Monday, September 30, 2013

Will Facebook's inclusion of posts and status updates to Graph Search raise alarms?

Facebook is making it easier for users to search posts and status updates through Graph Search, by using natural language cues in defining their search parameters. But will this result in yet another privacy issue for the social network?

Facebook has recently announced an update to its Graph Search feature that will make it easier for users to search through posts and status updates.

Introduced in early 2013 Graph Search lets users find relevant content using natural language cues, which will bring up search results from a user’s own updates, their friends’ posts or public posts, depending on the case. For instance, searching for “Photos of my friends taken in New York, New York,” would bring up just that — photos of your friends taken in New York, NY.

While Graph Search initially launched with support for people, places, photos and interests, the search functionality did not support posts and status updates until now. With this latest development, you can now search for your own posts — or that of your friends — with the now-ubiquitous search box at the top of the Facebook page.

However, while this adds functionality to Facebook’s search feature, it also adds a whole new dimension to the already complicated privacy situation faced by the social network. Josh Constine wrote on TechCrunch that this essentially eradicates “privacy by obscurity,” in that your otherwise hard-to-find posts are now more easily accessible. “If you said it, and it’s technically visible to someone, they will be able to easily find it,” he argued.

Facebook does offer a few tips in enhancing your privacy*by limiting who can see your posts. Given the potential for friends or even the public to sift through your posts and status updates, it will now ultimately be the responsibility of a user not to post anything that is likely to have negative repercussions. You wouldn’t want your boss or future employer to see drunken or wasted photos, employer rants or other such damaging content.

Will Facebook’s latest update be cause for concern among privacy advocates?

Source: Facebook

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'Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag' launching November 19 on PC

Ubisoft announced that Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag*will be available for Windows three weeks after it debuts on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

The PC version of Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag is said to be ported from the Xbox One version, according to a tweet sent out last week by Ubisoft Montreal’s Gabriel Graziani. The game will feature Edward Kenway from Assassin’s Creed 3, and will be set in the Caribbean islands, where he will face off with pirates.

Ubisoft showcased a new trailer titled Pirate Heist that highlights some of the in-game action. Another trailer released last month revealed the technological enhancements that will be seen on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC versions of the game. These include a new sea engine, a dynamic weather engine that feature volumetric fog, along with a new global illumination lighting technology as well as dynamic 3D foliage.

The game will debut on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in North America on October 29, and will launch in Europe on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on November 1. The Wii U version of the game has been pushed back to November 22, which is the same day the game will launch on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The PC version will be available on November 19.

Source: Polygon

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Xi3 piston gets a release date and official pricing

Xi3’s PC console to be available in November at a sub-$1000 price point.

The device that everyone thought was the Steam box has gotten a release date and a price.

In a press release sent out Monday night, Xi3 announced that its PC gaming console will be available on November 29 at a price point of $999. Those who have pre-ordered the console will get it sooner than the non pre-ordering masses; Xi3 promises the console will arrive to those who bought it in March “on or before” November 15.

Xi3 says that the Piston’s specs have gotten a slight boost in the last few weeks before its ship date. The console’s storage can now be doubled to 1TB thanks to a second SSD connector, but it will still ship with 128GB of SSD storage.

In a testament to how open the Steam Box platform is, Piston says users can use the second SSD connector to “load a second operating system onto their machines, including the newly announced SteamOS.” It should be noted that the Piston is partially financially backed by Valve.

Though the launch date is just over a month away, Piston has been slightly coy with the device’s specs. It ships with a quad-core 3.2 GHz processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of SSD storage. But for a gaming PC, Piston doesn’t give any details as to the two most important components: what type 3.2GHz processor does the thing have and what kind of video card it comes with. Some bloggers speculate it comes with a Radeon 700 series GPU, but this is based on tear downs of Piston’s X7A model that the Xi3 is based upon.

Very likely the Piston will be shipping with some sort of APU from AMD, but it’s strange the company isn’t naming exact details so close to the release.

Source: Xi3 press release

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Microsoft offering 'Halo 3' for free to Xbox Live Gold users in October

Bungie Studios’ Halo 3 is the latest game that is offered through the Games with Gold program for Xbox Live Gold members.

Since June, Microsoft has been giving away two games a month through its Games with Gold initiative. The deal is similar to what Sony has been offering with PlayStation Plus, and makes two games available for free on a monthly basis to Xbox Live Gold members.

Downloaded games will remain in the user’s library even after they unsubscribe from Xbox Live. The only caveat is that the game will be available to download for a certain time. For Halo 3, that is from October 16 – October 31. The other game available for download through the first half of the month is Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. Both games normally retail for $14.99, so make sure you download the games before time runs out.

Source: Xbox Wire

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Watch all iPhone models go head to head in a test of speed

A new video has been posted online in which all eight iPhone models go head to head against each other in a test of speed. It is interesting to see how the iPhone has evolved over the years.

The first iPhone was launched back in 2007. Since then, Apple’s smartphone has continued to be a major player in the global smartphone arena. Tens of millions of units have been sold around the globe and sales don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, particularly due to the fact that the company just recently announced two new models. As of now, Apple has released eight models of the iPhone ever since the first one came out in 2007.

Obviously, a lot of hardware changes and advancements have been made. Its obvious that the original iPhone is going to be smoked by the iPhone 4, or even the iPhone 3GS. However, it is interesting to note that all iPhones running iOS 7 seem to power down simultaneously. In the test of speed, all iPhones are first shut down and then booted together. The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5 are neck and neck, with the iPhone 5c slightly trailing behind both of them.

Web tests are also conducted, which reveal just how much the browsing experience and speed has been improved over the years. In the web test, all iPhones are sent to Apple’s home page as well as Reddit. If you’re interested in seeing how things have changed for the iPhone in all these years, do take a look at the video posted above.

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Purported Boost Mobile promotional material hints at iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C launch

Boost Mobile hasn’t officially carried the iPhone as yet. If the latest purported leaked promotional material is to be believed, the prepaid carrier might soon launch Apple’s latest iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.*

Sprint, which is one of the four largest nation carries in the U.S., wholly owns Boost Mobile, which is a prepaid carrier. Boost hasn’t officially carried the iPhone ever before, even though some of its rival prepaid carriers already offer it. Sprint itself has officially been selling the iPhones since 2011, when the iPhone 4S came out. Both new iPhones, the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, were announced earlier this month. They’re already available through the four major U.S. carriers and will make their way to Virgin Mobile, another prepaid carrier, on October 1.

The purported promotional material has been leaked by @evleaks on Twitter. The material clearly hints at the possibility of Boost Mobile launching both new iPhones. However, no pricing or availability information is mentioned. So one can only speculate when the iPhones will be available from Boost and what the carrier is going to charge for them.

There hasn’t been official confirmation from either Apple or Boost Mobile as yet. It remains to be seen if the carrier will also offer previous generation iPhones, such as the iPhone 4S.

Source: @evleaks

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Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet visits FCC under RX-114 moniker, cellular bands galore

We’ve been tracking hints, following leads and pursuing theories on Nokia’s first ever Lumia tablet for what feels like months now and, despite rumors of a last-minute cancelation, there’s a good chance one of the last pieces of the puzzle is today falling into place.

A Nokia device going by the cryptic RX-114 codename has made its way to the FCC a couple of days ago and, though the agency’s internal documents don’t spell it out for us (they rarely do), all signs point to this being the mythical “Sirius”.

What’s even more intriguing is there’s compatibility for a number of 4G LTE bands (2, 4, 5, 13 and 17, to be exact), plus GSM/EDGE and HSPA+ support. Which in layman’s terms means the Lumia 2520 (as a little bird told us the slate will be named in the end) could technically, possibly work on the cellular networks of at least three of America’s four major carriers: Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.

Anything else the FCC reveals? Not exactly, unless you count the boring mentions of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity options. But hey, it’s not like the tab is such a grand enigma anymore.

For one thing, we know for sure its announcement is due on October 22, as part of a special (and likely glamorous) Abu Dhabi event. The spec sheet is tipped to include a Full HD 10.1-inch display, pre-loaded Windows RT 8.1 (which will likely be the thing’s Achilles’ heel), quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC (I’ll drink for that), 2 gigs of RAM and 6.7 MP rear-facing camera with Carl Zeiss optics.

As far as pricing goes, the Wi-Fi only, “entry-level” configuration will likely cost roughly $500 (presumably with 32 GB of on-board storage), and chances are Nokia will look to pair the 10-incher with a range of optional accessories (think Microsoft’s Surfaces) in order to increase productivity. Such a shame it won’t run full Windows 8.1, huh?

Sources: GSM Arena, FCC *

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Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company to produce bulk of Apple A8 SoCs

TSMC to handle 60-70 percent of A8 production, with Samsung handing the remainder.

The Korea Economic Daily reports Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company will be handling the lion’s share of production for Apple’s A8 System on a Chip (SoC), with Samsung producing only 20 to 30 percent.

Currently, Samsung is the sole supplier of iPad and iPhone SoCs. Its silicon powers the 64-bit A7 processor found in the new iPhone 5s.

In June the Wall Street Journal reported Apple had signed a contract with TSMC for SoC production, leading some to believe that TSMC would be the sole provider of processor silicon to Apple.The Taiwan angle seemed to strengthen in August, when VR-Zone *reported Apple was beginning hiring in Taipei for a soon-to-be constructed development center.

Samsung has been a crucial part of the iPhone’s supply chain since its launch in 2007, something that Apple has struggled to change as the two companies have become fierce rivals.

Source: Korea Economic Daily

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Are ads coming to Google's Gmail Android email client?

APK teardown of Google’s new Android email client shows that ads may be coming soon along with bookmarking option.

Ads have been a staple for Gmail users on the web, but Google’s smartphone and tablet experience has been a refreshing ad-free one for mobile devices for quite some time. In a recent APK teardown by Android Police, however, it was determined that Google is planning to include advertisements on Gmail message threads, among other improvements to the mobile client.

These are evident with the lines pertaining to ads, ad presentations and ad elements, which have been added to version 4.6 (build 836823).

In terms of user interface, the updated app continues with Google’s current design language, particularly with the use of the Card UI standard popularized by Google Now. However, this comes with a small price, at least depending on how you look at it. Android Police’s Artem Russakovskii speculates that the ads could likely appear similar to email threads. Meanwhile, the app code suggests that users can bookmark or save ads that they find interesting. This suggests that ads on mobile Gmail will be something like sponsored or featured stories on Facebook, which a user can “like” or bookmark.

According to the mobile Gmail client’s Google Play entry, the app has at least 500 million downloads. Even if the updated app would work only on Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) versions of Android and up, Google’s mobile ads are likely to reach a significant number, given that Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean use have far surpassed older versions of the mobile OS already.

Apart from ads, the updated Gmail app includes a few changes, notably the following:

  • Unsent message warning in the Sent view;

  • Improved presentation of contacts without profile photos in notifications;

  • Cancel button has been removed in prompts (users have to tap Back to cancel);

  • Darker UI icons.

Gmail will be pushing this update sometime this week. If you are not auto-updating your apps, you can check out the Gmail client on Google Play.

Source: Android Police

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Behold Sharp's Mebius Pad, the Windows 8 tablet with the highest pixel count

If you can’t beat them, join them, an old saying goes, and the inventors of that kooky talking refrigerator seem to be following exactly this particular tactic in trying to make their new Windows 8 tablet as popular as Android slates or Apple’s iPads.

Mind you, I’m not accusing Sharp of copying anybody by putting a lot of emphasis on pixel density with the new Mebius Pad. After all, Apple may have the exclusive rights to use the “Retina Display” brand name, but they certainly can’t patent high ppi (or can they?).

Besides, if there’s one thing Windows tabs needed in order to take things to the next level, it was definitely better, crisper panels. And boy, does this Mebius Pad rock a spectacular screen.

It measures 10.1 inches in diagonal, it uses the IGZO (indium gallic zinc oxide) technology that’s believed to go very easy on the battery and, most of all, it sports a 2,560 x 1,600 pixels resolution. That’s a 299 ppi pixel density, so north of MacBook Pro pixel counts and exactly on-par with Google and Samsung’s Nexus 10.

Before getting too giddy with excitement, let me remind you it’s Sharp we’re talking about here, so the chances of ever seeing the Mebius Pad up on store shelves on the Western hemisphere are close to zero. And not even Japan will get the 10-incher this year, as the ETA around those parts is “early 2014”.

But hey, it may just be worth the wait, since it packs an Intel Bay Trail processor, so it shouldn’t be too pricey, runs Windows 8.1 out the box, has allergies to water and dust, rocks 4G LTE speeds and stylus support. Keeping it sharp (pun intended) from head to toe, eh?

Source: Engadget

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Lenovo goes for international gold with Vibe X, Vibe Z Android smartphones

Aside from hunting down HP for the PC market crown by basically being the only major player in the business who’s seen its market share boosted in the past couple of years, Lenovo has bold plans for the mobile universe as well.

Though virtually unknown to smartphone users on the Western hemisphere, Lenovo has spectacularly climbed the global manufacturer ranks of late courtesy of booming Asian sales, even topping Huawei, ZTE, Sony and HTC in Q2 2013.

But the Chinese know very well their local reputation will only take them so far, which is why it’s no wonder Lenovo has just taken the wraps off two beastly new smartphones, targeted specifically for international markets.

The Vibe X has technically seen daylight before, namely in the days leading up to IFA, but the skinny 5-incher is now getting a second unveiling in order to clear the air on pricing and availability. Due out on October 20 in China, the MediaTek-powered, full HD-toting phone will cost roughly $470 (RMB 2,899) and should land in Europe in time for the holidays.

Meanwhile, the Vibe Z’s formal intro is actually the big story of the day, although it too should be familiar to some, since it’s been benchmarked not long ago under the K910 codename.

Intended as a sequel/rehash of the spectacular and grossly underrated K900, the Z ditches the Intel silicon of its forefather and instead makes use of the hottest and coolest high-end mobile chip around, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800.

Said to measure an incredibly slim 7 mm in thickness, the bad boy doesn’t change a lot of other things compared with the K900, but that’s because it doesn’t have to. I mean, honestly now, how could Lenovo have possibly upped the ante from a 5.5-inch Full HD screen, 2 GB of RAM and 13 MP/5 MP dual cameras?

On the software side of things, there’s the same buttery smooth Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, whereas in terms of pricing and availability we just know the Vibe X is to take the entire world (!) by storm in 2013. Who’s psyched?

Sources: Phone Arena, CNMO, The Droid Guy

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We ask AMD: Why will Mantle be different?

VR-Zone sat down with AMD’s Ritchie Corpus, the company’s director of software alliances and developer relations, to talk about Mantle, TrueAudio, and the Steam Box.

A semiconductor company wouldn’t be worth its weight in Si without a solid set of working relationships and alliances with the companies that make software for its chips.

One of the pillars of AMD’s #gpu14 conference was the unveiling of Mantle, an API that promises to make cross-platform development and optimization easy for developers. According to AMD, DICE was a major stakeholder in the creation of Mantle, thus the very existence of the API could be seen as a strength of AMD’s developer relations.

VR-Zone had a chance to chat with the man that heads up AMD’s developer relations unit, Ritchie Corpus, about some of the developer relations focused initiatives AMD announced at its keynote.

VR-Zone: Proprietary standards don’t have a great track record of success, historically speaking. Why will Mantle be different?

I think at this stage it makes sense for us to develop Mantle, at least in its current form, because nobody knows our hardware at the lowest level best than we do. So for us to have to do that for alternative graphics hardware [would be] almost impossible.

The plan is, long term, once we’ve developed Mantle into a state where it’s stable and in a state where it can be shared openly [we’ll make it available]. The long term plan is to share and create the spec and SDK and make it widely available. Our thinking is: there’s nothing that says that someone else could develop their own version of Mantle and mirror what we’ve done in how to access the lower levels of their own silicon. I think what it does is it forges the way, the easiest way.

If you think about it, Mantle is truly a collaboration and I’ll tell you [DICE’s Johan Andersson] was at the forefront of that at the very beginning. A lot of the feedback on the development of Mantle came from him. We also solicited feedback from a lot of other partners that we haven’t announced yet. At this stage, Battlefield 4 and FrostBite 3 are the closest to deliver something today. I think, as I mentioned before, the goal would be to provide the spec and SDK publicly.

VRZ: Any timeline to Mantle’s SDK being made public?

It could be as early as sometime next year or maybe the year after.

VRZ: A lot of today’s keynote was about AMD’s hegemony in the gaming sector. How are you sure that Mantle and AMD’s place as the chipmaker for next-generation consoles will make it the dominant platform for PC gaming in the future?

I think there is a lot of similarities in the architectures of the [next-generation] consoles and PC side. I think one of the benefits that game developers are going to realize is that because of their strong familiarity with the PC already, and developing on our hardware, we anticipate development budgets to be somewhere less or lower because they won’t have to spend as much development time and the learning curve is much shorter. We don’t think it’s going to take them as long to extract all of the features and the maximum performance benefits out of our hardware.

VRZ: Can you quantify how similar the next-generation consoles are to AMD’s PC silicon? Is there one console that’s more similar to PC silicon?

I can’t comment.

VRZ: One of the big announcements at AMD’s keynote at #gpu14 was AMD TrueAudio. Does getting in to the audio business pit AMD against existing sound card makers like Creative?

Actually no, we’re complementary to existing sound cards. If there was an existing sound card, then whatever feature set is made available by whatever sound solution is in the system we augment it.

*Believe it or not, there’s already a lot of sound down solutions that exist today. Our stuff works with that.

VRZ: Valve has recently announced that the Steam Box is in beta. In Valve’s announcing press release, it said how Nvidia is a big stakeholder in the Steam Box. What is AMD doing to counter or compete against this?

There is no counter.

The reason is we are working just as closely with Valve. I think the difference is one side of that conversation is being more vocal than the other. If you go to Valve right now and ask them which hardware partners are going to be the partner of choice, they won’t pick one or the other. They are going to be agnostic. They mention that it’s an open ecosystem.

VRZ: Thanks for your time.

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Sony NEX-5T Review: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

Sony decided that the only thing the NEX-5R needed was NFC. So they threw it in and called it the NEX-5T:* the 2013 refresh of the company’s mid-range mirrorless ILC. But is it enough? We put the latest iteration of the NEX-5 under the microscope to find out.


When Sony first made its entry into the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market back in 2010 with the NEX-3 and NEX-5, they certainly did it with a bang. The pair possessed a combination of good looks, size and most of all, image quality — being the first mirrorless ILCs to pack an APS-C sized sensor typically found in their larger DSLR counterparts.

Since then, the Japanese electronics giant has made an effort to refresh their NEX-5 line on a yearly basis, upgrading the internal hardware as well as throwing in novel and value-added features to keep up with an increasingly competitive mirrorless market.

Today, we take a look at the NEX-5T, the latest 2013 update to the mid-range NEX offering with a little surprise: Sony made only one small tweak to the NEX-5R, they added NFC connectivity. Apart from that, you’re looking at what would most certainly be mistaken for its previous generation predecessor. As such, in this review, we put the camera through its paces to find out if this seemingly trivial addition of NFC warrants an upgrade from the NEX-5R and if less is really more.

Design and hardware

Hit or miss, the NEX-5T is identical to its predecessor in terms of physical design. Sony changed absolutely nothing from the NEX-5R, which would suggest that the existing design doesn’t require any improvements. While true to a certain extent, it would have been great if Sony had built in a flash instead of having users plug in a separate attachment — something which I found to be quite a hassle and wouldn’t mind dealing with a larger camera body to have one built in. Otherwise, the 5T offers the same beefy and comfortable grip, 180-degree articulating display, dual control dials and your typical set of function buttons. Yes, the 5T still lacks that dedicated mode dial that I would have loved to see added but sadly, it is what it is.

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Likewise internally, the NEX-5T houses the same innards as its year old predecessor. The 5T retains Sony’s trusty 16-megapixel APS-C sensor that offers hybrid contrast/phase-detection autofocus as well as ISO levels of up to 25600. The new NFC chip is located in the handgrip, on the right side of the camera, making device pairing very convenient and straightforward. The 5T also comes with a new SELP 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, which debuted with its higher-end NEX-6 sibling last year. When paired with the 5T, makes for a highly compact camera system that might even be pocketable for some, making it an ideal travel companion.


Alas, this is the only department in which the NEX-5T has something to brag of in comparison to the 5R. Partially owing to the fact that Sony’s suite of PlayMemories camera apps has just been made available in Singapore (where this review is done), the addition of NFC connectivity does boost the attractiveness of the 5T — considering it is also one of the first few cameras to feature the increasingly popular pairing technology. But of course, the apps too, have to meet the mark to seal the deal. And I wasn’t to be let down.

For this review, I decided to test the app that Sony had been promoting so fervently, Smart Remote. As its name suggests, what Smart Remote essentially does is allow you to use your mobile device to control your camera remotely via Wi-Fi. In addition, the app can also leverage the 5T’s NFC capability and allow us to find out how well its addition would complement the camera.

So a common scenario where Smart Remote would be useful would be taking a group photo: using your mobile phone as a remote control for the camera while facing the camera in the group, and snapping the shot right from the phone. But before taking a crack at that, we had to first put the star attraction of the NEX-5T to the test, NFC pairing.

The pairing process with NFC turned out to be truly a breeze; just a simple tap of my mobile phone on the camera grip was all it took to get me hooked up. All you need is to have the Sony PlayMemories mobile app installed on your NFC-enabled mobile phone or tablet (yes that means no go for iOS devices) and you’re all good to go. iOS device users will still be able to pair their devices with the camera but you will have to go through the traditional process of manual pairing over Wi-Fi.

NFC pairing

Using Smart Remote was fun and it worked just as advertised. It felt as if I were using the camera through my phone camera app, which quite frankly, is a pretty neat feature — a feature which I also reckon inspired Sony’s recently announced QX10 and QX100 remote cameras.

Smart remote in action: nifty eh?

Hiccup-wise, I had no problems with functionality even at distances of up to 10 meters away. However, do expect a little lag due to likely a combination of Wi-Fi latency issues and rendering overhead, which shouldn’t be much of a bother once you’ve gotten used to it. Other apps I tested were on-camera and did not utilize the NFC capability, but they were nonetheless handy and easy to use, nothing that I wouldn’t mind not having.

All in all, the combination of NFC pairing and PlayMemories apps (or at least the star app) do synergize pretty nicely and will offer a nifty package for users who want that extra creative flexibility.

Image quality and performance

As you would have come to expect, image quality is identical to the NEX-5R, with laudable detail capture, colors and high ISO performance from the aging but venerable 16-megapixel APS-C sensor. Shots taken with the new SELP 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens are just as sharp as those of the old SEL 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, with the new 16-50mm lens even edging its predecessor in terms of peripheral sharpness. ISO performance is also great thanks to the large APS-C sensor, with a usable sensitivity level of up to a respectable 12800 (samples below).

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ISO 12800

No complaints in the autofocus department as well. The hybrid phase/contrast-detection AF system works great and is pleasingly quick and accurate, with only a few rare occasions of hunting under low light conditions — which is perfectly acceptable given that most autofocus systems would also struggle under such conditions.

Image quality aside, a major gripe I have about the NEX-5T is touchscreen operation, something which I hoped Sony would have improved on after much negative feedback of earlier models. To my disappointment, the NEX-5T’s touchscreen is still just as slow and even unresponsive at times, to the extent that it is almost unusable. Taking into consideration that the NEX-5 series is geared toward novice users and lacks a dedicated mode dial, the quality of touchscreen operation really leaves much to be desired.

In conclusion

Let’s face it, the NEX-5T offers a veritably insubstantial upgrade from the NEX-5R. While the addition of NFC does boost the appeal of the PlayMemories app suite – offering an increased ease of device pairing — convincing a 5R owner to upgrade to the 5T will undoubtedly pose a significant challenge. What’s more, iOS users stand to gain zero advantage over the 5R due to the universal lack of NFC on Apple devices.

That said, the NEX-5T, or the NEX-5R mark II as I would prefer to call it, remains a very capable camera for the most part, with impressive image quality and AF performance. Coupled with the new SEL 16-50mm kit lens, you will also be getting a highly compact camera system without compromising on image quality, so that’s a plus.

All in all, if you’re an existing NEX-5R user, we see absolutely no reason for you to make that upgrade. However, the NEX-5T will make a compelling option for someone looking to make an upgrade from a compact camera, with its combination of good size and image quality, coupled with those nifty PlayMemories apps. But be warned, if you’re a fan of touchscreen operation, I’m afraid the 5T isn’t going to cut it.

So is less really more? I’m afraid not this time. But, the NEX-5T is still every bit as good a camera as its predecessor was, with the helpful addition of NFC pairing.

The good:

  • Solid image quality and low light performance.

  • Hybrid autofocus system is snappy and accurate.

  • New SELP 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens is desirably compact and performs just as well as its predecessor.

  • NFC pairing complements the Smart Remote app nicely.

The bad:

  • touchscreen operation is frustratingly laggy and even unresponsive at times

  • no built-in flash

  • paltry addition of NFC to what would otherwise be an identical camera to its predecessor; iOS crowd left out

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