A week in reviews: 7 - 11 July
It's been a raucous week of cars, phones and more. We've given the BMW i8 hybrid supercar its first drive in Scotland, and have also been checking out the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron over in Vienna - more on the latter next week.
But it's phones that have taken the limelight this week. We've been using the budget yet brilliant OnePlus One - the best phone from a company you've never heard of - alongside the best-in-Windows-Phone category Lumia 930. Has Microsoft delivered the goods now it's taken over the reins from Nokia, or is it still in catch-up mode?
Elsewhere we've been tapping away on the hyper-expensive Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 laptop, seeing whether the Asus MeMo Pad 7 beats the Tesco Hudl in the affordable 7-inch tablet race, and blasting out the beats with the rather exceptional Creative Axx 200 Bluetooth speaker.
OnePlus One review
Quick review: The OnePlus One is an amazing device that offers a specification that would cost more than double the price from other better-known manufacturers. There are a few little issues, such as lack of 4G on most UK networks, but nothing that should stop 99 per cent of people from buying one - if, that is, you can obtain one.
Pros: Good screen, excellent value, loads of power on tap, ample battery life
Cons: No microSD, 4G doesn't work on all UK networks, pain to buy one, size won't suit all
Price: £230 (if you can get one)
Full article: OnePlus One review
Nokia Lumia 930 review
Quick review: The Lumia 930 is as close as we've got to Windows Phone's wow moment. But, in saying that, we're still on the fence about whether it's enough to lure new customers in. We love the 5-inch Full HD screen, the camera is good in decent light, and the solid build quality separates the device from all those plasticky competitors with removable back plates. Now in version 8.1 the Windows Phone experience is also more complete than it's ever been before - making the 930 the best Windows Phone device available today.
Pros: Great screen colour and brightness, decent camera, solid build quality, Windows Phone 8.1 most compelling it's ever been
Cons: Bit on the chunky side, top gaming apps lack, camera exposures can be off, Windows Phone 8.1 still has some catch-up to do
Full article: Lumia 930 review
Asus MeMo Pad 7 review
Quick review: The Asus MeMo Pad 7 is an accomplished and affordable 7-inch Wi-Fi only tablet, even if it fails to truly excite and get the blood pumping. But with the Tesco Hudl its main nemesis, it does a good job of standing up against the supermarket giant: the Asus is the better looking bit of kit.
Pros: Gives Tesco Hudl a run for its money, microSD expansion, multiple colour options
Cons: Reflective screen, resolution and brightness less impressive than competitors
Full article: Asus MeMo Pad 7 (2014) review
Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 review (2014)
Quick review: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon isn't the right laptop for everyone. If you want to look cool in Starbucks, are out to spend as little as possible or want to play games, you're probably in the wrong place (although the X1 Carbon will breeze through any tasks you throw at it). However, there are few laptops this portable that you can spec out so comprehensively. While you wouldn't think it from first glance, this laptop is as portable as a 13-inch MacBook Air, but as equipped as a Pro, while offering connectivity options you can't get with 95 per cent of ultra-portable laptops.
Pros: Practical matte finish screen, supremely well equipped, very portable, tough carbon fibre construction, trackpad and keyboard comfortable for long periods of use, thin and light
Cons: Expensive, keyboard and function key changes will polarise opinion, ThinkPad logo might polarise opinion too, far pricier than a MacBook Air
Price: from £1199
Full article: Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 review
Creative Sound BlasterAxx Axx 200 review
Quick review: Given the price point the Creative Sound BlasterAxx Axx 200 is an exceptional piece of kit. It may appear to be just another Bluetooth speaker but it's oh so much more: for £130 you get a portable speaker, mobile charger, Dictaphone, megaphone and conferencing speaker. Not bad considering all parts of that actually work well and have been honed to perfection by Creative, a company with decades of experience in this area.
Pros: App control, great sound for the size and price, impressive battery life, doubles as a megaphone/Dictaphone/conference speaker, charges phone
Cons: White case might be a bit plastic for some tastes
Full article: Creative Axx 200 review