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Skype for Windows 8 arrives with battery-saving features
Skype for Windows 8 has been officially unveiled, offering a 'completely new Skype experience'.
The new software has been redesigned to bring a constant connection without smashing your laptop or tablet's battery life.
This is achieved through Windows 8 integration using a single connection to ping the server rather than performing the task as a separate action from the app itself, which allows Skype to stay happily running in the background.
The UI has been redesigned too, featuring options like Snap mode, which allows you to resize the video chat to enable multi-tasking – apparently you'd want to be mapping or emailing while chatting with your best friend. We'd call that rude, but whatever.
It's new, right? NEW
Other updates include a new 'modern' dial pad which enables the calling of other phones, with Skype Credit clearly displayed should you want to get on board with SkypeOut.
Skype is promising a 'fast and fluid' Windows 8 experience by being baked into the OS itself (once downloaded) and living as a live tile on the new Windows 8 UI, showing missed messages or calls.
Skype for Windows 8 will be released on 26 October following the launch of devices running the new Microsoft OS – so you can video call your Gran in a new fast and fluid way… although whether she'll care or not is down to you.
Hands-on review: Updated: Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5
Updated: We have now had chance to test the Olympus E-PL5's image quality, resolution, noise and dynamic range performance.
As before, the new Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 is smaller than the Olympus PEN, but bigger than theOlympus PEN Mini E-PM2. The compact system camera also accepts interchangeable grips that are fixed onto the body by a chunky screw, and boasts a touchscreen.
We haven't had time to conduct a full review yet, since it was only just announced at Photokina 2012, but since it has the same 16.1MP sensor and TruePic VI image processor as the Olympus OM-D, the prognosis is good.
The image quality from the Olympus OM-D has impressed many photographers, and the possibility of getting the same results from a more affordable camera is an enticing option.
Like the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 that it replaces, the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 has a tilting screen, but this 3-inch device is now touch-sensitive. The touch sensitivity doesn't extend to making menu selections, but it functions with the Live Guide that helps novices make settings adjustments and the Art Filter options.
In addition to the grip, the tilting screen is the main difference between the PEN Lite E-PL5 and the PEN Mini E-PM2, which has a fixed touchscreen.
As the screen tilts almost right up, it is possible to use it when composing self-portraits, and the image flips over so it looks correct as you face the camera.
The bottom section of the screen is obscured by the top of the camera, but Olympus says that this compromise was made to enable the screen to also be tilted down for better viewing from below when shooting overhead. We're not convinced by this argument as Sony seems to have managed it.
There's also a helpful self-timer that can be customised to take a sequence of up to 10 shots with different time intervals between them.
Although the AF point can be selected in the usual way using physical buttons, it can also be set with a touch of a finger on the screen.
There's also a Touch Shutter mode that sets the camera to focus on the point selected on the screen and fires the shutter as soon as the subject is sharp. These modes are selected by touching an on-screen icon and toggling through the options.
As with the Olympus PEN E-P3, the size of the AF points can be reduced to make it easier to select a small target, but the newer cameras enable this to be done however the AF point is selected, not just when the touchscreen is used.
According to Olympus's Akira Watanabe, one of the key aims for mirrorless camera manufacturers is to increase autofocus speed and reliability, especially when focusing continuously on moving subjects.
Olympus claims that it has the fastest AF system around, and that the PEN Lite E-PL5 and PEN Mini E-PM2 can focus a lens in 0.1 seconds.
It certainly seemed quick when we used preproduction samples of the cameras, but we are looking forward to using them in more challenging conditions, to write our full reviews of each CSC.
Low light usually causes contrast detection systems such as the one in the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 to slow down and become more indecisive, so we will be testing its performance in a range of lighting conditions.
Watanabe says that contrast detection AF systems improve with the camera sensor's ability to control noise. Since the sensor and processor combination in the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 is claimed to give a '1-stop' improvement in noise levels, we can expect the new camera's focusing system to be more proficient than the E-PL3's that it replaces.
Both the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 and Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 have an HDR bracket mode that enables up to five frames to be captured across a range that covers 12EV.
There's also the clever Live Bulb mode that was first seen with the Olympus OM-D (but called Live Time) and shows the image building up during long exposures. Rather than guessing or calculating the exposure duration, you simply close the shutter when the image looks OK on the screen.
In addition, the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 has 12 Art Filters, adding the new Water Colour effect to the list found on the Olympus OM-D. Olympus is well known for its wide array of art filters, and has added some new functionality.
As before, the Art Filters can be used in P, A, S, M modes, enabling creative control over parameters such as aperture to be retained. Images can also be captured in both raw and JPEG format, enabling the filter to be removed (or even swapped for another one) in the post-capture editing stage.
Some of the filter effects will not be to everyone's taste - we weren't especially keen on the new Water Colour filter's results, for example, but we like the Cross Process and Dramatic Tone options that were seen before on the Olympus OM-D.
Although the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 doesn't have Wi-Fi technology built in, it is compatible with Toshiba's new FlashAir SDHC cards, which creates a wireless network that smartphones can connect to.
Provided the appropriate app is installed on the smartphone, images (full or reduced resolution) can be transferred to the phone and shared via the internet using the phone's 3G or Wi-Fi connection.
While the FlashAir card can also be used in older PEN cameras and the OM-D, only the new Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 and Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 provide some control over the transfer process.
At the time of our meeting with Olympus, it hadn't been decided if the cameras will come with the card or not. However, the cards are available for sale.
Image quality and resolution
As part of our image quality testing for the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5, we've shot our resolution chart.
If you view our crops of the resolution chart's central section at 100% (or Actual Pixels) you will see that, for example, at ISO 200 the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 is capable of resolving up to around 24 (line widths per picture height x100) in its highest quality JPEG files.
For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them, check out our full explanation of our camera testing resolution charts.
Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:
ISO 200, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
ISO 400, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
ISO 800, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
ISO 1600, score: 20 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
ISO 3200, score: 18 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
ISO 6400, score: 16 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
ISO 12800, score: 12 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
ISO 25600, score: 10 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
Noise and dynamic range
We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using DXO Analyzer software to generate the data to produce the graphs below.
A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.
For more more details on how to interpret our test data, check out our full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests.
JPEG signal to noise ratio
This graph shows that the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5's JPEG files have a weaker signal to noise ratio than those from the Sony NEX-5R. They produce similar results to those from the Panasonic GF5 and Olympus PEN E-PL2 at lower sensitivities, but after ISO 800 the Olympus E-PL5 beats both cameras.
Raw signal to noise ratio
TIFF images (after conversion from raw) from the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 have a very similar signal to noise ratio to those from the Sony NEX-5R, from sensitivities of ISO 200-3200, after which the Olympus surges ahead. The Olympus E-PL5 beats the Panasonic GF5 and Olympus PEN E-PL2's results at every setting.
JPEG dynamic range
JPEG results for dynamic range are more spread out than those for signal to noise ratio, with the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5's images showing a more impressive ratio than those from the Sony NEX-5R, Panasonic GF5 and Olympus PEN E-PL2.
Raw dynamic range
The Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5's TIFF images (after conversion from raw) again have a similar signal to noise ratio to those from the Sony NEX-5R, with the two cameras staying within a hair's width of each other at every sensitivity setting. The Panasonic GF5 is the next most impressive performer, but is a long way off the other two cameras, and the Olympus PEN E-PL2 is the weakest performer here.
Sample images and early verdict
We've now had some shooting time with the new Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5, and can share the results in their full resolution - hooray. Several of these images were shot with the new Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens.
Locking onto a subject with the Olympus PEN E-PL5 is quick and easy, and also proving accurate in the majority of cases.
Colour reproduction from the E-PL5 is accurate, without being overly bright and punchy.
Olympus is well known for its love affair with the digital filter. The new PENs have a wide range of different options, some of which are shown below. One handy feature of the PEN is that you can Art Bracket, meaning the several versions of the same shot can be taken, each with a different filter effect applied.
Grainy Film filter
Pop Art filter
The Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5's interchangeable grips are an option we have seen before with the Olympus PEN, and its a great idea that enables you to find the grip that suits you. This, and the tilting LCD screen, makes the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 a more versatile camera.
The Olympus OM-D origin of its sensor and image processor deliver excellent results here, with the camera's images able to trump those from the Sony NEX-5R, Panasonic GF5 and Olympus PEN E-PL2 for dynamic range and signal to noise ratio.
iPhone 5 jailbreak on its way, but it's no easy feat
Dev teams around the world have been busily plugging away at jailbreaking the iPhone 5 and one group reckons it's nearly there.
Apparently the Chronic Dev Team has almost finished its tethered jailbreak, but it's been no easy feat thanks to the new chip and operating system inside the iPhone 5.
One of the Chronic Dev Team, @planetbeing, tweeted information about the project: "Upgraded the #failbreak with a kernel exploit so tweaks actually work on iPhone 5. Almost a full tethered JB, though need dev account."
Devs only for now
The current jailbreak requires iPhone 5 owners to have a developer account, which means average users who want to unlock their sixth generation iPhone will have to wait a bit longer.
There's no word on when an universal solution will be available, but we can now be sure that one will arrive at some point unless the developer world suddenly forgets how to do everything.
In our iPhone 5 review we noted it is the best smartphone to come out of the Cupertino-firm, with it's bigger 4-inch display and beefed up A6 processor, but not everyone is a fan of the locked-down Apple experience, which is why jailbreaks prove to be so popular.