A week in reviews: July 15 - July 19

It's been the hottest week of the year in the UK, so what have we been reviewing? Coffee machines, that's what. But, with Britain, you can always be sure that for every night of clammy sleep there will be another 10 where you're in dire need of being kept warm, and woken with a caffeine-induced jolt.

It wasn't all coffee though, we looked at a couple of laptops: the 11-inch MacBook Air, and the Lenovo Yoga. Both impressed us, for their interesting features and compact design. These are perhaps not machines for the power user, but they are certainly great for travelling.

Mio Cyclo 505 HC

If you want a cycle computer that does it all, the the Mio should be on your consideration list. The only real problem with it is the lack of thought that's gone into designing the mounts for the sensors. This expensive little machine is good, but needs to work a little harder with the small things to win our respect.

Price: £469

Quick verdict: The Mio Cyclo 505 HC offers stacks of features, but overlooks simple issues, like fitting. Add to that the huge £469 price tag and while we've been chuffed with what the Mio can do, it's a step behind in those intricate areas even if its feature set reads as being a step ahead.

Full review: Mio Cyclo 505 HC review

 

Apple MacBook Air 11-inch (2013)

The MacBook Air has gone from being a bit of a joke at its launch, to being a cornerstone of great computing. Apple has led the way with this ultra-compact form factor, and it's what's really given Intel the push it needed to get laptop manufacturers thinking about design. The MacBook Air 11-inch is well worth considering if you need a small laptop, but it's not super powerful, and that will be a problem for some.

Price: £849

Quick verdict: The MacBook Air 11-inch is a powerful yet compact laptop, retaining the now iconic Air design. The refresh is internal, bringing plenty of power for daily computing tasks, as well as a battery life that's impressive. It matches the power of the larger 13-inch model, yet might be a touch too small for those with larger hands.

Full review: Apple MacBook Air 11-inch (2013) review

 

Belkin FastFit Keyboard Case

Keybaords for the iPad are a handy addition. These days, most people don't need to own a laptop, especially if you mostly type things - like us, to some extent. So the Belkin FastFit is a good idea, because it gives your iPad mini a proper typing surface. The problem is, it's a bit flawed and some minor tweaks would really make it a better device.

Price: £69.99

Quick verdict: Well-made, but check to make sure you are happy with the keyboard layout before parting with your cash

Full review: Belkin FastFit Keyboard Case review

 

De'Longhi Prima Donna S coffee machine

Yum, proper coffee. Although some won't consider automatic machines as a viable way to make real coffee, for many, they're a high-quality solution to automate the process of getting beans ground and a nice fresh cup of coffee. The big problem here is the price, which is significant indeed.

Price: £995

Quick verdict:Turn it on, press a button and you are drinking tasty coffee within a minute - we love it.

Full review: De'Longhi Prima Donna S coffee machine review

 

A Modo Mio Favola Cappuccino coffee machine

A more sensible price than the Prima Donna, but still a pricey £200+, this little machine uses pod coffee to make a tasty cup of the black stuff. It also has a milk reservoir, which means you can have a proper cappuccino, rather than something that's been dragged through powdered milk.

Price: £229.99

Quick verdict: For those on a budget, but still wanting to get in on the cappuccino action the A Modo Mio Favola Cappuccino is a good place to start

Full review: A Modo Mio Favola Cappuccino coffee machine review

 

Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11S

The Yoga 11S takes over from last year's Windows RT tablet. This has a proper Intel processor, and decent amount of memory that will make using it a real pleasure. It's still perhaps a little expensive - especially in the spec we reviewed. Still, the Yoga aspect is fun, and it makes a pretty decent tablet, if a little heavy.

Price: £700

Quick verdict: The Ideapad Yoga 11S, in the configuration we tested is a solid, if slightly underpowered machine. It's great for working out of the office, and the tablet functionality is somewhat cool, but with an i3 and 4GB of RAM, it's not exactly a powerhouse. Even so, it's a nice little machine and business users and students are likely to find it most useful.

Full review: Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11S review

 

Peugeot 208 GTI

Peugeot once owned the compact sporty hatch crown with the 205 GTI, but things fell off for the firm once it stopped making that car, and VW has spent the last 10 or more years making amazing little hot-hatches that are a blast to drive. Now though, Peugeot has had another go, and it's done very well indeed.

Price: £20,570

Quick verdict: A triumphant return to form for Peugeot. Once again, it has made a GTI that it can be proud of, and one that almost takes us back to the glory days of the 205.

Full review: Peugeot 208 GTI review

 

Olympus Pen E-P5

Olympus has always had a knack of making great cameras. From the old film days, the OM range was fabulous, now the company is pushing its Micro Four Thirds cameras that offer stunning quality in a compact package. Less bulky than an SLR, but with most of the quality, it's a smart choice for someone wanting to get into serious photography, and doesn't have the baggage of being in love with the idea of SLRs. This great little camera isn't cheap, but it is worth its £1,000 price tag.

Price: £999

Quick verdict: The price might be a bit of a hurdle, and there are some small niggles that hold it back from perfection, but otherwise the E-P5's combination of top notch build quality and equally top notch image quality make it not only the best Olympus Pen, it's one of the best compact system cameras yet.

Full review: Olympus Pen E-P5 review



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