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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

Chromecast: We get our SWEATY PAWS on Google's tiny telly pipe

Review Google just unveiled its Chromecast wireless streaming media dongle on Wednesday, and it's already being hailed by some media outlets as something close to the Holy Grail of internet TV. So does it live up to the hype? Clearly, much of the fuss stems from Chromecast's price tag. At $35 (UK and international pricing to be …
Neil McAllister, 25 Jul 2013
Devolo dLan 500 AV Wireless Plus

Devolo dLAN 500 AV Wireless Plus: Triple-tech connectivity for the home

Review I currently use a cheap - 10 quid from eBay - Cisco four-port 10/100Mbps switch to feed the various devices in my living room that require a wired Ethernet connection to the network. The switch connects to the router, which happens to be one floor up and at the other end of my flat, by way of a 500Mbps powerline link. I’ve not …
Tony Smith, 24 Jul 2013
Leap Motion Controller

Leap Motion Controller: Hands up for PC air gestures. That's the spirit

Review Can such a small, silver and black gadget deliver all it promises? Talk to the device’s creator, Leap Motion, and it’s clear that plenty is indeed being pledged. The tiny box - at 79 x 30 x 10mm, it’s barely bigger than a disposable lighter - is called the Controller and it will help “break down the barriers between humans and …
Tony Smith, 23 Jul 2013
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix convertible Ultrabook

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix Ultrabook: Your new summer convertible?

Review Make it thin enough with a decent battery life, slap Intel’s latest Core series mobile chippery in there and it seems that just about any design can be described as an Ultrabook these days. Has the marque lost its focus? These days there is a huge range of options from HDD to SSD, slimlime or slab-like - yet all for a price …
Bob Dormon, 19 Jul 2013
Apple MacBook Air 11-inch 2013

Apple MacBook Air 11-inch 2013: Netbook with next-gen tech

Review “Can’t innovate any more, my ass,” said Apple veep Phil Schiller as he unveiled the redesigned Mac Pro at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June. The smooth, black cylindrical design of the Mac Pro and the visual revamp of the forthcoming iOS 7 were clearly intended as a riposte to the critics who had argued that …
Stephen Dean, 17 Jul 2013
Apple MacBook Air 13in 2013

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013: Windows struggles in Boot Camp

Review Part Two For years now, Apple’s MacBook Air has held its own as the ultimate in portability, inspiring the PC market to follow suit with the Ultrabook marque. While not all Ultrabooks attempt to ape the Air’s slimline form factor, they draw from the same line of Intel CPUs and often beat the iconic Apple on cost. Yet Apple has one trick …
Bob Dormon, 15 Jul 2013
Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013: All’s well that Haswell

Review Part One El Reg’s review of the latest 13-inch MacBook Air comes in two parts: here, I take a look at one of the build-to-order configurations offered by Apple, which upgrades the standard 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of 1066MHZ mobile DDR3 RAM, 128GB solid-state drive specification to a 1.7GHz Core i7 machine with 8GB of RAM and …
Tony Smith, 15 Jul 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
Ciseco Pi-Lite

Ciseco Pi-Lite: Make a Raspberry Pi trip light fantastic with 126 LEDs

Review Not so long ago, a hardware hacker called Jimmie Rodgers decided to solder 126 LEDs onto a small circuit board that could be plugged into the Arduino microcontroller kit. He dubbed it the LoL Shield: LoL for "lots of LEDs", and shield because that’s that’s what Arduino add-ons are called. Ciseco Pi-Lite LoL Shield for RPi: …
Tony Smith, 10 Jul 2013

BlackBerry's retro-look QWERTY Q5 mobe: Resentment by design

Review BlackBerry’s second QWERTY-sporting BB10 device is a real puzzler. BlackBerry has packed most of the horsepower of the first BB10 QWERTYphone, the Q10, in a cheaper package. And it performs almost as well, giving a slick experience with no judder or lag. It also offers enterprises that scoop up BlackBerrys by the thousands a …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Jul 2013

Acer Iconia W3: The first 8-inch Windows 8 Pro tablet

Review Microsoft has been hinting at smaller tablets running full Windows 8 for months, and with the arrival of the Iconia W3, an 8.1-inch Windows 8 fondleslab from Acer, we finally have a taste of what those look like. Unfortunately, the result is a mixed bag. Acer Iconia W3 tablet running Windows 8 The tiny Acer Iconia W3, shown …
Neil McAllister, 10 Jul 2013
Fitbit Flex activity monitor

Fitbit Flex wristband: What to wear out when wearing yourself out

Review Judging by how quickly Apple is dashing around the world registering the iWatch trademark, by this time next year I could well have a micro Mac strapped to my wrist. And so might many others, if the craze for wearable devices continues on its current trajectory. You might wonder what all the fuss is about and perhaps a bit of …
Bob Dormon, 3 Jul 2013
Apple Time Capsule 2013

Apple Time Capsule 2013: Next-gen wireless networking, anyone?

Review The new versions of Apple’s AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule Wi-Fi kit went almost unnoticed during Apple’s WWDC keynote speech earlier this month, overshadowed by the anti-skeuomorphic hoo-ha surrounding iOS 7 and the introduction of the first MacBook Air models equipped with Intel’s new Haswell processors. But the AirPort …
Stephen Dean, 2 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, 1 Jul 2013

Nokia Lumia 925: The best Windows Phone yet

Review According to Nokia, the new Lumia 925 is its "third flagship" phone at the moment. It hasn’t retired the other two Lumias (the 920 and the 928) which continue to sail proudly alongside the 925, with all their flags fluttering. However there are times when one must wave a pedantic arm from the back of the class where the naughty …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Jun 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
Belkin Express Dock Thunderbolt adaptor

Review: Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock

Apple WWDC If the word from the Apple WWDC is to be believed, we’re just months away from hooking up all our peripherals using Thunderbolt 2 cables. Funny that, as I thought this was supposed to happen when the original Thunderbolt ports appeared on Macs back in 2011. Even though this Apple-Intel interface love-in can be found on PCs too, …
Bob Dormon, 14 Jun 2013
Acer Iconia A1-810

Acer Iconia A1-810: The Android tab longing for eight-inch Apple action

Review The Iconia A1-810 is, of course, an iPad Mini clone. How else could Acer, after years of offering slates with 16:9 widescreen panels, have suddenly hit on the idea that punters want a 4:3 tablet - “the right aspect ratio”, an Acer exec eagerly told me - without being inspired by Cupertino’s latest? Acer Iconia A1-810 Mini me- …
Tony Smith, 13 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
Beagleboard Beaglebone Black

Review: Beagleboard Beaglebone Black

It's nice to see that the broader community of Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Beagleboard Beaglebone users is a friendly and seemingly mature one. Each of these board computers has its own adherents, but few of them seem to feel the need to engage in the kind of hair-pulling and name-calling that defined the Windows versus Mac spat …
Tony Smith, 11 Jun 2013
Acer Aspire P3 Ultrabook

Review: Acer Aspire P3 Windows 8 slate

Acer's recent tablet bash in London not only showcased its latest A1 Iconia Android fondleslab but also on display was its forthcoming Aspire P3 Windows 8 slate. This model exists in the convertible-cum-tablet twilight zone, as it comes with a keyboard cover as standard. Yet Acer really wants you to forget it's a tablet and …
Bob Dormon, 7 Jun 2013
HP Slate 7 Android tablet speakers and micro USB interface

Review: HP Slate 7 Android tablet

The other day Vulture Central was visited by HP with a Google chap in tow. We were treated to a couple of HP products: the new Slate 7 Android tablet and the company’s latest Chromebook, which we’d already seen as it happens. The smart-looking seven-inch, dual-processor-core tablet appeared to have little to distinguish it from …
Bob Dormon, 4 Jun 2013
Pure Jongo S3 multiroom speaker system

Review: Pure Jongo S3 multiroom speakers

I’ll admit, I didn’t think I was going to have much to say about Pure’s Jongo S3 speakers, the latest addition to its growing wireless audio gear range. It connects to mobile devices, but what else is new? Well, there are a few nice touches to this boombox, the most significant being its integration with the online streaming …
Bob Dormon, 31 May 2013
Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch Ultrabook

Review: Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch Ultrabook

When it comes to handing out Windows 8 laptops to the UK reviewers, Samsung has been surprisingly glacial. Whether this is another Apple emulation strategy to become more elusive or a sign of hesitancy to have the brand tarnished by Windows 8’s underwhelming reception, is unclear. The hardware was paraded at CES 2013 five months …
Bob Dormon, 29 May 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

Review: BlackBerry Q10

One of my four-year-olds pointed to a BlackBerry Bold recently and exclaimed "It's HALF A PHONE!".  She was pointing at the screen. And the other half? The answer, I elicited later, was that it was some kind of letters game. Just think about that for a moment. Every day of your life you've seen adults pawing at a phone, but only …
Crucial M500 SSD internals

Review: Crucial M500 960GB SSD

When Intel entered the personal computer solid-state drive market it was with the stated aim of making SSDs something more than an expensive luxury. It implied it would drive prices down to a point where SSDs would become a viable alternative to the standard rattling old mechanical disk drive. But even the blue-hued chip giant …
Simon Crisp, 8 May 2013
Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 in the shower

Review: Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 WinPro 8 tablet

Vid In the UK, Panasonic is not known as a high-street PC player - but the company’s Tough range of products makes quite an impression in the world of business. Out in the field you’ll spot them in the hands of BT engineers and the like where the manufacturer's rugged laptops, and now tablets, survive the rigours of white-van man …
Bob Dormon, 1 May 2013