Sunday, 7 October 2012

Panasonic DMC-ZS7 Lumix Review (part 1)

The Panasonic ZS7 is part of the very popular Lumix range from Panasonic, costing £348.88 from online retailers such as it's a high ask, however if that's in your digital camera budget then let's get into a review.

Colours Of ZS7 Lumix
The ZS7 comes in four colours; black, silver, red and dark blue and has many interesting features such as a GPs and touch screen. It looks good with the silver lens housing and the silver top plate-with most of the dials- sticking out from the body, but doesn't look spectacularly different from any other camera.

The front contains the external flash and also contains the lens

The Flash
The camera has a built in external flash which I’m assuming is a xenon bulb, I’m not sure, but it is very bright. The flash has four setting which can be combined in six different ways -
  • Auto mode/Red-eye reduction- Camera judges whether or not to flash, used when taking photos of people or animals in the dark
  • Auto mode- Automatically judges whether or not to flash
  • Flash on- always flashes
  • Flash on/red eye reduction- always flashes but camera judges whether to use red eye reduction or normal flash
  • Slow sync/ red eye reduction- camera judges whether to use red eye reduction or slow sync used against night back ground (slow sync is essentially a longer exposure time)
  • Flash of- The camera never flashes
The Lens
I've got to say the lens system is impressive. It has 12 times optical zoom (i.e. the better one) and 4 times digital zoom (i.e. the one that makes things pixelated), contains autofocus, has a lens shutter and with the macro focus can focus at as little as 2.5cm.

Top Of DCM-ZS7
From left to right of the picture above is the on/off switch to the left of that the shutter button (press half way to auto focus and fully to take a picture) then there is the "recording mode dial" which contains the functions (going clockwise from the red iA)-                                                       

  • Intelligent auto-The camera takes photos of faces when it decides the subjects are looking at the right spot (very nifty)
  • Program AE- Record pictures with setting you program in
  • Aperture Priority- Set the aperture manually
  • Shutter Priority- Set shutter speed yourself
  • Manuel Exposure- Set aperture and shutter speed yourself
  • Custom Mode- Use pre-registered settings
  • MS1/MS2- Commonly used scenes. Say mountains and beach can be programmed to these so that they can be accessed quickly
  • Scene Mode- An appropriate scene can be selected
  • Clip Board Mode- allows you to take pictures as memos
In the middle is the microphone which allows earphones to differentiate between right and left. And last but by no means least is a slightly stranger feature of the camera, the GPS. The GPS means that you will never forget where you took a picture again.

More of the features, of which there are many (the manual is 178 pages long) and usage will be covered in the next post.
So far the camera has a wide range of photographic features, looks good, and has an impressive lens system and a GPS, if it's within your budget it's defiantly worth it.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Targus City Gear Messenger Laptop Bag Review

Today I've decided to review, as promised, a laptop bag. The one I’m reviewing is the “Targus city gear messenger bag”. The bag can accommodate laptops with screen from 16 inches to 17.3 inches and retails from, to name a few, John Lewis for £29.95, LambdaTek for £24.31 and from Amazon for£45.89.  A picture paints 1000 words so here's a picture.  

This laptop case actually won the What Laptop gold award in May 2005. It  only comes in black with a silver trimming i.e. the one above. The material is kind of "meshie", presumably to make it ripstop. The shoulder strap is fully adjustable and has a shoulder pad to prevent it rubbing against your shoulder. One of the sides has a "hidden pouch" that contains a net bag for carrying a water bottle. On the bottom of the bag there is only material, no rubber strip-like in some of the Tech Air laptop bags- that prevent wear and tear from the bag rubbing of the ground and, I dare say help prevent the laptop breaking in the event of a fall.  At the top of the "flap" is a zip so that small objects can be stored in it. The laptop pouch has soft padding in it, but I don't feel its substantial, unlike some of the tech air ones which have impact foam. This means if you drop the bag with the laptop in it, it’s going to offer minimal protection. Which isn’t ideal as one of the main ideas of laptop bags should be to protect the laptop during travel.
Moving on to the inside-

As you can see, the front of the bag actually zips down to give easy access to the pockets at the front, there are loops to store pens in, zipped pouches for SD cards, business card and credit card holders, a key ring and pockets for wires and phone or whatever else you choose to put in there. Behind there is pocket the size of the bag which has the soft lining and can hold a tablet computer and behind there is the laptop pouch.

The laptop pouch contains an adjustable sleeve to secure the laptop firmly in place so it can’t rock-about and get scratched. Then on the outside at the back is yet another compartment that papers or other smaller objects can be put in.

The bag looks great and has a lot of storage space and pockets, however I don’t feel it protects a laptop that well. My philosophy has always been a laptop bag that offers a lot of protection may be more expensive that one that doesn't but it’s cheaper that replacing a laptop because you’ve dropped it. If like me you can be clumsy I’d sacrifice looks and features for a non broken laptop. However if you’re not going to do anything that destructive with it, this is a good bag at a very good price.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

iPod Touch 4th Generation Review

The iPod Touch 4th generation, the ultimate in pocket entertainment device developed by Apple and available from for £217.99 with the discount code "UKPIXSEPT5". This may seem like a lot but considering a friend of mine paid £210.00 for the same iPod on eBay from a London seller a week after the London riots. It’s a good price but I’ll get back to that later.
I don’t know where to start from there’s that much to talk about so I’ll start with the looks first. It comes in black and white and has a massive screen measuring 3.5 inches (diagonal) with 326 pixels per inch giving a very crisp image. Under the screen there is only one button which acts to light up the screen and as a back button.

On the edges at the top right there is another light up button which also acts as a power of button, on the right hand side there’s nothing at the bottom there’s the headphone jack, the USB/charger port, to the left of that is the loud speaker which for its size is surprisingly loud. Then on the left hand side there are the volume buttons which are in the perfect place for the thumb to control them when holding the iPod.

On the back, is the ambient light sensor, the 0.7mp camera with good optics (optics are more important than megapixels in cameras). All housed in a stunning polished metal backing with the Apple logo and storage capacity of the model i.e. 8 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB engraved on it. It honestly is a work of art.

It’s internal hardware includes a rechargeable lithium ion battery capable of giving 40 of music play back, in my time reviewing this I would rate it very highly for battery life, an accelerometer to detect how fast the iPod it is moving and a gyroscope which makes it a lot better for playing games where the iPod is rotated.

The iPod app store is full of all sorts of apps for every situation that are very easy to download.

Along with music there is also an iBook store where you can download books strait to the iPod and a movie store where movies can be bought or rented.

I’ve got very virtually no criticisms with the iPod touch, I’ve got no complaints with speed as it has never ran slow with me in the time I was reviewing it. The battery life is excellent and like most Apple devices it is very simple to use. On top of all that is the 32GB of storage space which is immense, it’s about 8 days worth of music. The one I’m reviewing has 289 songs all with album covers, 20 apps, 1 book and 2 episodes of “House” and still has 22GB available.   

The only staling point is the price which is most defiantly justified by the amount in it and to back this up I’m going to leave you with one last picture.

This is what really justified the price for me. What you’re looking at is a scanning electron micrograph of part or the gyroscope. The image is about 0.2mm across. The gyroscope is a very small precise piece of kit that is very intricately designed i.e. you are paying for up to the minute technology.

So I if you want a portable music player of an alternative games console I defiantly recommend buying the iPod touch from and remember to use the discount code "UKPIXSEPT5".

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Motorola Defy+ Review

After the success of its Defy, a rugged android smartphone capable of sustaining moderate abuse out and about. Motorola has launched its defy+ ( available at ) which comes with a better battery (which seems to last a long time for a smartphone) and a 1Gigahertz processor as supposed to the 800megahertz processor in the old model i.e. it can processes things faster.

Sim Free Motorola Defy Plus

The phone looks amazing with a screen that is 3.7 inches and about 265 pixels per square inch giving a very crisp picture. The body size of the Defy+ is 107 x 59 x 13.4 mm which is something I really like about it as it’s smaller than the Samsung Galaxy there for you don’t have a massive lump sticking out your pocket, it’s the size I think a phone should be.

The body is solidly constructed with, starting at the top and moving in a clockwise direction, the headset port with has a rubber bung to keep it water resistant. To the right of that is the screen light/switch off button then on the right side of the phone is the volume control button at the bottom of the phone is the loud speeker and on the left side is the USB port which doubles as the charging slot.
On the front of the phone there are four buttons at the bottom from left to right, settings, home, back and search. On the top of the front of the phone is a sensor so the phone knows when it’s in you pocket so it can go to sleep and a notification LED which if like me you always miss receiving text is very useful as it flashes, even in standby, until the text is read so you know you have a text.
At the top of the home screens (you can have up to seven) are four switches which alow you to turn the wi-fi, flight mode (useful to get the phone to search for signal if there’s none),  Bluetooth and GPS.      

On the back is a flash, 5mp camera which give very clear photos for a phone and a noise cancelling microphone so it should be easier for the people on the other end to hear you if you’re in a noisy place, plus I found the call quality to be very clear.

The phone has an internal slot for a SD card so storage can be made up to 64GB. The only negative I have found about this phone is it doesn’t have a camera on the front therefore you can’t make video calls however I never make them anyway there for it doesn’t affect me.
One of the slightly more unique selling points of this phone is its supposedly water proof, it’s defiantly water resistant.  

I’ve heard its water proof for up to 1m for 10minuts, or its water proof to half a meter for 30minuts, however the note that comes with it says

"WATER RESISTANCE WARNINING All protective covers including the Headset jack, USB and battery covers must be securely closed to ensure water resistance. Damage caused by failing to properly secure the phone’s water resistant covers is not covered by the warranty. THIS PHONE IS NOT WATERPROOF"

Personally I think this may me Motorola trying to cover themselves, as on YouTube there are several videos of people submerging the phone and I’ve yet to see one break. I’ve submerged mine and it was fine however I couldn’t get the touch screen to work under water, I think it may have something to do with the pressure. If you want to film reefs with it this isn’t the phone for you. However if you want a phone that will survive a day at the beach or survive a heavy rain shower or being stick a wet carry bag for some time or if you want to be able to film in a swimming pool and film under water for a minute on holiday this is the phone for you.

All in all like this phone and highly recommend it and it’s available at