A week in reviews: 16 - 20 December
Panic! It's the eve of the week before Christmas and there are plenty of stocking fillers to buy. Which is why this week's reviews have varied from toys to cameras and the rather lovely Kindle Paperwhite. So, go on, fill yer boots.
We've been playing - literally, we're big kids at heart - with the 2013 Furby and the Angry Birds Go! Telepods. Thinking of quirky gifts for the lil'uns? That's got you covered. Or pick up Zelda for the Nintendo 3DS - whatever your age, if you're a Zelda fan this homage to the 90s SNES classic is a cracker.
Or perhaps you're looking to treat yourself or a loved one. We've been listening to the Libratone Loop speaker in the office, while out and about we've been snapping away with the Fujifilm XQ1 compact and Panasonic Lumix FZ72 superzoom cameras at Barcelona zoo.
We'll be back next week with a mix of favourites from the year as 2013 comes to a close. Watch this space.
Panasonic Lumix FZ72 review
Quick review: If you're after a big zoom at a fair price then the Panasonic Lumix FZ72 has a lot going for it. Premier to its feature set is that massive 20-1200mm equivalent zoom which offers more range than the competition out there. If anything it's yesteryear's superzoom successes that cost the latest Lumix superzoom the most - the similar top-end zoom of the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS remains a strong competitor at a similar price, while the alternative, shorter-zoom Lumix FZ200 already set Panasonic's superzoom standard.
Pros: Massive zoom range available, decent image stabilisation, electronic viewfinder built-in, raw image quality worth the write-to-card wait, low-mid ISO settings can deliver decent image quality
Cons: Almost always overexposes, shutter lag, 1200mm is too soft, slow for raw file writing, competition is strong (Canon SX50 HS), no eye-level-finder for viewfinder activation
Full article: Panasonic FZ72 review
Furby Boom review
Quick review: We have to admit when we saw the price of the Furby Boom we were a little put off because these toys can soon become tiresome - for both kids and parents. But Furby's revival takes a new direction: connect your little monster to a smart device, such as an iPad, and doing so really enhances the experience. Furby's return for 2013 is a success.
Pros: Cute, fun, design revives Furby of old, app works with smartphone or tablet
Cons: Without the app it can quickly become tiresome, expensive
Full article: Furby 2013 review
Zelda: A Link Between Worlds review
Quick review: A Link Between Worlds may look like a remake of the classic SNES title A Link To The Past, but it’s oh so much more than that. It draws on all that was good about the classic game, adds in some new gameplay elements, entirely new dungeons and gets the balance just right. This is classic Nintendo crafted to perfection - it's worth buying a 2DS or 3DS just to play it.
Pros: Brilliantly judged, hours of gameplay, homage to classic Zelda titles, new mechanics make for whole new game, taxing dungeons require thought
Cons: Recycled map might be over-familiar, same old story, occasional stutter when pushing into a new screen on the map
Full article: Zelda 3DS review
Angry Birds Go! Telepods Pig Rock Raceway Set review
Quick review: Yup, more toys. But we enjoy a bit of real-world play in addition to the usual gadgets and apps - and this Hasbro made, Hot Wheels style version of Angry Birds Go! is great fun. However, it is expensive for what it is and we suspect that unless your kids are huge Angry Birds fans you'll get more out of a Hot Wheels set instead. Indeed, for less you could buy more Hot Wheels - even a set with a loop da loop in it. Who doesn't love that?
Pros: Fun, get two cars for the app
Cons: Build quality not great, expensive
Full article: Angry Birds Go Telepods review
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2013) review
Quick review: If you've been wondering whether to dive in an buy a Kindle, then the 2013 Paperwhite is the model we'd recommend above all of the other Amazon options. The screen illumination is lovely in any lighting condition and the touch response is fast enough to make everything happen with ease. The 2013 Paperwhite represents how far eBook readers have come in the past few years - simply put it's the best eBook reader out there.
Pros: Great display in all light conditions, good value for money, competitive bookstore, ecosystem that's hard to beat
Cons: Not a huge change from the 2012 model, could be higher resolution
Price: £109 (Wi-Fi) | £169 (Wi-Fi & 3G)
Full article: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review
Fujifilm XQ1 review
Quick review: The Fujifilm XQ1 is on the cusp of great things, but it’s not the same calibre as the bigger brother X20 model. And that leaves us almost a little disappointed because, and despite all its potential, we don’t feel that the XQ1 is the Canon S120 killer that it touted itself as. Why? Because the autofocus is hit and miss and that, ultimately, costs the camera. It’s not a write-off by any means - the decent optics, 2/3-inch sensor’s top image quality and a sturdy, small scale build with that physical lens ring combine to make for a decent pocketable camera.
Pros: Small size, physical lens ring, solid build quality, decent image quality, effective image stabilisation, competitive aperture range
Cons: Autofocus is hit and miss, no touchscreen, can’t shoot particularly close-up to subject, so-so battery life, JPEG processing a little rough
Full article: Fujifilm X-Q1 review
Libratone Loop review
Quick review: Our experience with the Libratone Loop has been a rollercoaster ride from frustration through to full-on aural pleasure. But that's because we’ve had AirPlay issues - something you might not experience. Even so, and despite no Bluetooth being featured, we like the distinctive design of the Loop and just how good it can sound. The more we mulled it over and the more audio we listened to, the happier we became. The Libratone Loop is a tidy, attractive audio product that does things a little bit differently and yet still sounds top quality.
Pros: Plenty of bass, sounds really good, quirky design and colour options give it a distinctive edge
Cons: No Bluetooth, setup and AirPlay playback hit and miss, expensive, driver rattling, top-end can be harsh
Full article: Libratone Loop speaker review