A week in reviews: 28 July - 1 August
There have been some serious bits of kit in the office this week: from phones to cameras and tablets to next-gen games.
Top of the stack is the Nikon D810. It delivers more spec than many other DSLR cameras ever have, but does this 36-megapixel full-framer stack up to be the best DSLR ever? We review it in full.
There's also the first Amazon smartphone, the Fire Phone. Is this currently US-only smartphone hot stuff or just a vessel to access more Amazon goods and services?
Equally hot is the 8.4-inch version of the Samsung Galaxy Tablet S, delivering what we think is Samsung's best yet tablet experience. It's only taken the company several billion attempts, but finally we're arriving at what really works.
For gaming fans the Remastered PS4 edition of The Last of Us arrives this week and, for those who've not played it before, it's a treat to not be missed. We explain why a re-release makes perfect sense.
Next week it's all about the smart, connected home. We'll be dabbling in automated lawnmowers, robotic vacuum cleaners, toothbrushes that can talk to your smartphone, stalker-like heating systems and much more. It's going to be a lot of fun.
Nikon D810 review
Quick review: Rather than look at the D810 like a small upgrade to the D800, we've been impressed with what this camera can do. It might not be as fast as the D4S, the high resolution won't suit all professionals or fast-moving scenarios, video capture isn't as advanced as it could be (it's still great though) and we're still questioning the choice of single SD and CF slots. But that small list of minor bumps can't trounce the list of impressive points: the 51-point autofocus system is the best out there in our view, image quality even at this super-high resolution is astounding and the solid build, battery life and raft of features are formidable. For us this is Nikon's best DSLR camera.
Pros: Huge images can offer epic quality, sturdy weather-sealed build, excellent autofocus system in single or continuous autofocus
Cons: Where’s the 4K video?, single SD slot (single CF slot), slower shutter speed deficiencies are amplified due to resolution
Price: £2699 (body only)
Full article: Nikon D810 review
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review
Quick review: It's taken time, but the Tab S feels like an accumulation of software and hardware arriving where they should be. For the most part anyway: that 6.6mm slim build is impressive, but we're still left disappointed by the typical Samsung plastic rear, while the amount of bezel in portrait orientation has shrunk to excess. Still, thrown in among its Android tablet peers and the Tab S is a great example of ehat's possible. It's slim yet powerful, has a great screen and a software experience that's at the top of the stack.
Pros: Bright and resolute display, lots of power, plenty of useful software tweaks, slim design
Cons: Oversaturated colours, cheap-looking plastic rear, software can be over the top
Price: £319 (Wi-Fi)
Full article: Samsung Tab S review
Amazon Fire Phone review
Quick review: For now it's only available in the US, but inevitably Amazon's first foray into smartphones will end up in the UK in the future. Should you care? Well, probably not. To us the Fire Phone feels like a vessel by which to buy more Amazon goodies, with a year's Prime subscription included and clever built-in apps like Firefly designed to find pretty much anything and source it on Amazon. There's also a heap of sensors to give the screen 3D-like effects, but we found it all rather dizzying and a bit unnecessary really. There are some firsts to be found here, but the Fire Phone fails to stand out as a good enough smartphone for the price.
Pros: Bright display, easy one-click shopping with Firefly, excellent Mayday customer service, snaps good low-light photos, great keyboard
Cons: Expensive for what you gets, camera sensors clutter the design, difficult navigation and interface, gimmicky Dynamic Perspective
Price: not available in the UK... yet
Full article: Amazon Fire Phone review
The Last of Us: Remastered review
Quick review: The PS4 re-release of one of gaming's greats bundles the original game with the downloadable content and amps the graphics up a notch. Although that sounds like a small boost to an already great game, for those who haven't yet played it the Remastered edition is a great way to step on board. Whichever way we look at it, The Last of Us is a work of art - and a game not to be missed.
Pros: A gorgeous update to what was already one of the best games around, solid acting, all the DLC is included, photo mode and clever use of the DualShock 4 controller
Cons: You might have played it to death before and find little reason to buy, very rare graphical glitches
Full article: The Last of Us PS4 review
Asus X102B review
Quick review: If you are after the latest and greatest Windows 8 laptop then the Asus X102B can't claim to be that. But it does deliver for the budget and, in our view, wins compared to a Chromebook solution. The Asus X102B is a solid small-scale laptop that's affordable and capable for the basics. However our biggest issue with the Asus X102B is what it's not: you might instead want to buy a tablet with a keyboard dock as an alternative, given the better screen viewing angles, smaller scale and general versatility.
Pros: Affordable alternative to Chromebook, touchscreen display, lightweight, small power adapter, responsive keyboard, plenty of ports
Cons: Sluggish performance, screen could be better, front camera and sound is poor, would a tablet and keyboard dock make more sense?
Full article: Asus X102B Windows 8 laptop review