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Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011

TECH_JAPAN

GADGETS

A camera worth saving for, and the first Android 4.0 smartphone


Last week, Canon announced its new EOS-1D X DSLR camera, the latest addition to its 1D series, replacing both the EOS-1Ds Mark III and Mark IV models. The 1D X is Canon's top-of-the-line offering, targeting professionals and high-end photographers. With a hefty price tag of ¥650,000 (for the body only), it doesn't come cheap, but for pros out there who haven't updated in a while, this will certainly be one to consider when it goes on sale in Japan in March.

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As for the specs, the EOS 1D X boasts an 18.1 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor. 1Ds Mark III owners might be surprised, as that model had a higher count, at 21.1 megapixels. But the 1D X is different in that it utilizes larger pixels, meaning you get a better image with less noise. The ISO range extends from 100 to 51,200 and can be expanded to 201,000. In addition to all that, it packs three DIGIC processors, 61 autofocus points, and a 252-zone metering system.

Sports photographers out there have reason to get exited about the speed of the 1D X, as it can shoot up to 14 fps at 18-megapixel resolution in JPEG mode, or 12 fps for RAW images. Some early demonstration videos of this are already on the Net, showing this beast doing its best machine-gun impersonation.

Other goodies include a 3.2-inch LCD screen and a gigabit ethernet port for easy file transfers. There are dual CF card slots as well, which provides photographers with instant back-ups and better storage capacity.

As for video, the camera can shoot full HD at 1080p or 720p, with a new file-splitting function that lets you shoot up to 30 minutes over multiple 4-gigabyte files. These can then be reconnected (Canon says "seamlessly") in post-production.

As a low-end Canon DSLR user, the 1D X is not something that needs to be on my shopping list in the foreseeable future. But it's encouraging to think that some of Canon's new advances should eventually make their way down the line to more affordable models.

Last week also saw the joint unveiling, by Samsung and Google, of the Galaxy Nexus smartphone in Hong Kong. The event had been scheduled for Oct. 11, but was reportedly delayed out of respect for Apple's Steve Jobs, who passed away days before.

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NTT Docomo will carry the phone in Japan (as the Galaxy Nexus SC-04D), and it is scheduled for a November release. Of course, like the rest of Docomo's smartphone lineup, it will face stiff competition from the recently released iPhone 4S, which now will run on KDDI's network in addition to SoftBank's.

The Galaxy Nexus should stand out as perhaps the leading iPhone challenger however, as it will be the world's first smartphone to run Android 4.0, affectionately known as Ice Cream Sandwich. The new OS is optimized for dual-core CPUs, and the Galaxy's clocks in at 1.2 GHz. There's also 16 gigabytes of internal storage — but strangely no mention of whether that can be expanded via memory cards.

The phone will boast an impressive 4.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a 1280 × 720 native resolution, which should make it great for video on the go. The surrounding bezel is pretty thin at only 4.29 mm, so the phone is not that much bigger than the screen itself — measuring approximately 136 mm × 68 mm × 8.8 mm, which compares to its sibling, the Galaxy SII, at 125 mm × 66.1 mm × 8.49 mm.

Where the Nexus is drawing some fire, though, is its 5 megapixel camera. While pixelcount isn't everything, it's surprising that Samsung opted for 5 megapixels when it has an 8-megapixel camera already out there on the Galaxy SII. Nevertheless, the software should make a difference, and Android 4.0 is said to feature "zero shutter-lag."

Another flashy Ice Cream Sandwich feature will be the facial-unlock function, where the camera scans your face to make sure that you really are you before it becomes operable. I'm not entirely sold on this idea, although my evil twin seems to think differently.

So far no price has been announced for the Nexus, but let's hope it arrives here in Japan in November as scheduled.

Rick Martin is a contributor to Penn-Olson.com. Read more of his work at 1rick.com.


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