A week in reviews: July 22 - July 26
What a week, we've had some pretty impressive developments in the world of phones. We've spent some time with the Nokia 1020, and seen what its camera is capable of, and we've reviewed another camera cum phone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, a product we first approached with some scepticism but has actually found some merit.
It's also the week of "mini" phones, and we took at look at both the HTC One mini and the Galaxy S4 Mini. These are phones for people who want to avoid the giganto-phone movement of recent years, and want sensibly sized handsets packed full of features.
Loewe Speaker 2go
Solid sound and a compact form means that the Loewe Speaker 2go has anything you need from a wireless speaker. Its name is a bit stupid, but we can live with that given the elegance with which it pulls off everything else. The only real gripe we have is that the speakerphone performance isn't great.
Quick verdict: There's something charming about the Speaker 2go's diminutive size, and surprising about its performance. Given the solid design and the impressive quality of both the build and the performance, it comes highly recommended as a premium speaker for your music on the move.
Full review:Loewe Speaker 2go review
Acer Iconica A1-810
Not a bad little tablet by all accounts. It's powerful enough for most things, although the screen isn't going to blow anyone away. The biggest problem Acer has, is that the new Google Nexus 7 was announced this week, so speaking frankly, everyone's going to buy that instead.
Quick verdict: Screen resolution matches up to the iPad mini, and while the build quality doesn't the Acer A1-810's fair £175 price point puts it near to Nexus 7 territory. Considering the price, applications run well for the most part, microSD expansion is a big plus point, battery life serves well and - even if it's not mind-blowing in any one department - the Acer delivers a good all-round experience.
Full review: Acer Iconica A1-810 review
Nespresso Pixie by Magimix
Still drinking coffee, and this is another machine to help keep parents with children awake during daylight hours. It's a nice machine, and one of the simplest we've tested. Its capsules are a little bit of a lock-in, but it makes nice coffee and there a good selection of flavours available. Keep an eye out for bargains too, as these "pod" coffee firms all fight with each other to win custom.
Quick verdict: The coffee we drank packed a punch and with so many flavours available - including the special season offerings - there is bound to be a flavour for you. The only downside, as with all these capsule or pod systems, is that you must buy specific coffee to use in the machine.
Full review: Nespresso Pixie by Magimix review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active
Swim, run, sweat are all things you can do when you're a Galaxy Active phone owner. This handset is nicely water resistant, to the point that you can take it into a pool with you, or drop it in the loo. If you are either very sporty or very clumsy, this will likely be a good phone for you. It's also great in terms of power, with no real compromises being made to get it to withstand water.
Quick verdict: The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is a great handset, offering a flagship smartphone experience in a device that's happy to take a dunking in the bath. If you're accident prone or are always getting caught in the rain, then this is a viable alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Full review: Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review
Sony SRS-BTX500 bluetooth speaker
In stark contrast to the Loewe speaker earlier in the week, the Sony puts in a solid performance as a speakerphone. It also sounds glorious, thanks to Sony's magnetic fluid speakers that distort less, and can be driven harder than most speakers. This machine might be very expensive, but it's really, really good.
Quick verdict: From an audio perspective, this speaker is loud and clear. Music sound fantastic, and you can even tweak the sound to match your taste. It's expensive, but look for discounts online and it will make you very happy for many years.
Full review:Sony SRS-BTX500 bluetooth speaker review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom
We couldn't help worry about the Zoom. Its big problem is that it's a bit of a beast physically. It's essentially a Galaxy S Mini, with a massive camera lens bolted to the front of it. But it does take some nice photos, and it works fine as a phone. The only issue is the form factor, and the fact the Nokia 1020 does amazing things with a normally-sized phone.
Quick verdict: The phone camera that puts the camera ahead of the phone component and, therefore, makes for a compromised phone design. We like plenty of the phone stuff and the camera's rather clever too - but as a whole a great concept isn't realised in reality.
Full review:Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom review
Dyson DC49 multi floor vacuum cleaner
Spiders are a very real problem, so buy a DC49 and use its long hose and extereme power to remove the arachnid threat from a long distance. Also good for vacuming up dirt, we're told, although that's nowhere near as important as killing spiders.
Quick verdict: The DC49 might be small, but it manages to pack a big punch when it comes to performance
Full review: Dyson DC49 multi floor vacuum cleaner review
HTC One mini
We love this phone, it's part of the revolution back to small and easy-to-handle handsets that take a lead from the form factor of the iPhone. That might sound daft, but Samsung, Sony and HTC's flagship phones are all massive, while the iPhone still sells really well, comes in only one size and works for almost everyone that tries it. The One mini is a response to that, and a really good one.
Quick verdict: The HTC One mini is a great Android smartphone. The design and build are outstanding, the user experience offered by HTC Sense 5 is commendable and the step back into mid-range specs isn't hugely to the phone's detriment.
Full review: HTC One mini review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
Like the HTC One mini, the SGS4 Mini is a lovely little phone. Compact, but with more than enough power to do all the tasks you'd want. We played Real Racing 3 and watched 1080p video and it didn't break a sweat. It also appears to have fairly epic battery life, which is a big advantage.
Quick verdict: All things considered, we really fell for the Mini. It's a powerful and well-designed phone that does everything you need in a nice compact device. It's still expensive, but it's a phone that will serve you well for a couple of years, assuming storage isn't an issue.
Full review: Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review