A week in reviews: 28 October - 1 November
As we roll into November it's clear that gaming season is upon us. And just ahead of the fourth generation of consoles, it looks as though its the season of fourth-in-season releases too: Battlefield 4 and Assassin's Creed IV head up proceedings, with Football Manager 2014 - the 21st game in the title's history - being the one to buck the trend.
But if it's not console and PC games that tickle you, then we're fairly sure that the iPad Air will. We've had Apple's latest "full-size" slate for over a week now and have found it to be all-round better than any Apple tablet before it. Scrub that, any tablet before it. It's rather special, although we're left waiting to see if the iPad mini Retina can better it.
Elsewhere it's a mixing pot of quality kit, ranging from the most successful smartwatch we've yet seen, the Pebble, through to the Canon EOS 700D DSLR camera, Roku 3 set-top box, and even an R-Design trim Volvo V40.
Hold tight for a jam-packed November too. Not only will it be the 10th annual Pocket-lint Gadget Awards, we'll be rolling out Apple MacBook reviews, dabbling in Call of Duty: Ghosts and working into the month with plenty more besides.
Canon EOS 700D review
Quick review: The Canon EOS 700D doesn't break new ground for this class of camera, nor is it a huge change from the 650D before it. If you own the previous camera, there's little reason to upgrade: it should be the excellent 70D that you set your sights on. With the Canon EOS 700D you know what you're getting: the imaging is great from a camera that's a pleasure to use and approachable for those beginners who want it to do everything for them, through to those looking to use the manual controls it has on offer.
Pros: Hybrid AF system boosts live view and video focusing speeds, great quality stills from low ISO range, great combination of traditional buttons and touchscreen controls
Cons: Small buffer means burst shooting is limited, image noise at high ISO settings, it's a repackaged 650D
Full article: Canon EOS 700D review
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag review
Quick review: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is a deep, enjoyable game that does a fine job of combining the tenets of the series with the golden age of piracy. The world is meticulously crafted, and there’s loads to explore, which is ideal if you’re a fan of open-world games. Although the format the open world takes can feel like a slight departure from the stealth-tinged, parkour-tastic acrobatics of the earlier games.
Pros: Pirate theme fits Assassin's Creed well, naval exploration makes up a good chunk of the game, new game lab lets you create your own multiplayer modes
Cons: The game lacks any revolutionary new features, combat and exploration are either too easy or too cumbersome, the main character isn’t particularly memorable
Full article: Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag review
Quick review: The Pebble may not have all the features of some other smartwatches out there, but it's a vibrant platform with plenty of exciting things happening already. It doesn't feel as though it's jumped the gun and arrived too early in the market. It's a great companion device for your smartphone, one that doesn't replicate its features but compliments them.
Pros: A great customisable platform, battery life means you'll get a week from it, water resistance, affordable price
Cons: Design may divide opinion, bespoke charger means you'll need to carry an extra cable, it's not as fully-featured as some rival smartwatches
Price: £150 (UK price TBC)
Full article: Pebble smartwatch review
Apple iPad Air review
Quick review: Simply put the iPad Air is the best tablet the Cupertino company has ever made. It's light, it's thin, it's fast, it's amazing. The problem for Apple, and this is a good thing for you and us, is that in creating the iPad Air we suspect that once you buy this model you won't need or want to upgrade for a long, long time.
Pros: Thinner, lighter, faster, iLife and iWork apps are great, truly desirable tablet
Cons: Same camera as iPad 4, no 802.11 ac, can't realise 64-bit speed yet
Price: from £399
Full article: iPad Air review
Football Manager 2014 review
Quick review: Perhaps the main reason for Sports Interactive’s success with the Football Manager franchise over the years is that, more than any other developer we know, it listens to its fans. FM2014 is very much a love letter to SI Games’ fan base: it has everything we and the community at large have been asking for, and many things we didn’t even know we wanted until we got to see them in action. That, in short, makes it the most accomplished management game of all time, not just in regard to football.
Pros: The most in-depth management experience yet, improved 3D match engine, new tactics system, better transfer negotiations, hundreds of other minor and major tweaks, Steam sync for multiple device use
Cons: It will eat away your life if you let it, stacks of spreadsheets and numbers won’t appeal to all players, graphics won’t match up to FIFA (but that’s not the point)
Full article: FM2014 review
Volvo V40 T2 R-Design Nav review
Quick review: Safe as houses, but with a bit of added design bling, the R-Design V40 could be the thing for you if you're looking for a Volvo with attitude. But ultimately we think the R-Design trim sits uneasily with the relaxed, easy-going qualities of this car - and it doesn't have the all-round attributes of the class leaders.
Pros: Refined, comfortable, class-leading safety features, lovely gauge pack
Cons: Interface can be fiddly, space is tight in the back, R-Design doesn't suit the car's demeanour, may be better with more powerful, or diesel variant engines
Price: £22,495 | £28,250 (as tested)
Full article: Volvo V40 R-Design review
Battlefield 4 review
Quick review: Battlefield 4 is an undeniably a comprehensive package, but it will be familiar to fans of the series, and mildly bewildering to total newcomers. The single player is a rip-roaring affair, although not without the odd bug, while multiplayer has plenty of life - even if it can sometimes re-spawn you into instant death. While it plays a decent game of war, Battlefield 4 clearly has one eye on the next-gen, and you may be advised to follow suit and wait it out for the best experience.
Pros: Decent single player campaign, strong voice-acting, comprehensive multiplayer
Cons: Rehashed ideas, struggles on current hardware, occasional bugs
Full article: Battlefield 4 (current-gen) review
Roku 3 review
Quick review: The Roku 3 is a decent TV set-top box with the main catch-up TV services on hand, such as Netflix, Now and BBC iPlayer, although there are some omissions - 4 On Demand and ITV Player being two. It's worth its £100 cover price though because there's a USB socket for localised file support and Ethernet port for speedy streaming support. It might not be possible to download and store local content, like with Apple TV, but the added microSD card slot, the motion controller and faster processor make Roku 3 a worthwhile upgrade that fills in some of the omissions of its predecessor.
Pros: Small, easy to setup, lots of services supported, microSD and USB support, headphone jack on remote for quiet listening, 1080p support
Cons: Lots of dross apps in app store, can't buy movies or shows, no 4oD or ITV player, nine tile limit in interface & not best use of interface space
Full article: Roku 3 review