Review: Asus Transformer Pad

IntroductionAnyone who is familiar with Asus’ products will be familiar with the Transformer concept. The new Asus Transfomer Pad is here to challenge the dominance of the iPad Air, as well as the Sony Xperia Tablet Z and Google Nexus 10.The key to the popularity of the Asus Transformer Pad series has been the keyboard docking station, and that’s present here too – allowing it to double up as a mini-netbook.Microsoft has taken massive strides in this area with the Surface 2 coming with an extra keyboard case, so Asus really needs to up its game if it wants to keep up with the big boys.Taking a look at the new Transformer Pad you’d struggle to see anything different between it and its brethren. At 263 x 180.8 x 8.9mm it is only 0.4mm deeper than the Transformer Pad Infinity.It is 13g lighter, however, weighing in at only 585g. Adding the keyboard dock takes the Transformer Pad to 1155g, although it doesn’t feel significantly heavy when popped into a bag.Asus’ device is significantly larger than the iPad, although the Transformer Pad comes with a 10.1-inch screen, making it 0.4 inches bigger. A 2560 x 1600 WXVGA screen is higher resolution than both the Transformer Pad Infinity and the iPad Air, even dwarfing the Retina Display’s 264ppi at 299ppi.Behind that screen sits a 1.9GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor (the Tegra 3 is in the Infinity) backed up with 2GB of RAM, as well as 32 or 64GB of internal storage. Asus also offers 5GB of cloud storage for life.Asus has also equipped the Transformer Pad with the same impressive battery that has come with all Transformer Pads. The 31Wh power pack in the tablet provides […]

By |January 10th, 2014|News, Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Hands-on review: CES 2014: Canon PowerShot N100

The Canon PowerShot N is a fun camera that is designed to work in harmony with a smartphone. It is designed to be easy to use, but take higher quality images than the average phone. The 12.1-million-pixel PowerShot N100 builds on this, but adds a unique feature, a second lens on the back that allows you take a selfie at the same time as photographing something else.When the rear camera (equivalent focal length 25mm) is in use the scene framed by the lens is displayed as a picture-in-picture on the LCD screen, thus allowing both images to be previewed at the same time.The N100 is a little larger than the N having a slightly more conventional shape and omitting the control ring around the lens. Instead there’s a shutter release button on the top-plate, which has zoom control around it. The main lens has a focal length equivalent to 24-120mm on a 35mm film camera.Casual observers may mistake the rear lens of the N100 for a viewfinder as it is positioned exactly where you would expect a viewfinder to be and has a similar surrounding. However, images may only be composed on the rear touch-sensitive screen.As with the N, the N100 can connect to a smartphone for image transfer and sharing. There’s also the Creative Shot mode that generates a random selection of six images from just one press of the shutter release. The camera automatically produces images with different crops and treatments. It’s fun and mildly addictive.There are relatively few controls on the N100, but the 3-inch 922,000-dot screen is touch-sensitive and responsive. The interface is also easy to use. Oddly, the N100’s screen can be flipped up for easier viewing from above, but […]

By |January 10th, 2014|News, Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Hands-on review: CES 2014: Pebble Steel

The Pebble Smartwatch is something most of you will have at least heard of, if not seen. Its presence on the wrist of a fellow commuter is usually a sign of an early adopter, someone willing to wear a plastic-based watch in order to be one of the first on board with the next generation of smartphone notifications.The problem is that badge of honour is as much curse as it is blessing – certainly most of the people who don’t really care about technology that I’ve met while wearing the Pebble ask questions such as ‘is that a child’s watch?’. A little unfair to the progressive tech, but not a point without a valid basis.So with that in mind, Pebble has brought out the Steel, a watch that removes the plastic and puts metal in its place. It also comes in two ‘grown up’ straps, leather and metal links (the latter in silver or black), meaning depending on the kind of watch face you’ve got on your device, it can pass as a ‘normal’ watch while still giving you reams of useful information from your smartphone.The design is definitely a big step towards enticing a new wave of customers – it looks a lot slicker and straight away has a much more premium feel in the hand. It’s still rather light, which many will find a little disconcerting at first. It almost feels like a dummy watch from the store – but that’s a minimal problem and actually makes it more comfortable to wear.The matte black steel, with its darker design and cool feel, was my favorite version of the three, closely followed by the leather. The buttons have been beefed up too – one […]

By |January 10th, 2014|News, Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Hands-on review: CES 2014: LG 105-inch curved Ultra HD TV

LG and Samsung don’t like to be outdone by one another, so it wasn’t only Samsung that debuted a 105-inch curved Ultra HD 4K TV at CES 2014 this week. LG always have the first official press conference of the show on the Monday morning and so it was quick to claim the “world’s first” 105-inch tag, which it took full of advantage of in the hours before Samsung made its announcement. So what are these 4K curved displays actually like? And do we really need curved TVs? The first thing is that this screen – model number 105UB9 – is massive and as such is somewhat impractical. There will be those buying 105-inch TVs of course, but LG knows it is a tiny percentage of even early adopters – not least because . As it turns out, it has made a 65-inch version, too, which you can see here: The advantage of curved is in the viewing angle, though we remain to be totally convinced. One thing is clear though, the viewing angles are as wide as you like – the picture is extremely clear from virtually any perspective. The middle screen here is the 105-inch, the two flanking it are 65-inchers. The 21:9 CinemaScope screen enables you to enjoy movies as they were meant to be experienced, while the screen is obviously wide enough for you to display other content on the side of the screen as you watch TV. The TV can also change from a full 21:9 display to a screen divided in to 16:9 and 5:9 ratios, while sound comes courtesy of the 150W, 7.2ch speaker system which we weren’t able to hear properly in our demo unfortunately.It also incorporates […]

By |January 10th, 2014|News, Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Hands-on review: CES 2014: Garmin Vivofit review

Garmin Vivofit is rerouting the incredible short battery life of wearable gadgets by launching an always-on fitness tracker that lasts more than a year on a single charge.We were able to wear the Vivofit fitness band without wearing down the battery at CES 2014 and quickly discovered that its secret is eschewing a backlight on its curved LCD screen and using some low-power efficiency tricks.That’s pretty amazing given the fact that leading fitness trackers, like the Fitbit Force and Nike FuelBand SE, require recharging every seven days if you’re lucky. They also require pushing a tiny button in order to read the time, daily step count, distance and calories. Vivofit displays all of this information without the need to press anything at all. Its single button is just used to cycle through the data. Even better, the Garmin Vivofit specs indicate that the battery is actually two user-replaceable CR1632 coin cells. Going down to the drugstore to buy these new batteries once a year would be an easier routine than constantly having to charge the device.Of course, the obvious downside to having an always-on display with no backlight is that it’s impossible to read the time and fitness metrics in the dark. So while it’s convenient to see the time and steps you’ve taken in a day just by simply looking down at your wrist, that’s only possible in lit environments.Metrics, inactivity barThe waterproof Vivofit calculates steps, goal countdown, distance traveled, calories burned and sleep quality and it displays the time of day. It’s also compatible with Garmin’s heart rate monitor to determine your heart rate and heart rate zone. The company plans on bundling the two for quantified self enthusiasts who want the full […]

By |January 9th, 2014|News, Phone Reviews|2 Comments

Hands-on review: CES 2014: Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1

The 7-inch Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 is a rugged Windows 8.1 Pro tablet that slots into the ever-increasing Toughpad range alongside the FZ-G1 and under the new Toughpad 4K. Announced at CES 2014, it also comes in a Windows 7 version should you decide that you don’t want to migrate to Microsoft’s latest OS. Aside from the ruggedization, the most interesting thing is that it is features a powerful Core i5-level processor, yet is completely fanless – though, as you’ll hear, all this power and protection comes at a cost (a financial one). That’s because it uses a new low power variant of the latest generation (Haswell) Core i5 processors, known as the 1.6GHz Core i5-4302Y vPro. It has a power consumption of just 4.5 Watts, removing the need to reduce heat. Another advantage is that it’s always quiet. Don’t expect super thin design with the FZ-M1 – this is a corporate tablet that’s designed for use on the move and in difficult conditions. However, it’s around the same thickness as many thin and light laptops at 18mm. The weight is cited at 540g – decent considering all the rugged elements incorporated here. Here you can see just how thick it is – this is the top of the device so you can see the volume and rotation lock controls as well as the power button. The Toughpad FZ-M1 comes with 4GB RAM (8GB is optional) and 128 SSD (256GB is optional), while there’s a 2 megapixel front web camera with stereo mic for video conferencing as well as a 5 megapixel rear camera. We were looking at an 8GB model on the CES floor. Another version featuring a Celeron low power processor will be available […]

By |January 9th, 2014|News, Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Hands-on review: CES 2014: Sony Bravia X9 4K TV

While everyone is going curved, Sony has decided to throw a wedge in the mix. The tapered design of the company’s 2014 Bravia X9 4K line serves a distinct purpose, and not one that has to do with visuals. Instead Sony has used the extra real estate that fatter bottoms afford to stick in a better set of speakers. In press pics the result is a Swiss-cheesy wedge look, but in person the triangular sets are sleeker than they’d seem. We checked out the X9B line – comprised of the 55-inch XBR-55X900B, the 65-inch XBR-65X900B and the 79-inch XBR-79X900B – here on the CES show floor. Wedge it inAs Sony reps explained, the new wedge shape of the Bravia X9 line aren’t just for show. The wedge fits larger speaker cabinets, meaning much more oomph. The result is a sound-explosion while also giving the TVs a distinct look. From straight on the wedge shape is hardly noticeable, but once you start to move to the side, wedged-ness appears. It’s by no means obstructive – these are flat 4K screens and the viewing angle is the same as it would be on any such screen. Sony has made the sides from a mirrored material, so you can see slivers of reflections. This appears to give the TV more breathing room as it lacks a hard-lined border. With our eyes glued to the 3840 x 2160 screen, we didn’t find movements caught on the sides distracting. It may be problematic in a well-lit room, however, with the potential for living room lights glinting into the eyes of those sitting to the side. We were told that although a tapered look would lead one to think the TV […]

By |January 9th, 2014|News, Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Hands-on review: CES 2014: Samsung GamePad

Remember the Samsung GamePad? The thing that was announced all the way back in March 2013 but never materialised? Well, it’s back, it’s changed colour and we’ve run our fingers all over the new version.There are many stark differences with this new polished unit from Samsung – namely, the millions (well, three) joystick / d-pads that adorn the front.Two analogue sticks promise easy use for first person shooters, and the d-pad gives reassurance that you’ll be able to pull off those more complex special moves in fighting games.Samsung has gone all out with the new GamePad, with trigger buttons, a selection of input keys, a ‘play’ button to instantly get to the mobile gaming section and a generally better-packaged offering.How the smartphone is about to beat the console at its own gameThe extendable support for the phone is impressive too, with holding the phone in strongly and not giving that heart-stopping wiggle that makes you anxious to rigidly play games over a pile of pillows.It also allows you to connect to a TV, either through MHL or screen mirroring, theoretically making your powerful little phone into a console to rival the likes of the GameStick.However, this is the point where things come unstuck – it quickly became apparent during testing that using any Android 4.3-enabled device with this controller isn’t going to be a pleasant experience.Any game (I favoured Sonic the Hedgehog 4 because I really impressed the Samsung engineer with my skills last year – real highlight) shows a huge degree of lag; not only that, but it appears the amount of latency between controller and screen will change, so you can’t even feel any consistency.This was present in the first iteration of the […]

By |January 9th, 2014|News, Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Hands-on review: CES 2014: LG LifeBand Touch and Heart Rate Headphones

News from CES that LG is making a play for the fitness tracker space is nothing new – it did just the same thing last year.But this time around, things have got smarter and more oddly designed, with the new LifeBand Touch offering functionality beyond just wandering around and seeing a number raise up.That’s obviously a large part of the raison d’être for the LifeBand, but there’s loads more functionality that makes it a more compelling (and sometimes cheaper) option for those looking to have something help explore the data in their life.The design of the LifeBand is definitely something that will take getting used to – it was almost repellent the first time I picked it up. Featuring a not insubstantial break in the ring to allow you to put it on, the design oddity is compounded by the fact the screen element is so much heavier.This meant that not only does it not connect all the way around your wrist, it will wobble about thanks to being top-heavy. This problem was relieved to some extent by moving to a smaller version, but the gap does split a little too easily, being flexible as it is to help you get it onto your arm.The screen, a small OLED affair, is monochrome and touchscreen and is the primary way you interact with the LifeBand, apart from the glowing button to the right.The display is fairly low resolution but is more than visible enough – and having it running this way allows for the band to have a five day battery life, which means you won’t need to pointlessly charge it over and over.Although not available on the stand, the LG LifeBand takes its power from […]

By |January 9th, 2014|News, Phone Reviews|0 Comments

Hands-on review: CES 2014: SteelSeries Sensei Wireless Mouse

SteelSeries, a major purveyor of mechanical keyboards, had a big secret to share with us and it turns out the PC gaming peripheral maker had a new wireless mouse called the Sensei Wireless.The mouse promises to deliver lag-free wireless gaming with a one-millisecond response time from dragging the device to whipping around in FPS games. What’s more the mouse has a maximum sensitivity of 8200 Counts-Per-Inch (SteelSeries’ version of DPI) to recognize every hand flick.We got a quick couple of moment to manhandle SteelSeries new wireless addition based on the older, wired Sensei mouse models to see if it was just as quick as the tailed rodent. Southpaw or notStats aside the ambidextrous mouse feels nice in hand. It’s nowhere nearly as ergonomic as a mouse specifically sculpted for right or left hands, but the top is lined with a soft, rubbery material to keep our palms glued to it.For a gaming mouse, the Sensei Wireless is incredibly light and there aren’t included weight adding options. Similarly the mouse does not have any options to change the its shape, so gamers who want to customize exactly how their hand fits over the mouse down to a thumbrest will want to look towards other options like the Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. 9 or Logitech G9xOn the top of the mouse and along its sides there are eight customizable buttons in the usual set up or right and left click as well as two side buttons on either side. There’s also one additional button in the middle just below the scroll wheel that changes the CPI sensitivity.The mouse also features three sets of lights users can customize between the mouse’s SteelSeries logo, scroll wheel, and CPI switching […]

By |January 9th, 2014|News, Phone Reviews|0 Comments