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Lytro Camera Review

Review: Lytro Camera

When cameras went from analog to digital, it was one of those once-in-a-generation shifts, like going from black-and-white film to Kodachrome. But whether you’re using a 35-millimeter or a point-and-shoot, the steps you take to shoot a picture have remained the same: you focus on something, then push a button to record the image.
But what if you could take a picture and refocus it after you had taken it? What if, just by clicking around a photo on your computer screen, you could choose which part of the image should be clear and which part should be blurry?


You can with a new camera called Lytro, and it’s astonishing. With a Lytro, you take a picture as you would with any camera, but the digital file it creates can be refocused after the fact.
Inside the Lytro: An example of how the Lytro works can be found here.Inside the Lytro: An example of how the Lytro works can be found here.
This is fairly mind-blowing. Imagine a wedding photo with the bride in the foreground and the wedding party in the background. Click on the bride, and she’s in focus while the bridesmaids are blurry. Click on the groomsmen and the focus shifts to them. Do this over and over all around the frame – the picture readjusts on the fly, smoothly moving from one focal point to another.


The effect makes photography leads almost like cinematography, revealing things vividly in the foreground and background. Refocusing a Lytro image, I felt like one of those C.I.A. agents in the movies who is looking at satellite images and asks some technician to ‘enhance’ the picture until Carlos the Jackal comes into focus.
The Lytro, which began shipping from lytro.com on Wednesday, can do this because its image sensor captures more data than your standard camera does. Not only does Lytro’s sensor register the usual things – like how bright the incoming light was and what colors it contained – it also knows which direction the light came from. Armed with that information – known among scientists as light-field data – the Lytro’s onboard software can create multiple focal points. A view of the Lytro’s inner workings shows how this array of tiny lenses and microprocessors makes this happen.


This all happens in a camera the size and shape of a stick of butter. It’s an unconventional design, with a lens at one end and a small, iPod-Nano-size touch screen at the other. On the top of the camera is a recessed button for the shutter release and a strip of bumps you slide your finger across to control the 8X optical zoom. On the bottom is a USB port and the power button. It’s a simple and elegant package, but the shape and feel take a little getting used to; you kind of feel like an ship captain of yore with a spotting scope.
The Lytro weighs 7.6 ounces, a bit more than some point-and-shoots, but not so much that you would notice. There’s no removable storage or battery: the camera comes with either eight gigabytes of memory (350 pictures, costing $399) or 16 gigabytes (750 pictures, costing $499). Since the Lytro captures light rays, not pixels, its sensor is rated at ’11 megarays’ (11 million rays) instead of pixels. Both models come with a lithium-ion battery that is good for up to 600 shots between charges, the camera’s maker says.


Like a point-and-shoot, turning on the Lytro is nearly instantaneous; the touch screen comes to life in about a second. That touch screen is one of the Lytro’s weaker points; it’s a little like that Woody Allen joke about the restaurant (‘The food at this place is really terrible. And such small portions!’). After years of viewing large, crisp displays on smartphones and even point-and-shoots, the Lytro’s 1.5-inch LCD screen seems too grainy and small to really get a sense of what you’re shooting.
The Lytro is a new kind of point-and-shoot camera that lets you refocus an image after you have taken it.The camera began shipping on Wednesday.


The touch screen’s interface is more successful. When shooting, swiping up reveals an onscreen panel with battery life and memory-capacity information. Swiping to the right takes you to previously shot images. You can also switch between ‘everyday mode,’ where the refocus range is determined automatically, and ‘creative mode,’ which gives the photographer control over the refocus range. You do have to pick something to be in focus – there’s no ‘all in focus’ feature, though Lytro says a software update will include it later this year.
After a picture has been taken, you can play around with focal points on the camera’s display, but the Lytro’s small LCD doesn’t make that a very pleasurable experience – it’s better to do it on a computer. (Right now, that computer has to be a Mac, because the Lytro is not yet compatible with Windows-run machines; the company says it will have Windows software later this year.)
Taking pictures with the Lytro reveals other benefits besides focusing after the fact. For starters, being able to refocus later means you don’t have to focus now. Since the camera is pulling in multiple focal points all at once, the Lytro doesn’t have the shutter lag point-and-shoots have. It’s not SLR fast, but you can fire away with little delay. My own test measured the Lytro at one shot about every 1.3 seconds.


You can upload photos to your computer via the included USB cable. Bear in mind that Lytro photos don’t leap onto your computer, but rather take more than one minute per shot to be uploaded and processed into clickable, refocusable images. If you’re uploading dozens of photos, go downstairs and make a sandwich, or maybe a cassoulet, while the camera does its thing.
Lytro users also get a free online account to create galleries, share links with friends and post photos to Facebook, Twitter and Lytro’s public page, which is like an in-house version of Flickr. If you’ve ever used any photo-sharing site before, you’ll find that Lytro’s version is simple and straightforward and you’ll understand how it works in about two minutes.
Lytro images are stored as light-field picture files. Anyone with whom you share an lfp file can view it or click around and refocus it, just as you did. It’s like a video you post from YouTube – the recipient doesn’t need any special software; it’s viewable in a Web browser (as you can see here).


Given that a Lytro picture is meant to be played around with, the format is not really intended for printed photos. You can generate a print, but it will be at a fairly low resolution, 1080 by 1080 pixels. That’s good enough for a 3 by 5 or maybe a 5 by 7 print, but anything larger will look grainy.
So the Lytro is an astonishing new technology, presented in a attractive design, with easy-to-use software. But that doesn’t mean you should buy it.
The Lytro has some drawbacks – and not inconsiderable ones. For starters, you can’t share photos while on the go. If you were to tear a Lytro apart, you’d see a dormant Wi-Fi chip inside, so clearly there’s going to be an evolution with some wireless capability. But for now, what happens on a Lytro stays on a Lytro, until you plug it into your computer.
And while refocusing is its own interesting tool, that’s the only tool you have at this point – adding a filter or importing the image into Photoshop remains impossible. Then there’s the price. Four or five hundred dollars is not chump change, even for nonchumps. It’s too expensive for basic photo purposes (that’s what your phone’s camera is for), and professional users will want more control over settings and lenses.


The potential of light-field photography is great – that whole ‘don’t have to focus’ thing is maybe even more impressive than focusing after the fact – but there’s a difference between a great technology and a great product. Should Lytro’s engineers refine light-field photography into something more versatile and cheaper (imagine this on a smartphone), it may turn out to be a game changer.
For now, I tip my hat to the innovators at Lytro, but I’m not opening my wallet.

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Original NDTV Gadgets

iBall Slide i7218 review

iBall Slide i7218 review

iBall had launched a tablet device in September 2011 and now the company has launched a revamped version of its Slide with i7218. The newer version of the device runs on Android 2.3 though the user interface is similar to Honeycomb.

The i7218 is cheaper than its predecessor, as it comes with the price tag of Rs. 11,999 and will be competing with the likes of Reliance Tab 3G. When switched on, the device greets you with “Get ready to enjoy the ride”, so let’s try and find out how is the ride of the new iBall Slide i7218.

Hardware/ Design
In terms of design, the 7-inch tablet is made primarily of plastic and has a metal-based side casing. Unlike the previous model’s box like design, this one has a curved and lighter body. At the back is a 2.0 MP camera, with the speakers. The front has a VGA camera on the top and three capacitive touch control buttons on the right.

On the right side, is a Micro-USB port, a mini HDMI port, a USB port, 3.5 mm headphone jack and an external slot for a microSD card. The top panel also houses a power button, volume control and a reset button. The device is loaded with a 1 GHz ARM Cortex Processor. The USB port can be used to connect dongle or an external flash drive. Overall the design and hardware is apt for the purpose, price and usage of this tablet.

slide-2.jpg

Display
The 7-inch TFT display claims to have a resolution of 800 X 480 pixels. In terms of brightness levels, it’s a little dim. The dim levels turn out to be a little troublesome while using this tablet in sunlight. But indoors the tablet provides a comfortable display.

Software/ Interface
Slide has a user interface similar to that in Honeycomb. Several elements of both Gingerbread and Honeycomb have been combined to bring about the UI skin for the tablet. However, it uses a stock animation while switching windows.

Moving on to preloaded apps, the device has few to offer.First up, is an app called the iReader. It is not just similar to Apple’s iBook app in terms of names but even in interface. The app helps ones in reading eBooks and it offers support to TXT and PSB files. The interface is smooth and replicates iBook’s page turn animation. But on downside, it does not support PDF files.

Another app that comes pre-installed is ApkInstall, which reads all APK files in the memory and gives you the option to install the applications. Other apps include Google Maps, File Manager and UT Player. The device also has the option of accessing portable Internet, by connecting a dongle via the USB port.

Camera
The device offers a 2MP primary camera at the back and a VGA camera in the front. The camera does not offer zoom and the quality of the images produced is nothing to rave about. On the video front, the video output turns out to be just about average.

camera.jpg

Performance/ Battery life
In terms of performance, this tablet will surely test of patience and it would not be wrong to say that this iBall slide offers a rather troublesome ride. It took about 35 seconds for this tablet to boot up and about 5 seconds to wake from its sleep.

There is a persistent lag on the touch front and the processor takes its own time to process any and every request. When we tried watching a movie, the application crashed mid-way. And in the time that we spent with this tablet during the course of this review, there were several such crashes.

Keyboard is cramped in horizontal view as the keys are small in height and extra wide. When kept vertical, the dimensions of the keyboard keys might be comfortable but the size and the weight of the device make it difficult to type. Thus, typing in any form is a bit difficult with this device.

For first time use, the only way to purchase applications is through a tiny icon in the top right corner for the Android Market. It is only later on, that it updates the application and upgrades it to the Play Store. Thankfully, Play Store finds a spot amongst the regular Android Applications apart from the tiny icon on the top.

Internet browsing is smooth over Wi-Fi. The screen size is comfortable for the same. Sound output is decent. However the battery backup could have been better though. 15 minutes spent on YouTube drained the battery to almost half. Once the battery is completely discharged, you require at least 6 hours for bringing it back to its full capacity.

Verdict
The budget Android tablets market is currently exploding in India and there seems to be a new tablet being announced almost every month. In such a scenario, it will be difficult for iBall to create a market for itself with Slide i7218. The strengths of this tablet are that it has a well-rounded design and comes with a Honeycomb like UI on board, unlike the other Android tablets in this price range that are purely Gingerbread. However, with the performance lags and poor touch response this is not the tablet that you would want to lay your hands on.

Pros

  • Design

Cons

  • Poor touch screen response
  • Persistent lag
  • Cramped keyboard

Ratings (out of 5)
Design: 3
Display: 2.5
Performance: 2
Software: 3
Battery Life: 2
Value for Money: 2.5
Camera: 2
Ecosystem: 3

Overall: 2.5

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Review: Beetel Magiq

Review: Beetel Magiq

With the pricey iPad still at top spot, tablets have yet to acquire the kind of mass market appeal that the mobile phone does in India. This seems to be possible only if companies manage to break the Rs. 10000 price barrier. After Reliance broke ground with a Rs 13,000 tablet, Beetel has boldly gone where no tablet-maker has been before with a tablet that costs Rs. 9999. But is it worth buying or are you better off saving up for the iPad?


Packaging and content:
The packaging of the device reminded us of our first Beetel landline phone – a slightly jazzed up yet simple box. The box houses the tablet along with the battery, one USB data cable, charger and user manual.


Hardware and styling:
For a 7-inch tablet that costs Rs. 9999, expectations aren’t very high. At the very least, we’d like a responsive, averagely built but well performing Android device, like the Reliance tab.
The device is really heavy and the build quality feels good. The trade-off is its weight and the width is a bit more than we’d like. The styling of the device is pretty decent too with a black matte finish in the front with a chrome strip bordering the screen. The rear of the device has a brown border with a steel kickstand and battery cover. While the device doesn’t look that bad, it doesn’t feel that great either.
The buttons seem like they are all over the place. To the left of the screen, we have the standard home, menu and back buttons. To the right we have the receive/end call button and a trackpad. The left panel houses the volume rocker, the top – the power button and the headphones jack. The bottom of the device has the SD card slot. The right has the micro USB port and the charging port. The biggest disadvantage here is that the device cannot be charged via the micro USB port.
The rear of the device also houses a stylus. Yes, that’s right. The screen is resistive and the stylus is really tiny and can easily get misplaced. The kickstand is a nice addition as the device can rest on a table enabling ease of use.


Interface:
The Beetel Magiq runs on Android 2.2 and like most devices is skinned heavily. We were much happier running LauncherPro on the device but the bundled skin isn’t too bad. Rather than giving you the option of 6 or 7 home screens, the entire interface is divided into tabs such as home, web, entertainment, communication and favourites.
Although you can put any widget on any screen, it’s nice to have the option of grouping them under preselected heads. The heads however remain fixed and cannot be customized.
The standard dropdown menu too has been modified. There is a bar that rests on the top of the screen and gives you information about the Bluetooth, brightness, Wi-Fi and battery. There is also an information dropdown that gives you the notifications and the running tasks. You can easily close running tasks from the task bar, which is a nice option, and you don’t need a third party app to kill running tasks. The rest of the interface such as the applications, settings et al are standard Android.
The on screen keyboard on the device too is a bit tedious to use, especially with the stylus. If you are used to the capacitive touch screen of your smartphone or are generally uncomfortable using a stylus, then typing on the device is really frustrating.


Multimedia:
The multimedia experience on the Beetel Magiq tab is very similar to the experience on any Android 2.2 smartphone with the only difference being the screen size. You get the stock Android music and video player.
The video player lists all the videos on your device in a chronological order for you to play. It’s that simple. The audio player on the other hand segregates your music on the basis of artist, albums, songs, playlist and now playing. You also have the option to shuffle, repeat and add songs to your playlist. The look and feel of the player is similar to that of an Android smartphone and does nothing to take advantage of the larger screen. The audio output produced from the speakers is loud but the quality is shrill. You’d do better to use headphones.
The 7-inch screen in a WVGA display with a resolution of 800 x 480 and for the most part gets the job done. For a 10k tablet the display is good. Just don’t expect the colours to be too vibrant. The brightness is decent although the screen doesn’t look great when exposed to sunlight. Indoors, the brightness of the screen performs well.
Out of the box, the device doesn’t support flash but you can download Adobe flash from the Android Marketplace.
The device has a 2MP front and rear-facing camera but lacks a flash. The camera app again is standard Android and the images produced aren’t that great. The location of the front facing camera is a bit odd and takes some getting used to. The kickstand is a pretty advantageous feature if you want to use the device to watch movies or listen to music on a long train or airplane journey.


PC Sync and market:
This is one area where the device performs extremely well. PC sync, as with all Android devices, is quite painless courtesy Google Contacts. Syncing your contacts is as easy as logging into you Gmail account and letting the device do the rest.
As far as Android Market goes, you have the option to choose from a large library of apps. Some 300,000 apps are at your disposal so be rest assured you will be playing around with the device for a long time.


Essential Apps:
The Beetel Magiq tablet comes preloaded with its own skin taking away the raw Android experience. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it does make the device a bit sluggish. We recommend you download LauncherPro as it makes the interface a lot snappier. You could also try any other third party skin but we found LauncherPro to be very effective.
Since the tablet boasts of 3G connectivity, we recommend you download a 3G management app. This app should help you monitor your 3G consumption and save you from getting overcharged or crossing your data limit.


Performance:
Lets’ face it – this isn’t the best tablet that money can buy but for those of you looking for a 10k tablet, this is a good place to start. In terms of hardware specs, the device has a 7-inch WVGA screen with a resolution of 800 x 480. It has 8GB internal memory expandable up to 16GB via micro SD card and a 1GHz processor. It has a 2200mAh battery, which is pretty decent for the tablet but less when compared to the 3400mAh battery of the Reliance tab.
On the downside, the tablet didn’t perform very well on our benchmark tests. Quadrant refused to run and kept crashing. Another disappointing feature is the keyboard. It was annoying to type on especially since we needed to use a stylus.


Verdict:
The device is a complete mixed bag. It is quite good as a sub 10k tablet but is frustrating in terms of the resistive touchscreen and button placement. It is difficult to recommend the Beetel Magiq tab keeping in mind the competition. But if you are truly interested we’d say get some hands on time with the device and its competitors at your local electronic store. As a sub 10k device it is a great attempt but ultimately a lacklustre product.

Pros:
Good build
Kick stand is a nice touch
A decent product for the price
Cons:
Resistive screen takes some getting used to
Skin makes the device sluggish
Battery could have been better
Placement of the buttons too scattered


Ratings:
Performance: 3.5
Price: 5
Ease of Setup: 4
Ergonomics: 4
Wow Factor: 3
Overall: 3


Benchmarks:
Linpack:
Single thread: MFLOPS: 33.709 in 2.49 sec.
Multi-thread: MFLOPS: 29.539 in 5.71 sec
Quadrant: (Crashed every time)
Browser Mark: 44701
SmartBench 2011: 1200 (Your device: IDEOS S7, 1.0GHz)
(Android 2.2.2 stock ROM) 896
Benchmark Pi: 1334 miliseconds (#39960 on the list)

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The UNITEK 3-In-1 Connector will let you leave your laptop at home

UNITEK 3-In-1

The one thing that will weigh my bag down the most is my laptop. It is a monstrosity, but using a phone or tablet for work outside of the office just isn’t going to cut it. Opening up a laptop and setting to work anywhere is just too easy. You could make it work on your phone, but that would require opening an app, losing half of your screen to a keyboard, and you would have to use your fingers instead of a track pad or mouse, and that just doesn’t feel right.

If you like the portability of your phone, but wish you had the keyboard and mouse aspect of your laptop, then you might like having the UNITEK 3-In-1 Connector around. This is a smartphone stand that will allow you to connect three USB devices. There’s also a built-in SD card reader. The On-The-Go function will allow you to connect a flash drive, USB keyboard, or mouse to your phone.

This was meant for microUSB smartphones, but can charge your iPhone or tablet. It can act as a stand for smartphones up to 8”, and if it is not being used as a work station, this can charge three USB devices at once when plugged in. It’s plug-and-play, and supports Windows 7, 8, Vista, XP, 2000, Linux, and Mac. You will need to be near an outlet when using this $55 device. This is a great idea, but it comes with the annoyance of needing to find enough space to set everything up. You’ll have to balance out the ease of use versus the extra weight you’d have to carry with a laptop.

 

UNITEK 3-In-1

Review: Lytro Camera

Review: Lytro Camera

When cameras went from analog to digital, it was one of those once-in-a-generation shifts, like going from black-and-white film to Kodachrome. But whether you’re using a 35-millimeter or a point-and-shoot, the steps you take to shoot a picture have remained the same: you focus on something, then push a button to record the image.
But what if you could take a picture and refocus it after you had taken it? What if, just by clicking around a photo on your computer screen, you could choose which part of the image should be clear and which part should be blurry?


You can with a new camera called Lytro, and it’s astonishing. With a Lytro, you take a picture as you would with any camera, but the digital file it creates can be refocused after the fact.
Inside the Lytro: An example of how the Lytro works can be found here.Inside the Lytro: An example of how the Lytro works can be found here.
This is fairly mind-blowing. Imagine a wedding photo with the bride in the foreground and the wedding party in the background. Click on the bride, and she’s in focus while the bridesmaids are blurry. Click on the groomsmen and the focus shifts to them. Do this over and over all around the frame – the picture readjusts on the fly, smoothly moving from one focal point to another.
The effect makes photography almost like cinematography, revealing things vividly in the foreground and background. Refocusing a Lytro image, I felt like one of those C.I.A. agents in the movies who is looking at satellite images and asks some technician to ‘enhance’ the picture until Carlos the Jackal comes into focus.


The Lytro, which began shipping from lytro.com on Wednesday, can do this because its image sensor captures more data than your standard camera does. Not only does Lytro’s sensor register the usual things – like how bright the incoming light was and what colors it contained – it also knows which direction the light came from. Armed with that information – known among scientists as light-field data – the Lytro’s onboard software can create multiple focal points. A view of the Lytro’s inner workings shows how this array of tiny lenses and microprocessors makes this happen.
This all happens in a camera the size and shape of a stick of butter. It’s an unconventional design, with a lens at one end and a small, iPod-Nano-size touch screen at the other. On the top of the camera is a recessed button for the shutter release and a strip of bumps you slide your finger across to control the 8X optical zoom. On the bottom is a USB port and the power button. It’s a simple and elegant package, but the shape and feel take a little getting used to; you kind of feel like an ship captain of yore with a spotting scope.
The Lytro weighs 7.6 ounces, a bit more than some point-and-shoots, but not so much that you would notice. There’s no removable storage or battery: the camera comes with either eight gigabytes of memory (350 pictures, costing $399) or 16 gigabytes (750 pictures, costing $499). Since the Lytro captures light rays, not pixels, its sensor is rated at ’11 megarays’ (11 million rays) instead of pixels. Both models come with a lithium-ion battery that is good for up to 600 shots between charges, the camera’s maker says.


Like a point-and-shoot, turning on the Lytro is nearly instantaneous; the touch screen comes to life in about a second. That touch screen is one of the Lytro’s weaker points; it’s a little like that Woody Allen joke about the restaurant (‘The food at this place is really terrible. And such small portions!’). After years of viewing large, crisp displays on smartphones and even point-and-shoots, the Lytro’s 1.5-inch LCD screen seems too grainy and small to really get a sense of what you’re shooting.
The Lytro is a new kind of point-and-shoot camera that lets you refocus an image after you have taken it.The camera began shipping on Wednesday.
The touch screen’s interface is more successful. When shooting, swiping up reveals an onscreen panel with battery life and memory-capacity information. Swiping to the right takes you to previously shot images. You can also switch between ‘everyday mode,’ where the refocus range is determined automatically, and ‘creative mode,’ which gives the photographer control over the refocus range. You do have to pick something to be in focus – there’s no ‘all in focus’ feature, though Lytro says a software update will include it later this year.


After a picture has been taken, you can play around with focal points on the camera’s display, but the Lytro’s small LCD doesn’t make that a very pleasurable experience – it’s better to do it on a computer. (Right now, that computer has to be a Mac, because the Lytro is not yet compatible with Windows-run machines; the company says it will have Windows software later this year.)
Taking pictures with the Lytro reveals other benefits besides focusing after the fact. For starters, being able to refocus later means you don’t have to focus now. Since the camera is pulling in multiple focal points all at once, the Lytro doesn’t have the shutter lag point-and-shoots have. It’s not SLR fast, but you can fire away with little delay. My own test measured the Lytro at one shot about every 1.3 seconds.
You can upload photos to your computer via the included USB cable. Bear in mind that Lytro photos don’t leap onto your computer, but rather take more than one minute per shot to be uploaded and processed into clickable, refocusable images. If you’re uploading dozens of photos, go downstairs and make a sandwich, or maybe a cassoulet, while the camera does its thing.
Lytro users also get a free online account to create galleries, share links with friends and post photos to Facebook, Twitter and Lytro’s public page, which is like an in-house version of Flickr. If you’ve ever used any photo-sharing site before, you’ll find that Lytro’s version is simple and straightforward and you’ll understand how it works in about two minutes.


Lytro images are stored as light-field picture files. Anyone with whom you share an lfp file can view it or click around and refocus it, just as you did. It’s like a video you post from YouTube – the recipient doesn’t need any special software; it’s viewable in a Web browser (as you can see here).
Given that a Lytro picture is meant to be played around with, the format is not really intended for printed photos. You can generate a print, but it will be at a fairly low resolution, 1080 by 1080 pixels. That’s good enough for a 3 by 5 or maybe a 5 by 7 print, but anything larger will look grainy.
So the Lytro is an astonishing new technology, presented in a attractive design, with easy-to-use software. But that doesn’t mean you should buy it.


The Lytro has some drawbacks – and not inconsiderable ones. For starters, you can’t share photos while on the go. If you were to tear a Lytro apart, you’d see a dormant Wi-Fi chip inside, so clearly there’s going to be an evolution with some wireless capability. But for now, what happens on a Lytro stays on a Lytro, until you plug it into your computer.
And while refocusing is its own interesting tool, that’s the only tool you have at this point – adding a filter or importing the image into Photoshop remains impossible. Then there’s the price. Four or five hundred dollars is not chump change, even for nonchumps. It’s too expensive for basic photo purposes (that’s what your phone’s camera is for), and professional users will want more control over settings and lenses.


The potential of light-field photography is great – that whole ‘don’t have to focus’ thing is maybe even more impressive than focusing after the fact – but there’s a difference between a great technology and a great product. Should Lytro’s engineers refine light-field photography into something more versatile and cheaper (imagine this on a smartphone), it may turn out to be a game changer.
For now, I tip my hat to the innovators at Lytro, but I’m not opening my wallet.

More info: ptlojasnet

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Original NDTV Gadgets