A week in reviews: 24 - 28 March
It's the week when HTC claimed all glory by announcing and releasing its latest handset, the new HTC One (also known as the M8), in the same day. We had one acting as our day-to-day phone the week prior and have dug deep to deliver the verdict on whether this is the smartphone of 2014.
The new HTC One has an interesting Duo Camera that captures depth information for use in post-processing. We'll be exploring that in greater detail in the near future, but for now you can get your camera fix from our reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 and the viewfinder-donning Olympus Stylus 1. Both very different prospects each with their own high and low points.
Elsewhere on the site we've been driving the new Mercedez GLA some 550-feet down a salt mine, playing the udderly absurd Goat Simulator (no, really, it's real), geeking out over satellite with the Elgato EyeTV Netstream 4Sat satellite streamer, and pumping out high-end audio with the Asus Xonar Essence STU mini amp.
HTC One (M8) review
Quick review: The new HTC One is a wonderful reinvention of the 2013 handset we liked so much. There's innovation, refinement and new features aplenty that make it a shining example of a flagship device. The bar has been set high with what will be one tough act to follow.
Pros: Luscious metal design, powerful, microSD card, great display, BoomSound speaker quality, extreme power saver, Duo Camera features
Cons: Still a 4-megapixel camera with limitations, large size won't suit all users, Ufocus bokeh effect is hit and miss
Full article: The new HTC One review
Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 review
Quick review: Samsung is top of its game when it comes to Android integration. And the Galaxy Camera 2 is a great Android device.But as a camera it makes the same failings as its predecessor: heavy-handed processing and a 21x optical zoom that's just too soft beyond its wider-angle settings. For now it's a case of so close yet so far.
Pros: Flawless Android integration, bundled 50GB Dropbox account, great for multimedia playback and Android tasks, large touchscreen display
Cons: It's big, compression artefacts on images, mid-high ISO settings no good for critical work, softness at long end of zoom, no 3G/4G option, not enough new features to justify upgrade, lacks physical dials
Full article: Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 review
Olympus Stylus 1 review
Quick review: The Stylus 1 is a pricey bit of kit. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Because it's an enabling camera. Plenty of zoom, a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture and fast autofocus saw us snapping some lovely shots. Its feature set makes it that little bit different; it's Olympus doing high-end compact in its own way. Although not quite perfect, it's a distinctive proposition that has plenty of merit.
Pros: Long zoom with f/2.8 constant maximum aperture, excellent built-in viewfinder, dual function lens ring, fast autofocus, top-spec design
Cons: Bulky, expensive, no focus peaking for manual focus, would like wider-angle lens, image quality not great at higher ISO settings
Full article: Olympus Stylus 1 review
Elgato EyeTV Netstream 4Sat review
Quick review: The idea is simple: feed the EyeTV Netstream 4Sat between one and four satellite inputs and it bundles them up into a package that allows you to stream channels to as many as four devices in your home. Watch satellite on your smartphone, tablet, telly around the home. It's a pro-looking piece of kit and its results are equally pro.
Pros: Great idea, performs brilliantly, apps for mobiles are beautifully designed, has the potential to change how we get TV signals
Cons: SD-only streaming to Android is a letdown, streaming to more than four devices should be possible
Full article: Elgato EyeTV Netstream 4Sat review
Asus Xonar Essence STU review
Quick review: For computer users who want a much-improved quality of sound, including support for higher bitrates that give better than CD-quality sound, the Asus Xonar Essence STU offers its services as a sound card for laptop or desktop. The Asus is a good route to getting fantastic quality audio, but there are some issues with interference.
Pros: Superb sound, compact design, easy to use, reasonable number of inputs, an ideal solution for laptops or desktop computers with awful built-in audio
Cons: External interference can affect the sound quality, quite expensive
Full article: Asus Xonar STU review