Gadget Watch: Phones with Leica lenses, and Leicas without LCDs

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Gadget Watch: Sept. 20, 2014

The mammoth Photokina photo fair is going on this week, and that means tons of photo goodies. Small, manual cameras with big sensors are the game this year — unless you’ve got $20,000 to burn, in which case Leica’s new novelty camera might be up your street. We round these out with Gadget Watch's usual collection of bags, cases and gadgets.

Panasonic LX-100

The sweet-looking LX-100 is Panasonic’s take on the Fujifilm X100, only it comes with a zoom lens instead of a fixed one, and a plain EVF instead of the X100-series’ amazing hybrid viewfinder. It packs in a big Micro Four Thirds sensor, has manual dials for everything and the 24-75mm equivalent lens runs from ƒ1.7-2.8. $900

Bison Wallet

It looks like a sunglasses case crossed with a taco, but the Bison Wallet is in fact an iPhone case that manages to carry some cards or cash in a minimal, almost unnoticeable pocket formed from an extra flap of leather. It’s a clever take on the wallet case, and one which doesn’t leave you with a wedge of crap on your back jeans pocket. $75

Booq Taipan Shock

The biggest shock about Booq’s Taipan Shock is the price. For $95 you get a great bag with Booq’s great organizational design, which gives you tons of pockets and sleeves for your gear, but somehow doesn’t force you into one way of using it. There’s a section for a MacBook, an outside pocket for an iPad, plus all kinds of spaces inside for bottles, clothes and accessories. $95

Rickshaw reflective tweed bags

Rickshaw makes some of the finest bags known to man, and now it also makes them reflective. See-me-in-the-dark Reflective Performance Tweed is a shiny variant on the regular Performance Tweed, a classy fabric made from recycled water bottles. Backpacks and messenger bags can be had in solid or striped variants, and they’re all as ultra-light and ultra-tough as ever. From $59.

DoDocase Apple Watch charging stand

Who wants to toss their Apple Watch onto their nightstand while they sleep? Not you, and not me. No, we want the DoDocase charging stand, carved from walnut and with a cable router to keep things tidy. I like that you can just hang the watch on here and charge it. You can even have the thing monogrammed, rendering it tacky as hell. $80

Leica M Edition 60

$20,000 will buy you a digital Leica with no LCD, no autofocus, not even automatic exposure. You get a shutter release button, a shutter speed dial, an ISO dial and the aperture and focussing rings around the lens. That is it. It’s a rangefinder camera with all the limitations of film. You can’t even chimp to check you got the exposure right. Loaded hipsters are ecstatic. $20,000

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Panasonic CM1 phone camera

Panasonic has put a one-inch sensor and a Leica lens in a phone. To be fair, it’s more of a camera with a phone built into it, but seeing as my iPhone gets used more as a camera than anything else, that’s not a bad choice. That’s the same sized sensor as in the Sony RX100, paired with a 28mm (equivalent) ƒ2.8 lens. There’s even a physical click-wheel around the lens. It’s just a shame it runs Android. €900

Tassel Charging Cable

If you hate on-the-go iPhone-charging hassle, then you need the Photojojo keychain charging Tassle, a Lightning or microUSB cable that dangles from your bag or keys until needed. Outside it’s leather, inside there are your charging plugs, kept safe with a magnetic closure. Comes in pink or brown, for $60

Gadget Watch: iPhone 6 cases, cameras and an astonishing TiVo

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Gadget Watch: Sept. 13, 2014

The big iPhones are here at last, and so – as surely as indigestion follows a burrito – are the oversize iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus cases. Also new on the scene this week: a game controller for all your iDevices, plus some sweet retro-style cameras.

Waterfield Spinn case for iPhone 6 Plus

A big-ass phone needs a big-ass case, and the Waterfield Spinn is both big and sits by your ass. The leather holster clips to your belt, the bottom is open for hooking up headphones and hearing the speaker, and the closing clasp doubles as a winder for unused headphone cabling. Pretty cool for a dorky holster. $59

Fujifilm X100T

Fujifilm’s successor to the amazing X100S changes little. You get refined buttons and dials, and more of these can be given custom functions. You get a double-resolution LCD on the back, plus Wi-Fi inside, and a sweet new hybrid viewfinder that can overlay a digital rangefinder on the pure optical view. $1,300

TiVo Mega

The Tivo Mega really is mega, with 24TB of DVR storage for 4,000 hours of HD and 26,000 hours of SD programming. At roughly 20 minutes each, that’s enough space to keep the entire series of Big Bang Theory 490 times over. It’s rack mountable, has six tuners and you can stream direct to your phone. How much? $5,000

Grovemade Maple & Leather iPhone 6 case

Grovemade puts a lid on its gorgeous wooden iPhone cases with the new Maple & Leather model for the 6 and 6 Plus. It has the usual bumper-like wooden surround, but with a new leather flap on the front that doubles as a kickstand, thanks to a stiffening wooden liner. It looks gorgeous. $129

Moga Rebel controller

What could be a better accessory for your new iPhone 6 Plus than the Moga Rebel, a Bluetooth game controller for your iPhone or iPad that boasts an adjustable arm and clamp to hold even a giant phone? $80

Leatherman By The Numbers

Leatherman By The Numbers is a range of 10 new tools that each pack at least four tools into one lightweight little package. There are no moving parts (except on the No. 4, which has a removable screwdriver bit), and you can pick the combo that best suits your needs. From $11

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Memobottle

Quit trying to squeeze a cylinder into your bag with your computer and books – try the book-shaped Memobottle instead. These plastic water bottles slide straight into your bag, and come in A4, A5 and U.S Letter sizes. Made from dishwasher-friendly Tritan, the only problem might be drinking from them – probably a two-handed task. From $22.

Lomo LC-A 120

Forget full-frame digital. The way to get maximum photographic quality is medium-format film. Then you can proceed to ruin that film with the plastic-fantastic Lomo LC-A 120, a relatively tiny medium-format camera with automatic exposure, four-zone manual focus and a square format. $430

SanDisk 512GB Extreme Pro SD card

Put all your photos of eggs on a single SD card, with SanDisk's new 512GB Extreme Pro SDXC card. Pointless for photos, the super-fast UHS Speed Class 3 card is better for capturing video from your movie-making DSLR. Just $800.

AeroClam bike saddle bag

The Aeroclam switches a saggy, baggy saddle bag that rattles on the rails of your racing seat for a tightly-fitted clamshell bag that stays permanently – and tightly – attached to your undercarriage. There’s space for a patch kit and maybe a multitool, but not a pump. Fits most non-Brooks saddles. NZ$50

The iPhone 6 camera is the only camera you need

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Your iPhone 6 will take better photos than most pocket cameras.
Your iPhone 6 will take better photos than most pocket cameras.

Two things strike me about the camera in the new iPhone 6 models. One is that you can take better pictures; the other is that the iPhone is now a much better place for viewing those pictures.

With their bigger, brighter screens — and iCloud’s new Photo Albums feature (which stores all your photos, ready to view, in iCloud) — the iPhone 6 and its larger sibling, the iPhone 6 Plus, are looking to be the best smartphones yet, from a photographic point of view.

Gadget Watch: Staying home with robots

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Gadget Watch: Sept. 06, 2014

Who needs to go out outside this week? Not us: We have headphones, a home-monitoring video camera, a robot to clean the floors and a keyboard that sleeps on your desk, all ready to play with your iDevices. Determined to leave the house? Take the GoPro PowerPole with you and then offload the footage to a new wireless, battery-powered hard drive from Western Digital.

Sony QX1

Forget fiddling with those little magnetic iPhone lenses – the Sony QX1 puts proper E-mount Sony lenses onto your iPhone or iPad. It’s actually a tiny camera that clips onto your iDevice, complete with 20.1 MP sensor and even a pop-up flash, and works in concert with the iPhone via Wi-Fi and a companion app. $400

B&W P5 Series 2 headphones

You could buy these new B&W cans and never switch them on, they look that good. But they should sound good too, with huge drivers that “work like those in a hi-fi speaker” (whatever that means), a sweet padded headband and some shiny silver parts on the outside. The Series 2 even comes with a detachable cable with an inline mic for your iPhone. $300

Baron Fig goes international

Now you can buy the best paper notebook anywhere in the world – almost. The Baron Fig Confidant notebook now ships internationally, so anyone can enjoy its superior design, from the cloth-bound cover to the clever dot-grid paper to the fold-flat design that stays open on the table to the slightly wider aspect ratio for more comfy writing and sketching. And still just $16.

Dyson 360 Eye

Dyson’s first robot vacuum cleaner uses a panoramic cyclops eye up on top of the mercifully muted body to map out your rooms to the millimeter. A full-width brush teases dust out of carpets, and the cyclone separates dirt and dust. It runs for up to half an hour before returning to its dock to recharge, and you can even remote control it from iOS and Android apps. $TBA

GoPro PowerPole

It’s called the PowerPole, but that’s not even the best thing about it. The PowerPole takes the useless space inside telescopic 17-30-inch GoPro mount and fills it with batteries, enough for eight continuous hours of shooting. The aluminum pole also has a pair of USB ports for charging other gear. $119

Logitech K480 keyboard

The Logitech K480 is a different take on keyboards for mobile. It sits on your desk, waiting for your devices to dock in its slot, and then performs double duty as a stand and as a Bluetooth keyboard. A twisting knob selects between three paired devices, and the K480 has keys for Windows and Mac. The slot is big enough for a tablet and a phone together and it runs on a pair of AAA batteries. $50

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Shutter Button

The only way the Shutter Button could be more minimal is if it ditched the fashion stylings and came in plain silver. It’s a Bluetooth remote shutter release for iOS and other devices, and it works by masquerading as a volume switch. Therefore, no companion app is required – any camera, even the built-in one, can work with it as long as the app allows you to take a photo using the iPhone’s own volume switch. From $29.

WD My Passport Wireless

This 1TB/2TB USB 3.0 drive packs a Wi-Fi radio and an SD card slot, making it the most useful pocket hard drive, like, ever. It works with your Mac of course, but also your iPad and iPhone. You can connect up to eight devices, use it as an Internet-sharing Wi-Fi hub and even stream movies to your iPad. The battery lasts six hours for video (20 hours on standby) and you can back up photos direct to the drive using the SD card slot. From $180.

Withings Home

Withings has long been able to track your body with its smart scales and health monitors. Now it tracks your home with this Internet-connected camera. The Home records 1080p video and can alert you to movement via the iPhone app. It works as a security camera, but also as a life-cam, with a timeline mode that lets you make a video diary. It even monitors the air quality inside your home, and works as a baby monitor. If it made breakfast too, I’d marry it. $220