A week in reviews: June 17 - 21
Another week of reviews, another crop of fascinating products. The big arrival of the week has to be the Apple MacBook Air, improved over the previous generation substantially once again, and with plenty of reasons to buy this laptop. It's still our go-to Mac as well, we recommend this model over pretty much everything else on the market, and its current power means that it will suit almost every use, apart from hardcore gaming and very high-end video editing.
We also got a nice look at a portable hard drive that does more than any other drive we've ever seen, there's the new Nokia Lumia 925 too, a delightful little phone that we would recommend to anyone, although a more exciting product is rumoured to be very close. We also got our hands on a Citroen, which is geared at familes, but is still a great drive, there was a Panasonic camera that, while good, didn't quite meet our expectations and a lovely little Denon sound system.
We also got a look at Sony's new 4K TV too. While 4K is a long way off being a mainstream solution, this TV blew us away, with picture quality that shames pretty much everything else on the market. The downside, well, the price.
Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2013)
It's almost boring how good Apple is at this now. The Air is by far our favourite laptop, even considering the solid Windows machines that, thanks to Intel's Ultrabook spec, have been getting better and better. You might not want to switch from Windows even, but we have to say, a few minutes with the Air is usually enough to win over even the most ardent Apple hater.
The only thing missing is that retina display, but let's be honest, the battery life is SO good thanks to the standard display, that we're actually a bit relieved this doesn't have the super-high resolution screen.
Quick verdict: The updated Intel hardware brings very impressive endurance to the MacBook Air, making this a truly all-day machine. It's the same great design, but faster, will last longer and costs a little less.
Full review: Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2013) review
Corsair Voyager Air
At first glance, it's just a portable hard drive. But dig deeper, and there's so much functionality here that it's painful. You get Ethernet, to turn it into a little mini NAS. You get Wi-Fi, so you can take it on the road with you and connect to it from a phone, tablet or computer and stream movies, listen to music or work on documents.
It's got decent battery life too, and can stream HD movies to as many as four users at the same time. The only chink in its armour is the price, which at £160 is a little steep. But there are so many uses for this drive, we can't help but think it's worth the cash,
Quick verdict: A very capable drive that offers bundles of features and is a solid idea for anyone who wants to store video via their PC or network, and then be able to take the battery-powered drive with them wherever they go.
Full review: Corsair Voyager Air review
Nokia Lumia 925
Nokia might not be seeing the epic handset sales it did in the 90s and 2000s, but the firm has never strayed from its goal of producing glorious hardware that looks stunning, and lasts forever. The Lumia 925 is another of the firm's Windows Phone handsets, but it's further refined here, and worth serious consideration.
Windows Phone is critically well-recieved, but it seems to be struggling to gain acceptance. That's a shame though, because it's very capable. While it might not have the apps of the other platforms, there's really everything you need. Our only worry about this phone is that the Nokia EOS is about to launch, and that could change everything...
Quick verdict: The Nokia Lumia 925 is the best Windows Phone 8 handset you can buy, combining great design with plenty of additional enhancements from Nokia. There are still some ecosystem woes standing against WP8 and the closeness to the Lumia 920 and Nokia's next new phone might cause some to hold off committing to the 925 right away.
Full review: Nokia Lumia 925 review
Denon CEOL Piccolo
Hi-Fi has been suffering recently. People these days buy and iPhone and a £200 dock and that's it. Happily, there are companies like Denon out there who appreciate that people love their iOS devices, but also know they yearn for good quality sound too.
The Denon CEOL Piccolo is small, beautiful and the ideal companion for your iPhone or iPod Touch. Part of us wants it to have a CD player as well, but that could just be because we're living in the past.
Quick verdict: A brilliant all-digital home audio solution for the modern music listener
Full review: Denon CEOL Piccolo review
Sony KD-65X9005A 65-inch 4K TV
Cripes. That's what we've got to say about this TV. It's expensive at £6,000, but from what we've seen of it, there are no other TVs that are quite this impressive. Contiuing its upward movement, Sony has produced a TV here that embraces an unknown future. That's great, and it's a return to form for the Japanese company that's known the world over, but the TV also takes some risks with future tech, that could see other upcoming TVs offer a better future.
We're a bit sad it only does 4k at 30Hz rather than 60Hz, but we'll choke back the tears and enjoy this brilliant TV for what it does best, amazing pictures and sound.
Quick verdict: The Sony KD-65X9005A is a stunning large-screen TV. In terms of form and function nothing else currently comes close. The set not only looks astonishing with native 4K content, but impresses with regular Blu-ray too. It also delivers the best consumer 3D in its class and offers solid internet TV functionality. Sony has dramatically squashed any notion that there’s no role for 4K UHD in today’s Full HD world. The 4K KD-65X9005A is something of a gamechanger.
Full review: Sony KD-65X9005A 65-inch 4K TV review
Panasonic Lumix LF1
Anyone who buys a Panasonic compact camera is going to get a solid, dependable snapper that will last them years. The LF1 then, is an interesting little product. It's great in many ways, but there are some disappointments about the lens sensitivity and the built-in viewfinder. It's not a bad camera at all, it's just that with a few small tweaks, it could be an amazing camera. Issues aside, it still scores well and remains worthy of your consideration.
Quick verdict: The LF1's small size, lens control ring and electronic viewfinder make it an attractive concept. But the viewfinder fails to deliver, battery life is limited, as is the 28-200mm lens' maximum aperture and, at longer focal lengths, sharpness. It's a mix of good and bad and much the same can be said about the LF1's images. Overall there's plenty to like, but the LF1 overreaches and, therefore, fails to match up to its potential.
Full review: Panasonic Lumix LF1 review
Citroen C4 Picasso
It's not a glamourous car, but it does what Citroen does best, moves a family around with incredibly skill. It's the small details like the massive boot, cubby holes everywhere and the comfortable seats that make it a great family car. It's also economical and laiden with tech. There's not much wrong with this car at all, but there's a seven-seat model coming next year, and that means our advice is to wait for that model.
Quick verdict: A great family car, we advise waiting for the 7-seater however as it brings more space at little added cost
Full review: Citroen C4 Picasso review