A week in reviews: 11 - 15 November

Mid November and there's only one thing on most people's minds: the imminent Xbox One and Playstation 4 launches. In the UK we have to wait a little longer than America does for the PS4 launch, but we've been playing around with the final machine's user interface and playing games ahead of the official launch.

Before our final review of next-gen consoles hit the site, however, it's been a rip-roaring week full of content. The 10th annual Pocket-lint Awards shortlist was announced, full of plenty of tech gems throughout. Public voting is now open, so head on over and cast your vote. 

Despite all that business we've been busy testing out the Nexus 5 affordable smartphone from Google, along with the latest Android KitKat 4.4 operation system. There's the palm-friendly Panasonic Lumix GM1 which has also impressed us, Adidas Smart Run watch which showed a stack of potential but fell on the battery hurdle, among other tablets - the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX and Advent Vega Tegra Note 7, no less - a set-top box streaming device from Western Digital, and a pair of lovely Bowers & Wilkins over-ear headphones. The "should I get the Air or the Pro?" MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Display has also been through the Lint review process. 

And to finish off the week we've not only been chatting to Shane Sutton, British Cycling coach and Team Sky performance advisor, but have been testing out Team Sky's official support car, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake.

Next week it's Xbox One worldwide launch week, so the tech hotplate will only continue to glow yet hotter. Whew, exciting times all round. 

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display (late 2013) review

Quick review: Compared to the MacBook Air the 13-inch Pro offers a better screen and the potential for more power. The payoff is that you'll get shorter battery life and a heavier product, and it's still not as graphically astute as its 15-inch brother. If this is a laptop for the home and little else, you'll enjoy the power the Pro brings and the screen resolution too, knowing full well that a power socket is never that far away.

Pros: Powerful, great screen, good design, brilliant battery life

Cons: Have been issues with a number of elements (now fixed), not as powerful as some would like, glossy screen, no discrete graphics, this or the Air?

Price: from £1,099

Full article: Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display 13-inch review

 

Adidas miCoach Smart Run review

Quick review: As a dedicated sports watch that you only use on training runs the £300 Adidas miCoach Smart Run smart watch is fantastic. The interface is clear to read on runs, the granular detail that you can access through the miCoach website superb, and the ability to get your heartrate bpm without wearing an uncomfortable chest strap a really great feature. But there's a massive issue: the battery life is awful. So bad, in fact, that it's barely fit for purpose as a sportswatch.

Pros: Heart rate without wearing a chest strap, easy to read, customisable display, music playback via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi auto syncs runs data

Cons: Battery life is awful, docking station needed to charge it

Price: £300

Full article: Adidas Smart Run review

 

Western Digital WD TV Play review

Quick review: At £50 we think the price makes the WD TV Play a great deal. This little set-top box supports portable hard drives, 1080p content, BBC iPlayer and Spotify which, typically, you'd end up paying out more cash for elsewhere. While a lot of fuss is made about the Sky Now box, which costs just £10, we'd rather pay £50 and have the extra features provided here - and that's despite experiencing some slight hiccups.

Pros: Tiny, lower power use, cheap, great picture quality, good range of useful apps, USB input, built-in wireless, plays pretty much everything

Cons: A bit slow to navigate menus, bug sometimes crashes device and needs restart to recover

Price: £50

Full article: WD TV Play review

 

Advent Vega Tegra Note 7 review

Quick review: The Advent Vega Tegra Note 7 is one of the best affordable 7-inch tablets on the market, particularly if you're a gaming fan or like to use a stylus. If you haven't used a stylus the functionality of this one will have you addicted in no time. There's little negative to throw at the Vega Tegra, but of all the specs it's the screen resolution that sticks out. Sort that out in version two, trim the weight and we'll have a near-perfect tablet.

Pros: Top gaming graphics, DirectStylus is great, excellent cover (sold separately), good battery, plenty of power, pure Android OS, affordable

Cons: Could be a little lighter, needs more high-end games, resolution doesn't beat the competition

Price: £180

Full article: Vega Tegra Note 7 review

 

Bowers and Wilkins P7 review

Quick review: Perhaps the first and most impressive thing when taking the P7 pair out of the box is the feel: the weight, the soft leather, that brushed-aluminium and steel construction - all of which exude an aura of class. Then you put them on and things get even better - that all-important sound quality, which is everything you’d expect from Bowers & Wilkins, a brand that constantly strives for perfection and will only release a product when it’s ready, not when it’s fashionable to do so.

Pros: Gorgeous design with quality materials, not too ostentatious for over-the-ear headphones and can be worn out and about, superb audio performance with all types of music and movies

Cons: Some sound leakage outwards means you’ll be sharing with those in your immediate surroundings, hardly budget (but they don't look or sound it)

Price: £329

Full article: B&W P7 review

 

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX review

Quick review: If you're after a good quality tablet that performs well, with a great display, plenty of power, at a good price and you're more interested Amazon's content than having the latest apps, then the Kindle Fire HDX may well make you very happy. If you're looking for an experience that brings the familiarity of your Android smartphone, you may want to consider a straight Android tablet instead.

Pros: Great display, plenty of power, great sound quality, competitive price, some interesting software features

Cons: Lack of Google Play support means very little parity with the rest of Android, design might not be for some, no native movie/TV downloads from Lovefilm is a limitation

Price: £199 (with offers)

Full article: Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch review

 

Nexus 5 review

Quick review: There's a lot packed into the affordable Nexus 5. For the money, you get a display that rivals devices that cost some £200 more, and a chipset that is, in many cases, more powerful. In addition to that, you have a Nexus device, meaning it's uncluttered by bloat and first in line for Android updates. There is, however, still plenty of merit in other flagship devices; the choice now, is just that little bit harder.

Pros: Value for money, display, lots of power, Android KitKat brings some exciting new elements

Cons: Camera performance leaves a little to be desired, battery performance could be better, the design and build might divide opinion

Price: £299 (16GB)

Full article: Google Nexus 5 review

 

Android 4.4 KitKat review

Quick review: The Nexus 5 is the first device to introduce the latest version of Android, better known as KitKat. It makes some important changes under the hood and introduces lots of new features, although much of the update is a nod to future potential. The build should benefit older devices as and when the update becomes available, but we don't like everything - such as the Hangout and SMS integration. For now, though, the fruits of how far Android will push things we'll have to wait out on.

Pros: Google Now and home screen tweaks draw services together, lots of potential for future, translucent UI elements look great, nod to lower spec devices will be good

Cons: Some of the changes don't go far enough, leaving us wanting more, apps tray is too static and needs options, integrating Hangouts and SMS could be confusing

Price: £free

Full article: Android KitKit 4.4 review

 

Sony HMZ-T3W personal 3D viewer review

Quick review: There is no doubting that the HMZ-T3W is impressive. You'll probably have a good giggle at the accompanying pictures because - and by all accounts - whoever wears this device will look like an idiot. Throw all inhibitions out of the window, though, and it's a great viewing experience, albeit an expensive one.

Pros: Amazing picture

Cons: You'll look like an idiot, only 720p

Price: £1299

Full article: Sony Personal 3D Viewer review

 

Panasonic Lumix GM1 review

Quick review: The Panasonic Lumix GM1 is an utterly brilliant little camera. It sits on the fence between compact and compact system cameras yet gleefully sticks its tongue out at both sides. It's rare that a product feels like a hybrid of ideas and yet succeeds with such greatness - the GM1 is a clear, outstanding exception. Given the choice of a GM1 or a similar price high-end compact camera we don't even need to think for a second about which we'd go for. The GM1 wins out every time.

Pros: Small size, lightweight, decent build quality, fast autofocus, great images particularly when considered against high-end compacts, fair price, Micro Four Thirds lens system makes for versatile product, pinpoint focus mode

Cons: Poor battery life, 1080i not p video capture, no hotshoe, no viewfinder possible, accidental touchscreen presses not uncommon (can be turned off though), faux leather finish won’t impress all

Price: £629

Full article: Panasonic GM1 review

 

Jaguar XF Sportbrake 3.0 Diesel S Portfolio review

Quick review: Handsome, quick, spacious - the Jaguar XF Sportbrake in its 3.0 Diesel S trim is a good demonstration of how the right spec and format can make a car. Well equipped, with some well-resolved design qualities, it’s also good to drive. Only a cabin and interface that are both showing their age let the side down.

Pros: Standard kit count, looks, good to drive, Meridian sound system, performance with economy, all round "feel-good" demeanour.

Cons: Doesn’t feel as modern as an Audi, cabin feels slightly dated, touchscreen interface still not the best, lacks a few clever "family estate" features

Price: from £51,505 | £55,818 as tested

Full article: Jaguar XF Sportbrake review