A week in reviews: 20 - 25 January
Shake off those apparent January blues - go outside and take some pictures. Got no camera? No problem, as this week we've looked at a variety of possible solutions.
The Sony QX100 is a lens accessory that can communicate with your Android smartphone to effectively turn it into a high-end compact camera. Very clever.
If dedicated compact cameras do nothing for you because you don't want to carry one around and you happen to be looking for a new smartphone, then what about rolling two into one? The Nokia Lumia 1020 is the best smartphone camera we've yet seen.
Or go whole hog and check out the full-frame Nikon D610. It's got a large sensor, delivers big images and despite being mighty similar to it's D600 predecessor is a great success.
Not into imaging, then perhaps something altogether different will suit your tastes. This week we've also been giving the sporty Kia Pro_Cee'd a whirl - you may have seen it on the telly popping up after certain sponsored ad breaks - and bathing ourselves in around-the-house audio courtesy of the Pure Jongo S3 portable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers.
Sony QX100 review
Quick review: The QX100 is a smartphone lens accessory that, give or take, can turn your smartphone into the rather excellent Sony RX100 high-end compact camera. We love the concept, but the delivery leaves us with questions. It's chunky, takes time to set up which rules out those fleeting snaps, and the PlayMemories control app lacks ISO control. It's oh so close to being great, but without some of those fundamental high-end controls at your fingertips it feels like it's missed a trick. We're more taken by the lower-spec QX10 as we think it fits the smartphone mould better.
Pros: Good low-light performance, aperture control added, manual focus option, great results
Cons: Some connection problems with PlayMemories app, lack of controls, no ISO adjustment, lack of information, price, bulky
Full article: Sony QX100 review
Pure Jongo S3 review
Quick review: For a small wireless music system, the S3 speakers are flexible thanks to both Bluetooth and wireless network connection possibilities. But our biggest beef with the Jongo S3 is that they're expensive, and don't really sound as good as some other Bluetooth speakers. There's nothing awful about the sound, it's just a little less rounded than most speakers and the low-end lacks. That said, the convenience is great and the colourful style has plenty of appeal too.
Pros: Compact, stylish, lots of great features, good battery life
Cons: Sound quality lacks a certain something, fairly expensive
Price: £170 (each)
Full article: Pure Jongo S3 speaker review
Nokia Lumia 1020 camera review
Quick review: Is it a smartphone or is it a camera? The Nokia Lumia 1020 handles both functions very well indeed, and is the best camera in a mobile phone that we've seen to date.
Since the Nokia Black OS update the 1020 camera system is better than ever. We love the raw file shooting more than we even thought we would from such a device, the optical image stabilisation saw us taking shots without flash that we'd struggle to get from a compact camera, and the continued growth of the "lenses" apps are all notable highlights.
Whether you're on board with Windows Phone 8 or not, the camera in the 1020 is yet another dangled carrot from Nokia, and a tasty one at that. In our minds there's no doubt the Lumia 1020 is the king when it comes to smartphone cameras.
Pros: Image stabilisation great to assist with shots in low light, bright exposures, manual controls available, touchscreen is responsive, inherent smartphone abilities to share/apps, raw files hold plenty of detail at low ISO settings
Cons: Chunky for a smartphone, image quality can't always rival a dedicated compact camera, some settings may confuse the uninitiated, no microSD/SD storage, tricky to hold without accessory grip, no raw file access via Mac
Full article: Nokia Lumia 1020 camera review
Nikon D610 review
Quick review: The Nikon D610 is mighty similar to its D600 predecessor. Some say it's appeared, complete with a new shutter mechanism, to replace a faulty batch of D600 models that showed signs of oil on the sensor. Or it could just be part of the constant refresh cycle.
Over our weeks of use with the D610 we’ve been nothing but pleased. The battery life is crazy-good - a working week of shooting without recharging saw us snap 2,300 images - as are those sumptuous 24-megapixel images. The autofocus array may be a little too tight to the centre, but it’s responsive, fast and accurate in all manner of conditions.
Just like before: this fence-straddling consumer-meets-pro full-frame DSLR is a cracker that offers great value for money. It’s familiar, but it’s still fantastic.
Pros: Excellent image quality, small and light for a full-frame camera, weather-sealed, fair price for full-frame DSLR body
Cons: AF point coverage is too centralised, little is new compared to D600, default JPEG processing can be a touch harsh
Price: £1499 (body only)
Full article: Nikon D610 review
Kia Pro_Cee'd review
Quick review: The Kia Pro_Cee'd adds up to is a car that's entirely likeable, perfectly competent and good value. But one which we can't think of a major reason for anyone to buy over the formidable opposition, beyond its value proposition and the seven year warranty. Which probably sounds a little mean-spirited, but we look for products that have a certain spark, or which make you feel special or do something new, innovative or better. And having spoilt us over the last decade with huge improvements and vehicles like the impressive Sportage, we're left a little disappointed by this Kia.
Pros: Details and graphics, standard equipment, value, ride, warranty
Cons: Advanced tech is lacking, driving performance off the pace, lacks any standout qualities
Price: £22,495 (as tested)
Full article: Kia Pro_Cee'd review