Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display Review & Specs

Go on, get your face right up close – the Retina MacBook Pro’s display has three million more pixels that a 1080p TV. But, is it more than just a pretty picture

With 2880×1800 pixels jammed into a 15in/38cm screen at 220ppi, there’s no laptop screen quite like the Mac Pro’s Retina display: its letter definition is almost as good as a printed page. Right now most apps aren’t optimised and can look smudgy, but that’s set to change. When it does, you’ll never want to go back.

With a quad-core i7 Ivy Bridge processor, a decent graphics cad and SSD storage, the Retina Pro tears through photo and video editing tasks and runs most games at its native resolution with simply gorgeous results. For other desktop apps it’s as quick as almost any PC.

There’s just two USB3.0 ports and no Ethernet. A pair of fast Thunderbolt ports pick up the slack – plug in an Ethernet or Firewire adapter, or an external hard drive for blazing back up. Another USB would have been nice; still, a full-size HDMI port is a rare, and welcome, capitulation from Apple.

Screen and innards aside, this is one gorgeous machine. Its tapered corners and DVD drive-less flanks give it a max height of just 18mm, and at 2kg it’s slighter than its 13in/33cm MacBook Pro cousin. If you need a 15in/38cm workspace, the Retina is the least cumbersome way to get it.

Also Consider…

15in/38.1cm MacBook Pro (2.3GHz)

It’s slightly heavier, slightly slower and it doesn’t have that amazing Retina screen, but then again in it’s also at least cheaper, easier to upgrade and, frankly, the more sensible choice. All of which means we’re never going to recommend it over the far more thrilling Retina version. That said, it’s still much better than most.

MacBook Pro Retina Specs

CPU Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge @ 2.6GHz
RAM 15.4in/39.1cm IPS (2880×1800)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4000 / Nvidia GeForce GT 650M
Storage 512GB SSD (configurable to 768GB)
OS OSX Mountain Lion
Connectivity Thunderbolt (x2), HDMI, USB 3.0 (x2), SDXC, 3.5mm headphone socket, Wi-Fi (802.11n), Bluetooth 4.0

Blogging Hub Says

More than just a fancy screen, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is the best laptop that (lots and lots of) money can buy

Huawei Ascend P1 Review & Specs

Bucking the super-sized smartphone trend, Huawei’s P1 squeezes Android 4.0 ICS and a dual-core brain into a shell that won’t have your pockets bursting at the seams

The Android 4.0 OS has a carousel-style skin with a neat 3D effect, and it comes with the apps you need for serious smartphone. There’s enough power to shift everything around smoothly and the battery lasts until bedtime unless pushed really hard.

You’ll have to fork out for a 32GB microSD card because the Huawei Ascend P1 has just 4GB of storage – a puzzlingly low amount of space that is only good for storing a handful of music tracks, videos and apps. Otherwise the spec is ample, if not up there with the HTC One X or Samsung Galaxy S III.

Huawei Ascend P1’s camera is impressive. Autofocus is quick and usually guesses well, while stills and hi-def video are packed with detail. But footage does get choppy if you shoot on the move or pan about. Still, it works well with its video-editing app.

Aside from the camera lens and a matching bulge at the bottom, Huawei Ascend P1 is incredibly slender, making it easy to live with. The punchy, bright 4.3in/11cm PenTile screen isn’t hi-def, but is bursting with color. The beadiest of eyes will spot some jagged edges on fonts.

Unlock shortcuts Peel away the skin Movie Studio Icon Styles
Depending on the direction of your swipe, the unlock gesture can wake the phone directly into the call, messaging or camera app. It’s neat, but it makes unlocking straight to the home-screen more fiddly than it should be. If you’d prefer to trade the 3D carousel and fancy widgets for a more rapidly responding 2D alternative, just press the Menu button, then select ‘2D home’ to swap Huawei’s skin for the standard Ice Cream Sandwich look. Google’s own video-editing app is included and is well worth using. In a few minutes you can string together a bunch of clips, add a tune from your library and export a cool movie that your Facebook friends will almost certainly ‘like’. Surely this is an option too far: the per-installed app icons come in two switchable styles: ‘Boxy’ and ‘Breezy’. Whether or not our email app icon has airmail fringing isn’t really the sort of thing that keeps us awake at night.

[Vs] SAMSUNG GALAXY NEXUS

A slightly bigger handset, but still very pocket-able, the one-time Android king matches most of the Huawei Ascend P1’s skills and specs, then trumps it with a 4.65in/12cm hi-def screen, greater storage and the ultra-slick riches of Android 4.1. Shop around for nice discounts.

Huawei Ascend P1 Specs

Screen 4.3in/11cm, 960×540 pixels
OS Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Storage 4GB (+32GB microSD)
Camera 8MP w/dual-LED flash (rear), 1.3MP (front)
Video capture 1080p@30fps
Connectivity 3G, microUSB, Wi-Fi, 3.5mm headphone socket, A-GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, compass, accelerometer
Battery 8 hours talk-time, 450 hours standby

Blogging Hub Says

A stylish and powerful Android phone that’s just one step behind the leader of the pack

Top 10 Best Smartphones

Samsung Galaxy S III

The most hyped handset since the iPhone 4S has lived up to the hoopla, toppling not only Apple’s ageing starlet but all of its Android rivals too. The Galaxy S III offer the slickest Android Ice Cream Sandwich experience we’ve seen, thanks to a 1.4Ghz quad-core Exynos processor, which eats 1080p movies for breakfast and can even play them in a pop-up window while you browse the web. Extras such as the microSD slot and larger battery give it the edge over HTC’s One X, and the 4.8in/12cm Super AMOLED screen is sharp and vibrant. We can’t wait to see how Apple responds.
KILLER FEATURE A quad-core engine that never gets flustered


HTC One X

So fine is the line between the One X and the S III that it all comes down to taste. If you’re after build quality, a pin-sharp screen with true color reproduction and bags of camera effects, get the One X. Want battery life and storage? Try S III.


Apple iPhone 4S

The iPhone’s slowing pace of innovation has cost it the No.1 spot, but it’s still the most polished smartphone experience around. Its 3.5in/8.9cm, 325ppi screen is the crispest in smart-world, its 8MP camera takes fine snaps, and iOS remains an app heaven.


Sony Xperia S

The Xperia S is bursting with toys, including a 12MP camera and NFC, while its 4.3in/11cm, 720p screen is one of the best out. It now has two siblings: the 8MP, 4.3in/11cm Xperia P with NFC, and the entry level 5MP, 3.5in/8.9cm Xperia U. Sadly, they don’t share that 720p screen.


Samsung Galaxy S II

The inevitable Galaxy S III is, at time of writing, expected to arrive before summer, although we await official confirmation. It will allegedly pack a quad-core processor and a 1080p screen – but its predecessor remains a formidable force, and great value.


Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S

Sony’s new Xperia S might trump it, but for under $… the Ars S is still well worth considering. It has a dazzling 4.2in/10.7cm screen and an impressive 8MP camera which takes 3D panoramas, though it lacks the processing power of its rivals at No.3 and No.3.


Samsung Galaxy Nexus

The first Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ phone also sports a phone display as good as any – a phenomenal 4.65in/11.8cm, 1280×720 eyeball-pleaser. Its 1.2GHz dual-core power makes it quick, too, but its build quality and camera don’t quite match the best.


Nokia Lumia 800

The Lumia 800 will soon be usurped as Nokia’s flagship WP7 phone, with the Finns confirming that the Lumia 900 will be arriving in 2012. As expected, it won’t have the 4G powers of the US version, but it will support a big, shiny 4.3in/11cm display.


BlackBerry Bold 9790

The newest addition to the Bold family is a pocket-friendly touchscreener. Its 2.4in/6cm display gives a smooth interface for navigating. It has the latest BlackBerry 7 OS, a more powerful 1GHz processor and 5MP camera. Although the screen size isn’t ideal for those who enjoy web browsing it serves purpose email.


Samsung Galaxy Note

The 5.3in/13.5cm Galaxy Note has become our favorite phone-tablet. Its 1280×800 screen is a joy for gaming, while the 8MP camera isn’t far behind the class-leading iPhone 4S. It’s not for the small-handed though.


Blogging Hub Says

With its new camera and iOS 5 skills, the iPhone 4S remains the world’s best all-around smartphone

Instant Expert

With Samsung’s Galaxy S III now top of our charts, you might have been thinking about trading in your old iPhone and going over to the green side. Only to then dismiss the idea when you though about what a palaver it would be to uproot your comfortable iTunes existence and shift your data to Android. But the process just got easier. Samsung is now offering a free app called Easy Phone Sync with its Galaxy phones – this transfer all your data and allows you to continue using iTunes with your new handset. You’ll also need to download some free software from easyphonesync.com. Sadly, apps (natch) and DRM-protected music won’t be transferred. Still, it’s nice to start with a clean slate, eh?

// This free app lets you use your Galaxy phone with iTunes

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

1 Operating system Beyond Apple’s OS, there are three main ways to go: Windows Phone 7, Google Android and BlackBerry. BlackBerry is still best for business, Android has great apps and the improving Windows Phone 7 is ideal for smartphone newbies.

2 Screen Standard resolution is up to 800×480 these days, but few phones in this list would be seen dead with much less than 1280×720. Bigger might seem better for screen size, but the small-handed might want to try before they buy.

3 Apps The iTunes App Store is still streets ahead, Google’s Play Store distant second.

Super Test High End Compact System Cameras

Fujifilm X-Pro1

Fujifilm’s most ambitious camera ever has retro appeal in abundance, but it’s one frustrating step from perfection. Whereas the gorgeous but non-lens-swapping Fujifilm X100 had the silvery look of a 1950s Leica, the lens-enabled X-Pro1 is a little more ’70s in its workmanlike black. But it’s still got the same clever hybrid viewfinder, allowing you to switch between optical and electronic views: in optical mode, frame lines overlay a broad window, showing how your lens will crop and making composition easier. Anyone who’s used a traditional rangefinder will feel quite at home.

The hybrid finder’s clever, but the real smarts lie in the DSLR-sized sensor. It’s utterly astounding and noise-free throughout its wide ISO range – boostable to 25,600 – and quality is almost impossible to fault. Video is fine but there’s no dedicated record button: unsurprising, maybe, for such a stills-oriented snapper.

Other old-school touches include a threaded cable-release socket (remember them?), fax-vulcanite covering, and a range of lenses that’s limited to primes – no zooms here – with Leica-ish square lens hoods.

But sadly, ‘old-school’ extends to the ponderous autofocus, which makes fast photo-taking a chore. At this price, we’d expect better.

The rear screen is sublime, but the hybrid finder steals the show. The digital EVF is the sharpest used, whereas the optical version is great for getting a wider view of the scene. Controls are comprehensive. For starters there’s an exposure compensation dial on the back right of the top plate – not to mention direct access to just about every other setting – except for video recording. By today’s standards the X-Pro1 is big and heavy, but it’s luxurious too. The lenses feel bulletproof – but so far there are just three available: 18mm, 35mm and 60mm macro (27, 53, and 90mm equivalent).

Blogging Hub Says

Amazing in almost every way, but a slow autofocus holds it back from greatness

< Switched on
As on the X100, this lever – styled like the self-timer control on a classic film camera – is used to switch between the optical and digital modes of the viewfinder.
Old-school options >
Another retro touch – aperture is manually set using a ring on the lens, while shutter speed settings are on a top-mounted dial. They can still be set to Auto, though.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Specs

Sensor 16.3MP APS-C
Screen 3in/7.6cm, 1230k dots
EVF Hybrid. Digital: 0.47in, 1440k dots
Flash No
Burst shooting 6fps
Video 1080p@24fps
ISO 200-6400
Kit lens 35mm f/1.4 (53mm equivalent)

Nikon 1V1

It was a shock when Nikon unveiled smaller-than-average sensors for its 1 Series snappers, but there was method to the madness. The 10.1MP sensor on the V1 may be half the size of a Micro Four Thirds sensor, but it can process shots from that smaller CMOS at phenomenal speeds, enabling burst shooting at up to 60fps.

That’s made effective by the clever Smart Phone Selector mode, which takes a hyper-fast burst of 20 shots every time you press the shutter, and then uses algorithms to choose which it thinks are the best five pics and stores them to your memory card. And with smile and blink detection it’s surprisingly good at leaving you with a useable set of photos – even in big groups.

Sadly, image quality isn’t that great, and light sensitivity is limited – not to mention pretty awful above ISO 800. Video is dull, and – unlike stills – maxes out at 30fps.

Nikon has also made some strange decisions. While its cheaper J1 sibling has a built-in flash, the V1 leaves it out as an optional extra. And the simplified controls are more akin to a compact camera, with many settings buried within menus – anyone spending this much is likely to demand more creative control.

The electronic viewfinder is sharp and clear, and a sensor automatically switches on the EVF when you put your eye to it. The 3in/7.6cm main LCD screen is also excellent. If you’ve used a Nikon compact, you’ll know your way around the V1, and it handles well for a small camera. The power switch is irritatingly close to the shutter button, though. Smaller sensors mean smaller lenses, and the compact nature of Nikon’s optics is impressive. The 30-110mm in particular is tiny, considering its zoom range is equivalent to 81-297mm.

Blogging Hub Says

Truly advanced, but the streamlined design hinders – and the quality doesn’t match the price

< Retracting optics
Like that kit lens on Olympus’ PEN series, Nikon’s kit lens is collapsible. When not in use, it retracts to become tiny and locks closed with this button. It’s a great touch.
Minimal modes >
The two odd symbols on the mode dial are for Motion Snapshot (which takes a slow-motion video and sets it to music) and Smart Photo Selector. No fine-control priority modes here.

Nikon 1V1 Specs

Sensor 10.1MP CX
Screen 3in/7.6cm, 921k dots
EVF 0.47in/1.1cm, 1440k dots
Flash No
Burst shooting 60fps
Video 1080p@30fps
ISO 100-3200
Kit lens 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 (27-81mm equivalent)

Olympus OM-DE-M5

Olympus set new standards with its revived PEN range, and it’s done precisely the same with the OM moniker. Choosing to bestow the legendary film SLR name upon its first system cam with an EVF was a brave move for Olympus – but an entirely justified one.

The E-M5 has the looks of an old-school SLR, but you’ll be surprised at how small it is – it should be the size of a house, considering how much photo-trickery is crammed into its weatherproof body.

The new 16MP sensor is superb right through the ISO range (going up to a mighty 25,600), and shows how well Micro Four Thirds can compete with the larger DSLR-size APS-C chips. It’s also ably assisted by a world first – five-axis image stabilization. Forget the science; just know that it offers the best steadying action yet seen. The other bit star of the OM-D show is the autofocus, which is just ludicrously fast, and even works quickly and accurately when tracking moving subjects.

If we had to level any criticism at the E-M5, it would be that we’d prefer a built-in flash – a clip-on unit is included, but it’s all too easy to leave it at home. Maybe the grip could be a little larger. But that’s nitpicking – this is a great camera.

If you’ve got a large hands you might want to invest in the optional vertical power grip, but it’s still surprisingly comfortable thanks to the thumb rest on the back. The control layout is superb and feels instantly familiar. There’s a pair of perfectly placed jog-wheels, a top-mounted mode dial, and customisable function buttons. The range of Micro Four Thirds lenses is a massive boon for the E-M5. And it’s not just the sheer volume, but the variety as well, with everything from super-telephoto to manual-focus glass available.

Blogging Hub Says

Startingly fast and truly compact, this stunning camera is worth building a system around.

< Power zoom
The kit lens has an optional motorised zoom – a slight left or right twist zooms it in or out, like on compact camera. It’s also got a macro function for sharp close-up shots.
Slots of sense >
In true SLR style, the SD slot’s on the side rather than on the bottom, so it doesn’t get in the way of fitting a vertical grip. You can also change cards while tripod’s attached.

Olympus OM-DE-M5 Specs

Sensor 16.1MP MFT
Screen 3in/7.6cm, 610k dots
EVF 0.47in/1.1cm, 1440k dots
Flash Clip-on included
Burst shooting 9fps
Video 1080p@30fps
ISO 200-25,600
Kit lens 12-50mm f/3.5-5.6 (24-100mm equivalent)

Pentax K-01

If you’re already the owner of a Pentax lens or two, this could be the CSC for you. Unlike the toylike Pentax Q, the K-01 features the same lens mount that’s greaced Pentax cameras for decades – meaning that there are literally thousands of K-mount optics out there waiting to be bolted on to its 21st-century body. No adaptors necessary: you’ll already have a lens line-up that just needs dusting off.

Get those lenses lined up and you’ll find that the APS-C sensor is really quite impressive. Stay below ISO 3200 and it’ll reward you with lovely detail and colors – go any higher, and noise problems crop up. Full HD video is much the same.

All well and good. Where Pentax have gone off-script is by getting famed designer Marc Newson to sculpt their new creation from the ground up. Some things are nice – the full grip, the industrial knobs, the pop-up flash, the uncluttered layout – but then there’s the fact that it’s brick like and heavy, despite not having an EVF to bulk it out. All the sockets, including the SD slot, are hidden behind irritating peel-back rubber flaps. And then there’s the fact that it looks like a Tonka toy. It may be the cheapest camera here, but at close to $ there should be a little more going on.

It may be a fatty, but the K-01 is comfortable to hold and even its controls feel solid. It’s as if it’s been designed to survive being chucked around by a two-year-old. Not only is there no viewfinder, but Pentax doesn’t even offer a clip-on EVF as an optional extra. It’s just as well, then, that the LCD screen is pretty good and bright. One of the kit lens options is this astoundingly thin 40mm pancake. Lens choice isn’t a problem for the K-01, though, with hundreds of K-mount optics on the market.

Blogging Hub Says

Interesting design, but impractical and limited. Worth a look if you own Pentax lenses already

< Stop yer flapping
To keep those line minimalist, the sockets are hidden under rubber panels. Trouble is, once you’ve flapped out it’s almost impossible to smooth them back in place.
Are you reddy? >
The red button on the right is, as you might expect, the record control for video. The green one is customisable function button. All looks a bit My First Camera, eh?

Pentax K-01 Specs

Sensor 16.3MP APS-C
Screen 3in/7.6cm, 921k dots
EVF No
Flash Pop-up
Burst shooting 6fps
Video 1080p@30fps
ISO 100-12,800
Kit lens 40mm f/2.8 pancake (61mm equivalent)

Sony NEX-7

Sony seems to have discovered a photo-enthusiast’s wishlist and decided to make their dreams come true. The NEX-7 has a compact body with a hand-filling grip, loads of customisable controls, and EVF, built-in flash, and Sony’s renowned Sweep Panorama mode – topped off with a 24MP APS-C sensor. On paper at least, it’s very impressive.

In the hand it mostly doesn’t disappoint, either. Of all the CSCs on test it’s the comfiest to hold, and the EVF and screen are almost the equal of the Fujifilm X-Pro1.

That huge sensor churns out magnificent images, bested only by the Fujifilm – though the NEX-7’s video is smoother and a little more detailed, and 50fps shooting makes slow-motion video a snip. The built-in flash is a useful addition, and while the autofocus speed won’t worry the Olympus EM-5, it’s no slouch.
There is only fly in the ointment, though – or should that be a speck on the lens? Controls are extensive but they sometimes seem illogical, as do the on-screen indicators – it’s all too easy to nudge exposure compensation when you’re trying to change aperture, for example. The virtual mode dial isn’t as intuitive as it should be, either – the NEX-7 is a great camera, but it takes some getting used to.

The array of controls is a twiddler’s wet dream, but the interface has plenty of quirks. It’ll take a while to become second nature, but you’ll be amply rewarded. The chubby grip gives the NEX-7 an SLR-like feel in the hand. If you like swinging your camera around one-handed, then this is the model for you. Sony’s E-mount lens line-up is OK, but there’s an adaptor available to fit the stellar range of A-mount optics. It’s a shame it adds more to an already pricey package.

Blogging Hub Says

A great all-rounder with a superb sensor. Only minor nuggles keep it from being a winner

< Top of the pop-ups
The pop-up flash is a proof you can pack it all into a camera without turning in into an unwieldy bloater. It’s a good performer, but worth upgrading if you like low-light snaps.
Wired for sound >
Lift the flap on the side to reveal and HDMI output, USB port and a 3.5mm jack that will take a microphone, if your want to record better sound to go with your 1080p video.

Sony NEX-7 Specs

Sensor 24.3MP APS-C
Screen 3in/7.6cm, 922k dots
EVF Yes
Flash Pop-up
Burst shooting 10fps
Video 1080p@50fps
ISO 100-16,000
Kit lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 (27-83mm equivalent)

Google Nexus 7 Review & Specifications

Google’s first tablet is an Asus-built, quad-core 7-incher with the new Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS. With media rather than computery leanings, it’s built to rule the midi-tablet roost – but given its price, is the iPad safe?

It doesn’t have the eye-caressing crispness of Retina, but the Nexus’ 7in/17.7cm IPS, 1280×800 screen is more detailed than that of the Kindle Fire, has great viewing angles and is good for hours of strain-free reading or HD movie-watching. Stills and menus are peculiarly washed-out, though.

Google has overhauled many of its default apps for Jelly Bean, and they’re great. Chrome is a pleasingly desktop-like browsing experience, syncing tabs and history across your devices, and the new YouTube app looks stunning. We’re expecting good things when third-party app devs make full use of the OS and hardware.

It might only be a 0.1 increment over Android 4.0, but the Jelly Bean OS is significantly smoother than Ice Cream Sandwich. The interface is largely the same, but there are fewer bugs, general navigation feels much slicker than before, and there are a host of neat new features.

The Nexus 7 is incredibly snappy in use, with the quad-core processor and Project Butter combining to eradicate lag. You won’t have any problem watching HD video, either, with the 12 GPU cores nailing any slow-down, even when beamed to a TV through Google’s Nexus Q.

With a choice of 8 or 16GB the Nexus 7 isn’t blessed with vast storage, but Google’s Play and Drive cloud services provide decent conciliation. The 8-9 hour battery life should be enough for a medium-haul flight… but there’s no 3G, so be sure to download afore ye go.

The 7in/17.7cm form makes Google’s tablet jacket-pocketable, and build quality is superb, especially given the price. The rubberised back ensures secure one-handed use and there are few cluttery buttons. Even the speaker placement is smart, giving the Nexus 7 a loud, clear sound.


NOW ADD THESE

Trinty Case

Flipboard

SoundMagic

Supporting a built-in tri-fold stand the Trinty case not only protects your Nexus from the harsh realities of friction and gravity, but also provides a customisable stand for the ultimate viewing and screen smudging angles. The inside front cover is also soft and squishy to keep your screen extra safe. This superb do-it all social media app looks great on the bigger screen, and makes reading anything from Facbook to The New York Times a more magazine-y experience. Neatly handles your incessant Twitter influx too. And it’s free! Win. The Nexus 7’s speakers are good by tablet standards, but they can’t compare to a pair of earphones. These SoundMagics are the perfect option – affordable, great with music and movies, and isolating enough for peaceful journeys.


JELLY BEAN’S SWEET HITS

> Smooth as Butter

Project Butter is Google’s attempt to make Android smoother and more responsive on any hardware – and it’s worked. There are even new gestures, including the ability to ‘flick’ items off screen to delete them. The on-screen widgets have also been greatly improved for the bigger tablet display.

> Stalker in your pocket

Android finally has a ‘wow’ feature that iOS can’t (yet) compete with: Google Now. The app uses your location, calender, and everything else Google knows about you to, for example, tell you exactly when you need to leave for a meeting, taking things like traffic into account. Frighteningly clever.

> Playing hardball

Google Play is taking a long time to catch up with iTunes, but the version in Jelly Bean is almost there. The design is lean and well thought out, plus the recent addition of magazines (US-only, for now) means Google now caters for most media. Apple still has the best apps and titles, though.

> Typing fine

Google has gone to great lengths to improve the keyboard in Jelly Bean – prediction is now a lot more accurate and there’s an accurate speech-to-text option. We still prefer third-party ‘board Swift-key with its creepy phrase-learning skills, but Google is definitely


[Vs] Amazon Kindle Fire

Although still not out in SA, this is clearly the Nexus’s key rival – though the Fire is far more limited because of its relative lack of power and its unbreakable bond to the Amazon ecosystem. Fine if you’re a keen Amazoner, but the Nexus 7 is more advanced, flexible and future-proof

Google Nexus 7 Specs

OS Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Screen 7in/17.7cm IPS LCD, 1280×800, 216ppi
CPU Quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 @ 1.3GHz
Storage 8GB or 16GB
RAM 1GB
Camera 1.2MP (front)
Connectivity Wi-Fi (b/g/n), NFC, GPS, Bluetooth, microUSB, 3.5mm headphone
Battery 4325mAh, 8-9 hours

Blogging Hub Says

Too small to slay the iPad, but every other 7inch tablet might as well give up – the Nexus is king


The Mirrorless Canon EOS M

Canon, the king of compacts and prosumers, has turned up fashionable late to the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MIRC) party. This new class of camera promises DSLR quality in a compact’s body, which is like fitting all the computing power of an Apollo moonshot into a tiny cellphone. And we’ve already managed that.

The Canon EOS M is virtually a small, mirrorless version of the new EOS 650D, with the same sensor, a simplified version of the 650D’s touch interface, bringing DSLR results within each of clueless newbies who’ve learned their photography skills on instagram rather than actual cameras.

The other functions are accessed via the 3in/7.6cm multi-touchscreen. Like a smartphone. Serious shooters may shudder but the screen and interface are fast and intuitive enough for all but the “full manual control” diehards. Pinch to zoom, swipe to scroll, touch to focus and shoot.

There’s an 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor in there, capable of shooting up to ISO 25,600 equivalent, with Canon’s DIGIC 5 processing. The same package – and the same image quality – you’ll find in the new 650 DSLR.

Where have all the knobs and dials gone? This looks more like an lxus than and EOS. Canon’s familiar 4-way control dial has been stripped down to offer drive mode, auto-exposure lock, exposure compensation, and a Delete key that’s customisable for shooting mode.

Meet Canon’s new EF-M lens mount. All your current Canon EOS and EF-S lenses will plug in via an adapter, and two new lenses have been launched for the EOS M: an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM zoom, and a 22mm f/2 STM ‘pancake’. More EF-M lenses to follow, apparently.

Blogging Hub Says
Mirrorless, compact, powerful, easy to operate. Welcome to the future, Canon fans.

Canon EOS M Specs

Sensor 18MP CMOS
Max shooting speed (stills) 4.3fps
Sensitivity ISO 100-12,800 (25,600 with boost)
Max video resolution 1080p @ 30fps, stereo sound
Display 3in/7.6cm LCD, 1,040,000dots
Lens mount Canon EF-M
File format RAW, JPEG

Next Generation TV Right Now

Smart TV has arrived in a major way: HD movie streaming, catch-up TV, apps, browsing and social media, all on the biggest, best screen in the house. But Samsung’s awesome ES8000 takes the concept even further…

Powered by broadband internet and video-on-demand, TV has evolved: what was once a passive activity is now fully interactive. Now, Smart TV lets you choose what to watch and when to watch it, free from the confines of a TV schedule. You can take your pick from a planet’s worth of films and TV shows, plus web browsing, social media and more, served up through easy-to-use apps, rather than a handful of channels.

But a next generation TV experience deserves a next generation TV control method, right? Samsung’s designers think so, which is why they’ve coined the phrase ‘Smart Interaction’ and equipped the new ES8000 with voice and motion control, and even face recognition. So rather than digging down the side of sofa for a remote, you can simply say “Hi TV, power on”, along with a host of other easy-to-remember phrases. And browsing menus is as simple as holding your hand up to control an on-screen cursor.

Face recognition, meanwhile, uses a built-in camera to log you into your Smart TV account simply by looking at it. Seriously. How sci-fi is that? Even better, if you link it to your other accounts – including Facebook, Twitter and Google Talk – you can sign in to all of them one go, saving time and effort.
But Smart interaction is just one reason the ES8000 earned a coveted five-star review. Its considerable talents also extend to razor-sharp HD 3D and all the brilliant ‘standard’ Smart TV features that your current TV probably doesn’t have.

Six Smart Reasons To Want An ES8000

Voice and motion control

let you adjust and access key features of the ES8000 and its Smart TV features using nothing more than your digits and dulcet tones.

The built-in camera

offers face-recognition skills and a simple one-step log in to all your accounts – plus you can make HD video calls using Skype.

Smart Hub

is the heart of Smart TV, giving super-fast access to online services, including catch-up TV apps like BBC iPlayer and HD movies streaming from Netflix.

Exclusive Signature Services

include Family Store for sharing pics and messages, a Kids service to entertain and educate young ones, and Fitness to keep you in shape.

Smart Evolution

technology effectively future-proofs the ES8000 by allowing you to install an ‘Evolution Kit’ of newer, more powerful components in years to come.

Explore 3D

brings you free 3D content such as documentaries, music videos and sports footage, while a real-time 2D-to-3D converter transforms regular TV and photos into stunning 3D.

Next Generation Superphones Review

One X

Xperia S

Galaxy S III

Lumia 900

With its sculpted polycarbonate shell and Tegra 3 innards, HTC’s One X is both beauty and beast. Sony’s range-topper is a tech masterclass in NFC, streaming and awesome camera quality. The most eagerly awaited Android phone yet – but is this Samsung worth the hype? Has Windows Phone 7 become an Android-beater? Nokia’s new flagship Lumia is bandking on it.

HTC ONE X

Superpowers


The One X comes with a trident of features worthy of respect. First there’s the whopping 4.7in/12cm screen with its video-friendly 720p resolution. Then there’s the 3D-skilled Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor. And the Ice Cream Sandwich on the cake is just that – the latest version of Google’s Android operating system. As ever, HTC has ‘skinned’ Android with its popular Sense interface, which swaps sliding homescreens for a 3D-styled carousel of live widgets and user-clutterable free space – though that can be a shame, as the phone feels like every other Sense handset and the ICS features get a little lost.

Superfun?

If you’re trading up from a smaller handset, the HTC One X will take a few days to get used to, but you’ll soon see the benefits. Live widgets for news, gossip and weather have room to breathe, saving the hassle of switching apps. HD video looks impressive, although the S III pulls out more detail. That said, we would have expected a slightly slicker response in general, bearing in mind that quad-core CPU – It never feels sluggish, but the HTC isn’t as buttery-smooth as its Nokia and Samsung rivals. It’s 3D games, though, that really benefit from that mighty Tegra brain, and they show off the hardware to great effect. Stills from the 8MP camera are also very good, if not quite up there with the others in this test. The only other criticism concerns storage; you get 32GB onboard, but there’s no microSD slot for expansion – though 25GB free Dropbox storage for two years does take up some of the slack.

Blogging Hub says
An ICS powerhouse wiht phenomenal 3D gaming ability.

HTC ONE X TECH SPECS

OS Android 4.0 + HTC Sense 4
Screen 4.7in/12cm, 1280×720
CPU Quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 @ 1.5GHz
Camera 8MP w/LED flash, 1080p @ 30fps (rear); 1.2MP, 720p (front)
Storage 32 GB + 25GB Dropbox


WHAT’S IN THE BOX
HTC Sense
HTC’s Sense Overly retains the look of the older versions and it includes stacks of exclusive widgets to be plopped on to your homescreens, rendering many apps redundant. There are loads of pre-set themes to choose from too.
Camera app
The stock ICS camera has loads of fun features and it’s frustrating that they’re trampled underfoot by the replacement app. There’s some compensation in the rapid-fire mode and high-dynamic-range options, but the reworked panorama is inferior.
Tegra Zone
This games-specific Play Store alternative collects some of the best titles out there – and they’ve all been customised to show off the 3D power of the Tegra 3 chip. Plus, as well as offering great gaming, they’ll give you plenty of bragging rights.


SONY XPERIA S

Superpowers


Sony has docked the ‘Ericsson’ tail from its phone branding with the launch of the dual-core Xperia S. When tested it was still running Andriod 2.3, but an update to Ice Cream Sandwich will be out by the time you read this. This Sony is tooled up with all the latest tech, including Near Field Communications (NFC), and most sets are bundled with four NFC tags in the box. Just stick them up around the place – the office, home, your car – and the Xperia S will switch to alternate customised profiles whenever it senses them. What the Sony doesn’t have, though, is ‘wow’ factor – it’s outgunned in build and style by its rivals here.

Superfun?

Sony’s 12MP camera is the best on test, delivering the sharpest and most realistic shots of this quartet. The camera app is quick to fire up and includes sweep panorama and 3D shooting options, while capturing video is easy thanks to fantastic shake reduction – though quality isn’t quite as good as on the Samsung. A useful ‘Play On’ button acts as a shortcut for streaming sound and film to DLNA devices, and the process feels closer to the simplicity of Apple’s AirPlay than the clunkier methods used on most Android phones. Watching video on the Xperia’s 720p display isn’t quite as impressive, though – it looks a bit washed out compared to the others here. Browsing is fine, os long as you don’t mind a little sluggishness in the scrolling – though the ICS update might improve it. The Sony’s time at the top of the Android pile may be over, but the Xperia S is still a phone with plenty to offer.

Blogging Hub says
Outclassed by faster, slimmer models, but goes down figting.

Sony Xperia S Tech Specs

OS Android 2.3 (update due)
Screen 4.3in/11cm, 1280×720
CPU Qualcomm dual-core @ 1.5GHz
Camera 12MP w/LED flash, 1080p @ 30fps (rear); 1.3MP, 720p (front)
Storage 32 GB


WHAT’S IN THE BOX
Friend Stream
On a phone, Twitter and Facebook are best manged via widgets. The ‘Friends’ widget combines them well, allowing you to cross-post updates and keep track of your mates without having to waste precious seconds of your life launching an app.
Video Unlimited
The pre-installed Video Unlimited app will stream and download movies – but it’s not cheap. The Spotify – style Music Unlimited streaming service is better – but we’d still rather use Spotify itself.
Sony MH650 headphones
Sony does a great line in cans, so it makes perfect sense that it’s thrown in this quality set of in-ears for music and hands-free calling. These sound-isolators are excellent with lashings of depth and a well-defined, balanced mid-range and treble alike.


SAMSUNG GALAXY S III

Superpowers


Like a courting peacock in full display, Samsung Galaxy S III wants to bowl you over with its lustrous charms. While its screen is a smidge (0.1in/5mm) bigger than the HTC’s, the phone is thinner and flashier (though which you prefer is a very personal thing). The similarities to the HTC continue with a quad-core brain handling Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Also like HTC, Samsung has modded the default OS with its own skin, in this case Touch Wiz. There’s a similar 3D merry-go-round effect to the homescreens swiping the surface of virtual water and some handy widgets.

Superfun?

In its quest to please, Samsung Galaxy S III pumps up its colors and contrast to hyper-real levels. That makes it easily the best screen for gaming, with crisp detail and rich tones, but the HTC and Nokia both render movies more realistically. The stock browser doesn’t reflow text columns when zoomed in, but otherwise web surfing is swift and faultless. Like HTC, Samsung has erred by replacing the ICS camera app with its own, lesser-featured version – but stills are excellent, way ahead of the HTC and on a par with the Nokia. Its 1080p video recording is the best on test – and a microSD slot means you’ll have plenty of room for your footage. The biggest testament to its power, though, is Pop Up Play, which lets you watch a video in one window while simultaneously gaming or browsing in another. Add in its awesome battery life and the S III is hard to resist.

Blogging Hub says
The Samsung Galaxy S III pips the HTC One X to be crowned the new Android king.

Sony Xperia S Tech Specs

OS Android 4.0 + TouchWiz
Screen 4.8in/12.1cm, 1280×720
CPU Quad-core Exynos @ 1.4GHz
Camera 8MP w/LED flash, 1080p @ 30fps (rear); 1.9MP, 720p (front)
Storage 16/32/64 GB + microSD + 50GB Dropbox


WHAT’S IN THE BOX
S Voice
Samsung has done well to come up with a credible rival to Apple’s Siri voice control. S Voice is able to carry out the same tasks, although voice recognition is a bit sketchy at times. Still, we had success with setting alarms, searching the web, and messaging. Not bad, all in all.
Dropbox storage
There’s a choice of 16, 32 or 64GB of in-phone storage, as well as a microSD slot. Not enough? You’ll also get a mighty 50GB of free cloud storage for two years, courtesy of Dropbox. If you work over several devices it could come in handy.
Social Tag
A clever use of the camera’s face recognition allows you to tag photos taken on your camera by choosing names form your contacts list. Then whenever you view those photos on your phone, their Facebbok status is overlaid on the display.


NOKIA LUMIA 900

Superpowers


Some find Windows Phone 7.5 a little strait-laced, but Android could learn a lesson or two from its sense of order. Appropriately, the Lumia 900 is smart rather than fashy, with a business-like feel and reassuring heft. Beside the HTC and Sammy, it’s single-core specs look pretty ordinary, but the Nokia can instead offer a slick interface and genuinely impressive features including an excellent free music service, sat-nav skills and a mobile version of MS Office. And then there’s the pleasant upside that the lower-specced sillicon and fatter body hold a battery that can go for a couple of days between charges – a truly refreshing change.

Superfun?

This is not a phone for app addicts. But there’s a lot to be said for the focused approach – the Lumia 900 doesn’t do as much as its rivals, but what it does, it does very well. At just 800×480 the screen may be low-ren in this company, but it’s vibrant with deep blacks and video playback in impressive, aside from some aspect ratio issues with the built-in Zune app. The otherwise very smooth web browser is hampered by a lack of Flash support, although YouTube will play ball if you stick to the mobile version of the site. A dedicated shutter button and sensibly-positioned lens give the camera a mature feel, and though its app is basic, the resulting stills are bettered only by the Sony, while video also holds its own. Gamers get a try-before-you-buy system built into Xbox Live, and 16GB of internal space is boosted by 256GB of Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage.

Blogging Hub says
A fine, upstanding alternative to the iPhone and Android masses.

Nokia Lumia 900 Tech Specs

OS Windows Phone 7.5
Screen 4.3in/11cm, 800×480
CPU Singe-core Qualcomm Scorpion @ 1.4GHz
Camera 8MP w/dual LED flash, 720 @ 30fps (rear); 1MP, VGA (front)
Storage 16GB + 256GB SkyDrive


WHAT’S IN THE BOX
Nokia Drive
The Lumia’s sat-nav app has long been one of the best out there and although rivals are catching up, it remains a class act. It’s not as feature-laden as some, but it is clear, easy to operate and only needs a brief data connection when used abroad.
Nokia Music
This app is special thanks to Mix Radio, which streams music to you over Wi-Fi or 3G, for free. You don’t get to search, but there are so many sub-genres that you’re guaranteed to find good tunes. You can even buy the tracks you like in-app for about R13.
Xbox Live
In reality this is the games section of the Windows Phone app store, but it links in with your existing Xbox Live account. It’s far behind the App Store but is a serious challenger to Google’s Play Store in terms of quality, if not quantity, of games.