The week in gadgets: Xbox 720 speculation, new rugged cameras and a practical umbrella

18 Feb 2013

The Brolly umbrella in action

A look at gadget happenings, as we discover an umbrella suitable for smartphone addicts, rumoured specifications of the new Xbox console leak online, Panasonic brings us two new rugged cameras and HP gets a Guinness World Record.

Umbrella innovation

If you’ve ever tried to use your smartphone while holding onto an umbrella you’ll know that it’s not an easy feat. The handle of a traditional umbrella is simply not designed for multitasking. However, we have discovered a new take on the umbrella that will let you text and email in the rain.

The Brolly umbrella features a unique grip that lets your fingers pass through the umbrella handle, leaving your thumbs free for texting, emailing, or whatever it is you need to get done on your phone. The secure and comfortable grip relieves pressure on your hands and is said to be useful for those suffering from arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Brolly umbrella

The Brolly can be ordered online and costs US$19.95.

Rumoured specifications for the Xbox 720

Alleged leaked information on the yet-to-be-announced new Xbox purports that the console will be able to run more than one game or app at once and require a Kinect sensor to be connected. The next-generation Xbox, often referred to as the Xbox 720, is expected to be revealed this summer at E3, but Kotaku believes it has uncovered some of its specifications.

Kotaku’s source claims to have access to development hardware for the highly anticipated console, code named Durango. The source, who previously attempted to sell a Durango development kit on eBay, says the new console will include a 50GB optical disc drive with support for Blu-ray, a built-in HDD of 500GB storage, 8GB DDR3 memory, as well as flash memory, 1.6GHz 8-core 64-bit CPU, 800mHz DirectX 11.x GPU and custom hardware blocks designed to manage specific tasks. The device will apparently be able to deliver 3D content in 1,080p on compatible TVs and Wi-Fi connectivity will be built in along with an Ethernet port.

The source says the Kinect sensor will now have a wider viewing angle and be able to track up to six people in a room, tell if your hand is open or closed, and maybe even read your facial expressions. Apparently, the improved Kinect will be a prerequisite on the new console and will ship with each device sold.

The source also claims that the new Xbox will not access data from discs but that games will have to be installed to play. The controller is also said to be updated to include new wireless technology, which will render previous Xbox 360 controllers incompatible.

New tough cameras from Panasonic

Panasonic has unveiled two new rugged compact cameras, the Lumix DMC-FT5 and FT25. The FT5 is said to be the manufacturer’s toughest compact camera to date and is waterproof up to 12m, shockproof from up to 2m, freezeproof to -10°C and pressure resistant to 100kg. Capable of shooting full-HD video at a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto technology also works in movie mode while Power OIS in Active ensures steady images.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5

The FT5 features a 28mm ultra-wide Leica DC-Vario Elmar lens, 3-inch LCD, 16.1MP high sensitivity MOS sensor and Venus engine. It can reach up to 4.6x zoom or 9.3x Intelligent Zoom and can shoot in time lapse or up to 10fps in burst mode – so whether fast or slow shooting is required, you’re covered. The FT5 also comes with built-in GPS and an NFC chip allowing for one-touch Wi-Fi connection. With this, you can use the Lumix remote app to turn your smartphone into a viewfinder and take snaps remotely.

On both the FT5 and FT25, users can avail of an underwater mode with red colour reproduction that eliminates dull, grey colouring. The FT5’s little brother, the FT25 is waterproof up to 7m, shockproof from up to 1.5m and freezeproof to -10°C. It also features a 16.1MP sensor, but other specifications are a step down, with a 25mm lens capable of 4x zoom, Mega OIS, 1,280 x 720 HD video shooting and a 2.7-inch LCD.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT25

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT25

The FT25 will arrive first in March, followed by the FT5 in April. Prices are yet to be confirmed.

HP officially has the world’s fastest desktop printer

The HP Officejet Pro X has officially been named the world’s fastest desktop printer by Guinness World Records, having achieved the fastest time to print 500 sheets by an office colour desktop printer. Designed for SMEs, HP believes this business printer can increase productivity, reduce costs and cut down on waste.

Ploughing through up to 70 pages per minute from its 500-sheet tray, this printer uses HP PageWide Technology which delivers four colours of pigment ink at once onto a moving sheet of paper. The printhead remains stationary, meaning printing is kept quiet.

HP Officejet Pro X

HP also claims the Officejet Pro X uses 50pc less energy and creates up to 50pc less waste than laser printers. This month, HP is celebrating 25 years of inkjet printers and has shipped nearly 600m since its first in February 1988. The Officejet Pro X is now shipping worldwide starting at €399.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.