Gadgets: The 'Bailey' Camera and Making Coffee With Your Phone

Olympus camera
The OM-D E-M5 Mark II, latest in its line of compact, mirror-less cameras

Olympus

Thanks to a massively successful, and refreshingly witty, advertising campaign starring David Bailey in the Seventies and Eighties, Olympus will always be associated with simple, easy-to-use cameras. (They revolved around the catchphrase "Who does he think he is, David Bailey?", when of course it was always him.) This has translated to the digital era with Olympus's OM-D line of compact, mirror-less cameras that have the look of vintage equipment but, aimed at experienced photographers, are far more than an exercise in sweet nostalgia.

The latest upgrade is the OM-D E-M5 Mark II, which sits between the top-of-the-range E-M1 and the entry level E-M10. It has a magnesium-alloy body and retro-SLR appearance, and is weatherproof and reassuringly solid. It has a 5-axis image stabilisation system, a quick auto-focusing system, interchangeable lenses and, like its predecessors, is both compact and stylish. In fact, very David Bailey.

The M5 Mark II also has a 1024 x 760 liquid crystal display (LCD) viewfinder which will please those switching from digital SLR cameras, and a large (3in) vari-angle touch-sensitive LCD screen, an improvement on previous models with tilted screens. This one rotates 270 degrees so you can frame shots from any angle and it also means you can use it for taking selfies, if you must.

Its versatility, its compact size, its quiet mechanical shutter and the option of enabling a silent electronic shutter make it an excellent camera for candid street photography. Although not quite as expensive as top-end DSLR cameras, the M5 Mark II is at the top end of mirror-less cameras, costing around €1,257 for the body alone and €1,606 with a Zuiko digital ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 zoom lens. It's quite a bit cheaper in the US, selling at around $1,099 (€1,010) with the 12-50mm zoom lens.

Smarter wifi Coffee Machine

It probably won't be too long before every high-tech home has one of these but, for now, the Smarter wifi coffee machine is something of a novelty. Once you tap the button on your smartphone, the machine grinds the beans, brews them and pours out hot cups of joe that you have tailored to your specific taste.

It can also be pre-set to make coffee at a particular time of day, rather useful if you need a cup before you have the wherewithal to make one. When the coffee is ready it sends an alarm to your phone to wake you up. It can brew a single cup or 12 at a time, and the coffee stays warm for up to 20 minutes. Clearly we're not too far away from smart homes full of appliances run wirelessly from home hubs, but you may want to start with this one that costs €208.

Smarter Coffee Red machine

Audirvarna Plus 2 HD Music App

This is not the place to go on a rant about MP3 music and the awfulness of compressed music that 21st-century youth have come to accept as the norm. I shall however return to the subject in detail in future Kit columns. Meanwhile here is a high-definition music app that gives you music that is up to 20 times the size of your average iTunes song. The Audirvana Plus 2 is a French app that appears on your computer as a black hi-fi amplifier, already a good sign. There have been other high-definition formats around for a while but this one plays every available high- resolution format. The Audirvana Plus 2 is excellent quality and for €59 it's pretty good value.

Audiovarna Plus 2 HD Music App
Gadgets: The 'Bailey' Camera and Making Coffee With Your Phone | Tech & Science