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Microsoft Surface 3 Windows 8.1 tablet

Microsoft's Surface 3 is sweet – but I wouldn't tickle my nads with it

Review There’s a commuter who gets off the train where I live who has a tablet down his trousers. Call it the middle-class version of builder’s crack or the male equivalent of the inappropriate G-string, it peeks out over the top of his chinos. Microsoft Surface 3 Windows 8.1 tablet Intel inside: Microsoft's Surface 3 Windows 8.1 …
Gavin Clarke, 18 May 2015
Playground hero

The yummy mummies' likeable wagon: Nissan Qashqai Tekna

Vulture at the Wheel The favoured steed of yummy mummies, Nissan's Qashqai, has become quite a hit. And it’s something that ticks all the boxes – high driving position, looks cool, eco credentials. All this is the kind of thing which would normally lead me to regard the car with caution; something which was all fluff and no substance. Particularly …
Simon Rockman, 17 May 2015

Roku 3: Probably the best streaming player on the market ... for now, at least

Review Ok, so let's get this out the way quickly: this updated Roku 3 is the best streaming player on the market right now. And it will most likely remain the best on the market until the Roku 4 arrives toward the end of the year. And yes, that includes the Apple TV fourth generation that everyone expects to be this 2015's pant-wetting …
Kieren McCarthy, 16 May 2015
Crucial BX100 and MX200 SSDs

Business or pleasure? Crucial MX200 and BX100 1TB SSDs

Review It’s not often you get an SSD manufacturer launching two new families of drives at the same time, but Crucial is back from kicking the sand into the faces of its competitors with its aggressive pricing policy of the MX100 series. This time it's flexing its muscles with the BX100 and MX200 ranges. Crucial BX100 SSD Budget 1TB …
Simon Crisp, 12 May 2015
Samsung Galaxy A5

Gaze upon the desirable Son of Alpha: Samsung Galaxy A5

Review The most important Samsung phone of the last 12 months was the Galaxy S6, right? Nah. It was the Galaxy Alpha. The Alpha heralded a momentous change in Samsung design, from tired and mundane to rather stylish, and in material quality, from cheap plastic to high quality metal. Samsung Galaxy A5 Samsung Galaxy A5 In one leap it …
Alun Taylor, 11 May 2015

Ding-dong, the cloud calling: The Ring Video Doorbell

Review If you have ever missed a FedEx delivery and had to drive over to the depot, if you have had someone break into your house, or if you are often a long way from your front door when someone knocks, then you should really consider the Ring doorbell. For $200, it packs a lot in: an HD camera, a high-quality intercom, a motion …
mondeo_thumb2

Mondeo Man turns into mutant electrical beauty: Ford Mondeo Hybrid

Vulture at the Wheel Considering the number of Toyota hybrids that you see on British roads, it’s surprising that, despite Ford having offered a range of the things to the North American market since 2009, the new Mondeo Hybrid is the first one Uncle Henry has punted on this side of the pond. mondeo_hero_image Ford's new Mondeo Hybrid. A touch of …
Alun Taylor, 9 May 2015
The smallest vehicle in the Mercedes Range

Going up hills past blokes with coke-bottle legs: The Smart E-bike

Vulture in the Saddle Eighteen miles an hour:It’s the difference between loving the Smart E-bike and hating it. This is because the bike is electrically assisted up to 15 mph – the legal limit for assistance in Europe – and beyond that pedalling the very heavy machine becomes exceptionally hard work. Below that speed it’s wonderful. The 200 watt …
Simon Rockman, 8 May 2015
Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

Phablet for the biz fleet with easy typing: Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

Review One of my surprising reviews last year was Nokia’s huge, budget phablet, the Lumia 1320. It's fairly similar to the most recent Lumia 640 XL. Microsoft Lumia 640 XL Microsoft's Lumia 640 XL: available in 3G and 4G versions The previous Lumia 1320 was hard to find in the retail catalogues and even Nokia didn’t seem to care for …
2.0 190ps

Volkswagen Passat GT 2.0-litre TDI SCR 190 PS 6spd DSG

VULTURE AT THE WHEEL The VW Passat 2/0 is a car you buy with your head. All cars are a combination of a head and heart purchase. Some, like an Atom or Elise swing wildly towards the heart. Some like the Skoda Citigo are bought on numbers and practicality. All manufacturers try to inject some aspect of both into their cars. Even if it’s just lowering …
Simon Rockman, 7 May 2015
Macbook 2015. Pic: Apple

Apple MacBook 2015: Twelve inches of slim and shiny fanboi joy

Review As Geddy Lee of Rush once sang – “plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose”. When Apple unveiled the MacBook Air back in 2008 we all scoffed and said that Steve Jobs’ slimline progeny was over-priced and underpowered. “It doesn’t even have an Ethernet port”, came the mocking cry (followed by the entire PC industry doing exactly …
Stephen Dean, 6 May 2015

Range Rover Sport: Like a cathedral on wheels, only with comfier pews

Vulture at the wheel It’s all about the headrests. Forget the 4.4 litre V8, the defining feature of the Range Rover Sport is the driver's headrest. It’s an analogue for the rest of the car: supremely comfortable and cosseting. It’s a bit fraudulent to review the “best four by four by far” without taking it on as much as a dirt road, let alone a …
Simon Rockman, 28 Apr 2015
BlackBerry Leap

BlackBerry Leap: Touching biz users with a budget(ish) device

Review The Leap is the first full-touch device BlackBerry has released in 18 months, and only the third to be released in developed markets. It’s also the cheapest, with the BlackBerry UK store listing it at £199 including VAT. BlackBerry Leap Fleeting gesture: BlackBerry Leap So at first glance, the Leap promises to be a 2015 …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Apr 2015
Apple Watch Sport

The Apple Watch: THROBBING STRAP-ON with a knurled knob

Review No, this isn’t the first Apple Watch review you’ve seen. Cupertino supplied review units to a few selected journalists at the start of April; the rest of us had to order our own. I almost ignored mine arriving because I was looking out for a watch. It came in a box more suitable for a truncheon. Apple Watch Sport No, we're not …
Adam Banks, 27 Apr 2015
cactus_hero_image

Citroën C4 Cactus BlueHDi: A funky urban crossover

Vulture at the Wheel Concept cars are great. I love them. As bold, inventive declarations of intent by car makers they are gorgeous to look at. Of course, the vast majority of concepts are for just that. Looking at. Build the thing and you run the risk of the styling writing cheques the engineering can’t cash. cactus_trafford_road C4 Cactus has the …
Alun Taylor, 26 Apr 2015
Matt paint looks good

Alfa Romeo MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde: Less fun than it should be

Vulture at the wheel Harsh, uncompromising and not as much fun as it should be, this Alfa Romeo MiTo needs a special kind of driver: one for whom the Alfa brand is special but who can’t stretch to a 4C. It certainly looks good. The matt paint has a very special sheen – especially at dusk – and the carbon fibre effect seat backs and dash are the …
Simon Rockman, 19 Apr 2015
Microsoft Lumia 640 Windows Phone

Life after Nokia: Microsoft Lumia 640 budget WinPho blower

Review Is the Nokia Microsoft Lumia 640 an Office subscription with a free phone, or a phone with a free Office subscription? Either way, it's likely to be the biggest mobile device for Microsoft since the days of Zune and Kin – and the company is getting more aggressive with its marketing. Microsoft Lumia 640 Windows Phone Office …
Andrew Orlowski, 14 Apr 2015
Motorola Moto G 4G

Motorola's 5-incher finds the G-spot: Moto G 4G budget Android smartie

Review Back in December 2013, I hailed the first generation Motorola Moto G as the best affordable smartphone on the market. If you want a reasonably compact 4.5-inch device, then, arguably, it still is the best, thanks to a midlife facelift that added a microSD slot and 4G reception. Motorola Moto G 4G Motorola Moto G 4G A larger, …
Alun Taylor, 13 Apr 2015
Kia Soul EV

Kia Soul EV: Nifty Korean 'leccy hatchback has heart and Seoul

Vulture at the Wheel I didn’t have high hopes for the Kia Soul EV. I assumed that it was a bit of a lash up; a regular Soul with the engine and gearbox ripped out and a battery pack and electric motor rudely bolted onto it. Wrong. kia_in_puddle The Kia Soul. Designed in California. Made in Korea, Only 100 coming to UK In many ways it is quite the …
Alun Taylor, 12 Apr 2015
Samsung Galaxy S6

Steely wonder? It's blind to 4G and needs armour: Samsung Galaxy S6

Review I’ve found life is so much easier if one sticks to three simple rules. Never drive a Volvo car, never buy a Samsung phone, and always grind your own coffee. However, I might have to rethink one of those – and it isn’t the coffee. Samsung Galaxy S6 Samsung's Galaxy S6 flagship handset Samsung can’t do anything without a …
yaris_hero_shot

Toyota Yaris Hybrid: Half-pint composite for the urban jungle

Vulture at the Wheel As befits the company most closely associated with the technology, Toyota/Lexus now has a hybrid for you, no matter what size car you're after. From the medium-sized Auris and Prius to the big hybrid saloons and wagons like the NX300h, it has most of the automotive bases covered. With the Yaris Hybrid just subjected to a mid- …
Alun Taylor, 6 Apr 2015
HP Stream x360

HP Stream x360: Flippable and stylish Chromebook killer

Review Like or loathe Chromebooks, the marque offers security and convenience at an affordable price. And for the most part they are lightweight with a touch of style. Up until now Chromebooks had a monopoly on that combination but HP has cooked up some competition with its Stream Cloud range of budget Windows machines. HP Stream x360 …
Alun Taylor, 6 Apr 2015
Big wheels, big performance

Volvo V60 Polestar: Speak softly, carry a big stick, dress like a Smurf

Vulture at the Wheel If it weren’t for the colour it would be something of a Q-car – a pragmatic small estate with lots of toys and a badge that says “I like quality, but I don’t want a German car”. But the colour, best described by Sniffpetrol as “Smurf Blue”, is the giveaway. Volvo call it “Rebel Blue” and my son thinks it's Manga Blue, but I …
Simon Rockman, 5 Apr 2015
Eyefi Mobi Pro wireless SD card

Photo finesse: Eyefi Mobi Pro Wi-Fi SD card

Review When Eyefi launched its first wireless-enabled SD cards nearly 10 years ago, they had the promise to free photographers from the grind of having to repeatedly take the card out of their camera and insert it into their computer to transfer images. Eyefi meant that, for the first time, images captured could be instantly sent to …
Steve Caplin, 4 Apr 2015
Apple MacBook Air 13-inch, early 2015

Apple's 13-incher will STILL cost you a bomb: MacBook Air 2015

Review Well, it looks as though the writing is on the wall for the MacBook Air. It’s still one of the slimmest and lightest laptops around, with impressive 10-12 hour battery life. But that 1440x900 resolution is dead in the water these days – especially at Apple price levels – while the chunky metal bezel around the screen is the tech …
Stephen Dean, 30 Mar 2015
honda crv hero shot

Honda CR-V: SUV-lite that’s also light on the pocket

Vulture at the Wheel This wasn't the car I was expecting. If I’d been paying attention I would have known that the new twin-turbo, 9-speed auto, 4WD 1.6L diesel turbo CR-V isn’t on the UK press fleet yet. What rolled up outside Vulture Central was the decidedly white-bread 2WD i-DTEC single-turbo 1.6L diesel. honda crv 1 Honda's CR-V is a big old …
Alun Taylor, 29 Mar 2015
HTC One M9 Android smartphone

HTC One M9 Android smartphone: Like a M8 with a squinty eye

Review In a world of generic smartphones where even Apple and Samsung seem to be converging on the same design, HTC has designed phones that are pretty distinctive – the HTC One is one of the very few brands you can recognise from across a room. HTC One M9 Android smartphone Standing out from the crowd, HTC's One M9 HTC has also …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Mar 2015
Apple MacBook Pro 13-in WRD early 2015

Force your hand: Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Review Last year’s update to the MacBook Pro was more notable for its £100 price cut than the modest speed bump that accompanied it. However, this year’s model is a more interesting kettle of fish, as it introduces Intel’s latest Broadwell processors to the Mac range, along with Apple’s new Force Touch trackpad doohickey. Apple …
Stephen Dean, 26 Mar 2015
Audi TT

Audi TT: It's NOT a hairdresser-mobile, the dash is too flash

Vulture at the Wheel When flacks from a car maker ring us, it’s usually to say that their new model goes like the wind, uses next to no fuel or redefines what we understand by “handling”, “braking”, “packaging” or value. When I was offered a loan of the new Audi Mk. 3 TT coupé the push was... the dashboard. Audi TT Cabin looks short of gadgets at …
Alun Taylor, 21 Mar 2015
FiveNinjas Slice Media Player

Hackable media box based on the Raspberry Pi compute module: Five Ninjas Slice

Review My original idea was to review the Raspberry Pi Compute Module. But the thing about the Compute Module is that it’s not an end-user product: it was designed for manufacturers looking for an ARM-based platform on which they can build devices they can sell. FiveNinjas Slice Media Player FiveNinjas Slice Media Player Unlike the …
Tony Smith, 16 Mar 2015
Lexus NX300h hybrid SUV

We're not sure what it is, but we like it: Lexus NX300h hybrid SUV

Vulture at the Wheel Oh, for the days when it was obvious what category a car sat in. You see, I don’t rightly know which pigeonhole to try to shove the latest Lexus NX300h into. The closest thing in spirit is probably Nissan’s Juke, another style wagon that is part SUV, part four door coupé. Lexus NX300h hybrid SUV The Lexus NX300h – looks like a …
Alun Taylor, 15 Mar 2015
Buffalo LinkStation 441D 4-bay NAS box

An uncomplicated Buffalo in SOHO: The LinkStation 441D 4-bay NAS box

Review Buffalo’s latest addition to the LinkStation family of consumer NAS boxes is the 4-bay LS441D. It’s available off-the-shelf in a number of capacities starting at 4TB and increasing in 4TB increments to 16TB. The unit I’m looking at here is the bare enclosure – the LS441DE. Out of the box all the units are set to a default RAID 5 …
Simon Crisp, 10 Mar 2015
MIPS Creator CI20 development board

Chewier than a slice of Pi: MIPS Creator CI20 development board

Review Time was when chip-makers’ processor evaluation boards were well beyond the reach of ordinary mortals. That didn't matter, of course: ordinary mortals weren't interested in small, nude motherboards designed to help designers of embedded systems judge a microprocessor's suitability for the application they were working on. MIPS …
Tony Smith, 9 Mar 2015
Ford Focus 1.5 Zetec. Pic: Simon Rockman

Filthy – but sadly frothy – five door fun: Ford Focus 1.5 Zetec

Vulture at the Wheel The original Ford Focus was an incredible car. The latest generation has a lot to live up to. The man behind the Focus was Richard Parry-Jones, who, with incredible attention to detail, produced a reasonably priced car that handled well. He also got the designers, who were bright young things, to wear ageing suits, gloves and …
Simon Rockman, 8 Mar 2015
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: A side swipe at smartphone design

Review Edge. Get used to the word. From here on in, if the scuttlebut is to be believed, several flagship Samsung devices will be available with an Edge variant.  An Edgy version of the Galaxy S6 has already been confirmed.  A what? In simple terms with a bit of extra screen that curves around the right hand edge of the device. …
Alun Taylor, 3 Mar 2015
Mad Catz Mojo Android gaming console

Revival of fortune: Mad Catz Mojo Android gaming micro console

Review Like the Kickstarter poster-child Ouya, Mad Catz’ Mojo was sent before its time into this breathing world, scarce half made up. Or to put it in a less Shakespearean way, it lacked the full Google Play experience and was a bit pricey. Mad Catz has now had a pop at fixing both those failings. The price has dropped from £220 to a …
Alun Taylor, 27 Feb 2015
GrovePi+ Starter Kit

Get yourself connected: GrovePi+ Starter Kit

Review When it comes to hacking hardware, there’s an easy way and there‘s a hard way. The hard way involves connecting peripherals direct to one of the standard buses supported by your Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone or whatever. Buses like I²C, SPI, UART and 1-Wire. You’ll need to take care with your wiring: have you got the right …
Tony Smith, 24 Feb 2015
Megane Renaultsport 275. Pic: Simon Rockman

Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy: Hands-on gizmo-packed motoring

Vulture at the Wheel There used to be a fashion for wearing Nike trainers with smart business suits. It’s a vibe which fits the Renault Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy to a tee. This is a car which will happily do the supermarket run and which won’t shame itself on a track day around Croft. More importantly it won’t shame you, because despite the …
Simon Rockman, 22 Feb 2015
Thecus N4310 4-bay NAS box

Thecus N4310 4-bay: A NAS-ty beast for the budget-conscious

Review When The Reg did a roundup of four bay NAS units a few months back, it was mentioned that it was intended to put the latest Thecus model, the N4310, up against some of its competitors. The company was finalising some firmware tweaks before launch, though, so it wasn’t available in time. But now I’ve got my hands on one to see …
Simon Crisp, 16 Feb 2015
F-Type photography by <a target="_blank" href="http://www.swarbrick.photography/">Guy Swarbrick</a>

Jaguar F-Type: A beautiful British thoroughbred

Vulture at the Wheel The Jaguar F-Type Coupe is beautiful. It looks good in our pictures here but in the aluminium it’s even more wonderful. Before I got the car for review I saw one in traffic and my heart just sang. Designer Ian Callum is a genius and there are no bad angles, but front on and particularly three quarter rear it’s exceptional. There …
Simon Rockman, 14 Feb 2015
Yotaphone 2 dual-display Android smartphone

Russian revolution: YotaPhone 2 double-screen JANUS MOBE

Review The more touchscreen smartphones find homes, the more the world is cluttered with uniform, conformist devices. No matter who designs them or who makes them, they all look pretty much the same. Interesting decorative design can be found in abundance but true innovation is a rare bird. Yotaphone 2 dual-display Android smartphone …
Alun Taylor, 10 Feb 2015
Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock

Port authority: Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock

Review Intel's Thunderbolt interface is the most impressive external I/O you can get on a consumer PC. But as befits a luxury interface, it comes at luxury price. There's a computer in the cable, for a start. All of this means that Thunderbolt's great promise – one cable to carry all your I/O, for easy docking – has been kept out of …