Saturday, 21 September 2013

Reviews of gadgets

Sony's wrist-based sequel that Samsung should worry about

With IFA powering us along towards the Christmas buying bonanza, we've been playing with the most sought-after gadgets on the planet. Top of the list has to be the Galaxy Gear, the much-mooted and long-awaited smart watch from Samsung. The Korean kings have been working on smartwatch technology for yonks. 

Samsung Galaxy Gear

Samsung has got some things really right on the Galaxy Gear, the styling is great and the interface is nifty. You would like the way the camera works and the idea of Smart Relay appeals to nature. Samsung could still turn this one around, but there needs to be a big step forward to make the Galaxy Gear worth anywhere near the money that's likely to be asked. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The Galaxy Note 3 is very much an evolution, with the specs starting to top out. The 3GB of RAM, the 13MP camera and octa-core processor are all nice additions, as well as things like superfast 4G on board. It's excellent sonically, can display superbly crisp images, and has a number of tweaks to the camera that mean it can take decent snaps. We're not sold on the design of the back, nor the high price, but there still seems to be an appetite for the Note range, so perhaps this is just the handset Samsung needs. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014

Samsung has been a little all over the place when it comes to is tablet strategy in the past. The Galaxy Note 10.1 is the tablet that finds all the best bits of Samsung and pops them neatly under the hood of a well-packaged device, and can be called a real companion for the Note 3 thanks to the extra power. The price is likely to put some people off. Unless you're desperate to play with an S Pen all the time, then you might want to consider some of the excellent rivals too. 

Sony Smartwatch 2

The Sony Smartwatch 2 is the ideal foil to your Sony, or any Android Ice Cream Sandwich or above, smartphone, making it a much more universally appealing device. It's got sleek lines, a lower price and a decent range of apps available, making it a toy and then spend all day playing with. It's not got the lag we've seen with so many other smart watches  and a long battery life makes it much more of a proposition for the charging-naysayer compared to the Galaxy Gear. People, those looking for a simple device that quietly alerts them to text, call and Facebook updates, this could be an ideal candidate to replace the Timex. 

Sony HMZ-T3W

The HMZ-T3W is a neat bit of kit. But even after the adjustments Sony has made it still feels like this is just a luxury product, especially considering the price. But if Sony really has been working on a dedicated PS4 version then this is a promising sign of what could be about to come. As it stands, the T3W by itself probably won't start any revolution in the way we watch. 

Sony Xperia Z1

The Sony Xperia Z1 is definitely another step forward from the brand that's going from strength to strength in the smartphone market. It's an impressive phone which packs so much technology inside you can't help but enjoy all the treats on offer, and it's well packaged in a way that makes us love to try all the different features. It's a chunky beast, which may put some people off, but the metallic chassis is one you will like and pushes the premium message even further, and the addition of a microSD card slot is one you always love to see. Given it's not likely to command the mega cost of the Lumia 1020, the Z1 is a decent phone that will rival the Galaxy S4 on the shop shelves - so if you can get over the bulk, it's one of the most exciting smartphones.

Sony QX10

Sony's focus at the moment seems to be innovation, and it's done it once again with the QX range. For some time, camera manufacturers have struggled to keep up with camera phones in terms of instant connectivity and ease of use. This is the first time we've seen something designed to work with your phone, rather than beat it. 

Sony QX100

The QX100 has all the elements of a compact camera contained within something that's the same size as a small interchangeable lens. So, not only do you have the lens itself, you also have the sensor, image processor and memory card. You don't, however, get a screen, because you don't need one, that's what your smartphone or tablet is for. 

LG G Pad 8.3

LG has actually done much better than someone expected with the G Pad 8.3. The design was actually much more premium than expected, and the overall feel of the tablet worked well - with the lower bezel allowing for the larger screen to have a comfortable hold. The only real downsides we can see are with regards to the LG G Pad 8.3 release date and price, as we don't even know if it's coming to the UK and the price remains to be seen. It should be a little cheaper than the likes of the Galaxy Note 8.0, and could even undercut the iPad mini.

Toshiba Encore

We're still not sure that 8 inches is really deserving of Windows 8.1. It'll be interesting to see whether or not this can convince the market, as Acer doesn't seem to be doing the trick right now. But if you're still holding onto the belief that there's a device that can do it all then the Encore ticks most of the boxes and will most likely be your best 'everything' tablet option when it hits the market. 

New Asus Transformer Pad

Those who have been holding out for Asus to unleash its new Transformer for some time shouldn't be disappointed by what's on offer here. Tegra 4 was the only logical next leap and now you've seen it in action, it feels like this will really rock it when it hits market. But with rich HD screen and smoother user experience you might find yourself forgetting other flaws. Let's just hope it comes in at the right price. 

Philips 65PFL9708 Ultra HD TV

There are much bigger Ultra HD TVs on show at IFA 2013, but don't underestimate the impact of a 65-inch screen with eight million pixels. As big as four 32-inch screens, Philips' 65PFL9708 is, at £4,500 reasonably priced when compared to the competition; Panasonic's 65-inch TX-L65WT600 unveiled at IFA will sell for £6,300. 

LG 55LA9700 Ultra HD TV

There's certainly nothing retro about the 55-inch 55LA9700. Despite the extra pixels on show, this is all about audio. It's got a small subwoofer embedded in the TV's rear that can be glimpsed from behind, but the 55LA9700's star turn is unquestionably its drop-down Sliding Speaker. 

LG 55EA9800 Curved OLED TV

The richness of colour, the domination of pure black and awesome contrast is often underplayed by commentators, but OLED remains the best thing we have in flat telly. This is underlined by a silky, life-like smoothness to motion and it's a big advance even on high-end LED TVs. 

TomTom Go 6000

The TomTom Go 6000 is an exceptional sat nav. Kudos to TomTom for rethinking the device from the ground up to produce an even more-compelling companion to your journeys. The experience you'll enjoy when using this compared to what you'll get from a smartphone or even an older sat nav is incredible. You won't be second guessing what's around the corner or waiting for the signal to catch up - and while that will cost you, it's money well spent. 

ZTE Blade V

The ZTE Blade V is a phone that will both perplex and amaze you in equal measure; it's not the most auspicious opening for a new handset. For on the one hand, you're looking at a phone that can be had for as little as a shade over £70 in the UK, and it comes with a, frankly unbelievable, quad core Qualcomm processor, clocked at 1.2GHz and backed by a solid 1GB of RAM too, which means it should fare pretty well in the speed. 

HTC Desire 601

It's hard to see which consumers will plump for the Desire 601 unless it gets a huge marketing boost, there's still not enough appetite for 4G speeds on a mobile to make it the reason to buy a phone and this seems to be HTC's ploy. It's certainly one that resonates with networks, and may serve to bring enough carrier spending to push the 601. 

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