Q: I have a Samsung Galaxy S5. Will the jHub Ultra power bank charge it? You mentioned only iPhone in your column.
A: Any USB outlet, including those on a power bank, will charge your Galaxy tablet or other USB device. The rate of charge may be different, but it will charge.
Future columns will address charging-relating questions and jHub Ultra power banks.
Product of the Year
In the meantime, let's talk about the 2014 Product of the Year.
I chose it based on simple criteria. What product did I test that impressed me the most, which brought me the most joy as I used it? I tried a lot of great products last year, but one clearly stuck in my mind: the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Micro Four-Thirds interchangeable lens camera.
The Lumix DMC-GM1 camera body is barely bigger than a deck of cards, yet it delivers phenomenal still picture and video quality that is equal to, or better than much larger and heavier digital SLR cameras. It's beautifully designed and crafted, and it's a joy to use. I bought the review sample because I could not bear to send it back.
Further kudos go to Panasonic for an amazing year for their Lumix cameras. In the 13 years I have written this column, I've never seen a camera company make a more impressive leap forward with so many technically excellent, innovative and distinct products. These new product introductions made Panasonic the toast of Photokina 2014, the industry's biggest, most important trade show.
Starting at the top, Panasonic's DMC-GH4 camera offers fantastic still image quality, along with video image quality and control flexibility good enough to please a filmmaker. It's fully competitive with professional video cameras selling for $15,000 and up, and it can shoot in 4K as well as 1080p. The DMC-GH4 is so good that a lot of professionals are selling off their old gear and changing systems so they can use it.
At $1,497 for the camera body, it is also less expensive than competing professional cameras that do not do as much. If you love videomaking/filmmaking as much as you love photography, I doubt there is a better camera you can buy than the DMC-GH4. It is compatible with more than 50 lenses from the Micro Four-Thirds system.
The $899 Lumix DMC-GM5 is the latest camera in Panasonic's GM series and the big brother to the DMC-GM1. The DMC-GM5 takes away the built-in flash of the DMC-GM1 and includes a small external unit, but it includes a built-in viewfinder and has revised controls that make it easier to change settings. I've tested one and thought the revised controls were a bigger improvement than the viewfinder, which is small.
Whether you buy the DMC-GM1 or the DMC-GM5, you won't go wrong. The DMC-GM5 is more flexible, but if you don't need a viewfinder and prefer built-in flash, the DMC-GM1 will serve you fine.
Finally, Panasonic's DMC-LX100 created almost as much interest at Photokina as the much-anticipated DMC-GM5. The DMC-LX100 is a rangefinder-style camera with a fixed, fast Leica 24-75mm equivalent zoom lens. The camera has traditional dials and aperture ring for setting exposure, a large sensor, and it shoots 4k video.
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