The Register Columnists

Alun Taylor

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed
Sony Xperia Z1

Getting it right on the second attempt: Sony Xperia Z1

Review The Xperia Z has had a surprisingly short stint as the top dog of Sony’s smartphone range and has now been unceremoniously ousted by the Xperia Z1. Sony Xperia Z1 Sony’s Xperia Z1: getting it right, second time around? But the new Z1 isn’t just a cosmetic warm-over. It has a more powerful processor, a much improved screen, a …
Alun Taylor, 18 Nov 2013
LG G2

LG’s G2: The phondleslab that wants you to TOUCH ITS BEHIND

Review For all the variation in screen size and the occasional BlackBerry with a keyboard, the design of modern smartphones is remarkably similar: an oblong lump with some sort of button arrangement below the screen and the power and volume controls scattered around the edge. LG G2 LG’s G2: not large in the hand But no longer. With …
Alun Taylor, 14 Nov 2013
BMW i3

ULTIMATE ELECTRIC driving machine? Yes, it’s the BMW i3 e-car

First Drive People can sometimes behave like sheep. They will go somewhere, do something or buy a certain product simply because other people are doing so or because they recognise the brand. Call it consumer herd mentality. It’s one reason why the Toyota Prius sells so well in the States. BMW i3 Brands Hatch bound: the BMW i3 Here in …
Alun Taylor, 12 Nov 2013
Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Once, twice, three times - a Very Large Phone™

Review Laying Dell’s Streak to one side, you can blame Samsung for starting this whole VLP™ business with its 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, which sold in more-than-decent numbers, as much to the surprise of its maker as anyone else, I suspect. Its successor, the Galaxy Note 2, upped the stakes by featuring a 5.5-inch screen and promptly sold …
Alun Taylor, 16 Oct 2013
Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Sony Xperia Z Ultra: The quad-core 2.2GHz MEGA SCREEN PHONDLESLAB

Review Two years after Samsung opened the Very Large Phone (VLP™) Pandora’s Box with the original Galaxy Note, Sony has thrown its hat into the ring with the Xperia Z Ultra: a device boasting a 6.4-inch screen and a 2.2GHz quad-core processor. Now I have a pretty wild imagination, especially after a few pints and an injudicious late- …
Alun Taylor, 03 Oct 2013
Audi S3

A £30,000, 295bhp 4G MODEM?!? Must be the Audi S3 Quattro, then

Review Network-connected cars are nothing to get overly excited about these days and, to be honest, neither are fast hatchbacks. But the chance to a drive an unusually hot hatch with 4G connectivity was more than enough to stir El Reg’s auto desk out of its customary torpor. That’s how I found myself behind the wheel of Audi’s new S3 …
Alun Taylor, 02 Oct 2013
Sony Xperia Tablet Z

Can't fit slab AND mobe in your tight pockets? 10 tablets with built-in 3G/4G

Product Round-up If you want a tablet that is always connected to the internet, there are several options to consider. One that involves no extra hardware expense is simply to use your smartphone as a wireless hotspot, routing connections over 3 or 4G - if your chosen mobile network lets you. Another option, which has the advantage of not …
Alun Taylor, 23 Sep 2013
Google Nexus 7 2013

Google Nexus 7 2013: Fondledroids, THE 7-inch slab has arrived

Review When Google launched the Asus-built Nexus 7 Android tablet back in August 2012, it dropped a big mean city-raised alleycat among the budget tablet pigeons. Starting at only £160 for the 8GB version, the Nexus 7 offered performance, style and build quality (kind of) at a price that previously had only bought you shoddy no-name …
Alun Taylor, 09 Sep 2013
Peugeot 208 GTi

Peugeot 208 GTi: The original hot hatch makes a comeback

Review Back in the day, Peugeot made a truly great little motor car called the 205 GTi. I owned one, the 1.9-litre version, and absolutely loved it. For charging down narrow B-roads few things on four wheels were faster or more enjoyable. Along with the Volkswagen Golf GTi the 205 GTi pretty much created a whole new breed of car in the …
Alun Taylor, 09 Sep 2013
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active: The mobe for CHUCK NORRIS TYPES

Review The key advantage Sony’s Xperia Z has over the Samsung Galaxy S4 is its IP57-rated waterproofing. However, Samsung hasn’t got where it is today by sitting still and letting a rival get away with any sort of competitive upper hand, so now we have an S4 that carries an IP67 rating. Enter the S4 Active. Samsung Galaxy S4 Active …
Alun Taylor, 05 Sep 2013
Huawei Ascend Mate

Huawei Ascend Mate: The phondleslab for the skint

Review Whether you think VLPs (Very Large Phones™) are the ultimate evolution of the personal telecommunication device or the bastard offspring of smartphone and tablet, there’s no doubting the little – well, not so little really – buggers are racing out of the woodwork. Most are rather expensive but Huawei’s Ascend Mate, like the …
Alun Taylor, 29 Aug 2013
Huawei Ascend P6

Huawei Ascend P6: Skinny smartphone that's not just bare bones

Review Just who the heck does Huawei think it is? Surely it is the purveyor of budget Android tat and carrier-branded dreck? I’m loathe to use the word "landfill" because some of its newer cheap handsets, like the 4.5-inch Ascend GS510, aren’t actually that bad and I’d certainly take one in preference to an appless, gutless, webcam- …
Alun Taylor, 27 Aug 2013
Shadowgun: DeadZone

Ten top new games for phones ’n’ slabs

Product Round-up Time to once again take a paddle in the duck pond of mobile gaming and burn some time with a selection of the more interesting titles to have rocked up in recent months. All the games were played on Android devices – mostly the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, which is a near perfect size and shape for mobile gaming – but you can find …
Alun Taylor, 24 Aug 2013
Volvo V60

Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid: Eco, economy and diesel power

Review Volvo’s new V60 Plug-in Hybrid is the second vehicle of its type to go on sale in Blighty after the Toyota Prius Plug-in, which we drove and reviewed last year. The Volvo, however, has the potential to be of more interest to prospective e-car owners. Why? It can drive further and faster using just electricity than the Toyota, …
Alun Taylor, 16 Aug 2013
Samsung Mega 6.3

Samsung Mega 6.3: Enter the PHONDLESLAB

Review Some made-up words deserve a place in the popular lexicon. I’m thinking about “friscalating” or “omnishambles”. Others, like the wholly wretched term “phablet”, most certainly do not. So from now on I’ll be calling smartphones with screens between 5 and 7 inches VLPs, or Very Large Phones. Anyone using the word phablet in my …
Alun Taylor, 14 Aug 2013
Cat B15

Caterpillar B15: The Android smartphone for the building site

Review There’s no doubt that smartphones are getting more robust. Both the Sony Xperia Z and the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S4 Active boast IP57-rated resistance to dust and water intrusion which is handy if you take your phone to the beach or the pool and come over all clumsy. Drop either of them out of a third-floor window on a …
Alun Taylor, 11 Jul 2013
smartphones

Seven snazzy smartphones for seven sorts of shoppers

Product Round-up The main drawback of folk thinking you know more than the average person in the street about digital kit is the inevitable stream of requests from friends, relatives and people you’ve slept with to suggest the ideal new phone for them come upgrade time. It’s not that I mind helping but I do tire of the inevitable “...but so-and- …
Alun Taylor, 09 Jul 2013
Sony Xperia Tablet Z

Sony Xperia Tablet Z: Our new top Android ten-incher

Review Not so long ago, Sony declared its aim to be the second most popular tablet vendor after Apple. More recently, that morphed into an ambition to sell the most mobile devices after Apple and Samsung. If both those targets are not to be consigned to the rubbish bin of ill-advised statements, Sony’s phones and tablets need to start …
Alun Taylor, 01 Jul 2013
Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Proof the pen is mightier?

Review Bewildering. That’s the best word to describe Samsung’s small tablet range. Since the second half of 2010, the Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Tab 8.9, Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Tab 7.0 Plus and Tab 7.7 blurred one into the other, much to the confusion of the average customer and me. Thankfully, the Samsung fondleslab now sat on my desk is a Note, …
Alun Taylor, 18 Jun 2013
Asus FonePad

Asus FonePad: You may feel a bit of a spanner

Review Do you really need a smartphone and a tablet? One overly expensive device with a screen and a battery that are both just a bit too small for comfort in this day and age to use for voice calls and cellular data, and a larger, Wi-Fi-connected gadget with a 7- or 8-inch screen for browsing the web, reading ebooks and watching …
Alun Taylor, 12 Jun 2013
Sony Xperia SP

Review: Sony Xperia SP

Sony’s flagship Android smartphones have been a bit of a disappointment to me. But if the Xperia S and Xperia T didn’t quite cut the Colman’s, the cheaper follow-ups, the Xperias P and V, were more convincing. Sony, it seems, is better in the middle than at the top. Now the new Xperia Z - another high-end Sony that didn't really …
Alun Taylor, 21 May 2013
HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook

Review: HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook

If you read my comparison of the Asus C7 and Samsung Series 3 Chromebooks, you may well have come away thinking: "All well and good, but can I have something with a bigger screen for the same sort of money?" Now, thanks to HP, the answer to that question is yes. The latest entry into the Chromebook steeplechase is powered by …
Alun Taylor, 15 May 2013
Samsung Galaxy S4

Review: Samsung Galaxy S4

In purely commercial terms, the Samsung Galaxy S III was always going to be a tough act to follow. After all, it established and then cemented Samsung’s position as the number one smartphone maker by volume - and the only one to give Apple the collywobbles. I suspect that’s why Samsung has played it safe and opted for evolution …
Alun Taylor, 13 May 2013
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch

Ten Windows 8 Ultrabooks

Product Roundup Stop anyone on the street and ask them for a definition of the term ‘Ultrabook’ and I suspect they will look at you with utter incomprehension. Hardly surprising, since Intel’s effort to create a popular brand for thin’n’light notebooks hasn’t really been a roaring success. To me, the Ultrabook is the logical evolution of the …
Alun Taylor, 22 Apr 2013
Asus PadFone 2

Review: Asus PadFone 2 phone-tablet combo

I thought the first Asus PadFone was a jolly good idea the moment I clapped eyes on it. Sadly it never made it to these shores but the PadFone 2 has. In a nutshell, what we have here is an Android smartphone that can be docked into a dumb tablet giving you not only a choice of two screen sizes but also the convenience of one …
Alun Taylor, 18 Apr 2013
HP Envy x2 Windows 8 convertible

Ten Windows tablets

Product Roundup Twelve months ago the idea of compiling a list of Windows tablets that you would actually want to buy would have been as impossible to do as it would have been farcical to suggest. But with the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT all that has changed, and we are now faced with a bewildering array of fondleslabs all running …
Alun Taylor, 16 Apr 2013
Renault Zoe

Review: Renault Zoe electric car

To argue that the electric car has already failed is farcical. To date only one mass-market EV from an established car maker has been launched in the UK: the Nissan Leaf. Even I’m not fully convinced by the Leaf. I think it’s too big, too ugly and too expensive. A revised, cheaper, longer-range Sunderland-built model will …
Alun Taylor, 22 Mar 2013
HTC One

Review: HTC One

A year ago, I finished off my review of HTC’s One X by predicting great things for it and its maker. And then Samsung’s Galaxy S3 merrily outsold it ten to one. Thing is, that wasn’t a case of me being a colossal twit. The One X is the better phone - it’s better made, better looking and better to use. Luckily for HTC, the new …
Alun Taylor, 21 Mar 2013
Sony Xperia Z

Review: Sony Xperia Z

How it must gall Sony to find that along with the likes of HTC, ZTE and LG it is now firmly in the second division of Android phone makers, floundering in the spume and wake of the global sales monster that is Samsung. Sony Xperia Z Xperia Z: a bit of a slab Personally I blame a ludicrously complex model portfolio as much as …
Alun Taylor, 19 Mar 2013
Sony Xperia Tablet Z

Ten ten-inch tablets

Product Round-up Does it make sense to own both a smartphone with a 5-inch screen and a 7-inch tablet? Arguably not. I can’t think of anything that I can do on my Nexus 7 that I couldn’t do equally well on a Samsung Galaxy Note II. Granted, the Nexus 7 makes a perfect partner for my Motorola Razr i, but if I used a Note II as my ‘phone’ I’d want …
Alun Taylor, 12 Mar 2013
Sony Xperia Z

Ten smartphones with tablet ambitions...

Product Round-up How we all laughed when Samsung launched the Galaxy Note toward the end of 2011. Who could possibly want a phone with a 5.3-inch screen? It turned out rather a lot of people did, and the unqualified success of the 4.8-inch Galaxy S III and 5.6-inch Galaxy Note 2 proved that what many punters want is a phone with a really, really …
Alun Taylor, 27 Feb 2013
BlackBerry Z10

Review: Britain's 4G smartphones

Product Round-up It’s been a good few months since the first 4G LTE network fired up in the UK, and wiser men than I have already tossed their orbs about the what and the how of EE’s monopoly 4G network. Time then to consider the 4G handsets now available for use in Blighty, and in the process cast a beady eye on speeds and coverage outside the …
Alun Taylor, 25 Feb 2013
Chromebooks: Acer vs Samsung

Review: The ultimate Chromebook challenge

Too slow, too expensive, too limited. That was the verdict of most hacks and punters on the early Google Chromebook laptops. Google has kept its shoulder to the wheel, though, and recently announced that 2000 schools are now using Chromebooks. Lenovo and HP have both recently jumped on the Chromebook bandwagon too, joining …
Alun Taylor, 19 Feb 2013
Dell XPS 10

Review: Dell XPS 10 Windows RT tablet and dock

Windows RT: unholy fondleslab abomination or clever integration of a grown-up desktop and touch-friendly tablet UI? Opinions veer wildly and violently between one and the other extreme. The newest and first non-Nvidia Tegra 3 receptacle for Microsoft’s alleged problem child is Dell’s Asus Transformer-esque XPS 10. On paper, and …
Alun Taylor, 06 Feb 2013
Inifniti M35h

Review: Infiniti M35h hybrid sports saloon

If you’ve got a little over 40 grand lying about and fancy a four-door hybrid sports saloon then Infiniti - the posh bit of Nissan in a relationship similar to that between Lexus and Toyota - would have you know that the latest M35h is not only the fastest, but also the cheapest car of its type. Tempting words. After all who …
Alun Taylor, 22 Jan 2013
Google Nexus 4

Review: Google Nexus 4

There are two numbers you need to keep in mind as you read this review. Firstly, 239, the remarkably small number of beer tokens Google wants in return for an unlocked, Sim-free 8GB example of the latest Nexus phone. And 2, which is the number of months it has taken me to actually get hold of one for a long-term test. The second …
Alun Taylor, 14 Jan 2013
HTC 8X Windows Phone 8

Review: HTC 8X Windows Phone 8 handset

It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for HTC. Eighteen months ago it was the darling of smartphone manufacturers having reinvented itself from a maker of unbranded handsets for the likes of O2 to an outfit boasting some of the best Android smartphones around. HTC 8X Windows Phone 8 Platform alteration: HTC's 8X Windows Phone 8 …
Alun Taylor, 10 Jan 2013
Vodafone Smart Tab II tablet

Review: Vodafone Smart Tab II 7 budget 3G tablet

Tablets with 3G connectivity continue to command what I think is an unreasonable premium over their Wi-Fi only siblings. Granted, the 3G Google Nexus 7 is only 40 quid more than the equivalent Wi-Fi model but you can’t have 3G at all with the cheaper, 16GB tablet. The 3G iPad Mini, meanwhile, carries a £100 mark-up. Vodafone …
Alun Taylor, 09 Jan 2013
Dell XPS 12

Review: Dell XPS 12 Windows 8 tablet-cum-Ultrabook

Making a laptop with a screen that spins within its bezel isn’t a new idea. Early in 2011, Dell tried the trick with its Inspiron Duo netbook, but sadly that proved to be a woefully poor device. Now Dell is trying again, this with Ultrabook hardware and Windows 8 as the basic ingredients. It helps that, unlike the Duo, the new …
Alun Taylor, 07 Jan 2013
Samsung Galaxy S III Android smartphone

The best smartphones for Christmas

This was the year the smartphone wars really got hot, both on the high street and in the courts. Of course the former was a driving force behind the latter: neither Apple nor Microsoft gave a toss about Android’s alleged patent infringements - real or imaginary, reasonable or ridiculous - until handsets running Google’s mobile …
Alun Taylor, 14 Dec 2012
Photo of Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro

The best tablets for Christmas

Thank God for Microsoft. Without it and its new Surface tablet this article would be nothing more than me running around having an Android versus iOS argument with myself. Thankfully, as with smartphones, the arrival of Windows 8, here in its RT incarnation, has saved mankind from a bipolar tablet OS nightmare. More importantly …
Alun Taylor, 07 Dec 2012
TomTom Navigation for Android

TomTom for Android with hands-free kit review

A TomTom satnav app has been available for iOS since 2009 and its success has not just been due to the software but also to the bespoke iPhone windshield mount. Android users have now been let in on the deal thanks to the launch of an Android app and a generic smartphone version of the screen mount. TomTom Navigation for …
Alun Taylor, 03 Dec 2012
Asus VivoBook S200 11.6in touchscreen Windows 8 notebook

Asus VivoBook S200 11.6in touchscreen notebook review

A few months ago I tried a preview of Windows 8 on my 11.6in HP Pavilion and frankly it made about as much sense as a vegetarian bacon sandwich. Why? Because, without a touch screen the Windows 8 Metro Modern UI lacks a crucial ingredient. Armed with only a keyboard and mouse, facing a wall of tiles just gets in the way. Asus …
Alun Taylor, 22 Nov 2012
Acer CloudMobile S500 Android smartphone

Acer CloudMobile S500 Android phone review

When I recently took a quick shufti at the alternatives on offer to anyone harbouring doubts about the iPhone 5 I stuck my neck out and awarded a Recommended badge to a phone I’d only used briefly at a trade show. After using it for a week has my enthusiasm waned? Nope. Acer CloudMobile S500 Android smartphone Bargain blower: …
Alun Taylor, 19 Nov 2012
Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagen Beetle car review

Retro car designs fall into one of two categories. The Good like the Fiat 500 and the Bad like the 1998 VW Beetle and BMW’s huge Mini. The 1998 Beetle was a particularly bad example with underpinnings that represented a nadir of VW engineering and a body that betrayed its lazy California-penned origins. It was an insult to …
Alun Taylor, 09 Nov 2012
Sony Xperia Tablet S

Ten... Apple iPad Mini alternatives

Product Round-up Before you rush out and buy a device that the late Steve Jobs said wouldn’t, couldn’t and shouldn’t exist - well, kind of - you may care to consider some of the alternatives on offer, assuming that is you can’t quite make the nut and afford a full-size iPad. Until Windows RT fondleslabs percolate down to those of us empty of …
Alun Taylor, 06 Nov 2012
Acer Iconia Tab A110

Acer Iconia A110 8GB Android tablet review

Acer’s Iconia A110 7in Android tablet is the first real competition that Google's Nexus 7 has faced. It’s similarly sized, similarly priced and uses the same quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 underpinnings. It also runs the same Jelly Bean version of Android. Acer Iconia A110 8GB Android tablet Lucky seven? Acer's Iconia A110 The main …
Alun Taylor, 05 Nov 2012
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid car

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid car review

Extended electric-only driving range has been a long time coming to hybrid cars but with the arrival of the Vauxhall Ampera and now Toyota’s Prius Plug-in the breed may finally shake off the reputation of vehicles that only exist because Americans don’t like diesels. Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid car The mains attraction: Toyota' …
Alun Taylor, 29 Oct 2012
Renault Clio

Renault Clio IV and R-Link Android console hands-on preview

To say Renault needs the new Clio to be a hit is an understatement. With its non-’leccy UK range now pared back to just Twingo, Clio, Megane and Scenic, Renault needs the new Mk. IV Clio to sell in greater numbers than the MK. III, which if not a bad car was a little vin ordinaire. Even after just 48 hours of charging around the …
Alun Taylor, 25 Oct 2012
LG Vu

LG Vu 5in Android phone-tablet review

Mercedes vs BMW, Boeing vs Airbus, Asda vs Tesco: the world is full of directly competing commercial entities locked in a bitter struggle for market share. In Korea, Samsung and LG go head-to-head in much the same way, so it's no surprise that LG has cooked up a rival to Samsung’s Galaxy Note. LG Vu The LG Vu doesn't seem so …
Alun Taylor, 23 Oct 2012