A week in reviews: 13 - 17 January
We spent the beginning of January marching around various halls and hotel suites at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014, and that was an eye-opener as to what to expect over the coming year. It's all flexible TVs, wearable tech from every corner of the market, integrated car tech, and much more besides. Well worth checking out our Best of CES 2014 piece to see some of the top-end as well as weird and wonderful tech that was got our hands on.
But rather than looking to the future, what about the here and now? With 2014 now upon us, there's stacks of tech in the Pocket-lint offices and we've been working our way through testing some of the hottest kit around. From the Fuji X-E2 compact system camera, to pricey audio players, Bluetooth speakers, budget gaming headsets and the quirky but lovable Oppo N1 phablet. Oh yes, we've covered a wide breadth of technological marvels this week.
Fujifilm X-E2 review
Quick review: If you're looking for a quirky interchangeable lens system camera then the Fujifilm angle should be high up your list. We love the X-E2's retro design - the mix of all physical dials and brushed metal - and the images from the X-Trans CMOS II sensor are exceptional. It's a subtle improvement over its predecessor rather than a giant overhaul, but does push Fujifilm's once sluggish autofocus up a notch to align it with the majority of modern competitors. It won't be a camera for all, but we're sold on it.
Pros: Image quality leads the way, retro design, decent screen and viewfinder, solid build quality, lenses with hands-on aperture controls, improves upon predecessor with success
Cons: So-so battery life, autofocus not flawless, continuous autofocus is slow, still too easy to knock exposure compensation dial
Price: £799 (body only)
Full article: Fujifilm X-E2 review
Naim UnitiQute 2 review
Quick review: The UnitiQute 2 is an all-in-one audio player. It's all about ultra-high quality audio as, essentially, it's a snazzy amplifier that can handle wireless 32bit/192kHz streaming via UPnP from a variety of sources, such as your computer's music library. It's ultra expensive, but then if you're serious about audio there's a lot to gain. The UnitiQute 2 offers a brilliant, modern system that has solid iOS app support - Naim does need to get Android support sorted - and pretty much everything you need from a music system. If "Micro hi-fis" were the thing of the 90s, then this has to be the thing of the early "teens". It's all here, and it all sounds great.
Pros: Fantastic design, brilliant but simple display, built to last, sounds beautiful
Cons: Still expensive, could do with a couple more analogue inputs
Full article: Naim UnitiQute 2 review
Stelle Audio Pillar review
Quick review: At first the Stelle Audio Pillar’s £300 price tag made us think it was going to be a form over function device. How wrong we were. In addition to being a gorgeous looking product, it doesn’t hold back when it comes to audio quality. Indeed it’s one of the best sounding Bluetooth speakers we’ve ever had in the office.
Pros: Great sound, plenty of bass, striking design, solid build, decent battery life
Cons: Expensive, large for a portable, no PlayDirect/DLNA, stereo separation limitations
Full article: Stelle Audio Pillar review
Turtle Beach Ear Force Z22
Quick review: Gaming headsets, at first glance, might seem like the sort of thing that aren't of interest to most people unless you're a hardcore gamer. But we've been using the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z22 for a while now, and we have to say, we think there's a lot more to these headphones than just the gaming angle. They're great value, very comfortable, offer great sound, the microphone is ideal for in-game chatter as well as Skype or phone calls and the hardware volume controls are also perfect for the job. If an audio brand made these they would cost twice the price.
Pros: Great value, fantastic sound, brilliant microphone, decent construction, comfortable
Cons: Control box can get in the way
Full article: Turtle Beach Ear Force Z22 gaming headset review
Quick review: Some love giant smartphones, otherwise known as phablets, while others hate them. Whatever your personal view there's a market for such devices, and the Oppo N1 puts its mark on the category in a different way to any other device. No stock Android to be found here, instead the model we've used has been reviewed running CyanogenMod - an open-source re-work of Android, if you will. This, in addition to a rotational camera give the N1 distinct points of difference. It's a standout device, and despite an S600 processor seeing it a step behind the top phone tech of today, it makes up for that with price. An interesting and viable alternative that, as time has gone on, we've grown to love.
Pros: Affordable, comfortable in hand, rotational camera with decent image quality, good battery life, 1080p screen quality and decent viewing angles, easy CyanogenMod install
Cons: It is huge and quite heavy, ill-responsive Android soft keys, positioning for call quality, not top-spec processor, no LTE not stock Android may put off some customers
Full article: Oppo N1 review