A week in reviews: June 24 - June 29
Another diverse week in reviews, from things that diagnose your car, to things that help you go places in your car without getting lost. It's all here this week.
We've also taken a look at Sony's latest compact camera, a follow up to the amazing Company of Heroes that, while engaging, doesn't really move the franchise on as much as we would have hoped. And we also looked at a very cool little digital radio.
Sony Cyber-shot HX50
The HX50 is certainly a likeable camera, with a long zoom and very good image stabilisation to keep shots on the level and blur free. It also has amazing battery life, which is a big plus for us.
The problem is, the camera tries to do too much, overreaches and produces images that don't quite live up to our expectations. This is a great shame, but we still think it's got plenty going for it.
Quick verdict: The HX50 blends some high-spec features in among more standard travel zoom fare. We like the versatility of the 24-720mm equivalent optical zoom lens, but the maximum aperture range lacks that high-end feel - something which the hotshoe and exposure compensation dial both seem to suggest otherwise. Which leaves the HX50 sat on the fence: it's got stacks of features and plenty right, but the image quality and level of creative control doesn't elevate the HX50 out of its category to its fullest potential.
Full review: Sony Cyber-shot HX50 review
Company of Heroes 2
We're Company of Heroes fans, so when this new chapter appeared, we simply had to play. And we weren't disappointed. The game is still as much fun to play as the original, and we loved every minute.
On the downside, the franchise hasn't moved on as much as we would have liked, and especially graphically, things just simple aren't as impressive visually as we would expect, given the power of current computers. It's still a fun game, but don't expect to be blown away by its visual prowess.
Quick verdict: If you liked that last one, then you’ll love this. If a WWII strategy game is what you’re after then Company of Heroes 2 is the game for you.
Full review: Company of Heroes 2 review
Pure Evoke F4
Pure knows how to make a digital radio, that's for sure. What it has done with the Evoke F4 is different again though. It sits within the company's "multiroom" offering, and allows itself to be connected by Bluetooth, via your wireless network or even play its own part in your multioroom sound system. It's a great bit of kit. Our only reservation is the price, which is a little steep.
Quick verdict: We really like the F4, the features work briliantly for us, and as a simple to use device, it's fabulous with loads of functionality we use often. Sound quality is reasonable, but not amazing which is down to the speaker size more than anything. With headphones, it sounds great, but realistically, this radio is aimed at the kitchen, where its features and quality are perfect. But it is too expensive in a competitive market.
Full review: Pure Evoke F4 review
TomTom Go 500
TomTom is keen to prove that it hasn't had its day. While smartphones are arguably chipping away at its market domninance, the firm still thinks it has plenty to offer. Most of all, of course, is the access to traffic data live. Here you must have a phone that can share its internet for the feature to work, but there is no longer a charge for the facility.
The problems are that the screen is a bit too big, and while we liked using it, there's still the vague sense that if you have a smartphone that can share data with the satnav, why wouldn't you simply use it for navigation.
Quick verdict: The TomTom Go 500 offers a great driving experience, with excellent navigation and routing. The addition of "free" Traffic is a real bonus as the system works well, but at 5-inches, this satnav might be larger than it needs to be.
Full review: TomTom Go 500 review
OBDLink MX Bluetooth car monitoring accessory
Cars aren't so much like cars anymore, they're like little computers. OBDLink MX allows you to talk to the computer that runs your car, so rather than peering at an engine and trying to work out what's wrong, you can just ask the engine management system what the beef is. It's a great device, but as one commenter pointed out, other such things are available for a lot less money.
Quick verdict: For car geeks and information nerds, this is without doubt a wonderful tool to have. It gives you loads more information than your car dashboard, and presents both information about the engine and error codes in an impressively simple way through some nice first- and third-party software.
Full review: OBDLink MX Bluetooth car monitoring accessory review