A week in reviews: 27 - 31 January
It's been quite a week for smartphones. We've been blown away by the small and mighty Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, have taken the Motorola Moto X for its Brit-based walkies, and there's even the arrival of SwiftKey for iOS. Well, sort of. More on that last one further down the page.
On the tablet front the 2014 Edition Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 boasts very high standards for an Android slate, landing its place as one of our favourite tablets ever.
We've also been impressed by the Pentax K-3 DSLR and have been swanning around in an Audi A3 Saloon to top off our techie week; a week that's been full of nothing but top-tier products.
Elsewhere the site has been awash with camera announcements, from the awesome Fujifilm X-T1, to the affordable yet delightful Olympus OM-D E-M10. If that last one sounds like something you fancy a chance at winning then, as luck would have it, we've got a competition running as part of our Olympus OM-D challenge promotion.
Check it all out tech fans and we'll see you next week for another round-up of the latest and best tech reviews.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review
Quick review: The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact defies convention by offering power in a compact form and side-stepping the race to offer the largest display. It betters the larger-scale Xperia Z1 in most areas: it's better to use because it fits nicely into the hand, the battery life is great, it doesn't run as hot, and the screen's viewing angles are superb. And where it doesn't better it drafts in the same water-proof design and top-tier power as its bigger brother handset. Most competitor devices force you to go large to get the latest hardware and power, but the Z1 Compact doesn't. It's certainly the best Android device at this size.
Pros: Design works at this size, plenty of power, excellent battery performance, great display and viewing angles
Cons: Prone to scratching, launches on Android 4.3 and software hasn't moved on very far
Full article: Sony Z1 Compact review
Motorola Moto X (UK edition) review
Quick review: Originally a US release, the Motorola Moto X has now arrived in the UK. So we've reviewed the updated phone with to see whether its British twist makes much of a difference. Six months down the line, and a post-Nexus 5, can it still hold up among the competition? Yes, by and large. We really like the phone's styling, best-in-class voice command control, decent battery life and overall ease of use. Why it's launched without Moto Maker customisation is baffling, and the price isn't tiny considering the middling specs. This is a phone to divide the crowds, but we're glad it's in the UK because we're fans.
Pros: Great design, nice features over the standard Google offering, fantastic battery life
Cons: More expensive than the Nexus 5 and a lower spec, camera isn't amazing, no Moto Maker customisation (yet?)
Full article: Moto X UK review
SwiftKey Note review
Quick review: Ok so it's not exactly SwiftKey for iPhone, but that probably did make your eyes light up. Instead SwiftKey Note is an iOS app that offers all the best of SwiftKey's learning, suggestion and auto-correct features in a note-taking app interface. It plugs into Evernote to learn about your writing style, so isn't as advanced as the Android Gmail, Twitter and Facebook route, but it's a start. And, hey, as far as note-taking applications go this one is great. And won't cost you a penny.
Pros: SwiftKey's Android keyboard on the iPhone, syncs with Evernote, easy to use, it's free
Cons: No SwiftKey Cloud support, keyboard is only available within the app (no Gmail, Twitter, Facebook)
Full article: SwiftKey Note (iOS) review
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition review
Quick review: The 10.1 2014 Edition tablet is a steady leap forward from the previous generation model. The S Pen input remains the strong advantage here over most competitor tablets, while a giant leap in screen resolution makes for a super-sharp Android device. But price remains an issue: at nearly £500 for the 16GB model it's unavoidably hefty. Perhaps think of the Note as a laptop replacement - and it is good enough - and you might feel that it's worth the cost. Ultimately, you will decide if it's right for you, but we promise you'll love it as a tablet.
Pros: Great design, amazing screen, S Pen interface keeps getting better, microSD expansion
Cons: Expensive, slow charging times (no USB 3)
Full article: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 review
Audi A3 Saloon review
Quick review: The Audi A3 Saloon offers everything you would expect from a saloon car, but in a compact form. It's lovely to drive and the good layout of the interior and the sharp design imparts that essential Audi quality. It's a great evolution of a great hatchback, but some might find that the slightly cheaper A3, with it's more accessible boot, will fit the bill just as well.
Pros: Great looking car, good choice of smooth and powerful engines, basic spec is good, high quality finish
Cons: Standard sports suspension will be a little harsh for some, cheaper hatchback with easier boot access may better suit
Price: £37,280 (as tested)
Full article: Audi A3 Saloon review
Pentax K-3 review
Quick review: Pentax’s years of experience shine through in the K-3's well thought-out construction, which puts all of your most commonly used controls in convenient, easy to find locations. The innovation and user choice behind features such as advanced anti-moire and simple things such as a mode dial lock make this a camera that's looking to please everyone. And please it does, as using the K-3 is a bit of a treat. Add that it’s extremely keenly priced and it's hard not to be tempted by this great all-rounder.
Pros: Price, rugged build quality, controls and menus are very well thought-out, stills performance is excellent
Cons: Grain at middling sensitivities, noise on video soundtrack caused by lens mechanics, smaller lens arsenal than competition
Price: £1029 (body only)
Full article: Pentax K-3 DSLR review