A week in reviews: June 10 - 17
This week has been all about games, because it's been E3 in LA where Microsoft and Sony both made some big statements about their upcoming consoles. Because of this, reviews has been a little bit more modest. But don't fear, we've still had the chance to look at some amazing products.
For example, we spent time with Sony's amazing new Vaio Pro. This is, without doubt, the best Windows laptop we've seen in a long time. Perhaps it's the best ever. It's small, light, and beautiful. We also got to spend some time in the BMW M135i, a car that's so amazingly good, it feels like it's ruined every other car for us.
The only thing we didn't like about the BMW M135i was just how quickly we'd lose our licence if we drove one every day. But you can't blame a machine for the failings of man, so we gave the BMW a pretty spectacular score.
It's hard to find anything wrong with the 1 series though. It's gone, in a few short years, to being a bit of a joke of the BMW range, to being the car that is affordable for many, but also offers the same brilliant BMW driving experience. No matter what you drive now, the BMW is a tempting proposition.
Quick verdict: BMW redefines the hot hatch, in a discreet, rear wheel drive, six-cylinder package. In some situations it feels too fast for its own good and if you’re looking for the ultimate in driver involvement at non license-losing speeds you might want to try something else. In every other respect this is an incredible machine to drive, easy to live with and a bit of a bargain.
Full review: BMW M135i review
Sony Vaio Pro
For years, PCs have been boring. Then, along came the Ultrabook and things did improve a great deal. But still, weight and looks were still a problem for some laptops. Now, the Sony Vaio Pro has arrived, and we're blown away. Something that doesn't happen a lot to hardened tech hacks.
What we love about the Pro is that it's light as a feather, but has a Core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM and a fast SSD. Boot times are incredible, the touchscreen is great, as is the screen in general. All in all, things haven't looked this good for PCs in a long time, and it's also great news for Sony, which is producing great products at surprisingly good prices. Long may it last.
Price: £859 (base price)
Quick verdict: This is it, this is the laptop you should spend your money on. Windows 8 looks great and works brilliantly, the machine is powerful and light, while still looking amazing. If you don't fall in love with it from the minute you turn it first hold it, then you're dead inside.
Full review: Sony Vaio Pro review
Eneloop XX rechargeable batteries
Yes, yes, we know. Batteries are boring. But actually, if you think about it, they're actually one of the most important things we use. If you have any devices that use a lot of power, but take AA cells, then the Eneloop XX range is exactly what you need. These batteries outperform Alkaline cells in our high-drain tests, and last up to 500 charges.
The other headline feature here, of course, is that these batteries also come with a near-full charge, which means when you buy them, they can go in a Christmas present straight away.
Price: £20 for six
Quick verdict: Batteries are not the most glamorous of topics, but if you use gadgets then we'll wager you need batteries. And if you need batteries, you can really beat these.
Full review: Eneloop XX rechargeable batteries review
Vodafone Smart III
Every operator has a smartphone now that bears its own name, has a low price and offers some great features. Vodafone is no exception, the Smart III offers a really nice Android experience, while coming in at a paltry £90. It's not a very powerful phone, but for its audience it does more than enough and feel solidly-built.
Quick verdict: There's enough power here for most people, although HD video playback and very high-end gaming are not an option. Everything else is solid and well put together. There's nothing here that lets this phone down, and it's ideal for those who have quite light usage or younger people who need to be in contact with friends, but spend all their money on more important things than phones.
Full review: Vodafone Smart III review