exposure.

It includes a wheel for controlling exposure, zoom, ISO and shutter speed. The case also features a toggle for the selfie camera and a strap.

There is a 'cold shoe' for external mics, flashes and a standard tripod mount.

For more information, click here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Olympus Pen-F

Digital Photography Review has published a full review of Olympus' digital reincarnation of their 1963 premium compact.

Snippets from the conclusion follow:

“In terms of design, the F is a gorgeous camera, both to gaze at longingly on a table or to physically hold and use. In many ways, the PEN-F is the most physically remarkable Four Thirds camera to date.”

“In the paws the camera sits comfortably; it can easily be used with just a single hand. The touchscreen is especially useful, especially if you are a street shooter: touch-to-focus and touch-to-shoot can help keep things discreet when trying to get candids, and can be near instantaneous.”

“By far, one of the most helpful inclusions is the camera's 5-axis sensor-based image stabilisation system. It is extremely robust for both stills and video. In real-world shooting that it gave us an average of four additional stops of handhold-ability.”

“Autofocus performance from the Olympus PEN-F is on par with what we'd expect from a modern contrast detect AF (CDAF) system, which is to say, good. When using Autofocus Single (Olympus calls it S-AF), focus speeds are fast.”

“Image quality from the PEN-F is very good. The PEN-F's JPEGs are (as we expected) very pleasing, with accurate colours. We also found the PEN-F offered better high ISO JPEGs than its closet competitor, the GX8. Raw performance is also very good.”

“The PEN-F is a very capable camera jam-packed with features and tools to help shooters realise their vision. It offers impressive image quality, some of the best image stabilisation available, acceptable video quality, direct controls and ample customisation, all in one incredibly-handsome digital camera.”

Price: £999 (body only)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Solar Impulse 2 Completes Pacific Flight

Business Insider reports: [edited]

The global journey of Solar Impulse 2 began in Abu Dhabi in March 2015. It faced delays along the way, before attempting the most dangerous part of its journey: the flight over the Pacific Ocean, where there are few places to make an emergency landing.

Pilot Bertrand Piccard made the 62-hour, nonstop solo flight without fuel. Now three more stops in the United States remain.

The plane will then attempt to traverse the Atlantic Ocean on the last leg of its trip.

For more information about the Solar Impulse project, click here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bullet Bluetooth 4.1 Earbuds

hiConsumption reports: [edited]

Weighing in at an ultralight 3.5g, the Bullet hosts a built-in microphone for making wireless phone calls.

It comes with a portable charging capsule. And at the end of the day you charge the charger. Additional features include CVC Noise Reduction for noise suppression and echo cancellation. It also supports multi-point connectivity for connection with multiple devices.

Charging time is about an hour with 80 hours of standby time.

Price: $150

Friday, April 22, 2016


Wired reports: [edited]

Carol Ratti, founder of MIT’s Senseable City Lab, has designed a sofa called Lift-Bit.

The Lift-Bit website bills Ratti’s creation as “the world’s first digitally-transformable sofa.” It is composed of several hexagonal, cushioned stools that, when combined, form a honeycomb of a couch.

Each modular pillar contains a motor that adjusts the height of the cushioned unit. One of two things controls that motor: an app, or capacity sensors within the stool that respond to a hovering hand.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016


trueCall38 reports: [edited]

Do you get annoyed when you fill in an online form and have to enter your phone number when you know the company doesn’t need it?

The solution: enter our phone number 0333 88 88 88 88 as your phone number, and if they call, they will hear our short but sweet recorded message:-

"trueCall38 is handling my calls. I prefer not to be contacted by phone, so please contact me via my email address. Goodbye!"

Note: Some online forms won't accept the full trueCall38 number. If the number is rejected enter 0333 8888 888.

Thanks to Paul Mayers for the link.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Flyboard Air

Zapata Racing reports: [edited]

Zapata Racing has achieved the dream of mankind and offers you the first video of Franky Zapata flying on the Flyboard® Air.

The Independent Propulsion Unit represents 4 years of hard work for a result exceeding all records:

- Autonomous flight up to 10,000 feet
- Top speed of 150km/h
- 10 minutes duration

Although it is still in prototype phase, it has exactly the same behaviour as the WFD Flyboard® Pro Series.

For an interview with (the frankly bonkers) Franky, visit The Verge

Monday, April 18, 2016

Key|Smart Key Holder

Key|Smart reports: [edited]

This Swiss-style key holder will create the perfect pocket organiser and minimalist keyring.

Incredibly versatile with a wide selection of accessories, our key organisers can fit up to 100 keys.

Price from $19.98.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

BBC iPlayer Kids

BBC reports: [edited]

We knew from developing the BBC iPlayer website for children that parents value having a version of iPlayer that’s guaranteed to be free of programming aimed at adults.

We decided to create a single app that enables kids to tell the app their age and instantly be presented with content curated specially for their age group. With support for up to four profiles, we’ve made it easy for siblings to use the app on a shared device, entering their name and picking a character to denote their profile.

There’s a Shows area with full A-Z lists of all CBeebies and CBBC programmes available to watch. And a Downloads area, providing easy access to programmes downloaded to watch offline.

App Settings (disabling downloads, enabling higher quality downloads) and links out of the app, are behind a Safety Lock.

BBC iPlayer Kids is available to download from the Amazon, Apple and Google Play app stores.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

HP Spectre 13.3

engadget reports: [edited]

At 10.4mm thin, the Spectre is about as thick as a AAA battery, making it not just the skinniest PC in HP's portfolio but the slimmest notebook on the market. Think of it as HP's answer to Apple's 12-inch MacBook, except with a bigger screen, extra horsepower and a little more bling.

It looks striking in photos and even more so in person. It is is very, very thin, and though it's not technically the lightest, at 2.45 pounds, it is still extremely easy to hold. The combination of metal and carbon fibre helps the machine feel at once compact and well-made.

A piston-style hinge, inspired by upscale cabinetry allows the 13.3-inch Gorilla Glass screen to almost float above the keyboard. (The skinny bezels also add to the effect.) HP had to go with a non-touch screen to keep the machine's thickness down.

Spectre is powered by your choice of sixth-gen Core i5 or i7 processors, helped by up to 8GB of RAM and PCIe solid-state drives with up to 512 gigs of storage. It also brings more ports than you might expect: three USB Type-C connections, two of which support Thunderbolt.

The notebook is rated for a healthy nine and a half hours of runtime.

The Spectre 13.3 goes up for pre-order on 25 April. Price starts at $1,170.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

David Niven's Jazz Collection Available Online

Open Culture reports: [edited]

David W. Niven spent his life [1930-1993, Ed.] amassing a vast record collection, all dedicated to the sounds of early jazz.

For the sake of his children, Niven started transferring his record collection to cassette tapes during the 1980s and prefacing them with audio commentaries that offer background information on each recording.

In 2013 his collection made its way to the web, thanks to archivist Kevin J. Powers. If you head over to, you can stream digitised versions of 650 cassette tapes, featuring over 1,000 hours of early jazz music. There’s also scans of David's hand written liner cards for each recording.

According to the archivist, this extraordinary collection “represents the very finest American music of the twentieth century, and because Mr. Niven took the time and care to record these commentaries, he has produced a library that is accessible to everyone from jazz aficionados to jazz novices.”

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tesla Model 3

The Verge reports: [edited]

At the unveiling of the Model 3, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the car will deliver at least 215 miles of range, and have a starting price of just $35,000.

The base car will do 0-60 mph in less than 6 seconds. All Model 3 cars will include support for Tesla's high-speed Supercharging network. By the end of 2017, when the Model 3 launches, Tesla says it will have a total of 7,200 Superchargers, double the number available today.

Autopilot hardware is standard, and all safety features will be active automatically. Five adults will fit comfortably.

The front to rear roof area — from the windshield all the way to the trunk [boot, Ed.] will be one continuous piece of glass. And, just like the Model S, it will have front and rear trunks for storage.

The Model 3 isn't expected to begin production until late 2017, more than 18 months from now. Tesla will happily take your preorder for a modest $1,000 down payment. Tesla plans to more than double the size of its dealership and service network by the end of next year, to sell and take care of all these new cars.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Solid State Storage Becoming Affordable

Amazon recently discounted the Crucial BX200 960GB 2.5" drive down to £155 (currently back to £199).

For comparison, the Seagate 1TB 2.5 Hybrid drive sells for £68, under half the (offer) price. However, the solid state drive will be between 70% and 200% faster than its mechanical cousin, lighter, and more shock resistant.

The demise of the HDD is on the horizon.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100/TZ100 Review

Digital Photography Review has published a full review of Panasonic's latest 'enthusiast' compact zoom.

Excerpts from the conclusion follow:

“With a 25-250mm equivalent zoom lens and jacket-pocket-friendly body, the ZS100 gives users the perfect mix of focal range and size.”

“The ZS100 features a 20MP BSI CMOS sensor which is capable of capturing 4K video. Its video capabilities are also used for the camera's clever Post Focus and 4K Photo features. There's also an electronic viewfinder, which isn't great, but it's better than no viewfinder at all.”

“The ZS100 is a responsive camera in nearly all respects. It starts up quickly, focuses in a snap and can shoot continuously at 10 frames per second (6 fps with continuous AF). In fact, the 'Depth from Defocus' autofocus system is one of the ZS100's best features. Not only does it lock focus quickly but it proved itself to be excellent at both subject tracking and continuous AF. We were also impressed with how little 'wobble' there was in both continuous AF and when rack focusing in movie mode.”

”Image quality is very good, though not the best in the 1" sensor class. The 20MP CMOS sensor captures a good amount of detail, though its lens isn't terribly sharp and JPEG sharpening is on the weak side. Colours lean toward neutral and yellows take on a greenish cast, which can lead to undesirable skin tones. In Raw mode we were able to 'push' the shadows stay without a huge noise penalty. Despite a few quibbles, the ZS100's image quality is light-years ahead of any other compact travel zoom on the market.”

“It strikes the right balance between size and zoom. It ticks just about all the boxes that most photo and video travellers might desire, earning the ZS100 our top award.”

Price: £549

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Warka Water Tower

inhabitat reports: [edited]

The Warka Water tower pulls drinking water out of the air.

It's a woven basket-like structure that sustainably harvests dew, fog, and rain into water. Each tower is made from local and biodegradable materials such as bamboo, hemp, and bio-plastic, and is covered in a mesh fabric with a special coating that allows water collection.

In addition to environmental sustainability, the Warka Water project is socially and financially sustainable. The structures are designed to be owned by the villagers and serve as a community gathering space. The Warka Water tower is estimated to harvest between 50 and 100 litres of drinkable water every day and can store up to 1,000 litres.

The 132-pound, easy-to-maintain structure costs approximately $1,000 and can be constructed in just four days by a team of six.

For more information, visit the Warka Water website.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Oculus Rift Review

Mashable has published a comprehensive and intelligent review of the recently released $600 virtual reality headset.

Excerpts follow:

“The Oculus Rift began as a bulky Kickstarter project nearly four years ago; it’s now a highly anticipated headset boosted by multiple billions in Facebook money.”

“The Oculus Rift is a masterwork of design that makes virtual reality both jaw-droppingly beautiful and necessarily comfortable.”

“Running the Oculus Rift takes a lot of PC power [Macs are not supported, Ed.]. Someone who already owns a gaming rig still may need to spend $200 or more to get their graphics card the necessary updates; starting from scratch will cost about $1,000.”

“The Oculus Rift arrives in a sleek, black case, containing the headset itself, a sensor that stands on a desk nearby to track its position, a small remote and an Xbox One controller. Aside from a minuscule instruction manual and a lens cleaning cloth, every item included has an immediate, obvious gaming purpose. Provided you have all the required USB ports on your PC (two USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0), initial setup will take less than 10 minutes.”

“You'll need room to move around when you’re in VR. While you'll probably remain in an office chair as you use the headset, it’s imperative to be sure you won't knock anything over when your real-world vision disappears. Otherwise, you run the risk of hurting yourself, or something else.”

“The Rift headset is pretty comfortable. The foam around the headset moulds it snugly to your face, but it doesn't retain a lot of your body heat — I was surprised at how cool it felt, even after an hour or two of use. Generally, neck strain wasn’t that bad, though by the fifth day of testing I needed to take the headset off after an hour due to fatigue.”

“The Rift's headphones provide crisp, immersive audio for games, and using them is much nicer than trying to add a pair of large headphones on top of a bulky headset. Audio is essential for making VR feel real, especially when you can understand where sounds are coming from; these headphones do it right.”

“The Oculus Rift launch lineup offers a lot of impressive games for the first few months of VR. Almost every purchasable title (ranging from $9.99 to $59.99) is polished and comfortable.”

“The launch games for Oculus rely almost entirely on the Xbox One controller, though a few have also adapted controls to the Oculus Remote. Some put you in the shoes of one person; others position you as an omnipotent figure leaning over the game. Almost everything works in concert with your head’s movement, so you’re never just looking straight ahead. Your view often becomes the cursor for selecting items, or a reticle for targeting — and blasting down — enemy ships.”

“The current crop of games has some standouts. ADR1FT, a haunting story of an astronaut struggling to survive after her space station blows to pieces, puts you in a barely working space suit miles above the earth.”

“The most pleasant surprise of the Rift launch lineup is how many games succeed even without that first-person perspective. Virtual reality adds a diorama feel to third-person platformers like the charming Lucky's Tale, as your head becomes the camera. You can lean all over a scene and feel like you're playing with a sandbox of toy, which is really immersive in strategy games like AirMech: Command and tower defense titles like Defense Grid 2. Even pinball and air hockey are novel when played in VR, though they’re perhaps not as deep of a playing experience.”

“These virtual reality games are best enjoyed when you don't have anything else going on. You don't realise until you're in the Rift how cut off you are from the outside world; you can't check your phone, glance at another program or even look at the clock while playing. You're really in another universe — and having to lift the headset up from your eyes every five to 10 minutes feels far more disruptive than just pausing a regular game.”

Friday, April 01, 2016

SXSW 2016 Unofficial Torrent

SXSW Torrent reports: [edited]

These torrents contain 1,593 music tracks that can be previewed on the SXSW 2016 website.

[Ed. The South by Southwest Music and Media Conference (SXSW) is ‘a six-day event held every March in Austin, celebrating 30 years in 2016. The conference offers access to ideas and global viewpoints on an increasingly borderless industry. It aims to educate and inspire musicians and professionals alike, with sessions attended by over 30,000 registrants and showcasing artists.’

If you're intimidated by the huge number of tracks, visit NPR Music for a link to a mere 100 songs curated from the festival.