A week in reviews: 31 March - 4 April
It's the week when April Fools' jokes happen aplenty. And we witnessed some crackers this week, all condensed into our best picks from around the web.
Giggles brushed aside and we're left with a bevy of tech wonderment in this week's reviews. It's as though an underlying theme of connectivity has infiltrated this week's products: there's the Bluetooth-connected Jawbone Up24 activity tracker; the Wi-Fi smart-sharing Nikon Coolpix P340 camera; Dali's high-end Bluetooth Kubik Free speakers; the portable (but Bluetooth connected, obviously) second-generation Jabra Solemate; and we give the connected TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio its first test too.
We've also been going PC crazy. In addition to playing Ubisoft's charming storybook-esque Child of Light role-playing game we've had Goat Simulator up and running on the latest touchscreen Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook.
To finish off the week we've been keeping an eye on Build 2014 over in San Francisco, where the the Nokia Lumia 930 and Lumia 630 (and 635) have been officially announced along with Windows Phone 8.1.
And this is just the first week of April. Within the next month we anticipate the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 smartphones to dominate these very pages. Stay tuned.
Jawbone Up24 review
Quick review: The Jawbone Up24 activity and sleep monitor is a massive jump forward from the earlier Up device. It's a fraction more expensive, but the Bluetooth wireless data transfer means you can see up-to-date information on a paired smartphone to know where you are at without the inconvenience of needing to sync.
Pros: Stylish, comfortable, newly-added Bluetooth revolutionises Up, app is great, Android app is now as good as iOS app
Cons: Slightly reduced battery life, can have an impact on phone battery too
Full article: Jawbone Up24 review
Nikon Coolpix P340 review
Quick review: Despite it only adding Wi-Fi and a handful of speed and software improvements compared to its 2013 predecessor the Coolpix P340 adds up to a more rounded experience than before. It's a high-end camera building from already solid foundations. Decent image quality, a fair price point and a competitive 24-120mm f/1.8-5.6 equivalent zoom lens with physical control ring ensure the Nikon is well in the high-end compact camera runnings. However its questionable autofocus accuracy, lack of optical stabilisation and relatively slow menu system hold the P340 back.
Pros: Close-up macro mode, raw capture, fair price, versatile lens, faster autofocus and improvements compared to predecessor, password-free Wi-Fi option
Cons: Autofocus accuracy, still slow menus, no quick access menu, rear thumbwheel seems a bit pointless, no touchscreen, Wi-Fi app is simplistic and could be improved
Full article: Nikon P340 review
Jabra Solemate review (second-gen)
Quick review: We rather like the second-generation Jabra Solemate. It's a small, portable Bluetooth speaker with ample battery life and, in addition to its distinctive design, it can pump out clear and loud audio. Don't expect too much bass, though, as the small scale hinders how well it will perform with the low-end frequencies.
Pros: Small scale, quirky design, clear audio, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity, ample battery life, simple USB charging
Cons: Not much bass, still expensive, poor voice call connectivity, Bluetooth 3.0 not 4, sound strongest from one side only
Full article: Jabra Solemate second-gen review
Dali Kubik Free review
Quick review: We know the Dali Kubik Free is an expensive Bluetooth speaker setup, but that doesn't alter the fact that these speakers are very impressive. The key, we think, is the way the firm has built its own amp and used high-quality materials to construct the speakers to absolute perfection. The cost melts away when you listen.
Pros: Sound beautiful, look great, made brilliantly, good range of inputs
Cons: Expensive, supplied remote is ghastly
Price: £650 (standalone) | £950 (pair)
Full article: Dali Kubik Free speakers review
Dell XPS 13 (2014) review
Quick review: If you're after a solid Windows 8.1 system with enough power and style to take on the best of them then we think Dell has crafted an absolute winner in the XPS 13. Yes, there might be a limited number of ports, there are some fan noise and sleep/wake quibbles, but these are largely forgivable. Why? Because just look at it: the XPS 13 is a gorgeous machine with an excellent touch-sensitive Full HD panel. Can't say better than that.
Pros: Looks great, plenty of power, superb Full HD screen, great to type, back-lit keys, slim and light, decent battery life, trim on Bloatware
Cons: Irritating wake/sleep response, just two USB ports, no SD slot, touch-screen will divide opinion, loud fan when active
Price: from £999
Full article: Dell XPS 13 2014 review