A week in reviews: 30 December - 3 January
As we roll back into the office - literally, after too many Christmas mince pies - the year has ticked over into the big 2014. And it's been a busy week of gadget reviewing just ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 which kicks off in just a couple of days' time.
But before we look into the future, let's focus on the here and now. And it's been a bumper week of reviews this week. We've seen two different takes on the "two in one" device from Asus and Sony, a retro look at the DSLR concept in the form of the Nikon Df, have been flying around the latest DJI Phantom Vision 2 quadcopter and have been treating our eyes with Philips' immensely good 4K TV offering.
Next week all our efforts will be focused on CES output which will see Pocket-lint light up with all the latest news and hands-on first impressions reviews. No full reviews, but bucket loads of brand spanking new tech to get our teeth into. Just the way we like to kick off 2014!
Asus Transformer Pad TF701T review
Quick review: Is it a laptop? Is it a tablet? The Asus Transformer Pad TF701 straddles the divide between the two forms, marrying together an Android tablet and keyboard dock into the one affordable device. And one great device at that. Great screen resolution, solid battery life, and all-round sturdy build quality given the price point are obvious plus points. There’s a lot to be happy about here. But it’s not a device that will suit all - the reflective screen, excess bezel and lack of connectivity are minor quibbles to counteract the positives, while the keyboard dock and small trackpad doesn’t quite add up to a laptop replacement either. But if the Asus has caught your attention then we’re yet to see a dual-function Android device that can better it.
Pros: Great 10.1-inch screen resolution and viewing angles, solid build quality, included keyboard dock, good battery life, fair price
Cons: Small trackpad, doesn’t quite feel like a laptop replacement, no 3G/4G connectivity option, reflective screen
Full article: Asus TF701 review
DJI Phantom 2 Vision review
Quick review: Although "fun" isn't perhaps the main objective of DJI in the Phantom 2 Vision, it's still a brilliant bit of kit to play with. It flies superbly, and you can get some genuinely amazing footage out of its built-in camera. Of course, professional video makers might prefer to go with a proper gyro-stabilised camera mount, but those add weight, cost and drain batteries far quicker. All in all, as a video tool, the Phantom 2 Vision is pretty much perfect for the price point.
Pros: Superb quality video, easy to fly, brilliantly designed, sturdy, features will be added through firmware updates, can adjust camera independently via the app
Cons: Expensive, sometimes a bit of a pain to configure, occasional GPS lock-on issues, remote control looks a bit of a mess when fully set up
Full article: DJI Phantom Vision 2 review
Nikon Df review
Quick review: The Nikon Df could be called over-ambitious. We can’t shun that feeling that Nikon needs to learn some lessons from this release. But as much as we thought we’d made up our mind about the Df based on its "almost there" aspects, we just kept on taking photos, looking at the pictures and being impressed. And that’s what pulls it back from the brink of obscurity because everything that comes out of this camera looks so great. But would we buy one? No. It’s more an expensive exercise in nostalgia and one that, at times, makes us realise why the world has moved forward. There’s definitely something in the concept, though, and it'll really appeal to some.
Pros: Great image quality (of D4 standards), fast autofocus system works a treat, great design concept, manual control dials have their benefits, non-AI lens compatibility
Cons: Expensive, too big in our view, finish not as premium as it should be, no body-only option, front dial position can be awkward, always-on dial locks, less specified than lesser Nikon full-frame models
Price: £2749 (with 50mm f/1.8 G prime lens)
Full article: Nikon Df review
Sony Vaio Tap 11 review
Quick review: The Sony Vaio Tap 11 - the second "two in one" on review this week - excels in many areas, while a few other low points rub off some of the appeal. On balance, though, Sony has got it broadly right. A better keyboard would earn it a higher score, although it’s unlikely that would be possible without making a serious compromise on the highly attractive form factor and, we suspect, the price point was increase too.
Pros: Highly responsive touchscreen with excellent image quality and decent viewing angle, well-balanced and comfortable stylus, feels quick in use, long battery life
Cons: Disappointing keyboard, lacklustre cameras, a bit big for general tablet use
Price: from £799
Full article: Sony Tap 11 review
Philips 65PFL9708 9000 Series 4K TV review
Quick review: The Philips take on 4K can take on the other five-star 4K TVs of today and hold its own. Add in the dynamic of ambilight and it goes a step beyond. Fire up a Blu-ray movie and you’ll be able to sit back on the sofa, smugly, in the knowledge that your new purchase offers just as much - or even more at this given moment in time - of what matters but for even less cash. And as the world gets more 4K friendly that experience will only get better. This is the best Philips TV we've yet seen.
Pros: That price, 4K picture amazing with right source content, ambilight technology a real highlight and point of difference, lots of user control to tweak picture styles (inc. ISF presets), booming sound quality, well built and good looking set, smart features slowly getting there
Cons: Upscaling of some content is crude, slow menu system needs tweaking, clouding visible in some over-bright settings presets, no ambilight from bottom edge, some time-out and auto-off issues, are we ready for 4K in the UK yet?
Full article: Philips 4K TV review