A week in reviews: 29 July - 3 August

It's been a week chock-full of announcements: ranging from the Motorola Moto X smartphone through to the Panasonic Lumix GX7 compact system camera, to name but two, there are plenty of products on the horizon to look forward to.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Stacks of desirable products have passed through the 'Lint offices both in the UK and Stateside this week. From the latest Nexus 7 tablet, to Google Chromecast and the keenly priced Now TV box.

We've also been investigating just how well the Nokia Lumia PureView smartphone cameras hold up with not only a dedicated Lumia 925 camera review but - and this is the real big gun of the week - Nokia's top-of-the-line Lumia 1020 smartphone also gets the full review treatment. Is it as all-round great as it proclaims to be?

 

Philips ActionFit SHQ5200 sports headphones

Sports headphones tend to be in-ear, which makes the Philips SHQ5200 something of a rarity: they're on-ear models. At £65 they're a little pricier than you might expect but their water-resistant build means you needn't worry about the sweat. Problem is, those with short hair may find that these Philips aren't too fond of staying in place - so you'll want to ensure they fit before parting with the cash.

Price: £65

Quick verdict: On-ear sports headphones are rare, so the Philips ActionFit SHQ5200 fill something of a niche. But be sure to check they'll actually stay on your head when running before parting with your cash.

Full review: Philips ActionFit SHQ5200 review

 

Nokia Lumia 925 camera

Nokia's been shouting about PureView for a long while, so we test out its current on-market smartphone to see how it holds up.

With an impressive optical image stabilisation system there are certainly benefits to be had from longer hand-held exposures, but the 925 does fall in to many of the same traps as other smartphones.

Image quality at higher ISO sensitivities isn't all that, but compared to its nearest competitors it holds up well. It's certainly nowhere near a dedicated compact camera though, but it holds up in context with other smartphones - and that will be a big draw.

Price: £499

Quick verdict: A yo-yo ride of highs and lows, the Lumia 925 is a decent smartphone with a built-in camera system as good as - if not sometimes better than - any current smartphone competitor on the market (impending Lumia 1020 disregarded) thanks to its optical stabilisation system and decent autofocus ability. But - context alert - it's not better than a dedicated camera and its "spectacularly sharp" (Nokia's words) images can't claim such greatness from the mid-high ISO settings where things go a bit skew-whiff.

Full review: Nokia Lumia 925 camera review

 

Now TV box

If you don't have a Smart TV or set-top box that can deliver catch-up services and movies to your viewing experience then the Now TV box is the way to do it. There may be more-advanced offerings out there, including Apple TV or Roku, but on the price front the Now TV box is an undeniable winner. It would be crazy not to nab one for its cover price.

Price: £10

Quick verdict: If you're looking to add movies - or more likely the BBC iPlayer - to your entertainment system, this is the best way on the market to do it, especially considering the price.

Full review: Now TV box review

 

Nexus 7 (2013)

The original Nexus 7 was the affordable 7-inch tablet to go for. Round two of the Google and Asus collaborative effort comes with upgraded features - better screen resolution being a key one - that make it yet more of a feast.

There's no denying the new Nexus 7 is an amazing tablet, but it's also just an upgrade rather than a revelation.

If you have the money to spare and want a stellar Android tablet for occasional gaming, Netflix-ing and reading, then the new Nexus 7 is an ideal machine. What's not to love?  

Price: $229 (16GB)

Quick verdict: It is just an incremental update to the original Nexus 7, which means existing owners may want to stick with what they've got. But for those who don't have the original and are keen to get a small and brilliant tablet, this is the device for you.

Full review: Nexus 7 (2013) review

 

Google Chromecast

For our US-based readers here's an HDMI-stick solution to rival Apple's AirPlay for Apple TV and Roku. Priced at $35 - Chromecast is yet to land in the UK - it's the cheapest method of streaming video on to a TV and can also cast browser tabs on to the screen.

It's early days for the device and Google will need to attract developers to adopt Chromecast - similar to big names such as the already on-board Netflix - and, therefore, only time will tell if its app support will really rival Apple's AirPlay. But this is Google, we have the confidence and at this price-point it's likely to attract plenty of attention.

Price: £TBD (not yet available in UK)

Quick verdict: All in all, the Chromecast is so affordable that it's well worth having one, even if you only use it for YouTube and Netflix. Its tiny size and total simplicity mean it's a worthy little device, even if it's not yet perfect.

Full review: Google Chromecast review

 

Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone

The big kahuna. The Nokia Lumia touts itself as the smartphone to go for if the camera is your priority - it's got the same large sensor on board as the clever (but software and distribution-flawed) PureView 808. And it's good news: the 1020 is the ideal option for people who're looking for the best camera yet to feature in a smartphone.

The phone itself is a Windows Phone 8 device which, for the moment at least, has a more limited reach than the current iOS and Android phones. Let's face it, you either want a Windows phone or you don't - and a 41-megapixel camera sensor is unlikely to change that for anyone.

So while there's plenty to like, we feel that increased ongoing support for the Windows Phone 8 platform - c'mon Instagram, etc - will see things improve over time.

Price: £TBD (not yet available in UK)

Quick verdict: By far the best "cameraphone" on the market. What's more, the 1020 can compete - at least to some degree - with cheaper compact cameras. There are some flaws, and Windows Phone still needs to develop as an operating system, but as things stand, this is a technological marvel, and a decent phone too.

Full review: Nokia Lumia 1020 review

 

Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear headphones

These colourful updates to the original Sennheiser Momentum, the On-Ears in 2013 bring a variety of colourful finishes and add comfortable Alcantara earcups. Alca-what? Unlike the leather finish of the originals, Alcantara is a soft, hardwearing material that ought not to bear such a hot-to-the-ears listen. Thing is, it's not nearly as water-resistant (ie, sweat-resistant) as we'd like, so for a hot summer's day they're far from ideal. But that's the only criticism we can throw at these cans, which otherwise sound a-maz-ing.

Price: £170

Quick verdict: The Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear headphones deliver style with plenty of audio substance to back up their looks. The well-balanced audio is loud, while the bass is thumping but never overbearing. Shame that the soft earcups are a sweat magnet and audio isn't well contained from those around you, but these otherwise small issues don't impact on how good these On-Ear headphones sound. Well worth their £170 asking price if you're looking to invest in some decent to-the-ears audio.

Full review: Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear (2013) review

 

OMG Life Autographer

Wearable tech has been on the brink of life for a while, and only now is it truly coming through. The Autographer - a wearable 5-megapixel wide-angle camera that automatically captures those "interesting" moments of your life - y'know, like going to work, sitting at a desk, then coming back from work - is like a digital life blogger.

We already chronicle our lives in written form on a daily basis, thanks to Twitter, Facebook and the like, and we love to post photos online to show what we've been up to. Why not have a device that helps that process? It makes sense to us.

Price: £400

Quick verdict: Although it is an expensive gadget to take a punt on, the Autographer offers something genuinely new. It won't replace a smartphone or compact camera for instant shots by any means, but the concept of visually chronicling your life automatically does soon becomes very addictive.

Full review: OMG Life Autographer review