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Misfit Wearables Shine

Heart part more art than state-of-the-art: Shine wearable activity sensor

Review I’m not a fitness fan. I don’t jog and I’m more likely to be seen at the swimming baths picking up my kids after lessons than doing lanes myself. But with the big 5-0 coming close, and working as I do in a trade that has me sitting on my bum all day, I find I have a keener interest in my personal well-being than I did when I was …
Tony Smith, 12 Dec 2013
Dell Inspiron 15-7537

Our Vulture strokes Dell's ROBUST 15 INCHER: Inspiron 15 Core i7

Review The appeal of replacing your desktop is not exactly hard to appreciate. For me, a big screen, decent sized keyboard and a measure of portability, all add up to deliver one thing: convenience. So here I am with Dell’s latest Inspiron 15 7000 series laptop and, curiously enough, it is on my lap, all 2.6kg of it. Dell Inspiron 15- …
Bob Dormon, 6 Dec 2013
WD Black2 Dual Drive

Bigger on the inside: WD’s Tardis-like Black² Dual Drive laptop disk

Review The phone call from Western Digital's people promised me “a completely new category of hard drive”. Naturally I was sceptical. After all, what could possibly be new in the world of rotating magnetic media – and don’t we all just want fast SSDs anyway? In fact, there’s no denying that WD has indeed delivered something new and, …
Leo Waldock, 6 Dec 2013
Quirky.com Spotter

Sensors and sensibility: Quirky’s Spotter multi-purpose monitor module

Review It sounds such a good idea: a compact, battery powered general-purpose sensor pod you can stick pretty much anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi network you have access to, and which will ping you temperature, humidity, sound, light and movement info over the internet to your smartphone. Quirky.com Spotter Quirky’s Spotter: internet- …
Tony Smith, 4 Dec 2013
Synology DS214

Bring Your Own Disks: The Synology DS214 network storage box

Review The Bring-Your-Own-Disks home server market might not be mainstream but it's pretty lively place, with giants like Cisco mixing with obscure Taiwanese box-shifters. And although these quiet, sub-£400 servers make a useful bit of small office kit, the abundance of media awash in family homes and shared digs give them another role …
Motorola Moto G

Best budget Android smartphone there is? Must be the Moto G

Review Regular readers of my phone reviews for El Reg will be well aware that I like cheap devices. On these very pages I have sung the praises of handsets such as Huawei’s Ascend G310 and ZTE’s Skate – aka the Orange Monte Carlo – after being impressed by the quality they offered for the money demanded. Motorola Moto G Moto G: …
Alun Taylor, 2 Dec 2013
Asus Transformer Book T100 separated tablet from keyboard

Asus Transformer Book T100: Xbox One? PS4? Nah, get a cute convertible for Christmas

Review The Asus Transformer Book T100 looks like it’s going to be surefire hit, but not because it runs a quad-core Intel "Bay Trail" Atom processor. And not because it’s a convertible taking on tablet form or becoming and touchscreen notebook in a snap. And not because it runs Windows 8.1 and not one of the original wishy-washy …
Bob Dormon, 29 Nov 2013
Sony PS4

PS-PHWOARRR: We review Sony’s next-gen PlayStation 4

Review Taking the PlayStation 4 out of its box, my first thought was that it’s monolithic: the kind of object that 2001: A Space Odyssey’s hairy, belly scratching apemen would have danced around in worship. Sony PS4 Black monolith: Sony’s PlayStation 4 The console’s perpetual forward slant lends it an overtone of kinetic energy like …
Mike Plant, 27 Nov 2013
Kobo Arc 10HD Android tablet

Kobo Arc 10HD: The bookworm's fondleslab?

Review If you’re in the tablets game, then delivering hi-res models in various form factors seems to have been this year’s preoccupation. Among the myriad hordes pushing out Android fondleslabs are those in the ebook sector – and Canadian e-ink vendor Kobo has done just that, with a screen that's even sharper than the new iPad Air. …
Bob Dormon, 27 Nov 2013
HP Slate 21

HP’s ENORMO-SLAB: The Slate 21 MONSTER tablet

Review Hewlett-Packard’s first attempt at an Android tablet, the Slate 7, was a cheap, wretched and irredeemably awful device. So when I heard that the Palm killer’s follow-up fondleslab was to be a 21-inch affair, my reaction was one of incredulity mixed with foreboding. HP Slate 21 Your new desktop? HP’s Android-based Slate 21 In …
Alun Taylor, 26 Nov 2013
Electric Imp

Little devil: Electric Imp is an Internet of Things Wi-Fi PC-ON-AN-SD-CARD

Review Most products’ origins are prosaic: an inventor or a suit spots a gap in the market and attempts to fill it. Other products, however, have rather more bizarre beginnings. A case in point: Electric Imp came about because co-founder Hugo Fiennes wanted to connect the lights in his new bathroom to the internet. That’s just the kind …
Tony Smith, 25 Nov 2013
Apple iPad Mini 2013

Dear-ly beloved: Apple’s costly iPad Mini with Retina Display

Review Last year’s iPad Mini really was playing second fiddle to the regular iPad. Not merely smaller than its sibling, the Mini had a much lower resolution display. It had a less powerful processor too. It felt like a product Apple was obliged to make rather than one it actually wanted to. Twelve months on, and the Mini’s first update …
Tony Smith, 21 Nov 2013
Apple MacBook Pro 13in late 2013

Reg hack fondles a sexy Pro: An Apple MacBook 13in with Retina display

Review It’s been quite some time since I looked at a new MacBook Pro. However, I spend a lot of my time looking at an old one. I’ve a first generation Unibody model. What a great idea that was. Just unscrew the back for easy access to the RAM and the drive. The battery wasn’t easily swappable, but hey, you could whip the HDD out with a …
Bob Dormon, 19 Nov 2013
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
Ricoh Theta 360 degree camera

Ricoh Theta 360˚ camera: Point and click immersive imaging

Review The Ricoh Theta is yet another excursion of photographic fun intended to deliver an immersive environment, on-line, on the move or on the desktop. It’s been tried before – remember iPIX anyone? That idea – which in the mid-1990s became a hit among high class estate agents – is still going, and still pricey, stitching two fisheye …
Bob Dormon, 13 Nov 2013
Apple iPad Air

AIR TIME! Our expert cosies up with the new top-end iPad

Review The reception that greeted the launch of the iPad Air was rather more muted than the gangbusting opening weekend of the iPhone 5S. Sure, it was slimmer and lighter than its predecessor, and had a faster processor, but that’s the sort of thing you take for granted with any update. Apple iPad Air Apple’s iPad Air: it’s the ( …
Stephen Dean, 12 Nov 2013
Fuze Raspberry Pi kit

RETRO-GASM: The Fuze electronics kit for the Raspberry Pi

Review Back in the day of the board computers of the late 1970s - your Scrumpi, your Nascom 1, your UK-101 et al - it was customary to build a case for it out of wood. If you were a better equipped "constructor" - what we used to call "makers" in those days - you’d build a box out of metal. Folk like Tangerine offered optional cases, …
Tony Smith, 11 Nov 2013
Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch 2013

EYE-GASMIC: Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch with Retina Display

Review It’s true, as Rik Myslewski pointed out recently, that the two new MacBook Pro with Retina Display models aren’t drastically different from their predecessors. However, the eye-gasmic, 2880 x 1800 hi-res screen of the original 15-inch model helped it to win El Reg’s Laptop of the Year for 2012, so you could argue that it ain’t …
Stephen Dean, 6 Nov 2013
Nexus 5

Google's Nexus 5: Best smartphone bang for your buck. There, we said it

Review Google's successor to the Nexus 4 is out and it's the first handset to carry the Android 4.4 operating system, aka KitKat. If you want to get hold of one you'll have to wait however – the Google Play store has sold out for the next few weeks, and even if you did order one at launch it may not be shipped out until November 8. So …
Iain Thomson, 6 Nov 2013

Z30: The classiest BlackBerry mobe ever ... and possibly the last

Review It can't be very helpful for a manufacturer to launch a new phone amid speculation that the device could be its last. With $1bn written off on its little-loved predecessor the Z10, and the future of BlackBerry so uncertain, the new Z30 has been given a very low-key launch. And yet it turns out to be a very attractive phone …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Oct 2013
Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls - the game that thinks it's a Hollywood blockbuster

Review Say hello to Jodie Holmes, a woman whose eventful life from infancy to adulthood forms the entirety of Beyond: Two Souls. Beyond: Two Souls Beyond: Two Souls tracks Jodie Holmes‘ life from paranormally active nipper... Assist Jodie as she sneaks out of her house during her rebellious teenage goth stage. Help her chop …
Mike Plant, 18 Oct 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
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite: 13.3-inch slimline notebook with a secret

Review It seems an odd paradox that the more a company tries to hide something, the more publicity it attracts. Apple certainly uses this notion to good effect, knowing that it can't keep those secrets indefinitely, but also knowing that when it eventually lifts its kimono, what's new in the garden customarily causes a commotion among …
Bob Dormon, 9 Oct 2013

Apple iMac 27-inch 2013: An extra hundred quid for what exactly?

Review The original iMac, launched back in 1998, was a breakthrough product that rescued Apple from being sucked into the sort of death spiral that Blackberry is currently speeding down. But now, in 2013, the latest version of the all-in-one desktop computer appears to barely merit a press release from the Apple mothership. In fact, it …
Stephen Dean, 7 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, 3 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, 2 Oct 2013
Asus N550JV-CM067H quad-core Core i7 notebook

Asus NV550JV 15.6in full HD notebook - the one we didn't have to send back

Review When Asus sent the N550 to Vulture Central, I sent it back: the wrong model had been dispatched. Having seen so many tiresome comments following El Reg laptop reviews along the lines of “when I saw it was only 1366 x 768 I stopped reading”, I wasn’t going to proceed with this spec - and with more than these moans as …
Bob Dormon, 26 Sep 2013

Nokia Lumia 1020: It's an imaging BEAST... and it makes calls too

Review Nokia's marketing department is comparing its new imaging champ, the Lumia 1020 smartphone, to digital SLR cameras. That's just silly. But what the Lumia 1020 can lay claim to is that it takes the best photos of any current modern smartphone – by a clear head and shoulders. And Nokia has packaged it into a modern phone, rather …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Sep 2013

Nokia Lumia 625: Quality budget 4G phone ... but where's UK's budget 4G?

Review Nokia's latest Lumia, a budget 4G smartphone, alights on an odd perch in the marketplace, where it finds itself all alone. 4G voice contracts in the UK are currently a luxury good - with luxury price tags attached. For most Britons, LTE is only practically available at not-so-budget prices from one network, EE, with a 2GB …
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Sep 2013
ZTE Open, the Firefox OS smartphone

ZTE Open: This dirt-cheap smartphone is a swing and a miss

Review Of the various open source Android challengers currently under development, the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox OS was the first to reach the market with actual, commercially available products. The ZTE Open smartphone is one such product. Unfortunately, that's about all it's got going for it. When ZTE started selling the Open via …
Neil McAllister, 13 Sep 2013
Pimoroni Pi Hub

Bin half-baked Raspberry Pi hubs, says Pimoroni: Try our upper-crust kit

Review Raspberry Pi accessory specialist Pimoroni reckons it has the answer to one of the tiny ARM-based computer’s signal limitations: too few USB ports for all the add-ons you might want to hook up to it. Pi users have dealt with only having a pair of USB 2.0 ports - there's only one on the cheapest, the Model A Pi - by connecting a …
Tony Smith, 10 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, 9 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, 9 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, 5 Sep 2013
Tascam CD-A750 compact cassette deck and CD player combo

Decks and plugs and rock and roll: Tascam CD-A750 cassette and CD combo

Anniversary review The recent El Reg feature on the Compact Cassette's 50th birthday had many a reader commenting on some of the format's former glories. Names mentioned among the dewy-eyed included Aiwa (a favourite in UK studios) and the audiophiles’ choice, Nakamichi, with both producing state-of-the-art recorders with three heads and a lot …
Bob Dormon, 4 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
Pimoroni Piglow

Pimoroni PiGlow: Rainbow LED swirls for the Raspberry Pi

Review Pimoroni is without doubt one of the most colourful companies to have come to market in support of the growing community of Raspberry Pi fans. The firm shot to fame last year when it released Pibow, one of the first cases for the Pi. The box, made in Pimoroni’s Sheffield HQ, is a perspex affair formed from layers of laser-sliced …
Tony Smith, 28 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
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
KingSpec Multicore MC1S81M2T 2TB PCI-E SSD

KingSpec's 2TB Multicore PCI-E SSD whopper vs the rest

Review Earlier this year we took a look at SSD caching, an alternative way of getting some SSD performance added to a system without too much strain put on the finances. So how about a gander at the other end of the spectrum – huge capacity and performance and a total disregard for the budget Enter the KingSpec Multicore MC1S81M2T, a …
Simon Crisp, 6 Aug 2013