A week in reviews: 18 - 23 August
Cars, custom phones, tablets: it's never a dull week here at Pocket-lint and this week we've got an eclectic mix of gadgets for your eager eyes to digest.
It's 50 years since Porsche put the 911 out to the world, a car that remains an icon right through to this day. The latest Carerra 4S model has more than tickled our techie tastebuds this week, and ensured we've been waking up very early just to get in some foot-to-the-floor time. But at more than £100k as tested, it's a dream rather than a reality for most.
Not all tech need cost a fortune, however. Why not collect piece by piece - which is exactly what you can do with the brand new Disney Infinity console game, where it's possible to play your favourite physical, collectable toy characters in an on-screen format, transported there by the Infinity Base. It's got the inner kid in us stoked.
If that's too kiddy for your tastes, then on to the serious gear: morph that iPad into a laptop-like experience with the Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio; snap up a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 for all those tablety tasks; or pick up a point-and-shoot 22x optical zoom camera in the shape of Nikon's Coolpix S9500. But are any of them any good?
And for our US readers take a look at our brand new, Moto Maker-produced custom Motorola Moto X smartphone. It's green, it's purple, it looks a bit like Donatello from Tennage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All the more reason to love it.
Disney Infinity Starter Pack
If you're aware of Skylanders - the game in which physical toys can be "teleported" from the real-world into an on-screen console game - then Disney Infinity won't look particularly fresh at first. But there's so much to love here: primarily it's the range of much-loved Disney characters that act as the main hook, but a customisable Toy Box feature within the game means endless level-creation action is at your fingertips from this "infinite" game. It's a gem.
Quick verdict: If you've got young kids, a games console, and a love of Disney movies and characters then Disney Infinity will be a sure-fire success. But it's not exclusive to that - we're years older than our childhood selves and also enjoyed playing. We eagerly await new characters - hopefully some classics like Mickey who, for now, isn't available.
Full review: Disney Infinity Starter Pack review
Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio for iPad
The iPad is great, but it's not so great to type on. Logitech's solution is a keyboard-meets-cover combo that connects seamlessly with your iPad for a decent typing experience.
It's not a budget buy, but the quality's there - and it's even water-resistant. But we're not convinced that was a problem that needed to be solved and in so doing Logitech's ended up with these rubbery-feeling keys that also travel to the touch. It's a bit of a strange sensation.
Quick verdict: While it ticks a number of boxes, is well built, and easy to use, we can't help but feel that Logitech has overengineered a problem that doesn't really exist. The iPad isn't water-resistant, and some rubbery keys aren't going to fix that.
Full review: Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio for iPad review
Nikon Coolpix S9500
You're happy using a smartphone camera, but it just doesn't have the zoom to cut it. The only choice is a dedicated point-and-shoot camera. Problem is, there are stacks of options out there, including the Nikon Coolpix S9500 - a 22x optical zoom, 18-megapixel compact camera that's all about point-and-shoot operation.
But the brown model delivered to Pocket-lint's offices was - like its colour scheme - a little dull overall. It's not bad, but with such strong competition out there it fails to shine. The Panasonic Lumix TZ40 is more feature-packed, while the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS walks all over this Nikon in the image quality department.
Quick verdict: When it comes to point-and-shoot compacts Nikon has got some things right in the S9500: its small yet has a significant 22x optical zoom lens packed in. Wide-ranging it may be, but couldn't be considered the best in class. That's the conclusion all-over really: that even while there's nothing wrong with this camera it's just not as kitted out as the same-priced competition.
Full review: Nikon Coolpix S9500 review
Porsche 911 Carrera 4S
A classic, a legacy: 50 years down the line and we can't really think of a car we like much more than the Porsche 911. In its Carrera 4S format there's a whole lot to love - ignoring the "lime gold" paint finish, that is - whether driving like a racing driver or the casual commuter.
There's plenty of space to fit even a small family inside, but this is a true all-rounder that never forgets it's a sports car.
It's a classic brought up to date in that visual style that could only be owed to Porsche 911 design. And it's a stunner, but a pricey one - our test car totalled in at over £100k once all the extras were added.
Price: £87,959 (£100,159 as tested)
Quick verdict: At close to £100k with a few choice options, the Porsche 911 C4S is expensive, but has a breadth of ability that's quite unbelievable. Entirely workable for the day-to-day, it's an absolutely brilliant sports car too. In fact it's probably the best sports car in the world.
Full review: Porsche 911 C4S review
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0
Tablets, tablets everywhere. While Apple was busy launching it double-digit iPad, Samsung saw a gap in the market some years ago - the smaller scale, compact tablet.
The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 proves it's got plenty of promise in so many respects. But it's limited by its plasticky finish and the very market that it's a part of - the iPad mini is better built, while the Nexus 7 (2013) has a better screen for far less cash. Makes it hard to recommend, despite being decent all-round experience.
Quick verdict: Plastic and not quite fantastic: for all its good the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 8.0 doesn't stack up in light of the competition out there. It's still a decent offering, but for our money Samsung's not got as tight a grip on this market sector when considering the Nexus 7 and Apple iPad mini.
Full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 review
Moto Maker custom Motorola Moto X
We've already reviewed - and loved - the Motorola Moto X, so when Moto let us set up a custom-built model via the Moto Maker beta site, we were uber excited.
We've spent bags of time in the design process, picking out its highs and lows so you know what to expect when it comes to fixing up your own custom Moto X. Is this what makes the Moto X shine beyond its more powerful competitors? It's certainly made us the envy of our New York friends.
There are some downers, though: engraving isn't available yet, there are limits to patterns and we still want more options despite, of course, more than 2,000 combinations already being at our fingertips.
Price: From $199 (not available in the UK)
Quick verdict: Moto Maker has given us one of the liveliest phones on the market, and we can't stop bragging about it. There are only a few smartphones that release every year that can actually turn heads - the Moto X was already one of them, the custom Moto X takes that and turns it up to 11.
Full review: Moto Maker custom Motorolo Moto X review