A few entirely unrelated things worth noting:
1. Nexus 7 Tablet
Google's announced its new tablet, and I'll let others tell you how good or otherwise it is. What I find quite staggering is Google's UK pricing. In the US, the 8GB entry level model is $199. When you hear numbers like that normally, you begin to wonder what the UK price will be. There are exchange rate variables to consider, and there's also the fact that US prices don't include sales tax (although commonly this isn't charged online, depending on which state the business resides as well as recipient's local state laws).
Anyway, £199 seemed like a fair guess.
In fact it's going on sale at £159. If you do the sums at today's exchange rates (via Google), $199 = £127.64. Add 20% VAT to that and you get £153.17. UK consumers are effectively only paying £5.83 more than US consumers. And as I say, that exchange rate is variable.
I think it's clear that Google is either making no money, or indeed, more likely, making a loss on every device sold at those kinds of prices. And that pricing really puts the pressure on Amazon's Kindle Fire, which of course hasn't launched at all in the UK. Indeed, I'd argue that it puts pressure on the regular Kindle Touch at £109.
Clearly there are some significant advantages of epaper over backlit screens for reading books and achieving long battery life. But you can't watch videos or play games on a regular Kindle. What Amazon does in response to Google in the UK marketplace will be interesting. And how Microsoft price their Surface tablet will also be worth watching, although productivity will undoubtedly be their USP.
2. Soho Stories
The National Trust of all people has launched a really interesting app called Soho Stories presented by no less than Barry Cryer. In many respcets it's similar in the way it works to Hackney Hear (iPhone only, so I've not been able to use it) or The Guardian's King's Cross London Streetstories app (iPhone and Android) in that what you hear is related to the location you're physically in. I do believe that these kinds of applications really do offer a very different and immersive experience in any given area. It should be noted that you can still listen to the audio if you're not able to walk around Soho.
Of course I work in Soho so it's much closer to home for me. But the history of Soho is fascinating, and I've explored it in the past to an extent - particularly Golden Square.
I think these kinds of ideas are terrific, and it's good to see more of them emerging, even if I'm still a little unclear about why the National Trust of all people took this on!
3. Sony RX100
If you want a small pocketable camera, that isn't a compact systeme camera, this really does seem to be it. David Pogue at the New York Times has already called it "the best pocket camera ever made."
In recent times, people have been getting quite excited about systems like the micro 4/3 format from companies like Olympus and Panasonic, Sony's NEX and Nikon's 1 cameras. But for many people a slim pocketable camera without the fuss of different lenses is all they really want. There's the camera in your phone, and then perhaps something a bit better. Better camera phones will certainly kill the low-end camera marketplace.
However, this sounds like it's a lot better. I've been a longtime user of Canon's Powershot G series of cameras that are fully featured and have things like viewfinders and hotshoes. But the RX100 is really interesting. It's as small as the G12's slimline brother, the S100 which I know is excellent, yet seemingly offers a near DSLR experience. The reviews are suggesting it outperforms them everything else in the point and shoot marketplace.
Unfortunately, in the camera world a $650 price point coverts to at least £549 in the UK. And given the initial demand this camera's likely to have, that won't be changing anytime soon.