A week in reviews: 10 - 14 March

It's here. Titanfall has landed. And we've been playing our socks off to see whether it's the game that makes the Xbox One whole. And with that major out of the way we don't hold back. Oh no, we continue to drop bombs of tech review wonderment.

We've received the Pebble Steel - the "posh" approach to the smartwatch concept - which we have found both brilliant and a total shift in the way others perceive such devices. Is it the best smartwatch out there?

We've also spent the beginning of the week checking out the Mini Cooper 2014 Hatch, now in its third generation, just in time to review it for launch day. Winding roads and motorway straights, but was the Mini Cooper D delightful or a diesel-powered dullard? And if you're after something sportier than take a look at our Mini Cooper S (2014) review instead.

Finally - and ironically just as the sun decides to put its hat on - we've been delving into smart heating systems. We've had Hive by British has and Evohome from Honeywell installed to see whether smartphone-controlled and room-by-room control heating systems (respectively) are the future. Inevitably there will be a cold spell on the horizon, so both are well worth a read.

Pebble Steel review

Quick review: As a piece of technology the Pebble Steel is fantastic. It delivers the same brilliant experience as the original Pebble in a device that looks far more premium. If you want a smartwatch and need to look presentable then the Pebble Steel certainly makes the "smart" in smartwatch mean more than just being clever. It's one smart looking device too and is hands-down the best smartwatch available on the market right now.

Pros: Premium design, metal and leather straps included, ease of use, expanding apps library, phone sync recognises multiple Pebble devices

Cons: Slow menu, apps don't offer much unless you can find one that really makes a difference for you, iOS notifications are all or nothing

Price: $249 / (£150 TBC)

Full article: Pebble Steel review

 

Hive by British Gas review

Quick review: Hive by British Gas is a great upgrade for a central heating system. It is a straightforward and easy way to bring smartphone control to your home, with minimal changes to your system and at a cost that won't break the bank.

Pros: Quick installation, easy to use apps, attractive price

Cons: Potential for connection problems, no Windows Phone app

Price: £199

Full article: Hive heating review

 

Honeywell Evohome review

Quick review: Honeywell Evohome is a complete heating control system that will allow you to manually control individual zones within your home. This can be achieved either via a dedicated touchscreen panel or via your Apple or Android smartphone. It's expensive, but it's the a more detailed system than the likes of Hive by British Gas.

Pros: Zone the heating in your house, smartphone support, schedule everything down to the minute, control everything to within half a degree

Cons: Smartphone app isn't as powerful as it should be, it's more expensive than the competition

Price: from £250

Full article: Honeywell Evohome heating review

 

Mini Cooper D review (2014)

Quick review: If you want a small car with personality then look no further. The Cooper D ticks the emissions box that will be important for many but with the new engine and 6-speed box avoids being the dull drive that it could have been. The 2014 Mini Cooper is a tech lovers' dream and the most fun small car on the road right now. It may be Mini by name but it's massive fun to drive.

Pros: Spacious interior, distinct style, stacks of decent tech, fun drive, customisable to the max

Cons: Can get pricey for the class, bigger than any Mini Hatch before it, small boot

Price: from £16,450 | £21,695 (as tested)

Full article: Mini Hatch 2014 review

 

Huawei Ascend Y530 review

Quick review: The biggest problem the Huawei Ascend Y530 faces is that the competition at this price point has changed fairly dramatically in recent times. It's the Moto G's presence that makes it difficult to see why you'd pick the Huawei.

Pros: Design is reasonable, IPS display, has microSD storage expansion, simple user interface option is good for newcomers

Cons: Slow performance, seems overpriced, cameras are average, software tweaks don't add much, battery performance not good

Price: £150

Full article: Huawei Y530 review

 

Titanfall review

Quick review: Although we’ve never really been fans of multiplayer-only console titles, Titanfall changes all that. In some ways it justifies Microsoft’s original always-online console concept that so many were willing to shoot down after its E3 press conference. The company changed its stance on that soon after, but perhaps with a knowing wink. Titanfall is the game to change many attitudes about many things, and Sony will be very much looking over its shoulder from now because Titanfall is an epic game.

Pros: Superb multiplayer action, detailed and interesting maps, super-speedy action that rewards different play styles, Titans are just simply the coolest things ever, 4K resolution PC play

Cons: Slow menu, apps don't offer much unless you can find one that really makes a difference for you, iOS notifications are all or nothing

Price: £40

Full article: Titanfall review



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