A week in reviews: 14 - 18 July
From electric hybrid cars to 4K action cameras, and the latest wearable tech, it's been a busy week at Pocket-lint HQ. Two major products hit the shelves this week: the Nokia Lumia 930 will be among the last handsets to receive the Nokia badge; while the Nikon D810, that we've been testing out at The Open Championship at Hoylake, could well be Nikon's best DSLR to date.
After our Viennese adventure with the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron last week, we bring the verdict on whether this £30k hybrid is the best choice of a varied bunch.
The latest LG G Watch also takes its turn on the smartwatch podium, the first device to showcase Android Wear. Is the software and hardware up to scratch? We delve deep into both over separate reviews.
Elsewhere there's the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom phone-meets-camera which we gave a whirl at Wimbledon, and Panasonic's HX-A500 action camera is put through its paces while zorbing, running and swimming. Whew.
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron review
Quick review: The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron is the first hybrid car the company has put onto its production line, combining an electronic motor with established 1.4L TFSI petrol hybrid to deliver that Audi Sportback experience but with a greener edge. It's got all the grunt of a proper Audi with the emissions savings of an electric. But the price is high - something that will make it difficult for the first generation model to penetrate the wider market. But it'll happen in the future and it's great to see the first steps happening in the here and now.
Pros: Zero emissions city driving no problems, London Congestion Charge exempt, so quiet in electric mode, smooth and comfortable ride, decent tech (and lots of extra options available)
Cons: UK charging infrastructure limitations, auto mode should be default selection, price premium significant for this hybrid option, drive like a Brit and fuel consumption savings are limited
Price: from £30,000 (TBC)
Full article: Audi A3 e-tron review
LG G Watch review
Quick review: Android Wear has arrived: the LG G Watch being the first device with the new Google operating system on board. But is this the smartwatch experience we've been waiting for? Not quite. It feels like the first step, and as much as we love the simple interaction with Android Wear, it's too dependant on voice for our needs. We're still waiting for something to really leap out to define it as that much better than the competition because, as it is right now, it feels as though we've already been here before with other platforms. The reflective screen and limited battery life are also issues that hold it back from betterment. But watch this space because within the coming months we anticipate software improvements that will elevate the G Watch's current standing.
Pros: Most affordable entry point to Android Wear, slick and fast, comfortable to wear, open to personal strap choices
Cons: Outdoor visibility is poor, battery life isn't long enough, design perhaps a little too generic, voice-centric operation
Full article: LG G Watch review
Android Wear review
Quick review: Leading on from the LG G Watch is the operating system behind it all: Android Wear. It's the new platform for smartwatches designed to put the power of Google's Android onto your wrist. It keeps you always connected by delivering tailored alerts from your smartphone, but also acts as a point of input for interaction with your apps. It's designed to be simple, and is operated through a number of touch gestures, and a heavy reliance on voice control. But despite all its positives it feels like a first step, albeit an exciting one. Right now Android Wear doesn't offer enough to stand head and shoulders above the competition from Pebble, Samsung and others, but with the support of developers we can see it going a long way - dependent on devices, of course.
Pros: Very much the Google experience, developers already bringing more excitement
Cons: Feels a bit like beta software, not truly stand-out features just yet, heavy reliance on voice input
Price: £free / varies by hardware
Full article: Android Wear wearable review
Samsung Galaxy K Zoom review
Quick review: The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom feels like an echo of the earlier Galaxy S4 Zoom, albeit with some welcome improvements such as snappy autofocus and a better screen. However our sentiments remain much the same as before: as a smartphone there's a limited audience for this product in our view. On the flip side, treated as a dedicated camera alternative and there are enough positives. As the "Galaxy Camera Mini" we might take a different stance, but the K Zoom is trying to be both camera and phone - and it fails to quite deliver the full potential of either.
Pros: 4G connectivity for fast and direct sharing, Android is a great operating system, full phone with all the apps you’ll need, more slender than S4 Zoom, image quality about on par with equivalent compact
Cons: Camera components still make it feel horrible as a phone, mere 8GB internal storage, zoom button placement feels off, some image processing and lens sharpness issues, no aperture/shutter priority modes
Full article: Samsung K Zoom review
Panasonic HX-A500 review
Quick review: Panasonic's approach to the action cam market is a two-piece design that's capable of 4K capture. Although the ultra-high definition capture is a lure, it's the 1080p50 capture where the camera really excels. As a personal camera it's an excellent device, but it lacks the versatility that a more conventional design offers and its asking price is high. If you want first-person action only then the HX-A500 delivers plenty, but if you want diversity then you'll be better sticking to the already established, and physically smaller, GoPro design.
Pros: Good quality video, good quality audio, comfortable to wear, easy to control, 4K/25p capture, water resistant without extra casing
Cons: Two-piece design might present limitations, battery isn't changeable, high cost compared to rivals
Full article: Panasonic HX-A500 action camera review