Coverstory: 2012’s Heavy Hitters


As part of the new year, we here at Gadgets want to give you, dear reader, access to the stories that first saw print in our 2013 issues. This article you see below was first published in the February issue of Gadgets Magazine, and ran through the best devices of 2012. Though the devices mentioned here might not be the most cutting-edge, it’s still a great guide if you’re looking for a nice secondary device, or have a little spare cash to burn. Enjoy!



With all the devices slated for 2013 chomping at the bit to get out attention and hard-earned  cash, we here at Gadgets take a fond look back at the gadgets that made 2012 such an awesome year to be a tech head. We’ve put together a knock-out list of last year’s best devices-toys that we all drooled  over in the months past and devices that will no doubt be the jumping-off point  to even heavier hitters this year. Take a quick peek at the knock-outs  of 2012.



Words by John NIeves



Apple iPhone 5

Apple’s iPhone 5 has been a long time coming. The device is typical Apple, and Is very similar to its predecessor. The screen is taller, which gives it a size of around four inches-which is one that many feel is perfect for a smartphone-while keeping the device 22% thinner. The IPhone 5 uses a newer, smaller dock connector and a better, faster processor-the A6,which boasts of two times faster CPU and graphics performance compared to the old AS chip. It’s also a lot more energy efficient, which theoretically means more time on the go and less time stuck on the charger.  The optics on the !Phone 5 have been revamped as well. The !Phone 5 has an a-megapixe,l backside illumination camera with a hybrid IR filter and five-element lens, bearing a f/2.4 aperture. When paired with the A6 chip, the new camera Is able to deliver low-light photo capture that’s 40% faster than the iPhone 45,as well as spatial noise reduction. The new optics can take Full HD video, and snap still photos even while recording. The front-facing camera also got a bit of a lift, as it’s now a 720p deal.










Samsung Galaxy Note II:

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a continuation of the smartphone/tablet hybrid device market that Samsung created when they released the original Galaxy Note.But don’t be fooled-the Galaxy Note II isn’t just an incremental update to the concept  of the 5-inch smartphone/tablet.It’s a whole new device that set the bar for others in its category.The Galaxy Note II has a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen that has a resolution of 720x12a0.1t comes with a smart stylus called the 5-Pen that significantly increases the device’s versatility, as it allows the user to accomplish a number of tasks easily.Samsung’s TouchWiz Ul overlay,which includes picture­ in-picture capabilities,gives the device much added functionality over the stock Android 4.1 experience.The Galaxy Note ll’s Exynos 4412 quad-core processor running at 1.6GHz makes short work of most apps currently out in the Android market.




Windows Phone 8X by HTC

When Microsoft  launched the newest iteration of the Windows Phone OS,they took a different approach when it came to releasing a flagship device to highlight its new capabilities.The result is the Windows Phone ax by HTC,one of the most beautiful examples of seamless integration of form and function.The polycarbonate body of the device is well-made,and its overall design makes it look thinner than it actually is. Its 4.3-inch,S-LCD2 capacitive touchscreen has a 720x12aO-pixel resolution that makes watching movies,reading text and browsing the net a pleasurable experience.The Windows Phone ax by HTC is a truly global device featuring multiple radios.It comes with an LTE variant for regions that support it (including the Philippines)




(Presented from L-R)

Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia was the first company to wholly embrace the Windows Phone ecosystem,and it’s not surprising that the Finnish company is getting better at making devices made for the OS.The Nokia Lumia 920 is their top-of-the-line Windows Phone 8 offering,and integrates a couple of new technologies that should make it stand out from the rest of the pack.The Lumia 920 is equipped with Qualcomm’s newest and greatest Snapdragon 54 dual-core processor chugging along at 1.5GHz,and has a 4.5-inch display. It also packs wireless charging capabilities,which means that you don’t have to fiddle with a cable to charge it-you just have to put it on top of a wireless charging  mat and pick it up once the battery is full. Nokia also claims that the Lumia 920 takes better pictures and videos because of the PureView sensor,and claims that the Lumia 920 captures between 5 and 10 times the light of any other smartphone,thanks to floating lens technology that surpasses the optical image stabilization of most SLRs.The overall result is brighter and clearer images without using flash, even indoors.


Google Nexus 4

Each time a new version of Android is revealed, Google unveils a new,Google branded OEM device to go with it to serve as a showcase of sorts of the new capabilities  of the OS. This time around,Google has tapped LG to create the latest entry to the proud Nexus line,simply named the Nexus 4.The Nexus 4 is decked out with all the latest specs-a 4.7-inch,768×1280- pixel resolution True HD IPS Plus capacitive touchscreen,a Qualcomm Snapdragon Krait 1.5GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM and an 8-megapixel camera.While the new update to Android isn’t as drastic as the jump from Android 4.0 to Android 4.1,the new OS on board, Android 4.2,enhances some key functionalities of the Android experience. Most of the new updates are focused on how users interact with the camera,and Google has included HDR capabilities  with the device with the new update.There’s a new way to interact with the keyboard as well (think an integrated Swype keyboard) that allows users to type faster when compared to the old on-screen keyboard

Sony Xperia V :

Some smartphones are pretty and some are rugged. Unfortunately,most of the time you can’t have both,but don’t tell that to Sony. The newest member of their Xperia line,the  Xperia V, looks fantastic yet can take a licking and keep on going.The  Xperia V sports a 4.3-inch 720×1280- pixel resolution  screen,along with the newest Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon dual-core 1.5GHz Krait processor and Android 4.1.What’s truly special about the Xperia Vis that it has the highest levels of dust and water resistance in a smartphone {IP55/57+) and claims to be able to withstand being immersed in water that is one meter deep for 30 minutes without any ill effects.



Words by Jose Alvarez

The late Bill Moggridge invented the laptop back in 1979,and his original clam shell design is the one that most laptops use today. Moggridge’s laptop was a massive Skg,and it was a knockout for its time,especially since most,if not all,computers then were still stationary and difficult  to move around easily. Moggridge  sought to make the computer mobile,and,eventually,his invention was taken all the way into outer space aboard the Space Shuttle.Nowadays, laptops are a lot thinner and lighter,and are designed for different consumer niches.Whether you like to use your laptop to talk on Facebook or Skype with your friends,edit  photos and videos,get some work done,or play some games,laptops appeal to casual and heavy users alike. Here are some of the stand-outs and contenders in this category.



Apple MacBook Prow/ Retina Display The MacBook Pro with Retina Display brings visuals to the next level and its specs ensure that you’re getting the best resolution possible. For the 13-inch models,you’re looking at a 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core iS CPU which can be boosted to 3.1 GHz,8GB of 1600MHz RAM,128GB or 256GB of flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 4000,and a battery life of seven hours-more than sufficient for users who do the usual social networking,homework,blogging, and getting on FaceTime with friends.For those who want even more out of their laptop with the 15-inch model-perhaps you like editing videos or playing around with GarageBand-you’re looking at either a 2.3GHz or 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU,which can be boosted to 3.3 or 3.6GHz respectively,8GB of 1600MHz of RAM,256GB or 512GB of flash storage,and Intel HD Graphics 4000. Garners will especially be pleased with the inclusion of the NVIDIA GeForce 650M with 1GB of GDDRS RAM.The 15-inch model also has a built-in battery that can run for seven hours.

Lenovo ThinkPad  X1 Carbon

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is geared towards executives-its 19mm thickness and 1.36kg weight  make it a lightweight laptop solution  for business users who are constantly on the move from meeting  to meeting.Its carbon fiber build makes it last a lot longer than your average laptop,so it is also a quality long-term investment. It has 4GB of RAM, a 720p HD camera,Intel HD 4000 graphics,and even a Fingerprint reader just in case you decide to store some extremely important files on this laptop. It also has a 14-inch monitor at 1600×900-pixel resolution, and there are two models available, depending on your computing needs-a 1.GHz Core i5 model with 128GB SSD storage,and a 2GHz Core i7 model with 256GB of SSD storage, and, of course,the brand new Windows 8OS.

Asus Taichi

The ultrabook came into the scene in 2012, and in 2013 we’re going to have more and more devices that function as “convertible” ultrabooks-that is,laptops and tablets in the same device. Most manufacturers’first attempts at convertible ultrabooks  were a bit unwieldy-in some cases,you had to undock the tablet from the keyboard and stow the keyboard away,but the Asus Taichi and most future convertible ultrabooks  will be keeping them together. There are two screens on the lid itself-opening the lid will give you a laptop, while closing the lid will give you a tablet. However,it’s not just the convertibility that makes the Asus Taichi a knockout product-it also has an Intel Core i7 CPU and a 256GB SSD,along with the new Windows 8 OS.


The Contenders

Capture(Presented from L-R)

SonyVAIO S13

The SonyVAIO S13 does its best to look good on the outside as well as on the inside, as expected of a Sony product.Its 13.3-inch display at a resolution of 1366×768 pixels is standardfor laptops of the 13-inch variety, but the Vaio S13 comes bundled with a few unique features such as gesture control, which allows you to control some apps (such as Windows Media Player) without even touching the laptop itself; the Assist button,which allows you to access VAIO Care to take care of your laptop;and the Web button that automatically starts up the browser of your choice. You also have the ability to adjust the laptop’s workload to your preference-Stamina mode for everyday use and preserving  battery  life,and Speed mode if you’re doing demanding multimedia tasks or playing games.This is all done via a 2.5GHz Intel Core iS processor, 6GB of RAM,and 600GB of hard drive space,along with the usual ultrabook connectivity options, such as HDMI,USB 3.0,WiFi and Bluetooth.

Samsung Series 7 Gamer

The Samsung Series 7 Gamer has an eye-popping spec sheet that most people think would only belong in a custom made gaming desktop. It comes with a 2.30GHz Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor,a 17.3-inch 3D LED screen with Full HD resolution (1920×1080 pixels), an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M graphics card, a l.STB hard drive, and 16GB of DDR3 RAM. Not only does it blow right through regular tasks-it also means games that will push a regular device to and even beyond its limits will play seamlessly at the highest frame rates possible,allowing the gamer to easily mow down the competition

Toshiba Satellite P840 series

If you like watching  videos or playing games,the Toshiba Satellite P840 might end up as your next laptop-the 2.6GHz Intel Core iS CPU and 4GB of DDR3 RAM may look like average fare for an ultrabook, but there’s more.The Harman Kardon speakers ensure a quality  listening experience, making this a choice for the audiophile as well. Toshiba’s Resolution+ technology can make standard definition photos, videos and games look as if they were in HD-a process aided by the NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M graphics card. Other features include a 750GB SATA hard drive and two USB 3.0 ports. Although they come with Windows 7 Home Premium, some of the newer models come with the Windows 8 OS.




Words by Ren Alcantara

There are things that laptops do well. For content creation on the move,there are few things that can beat it. However,not all of us need to constantly bang out novels at the nearest coffeeshop. When not at the office,most of us revert to content consumption,and while laptops  can serve the purpose,the keyboard is just extra weight and bulk that gets in the way when it’s not needed.This is exactly the niche that tablets fill,and do well. We’ve seen the rise of these wonder devices, and to run through each of them would be an immense endeavor,so we’re going through a quick list of the best ones on the market  right  now.





iPad Mini

No discussion on tablets would be complete without Apple’s latest favored child.The iPad Mini covered a spot in the market that none of the other Apple products managed.It is a great combination of utility,screen real estate and overall size that makes it so popular. People here at home snapped it up through back channels and alternate sources, even before it was made officially available,and the general consensus is that nobody regrets making the purchase,not even those who already have one,or even several previous-generation iPads. The iPad Mini is by no means a simple toy.The 7.9-inch screen on this little guy makes it so much lighter than its predecessors,and makes sure you carry all of its measly 312-grams around wherever you go.It’s even more impressive under the hood. The iPad mini gives you a screen resolution of 1024×768 pixels and an accurate,multi-touch display.You also have the ability to run more or less every single app on the Apple App Store­ something that you really can’t get on the other devices on this list. You even get two cameras for photos and video chat. There were complaints that the Mini didn’t have a retina display.On paper,it really does seem like a minus,but the pixel density is actually high enough that it isn’t really that big a deal. Apple’s backing,3G or Wi-Fi only options,and the perfect tablet size ensure the iPad Mini makes it to our knockouts list.






Asus/Google Nexus 7

Google has never really been one to get left behind in terms of technology,and the tablet space is no exception.Their flagship tablet came out in 2012 and made waves because of its feature set,size and utility,as well as its redonkulously low price.The Nexus 7 is a great device on paper.It’s well within the perfect tablet size at just under  eight inches tall,and comes with a beautiful seven-inch screen with a crisp 800×1028-pixel resolution,giving it a sharp 216ppi pixel density.It’s got a multi-touch,vIPS display kept safe under Corning glass,and 720p video playback.It’s a little behind in the camera department compared to other devices of its type, as it only has a single,front-facing snapper to handle pictures,but if all you’re really after is video calling,that shouldn’t be a big problem.Googlevsaw it fit to only come out with a Wi-Fi model,so you will have to tether this to a hotspot to get internet connectivity,but it more than makes up for this little detail with up to 32GB or storage,a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor that runs at a zippy 1.2GHz and access to virtually all the apps on Google Play.The big G was basically able to make a budget tablet without the general crappy budget feel,and for that,they deserve a spot on the list.



Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

At the start of this article,I mentioned that tablets aren’t really the best devices for content creation. While that’s more or less true,there are always exceptions to the rule.Samsung went out and decided that tablets aren’t just supposed to sit and play movies;they’re supposed to help create, too.To meet this vision,they went out and made the Galaxy Tab 10.1.While it is,by a wide margin, the largest tab on this list,it might be the most versatile.It gives users a huge 10.1-inch widescreen at a decent  1028×800-pixel resolution,1GB of RAM,up to 64GB of storage as well as Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity,all marching to the drum of a 1GHz Tegra processor.These specs in and of themselves aren’t really anything special,but this tab also gives you a stylus for all the precise work needed for design,notes and other important scribbles.This makes sure you are never too far away from your digital notebook so you can have a quick duck into your design space whenever your muse decides she wants to pay you a visit.It also gives you the ability to multitask, which, contrary to many beliefs, actually makes you way more productive.The excellent implementation of this Android tablet given the size,hardware and usability make it one of the heavy-hitters in this category.


The Contenders

There are a few tablets out there that aren’t quite the pound-for-pound champions in this space,but still need mentioning.They might not have the prettiest screens, best tech or a long history of tablet manufacture,but they fill a need that exists in the market,and that gives them more than enough cred to be on this list.


Value-for-money Tabs


  • Storage:up to 8GB
  • OS: Android 4.0 ICS
  • Processor: ARM Cortex A8,1GHZ
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Display:7’800×480
  • Connectivity:WiFi,Bluetooth
  • USB Ports:1x USB 2.0,MicroSD expansion Slot


Cherry Mobile Supreme

  • Storage:8GB
  • OS: Android 4.0 ICS Processor:1GHz Dual-core RAM: 1GB Display:10.1″TFT,Capacitive Connectivity:WiFi,Bluetooth
  • USB Ports:1x USB 2.0,MicroSD expansion Slot,
  • 2MPCamera

Star Mobile Engage

  • Storage:4GB
  • OS: Android 4.0 ICS Processor:A10 Cortex A8 1.2GHz Display:7″Capacitive,5-point Connectivity:WiFi,Bluetooth,MicroSD expansion Slot,
  • 3MP Rear camera,0.3MP front camera



Words by John Nieves

Each year,the cycle for TVs has remained pretty much the same-they get bigger,brighter  and a bit better compared to the previous models,but have fundamentally remained the same.That was not the case with the boob-tube in 2012,with the introduction of exciting innovations that changed how we use TV, allowing users to connect with the worldwide web and share content instead of just passively consuming it.




Samsung 55-inch ESBOOO

Samsung’s ESBOOO represents the new breed of HD TVs.It was one of the first commercially available smartTVs-ones that could connect and stream content from the Internet-in the Philippines,and though it’s almost a year old,it still tops our list of the best TVs you can own.Although the ES8000 uses an edge-lit LED array,there’s not really a noticeable dip in picture quality,color reproduction and brightness compared to full-array sets with local dimming.The ES8000 has two innovative control methods that make it stand out from other HD TVs currently in the market:voice recognition and motion control.Both do exactly as advertised -you can change the channel,lower the volume and do a myriad of other things by just the sound of your voice or the gestures of your hands.The Samsung ES8000 is also one ofthe firstTVs to boast of an upgradable core dubbed as the Evolution Kit, which allows users to upgrade their device to the latest version (sans the panel).

G 55-inch LM9600

LG also entered the smart TV market with  their 55-inch LM9600 model. The LM9600 has all the right  things  going for it-the LED panel is a full-array, local dimming LED backlight, which means that the entire LED panel (not just the edges) is illuminated by LED backlights, resulting in better  picture quality. Like other smart TVs,the LM9600 can connect  to the Internet,thus enabling it to stream additional content from the web. One of the things  that makes the LM9600 stand out from the pack is its nifty Magic Remote,which you use to point and click on items on the display of the LM9600, aiding on-screen navigation.

Sony 55-inch Bravia HX855

Sony’s 55-inch Bravia HX855 is a visual work of art.The Japanese firm’s monolithic approach in creating TVs is still unmatched in the realm of consumer electronics,and their latest smart TV is no exception. Aside from its quiet, understated elegance,the Bravia HX855 sports Sony’s X-Reality PRO Engine that analyzes each scene to give optimum color and contrast, dramatically improving the image quality of whatever content is on the screen. Like its Korean competitors,Sony’s Bravia HX855 is able to connect to the Internet and stream content, giving users a broad range of material to choose from.


The Contenders



Toshiba 55-inch RZ1

With almost every flat-screen TV being capable of HD resolution nowadays,what’s the next evolution for the boob tube? Well,it seems that the next battle forTVs will be fought in the field of image resolution,with Toshiba leading the charge.The company was the first ever manufacturer to release a 4K-resolution TV in the form of the RZ1.A TV with 4K resolution means that it’s able to display images in 3840×2160-pixel resolution-twice of that of a normal HDTV.The result of this insanely high resolution are extremely sharp images that will take your breath away.The RZ1 is also one ofthe first 4K TV sets available that are capable of glassless 3D via a lenticular  image sheet in combination with the main display.It’s also a smart TV,and can connect to the Internet to stream content.

Sony 84-inch KD-84X9000

Not one to be left in the dust by its competitors, Sony released its own interpretation of the 4K TV in the form of the 84-inch KD-84X9000,the firm’s first ever 4K TV in the country.The KD-84X9000 boasts of several new technologies from Sony,including the 4K version of their X-Reality Pro image engine, as well as 4K 3D.Unlike Toshiba’s offering,the KD-84X9000 still uses glasses to achieve 3D,though the glasses are now slimmer and easier to use.Probably the only reason why most of you reading this won’t get one is because of the price-a cool PHP 1.2 million is definitely pricey.

LG 84-inch 84LM9600 ULTRA HD 30 TV

Launched at the tail-end of 2012,LG’s 4KTV offering delivers what we’ve come to expect from the Korean company:top-end features in a TV that looks drop-dead gorgeous. Much like its rivals,the 84LM9600 has a display resolution of 3840×2160 pixels and includes LG’s Upscaler Plus technology that,along with their Triple XD engine,gives higher detail from current HD/SD external sources.Unlike its competitors,LG has been using their passive 3D lens technology for a long time now,giving them a distinct edge as far as 3D reproduction is concerned.The 84LM9600 also boasts of internet connectivity and uses the same Magic Remote technology as their LM9600 model.




Words by Racine Anne Castro



Blaupunkt DJ 112

We reviewed the DJ 112 in December 2012,and we found it to be one of the best headphones in the line-up.Let’s start with the design:It features ventilated aluminum earcups that may somehow remind you of the ol’ pill-shaped condenser mic.It has an extra-long 86-inch cable that can be detached from the device.This  means that  when it accidentally gets caught on a hook or a doorknob,the cord snaps right off,leaving the headphones secure on your head.The audio quality complements the wicked design.During our time reviewing the DJ 112,we noticed that it was able to give off a full,well-balanced sound.The lows came out beautifully,while the highs and mids were pretty good.

  • Type:Over-ear headphones Frequency Response:18Hz-20kHz Driver Units: 40mm
  • Sensitivity:
  • 115 ± 3dB AT 1kHZ 1mW (single speaker)
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms
  • Plug:3.5mm stereo mini-plug



Bose QuietComfort 15

This model,like any other set of Bose headphones, boasts of powerful noise cancellation technology. In fact,Bose claims in its website that the QuietComfort 15 is their”best headphones,ever.” The microphones inside and outside the earcups of the QuietComfort 15 sense the sounds around the user,and then reduce the noise.Its  ear cushions also serve as an acoustical seal for enhanced sound isolation.Despite having small and lightweight earcups,it is able to deliver a full,lifelike sound, including those deep lows.The package comes with two 5.5-foot removable cables-one with an inline microphone/remote,and one with none.

  • Type:Over-ear headphones
  • Plug:3.5mm stereo mini-plug A
  • ccessories:Airline adapter,carrying case



Marshall Major 50 FX

Dying to shred monster  riffs,but worried about rattling your neighbors? The package ofthe Marshall Major 50 FX comes with a 6.3mm adapter so you can plug it into your amp for those “private” rock-out sessions.The Major 50 FX is a real treat for rockers,especially since this pair of cans has been proven to be capable of bringing out crunchy guitar  riffs,pounding drums and punchy vocals.We took the original Marshall Major for a spin,and we found out that this fine set of cans produces well­ rounded lows and mids,and is capable of handling guitar effects very well.These puppies were released just in time for Marshall’s 50th anniversary in 2012,which is why the Major 50 FX was crafted to appear very similar to the company’s legendary amps.

  • Type:Over-ear headphones
  • Frequency Response:20-20kHz
  • Maximum Input Power:20mW
  • Driver Units:40mm moving coil dynamic speaker
  • Sensitivity:
  • 115 ± 3dB AT 1kHZ 1mW (single speaker)
  • Impedance:32 Ohms± 15% at 1kHz
  • Plug:3.5mm stereo mini-plug
  • Accessories:6.3mm adapter

The Contenders



Fanny Wang 3001

Not only is the Fanny Wang 3001 sleek and stylish;it also delivers pure,powerful sound that audiophiles will surely love. One ofthe things  we loved about the Fanny Wang 3001 during our time with it is the switch that triggers active noise cancellation and bass boost below its right earcup.To power the active noise cancelling and bass boost functions, you have to load the headphones with AAA batteries.Its DuoJack port lets you plug in another set of earphones or headphones,allowing you to share your awesome music with a friend.

  • Type:Over-ear headphones
  • Frequency Response:5-28,000Hz
  • Driver Units:50mm dual-plated drivers
  • Sensitivity:105dB (power on)
  • Plug:3.5mm stereo mini-plug
  • Accessories:Rigid foam carry case,3.5mm connecting cable (1.5m) with iPod,iPhone,iPad control,conversion plug for aircraft use,6.0mm adapter

ASUS ROG Vulcan Pro

After good graphics,the next thing gamers need to complete their gaming experience is impeccable audio.The ASUS ROG Vulcan Pro is the answer to their prayers.To keep them immersed in the battlefield,in outer space,in the jungle,or wherever  the game’s story takes place,the ROG Vulcan Pro features excellent  noise cancellation. This is one of the things  we loved about  the device, apart from its outstanding audio quality.Its heavy­ hitting sound quality shines in sound-intensive games like Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3.

  • Type:Over-ear headphones
  • Frequency Response:10Hz-20000Hz
  • Driver Units:40mm neodymium magnet
  • Sensitivity: 115 ± 3dB AT 1kHZ 1mW (single speaker)
  • Impedance:32 Ohms
  • Plug:3.5mm stereo mini-plug
  • Accessories:Carry case



Words by Mika Fernandez-David

Next to mobile  phones, digital cameras may be the next most prolific  type of gadget ever manufactured because of the sheer number of models out there. It doesn’t seem like things are letting up, either.

The point-and-shoot category is the one with the most products  launched every year. The price points are as varied as the features-standard or otherwise-offered. Being the easiest to handle, the most one needs to take photos is a steady hand (well, not even, because of the anti-shake features or the use of a tripod)  and an appendage to click the shutter button. This category is further  classified into consumer and prosumer,the latter offering more control and better specs at higher price points.

The biggest trend is mirrorless cameras,with all the major brands introducing their own versions.This category was born out of the need for compact cameras that are as easy to use as point-and-shoots,yet offer DSLR-Iike controls. Depending on the manufacturer,cameras  in this catch-all category are called interchangeable lens (ICL) cameras; mirrorless interchangeable lens (MICL) cameras;micro four-thirds (M4/3} cameras;and single-lens transparent (SLT) cameras. Some of the new models in this category are the Pentax Q, the Sony Alpha A35,the Sony NEX 5N, the Samsung NX20,the Panasonic Lumix GF3,the Fuji X100,and the Olympus OM-D.

Because of the boom of DSLRs and the cost of technology going down,everybody and their mothers now have DSLRs. Whether owners use them as glorified point-and-shoots or fully utilize the camera’s capabilities  is another matter. We’re not here to judge.



Canon PowerShot 5110

The PowerShot 5110 is the latest iteration of Canon’s solid 5-series line of prosumer cameras. Similar to its most recent predecessor,the 5100,this model sports a 12-megapixel HS CMOS sensor with a DIGIC 5 processor,has a 24-140mm equivalent lens and a maximum shutter speed of 1-1/2000 frames per second,and is able to shoot in RAW.The 5110 still sports a 3-inch monitor,but it has been upgraded to a multi-touch capacitive touchscreen similar to what one would find on a smartphone, where one can touch the screen to focus on the subject. One of the most significant features of this model is its integrated Wi-Fi connectivity that enables direct uploading to social networking sites,wireless printing,as well as transfering images to a smartphone or tablet using the Canon CameraWindow app for iOS and Android.



The NEX 7 is Sony’s top tier model for the interchangeable lens segment. Unlike most cameras in this segment,it features an electronic viewfinder,which simulates shooting with a DSLR,as well as a non-touchscreen,tiltable 3-inch TFT display. It has both a pop-up flash and a hot shoe, and has an ISO range of 100 to 16,000.The NEX 7 is equipped with a 24.3-megapixel APS-C HD sensor,can shoot up to 10 frames per second,and is able to shoot HD movies in AVCHD codec or in MP4 for smaller files. Like others in its class,it features several creative styles to suit the users preferences.The camera has sweep panorama and 3D sweep panorama modes, and has auto HDR,dynamic range optimizer, and an ultrasonic anti-dust system. Files can be saved as JPEG, RAW or RAW+ JPEG.The Sony NEX 7 can also be used with non-Sony lenses with third-party E-mount adaptors.





Canon EOSM

The EOS M is Canon’s first mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera launched in November 2012.It has an 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and a DIGIC 5 image sensor,and has burst speeds of 4.3-frames per second of continuous shooting and 3 frames per second with autofocus tracking.While it isn’t the fastest camera in the market,the EOS M’s strength comes in its image quality,even with shots taken in low light,with the help of its multi-shot noise reduction feature.The camera has neither a viewfinder nor a pop-up flash,but it does have a 3-inch LCD capacitive touch screen,a hotshoe,and an external mic socket with adjustable sound recording levels for more flexibility.The EOS M features an ISO range of ISO 100-6,400  (expandable to 12800 in H mode) for video and ISO 100-12,800 (expandable to 25,600 in H mode) for stills.The EOS M can record Full HD movies,and can shoot in RAW,JPEG and RAW + JPEG simultaneously,and aside from the EF-M lenses;it is also compatible with Canon’s  EF and EF-5 lenses with the optional mount adaptor.


The Contenders


Samsung Galaxy Camera

Lets face it,even though phone cameras have improved by leaps and bounds,”real”cameras still almost always take better pictures. Announced at the IFA conference in September 2012 and locally launched a month later,the Samsung Galaxy Camera addresses our need to share our photos to our social networks,ASAP, with the ease of use and functionality of an Android phone via Wi-Fi for data connectivity.It sports a 16.3-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor,21x optical zoom,and a wide-angle 23mm lens.The Galaxy Camera has a large 4.77-inch Super Clear LCD capacitive screen with a resolution of 720×1280 pixels,and runs on a Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core processor running at 1.4Ghz,with 1GB of RAM. Aside from the choice of automatic shooting modes expected from point-and-shoot cameras,the Galaxy Camera also offers manual controls for more advanced users. Sadly,the camera only saves images in JPEG format and not in RAW files.The camera can record Full HD videos,and because it does run on Android, there’s an ocean of apps that are available for download.



Samsung NX1000

Officially launched in October  2012,the Samsung NX1000 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera was the first in this category to offer Wi-Fi connectivity,which means direct photo sharing with your favorite social media. It’s fitted with a 20.3-megapixel APS-C sensor,has a maximum shutter  speed of 1/4000,and burst shooting speed of 8 frames per second.The NX1000 is devoid of a built-in flash and a viewfinder,but has a hotshoe that enables the user to attach accessories such as a sppedlight or microphone,and features a 3-inch TFT-LCD screen. Alternately,Android users may also download the Samsung Mobilelink app to be able to use their mobile phone as a remote viewfinder. The camera has ten smart filters,a selective color function,as well as a live panorama setting. Photos are saved in Samsung RAW and JPEG,and Full HD videos are saved as MP4 files.

Nikon 1 J2

The Nikon 1 J2 is Nikon’s interchangeable camera that was launched locally in early December  2012. It is a 10.1-megapixel 13.2 X 8.8mm-sized sensor,giving mounted lenses a 2.7x focal length magnification factor. It features five shooting modes-Auto Photo,Smart Photo,Movie Mode, Creative Mode and Motion Snapshot Mode-to suit the varied requirements and skill levels of end­ users.For more advanced users,manual controls can be found under the Creative Mode menu­ where exposure,aperture and ISO settings  can be tweaked. Images can be saved in NEF (RAW),JPEG, or both at the same time,and movie mode shoots in HD quality as well as in slow motion,which is really quite entertaining. Adding to the fun factor of this camera are available color-aside from the usual black,silver and white color options,it also comes in (very bright) orange,hot pink and red.




Canon 60

Launched in November 2012,the 6D is the most affordable full-frame DSLR in Canon’s stable (as of press time).It has a 20.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor,DIGIC 5+ image  processor,Full HD video recording capability and an ISO range of 100-25,600 (50-102,800  expanded).Its burst  speed is rated at 4.5-frames per second of continuous shooting.Like its big brother,the 5D Mark Ill,the 6D has a quiet shutter mode which is perfect for taking people shots. Wi-Fi connectivity has also been added to this model-a first in the EOS line­ up-so it has the ability to join existing network or create its own to connect directly to your tablet or smartphone for viewing,saving and printing. The Canon 6D also comes with a built-in GPS receiver that  records location information and saves it as EXIF data.




First Published in Gadgets Magazine February 2013