Saturday, Dec 27, 2014Saturday, Dec 27, 2014

Reviews

 
With so many phone makers releasing large-screen devices these days, it can be easy to forget that Samsung was the one that started the phablet craze. It did so, not only by increasing display dimensions, but also by adding features, such as a stylus and dual-display modes, to enhance the overall user experience.
You will be hard-pressed to tell that the Casio Edifice EQB-500 is a smartwatch.
The Cogito Pop is the Swatch of smartwatches. It comes in a variety of vibrant and cool hues - pink, white, grey, blue, black and black with purple. Its round face, plastic build and chunky bezel also echo the fun factor of the Swatch.
Although it has a round face, the LG G Watch R departs from the design norm of using most of the watch face as an analogue display and leaving the rest for smart functions.
With a circular watch face and classic analogue display, the Martian Notifier looks like a conventional watch.
The Pebble Steel is the premium version of the original Pebble smartwatch, famed for its crowdfunding origins which saw US$10 million (S$12.9 million) being raised.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear S is the most feature-packed smartwatch in this round-up.
With so many phone makers releasing large-screen devices these days, it can be easy to forget that Samsung was the one that started the phablet craze. It did so, not only by increasing display dimensions, but also by adding features, such as a stylus and dual-display modes, to enhance the overall user experience.
Like the majority of tech consumers, I wondered what the once-great BlackBerry was up to with the Passport. The company's latest device is a square-shaped one that follows the dimensions of a passport, has a full touchscreen that also shares space with a Qwerty keyboard, and runs on its own BlackBerry operating system but allows the use of Android apps.
One year ago, long-time Android handset maker HTC came up with the HTC One, a beautiful device with an aluminium back that was a standout against a sea of plastic handsets.
A Samsung smartphone launch tends to be more exciting than launches of other brands.
The Asus ROG GR8 console PC was conceived as a "Steam Machine" - a gaming computer which runs Valve's SteamOS platform.
The Asus ROG GR8 console PC was conceived as a "Steam Machine" - a gaming computer which runs Valve's SteamOS platform.
The Linksys E8350, part of the latest "Wave 2" generation of Wi-Fi routers, is among the fastest wireless routers available. It is the second router after the Asus RT-AC87U to provide 2,400Mbps in wireless-transmission capacity.
At first glance, the new iMac looks like many of its predecessors.
Local gaming notebook start-up Aftershock PC recently released its own line of desktop systems. But do not discount its gaming laptops yet. Its top-of-the-line Aftershock Titan will still give those desktop PCs a run for their money.
The Asus Zenbook series started out a few years ago as a line of ultrabooks - very portable thin-and-light notebooks.
The newest piece of hardware in the Aftershock XG15 is Nvidia's GeForce GTX 860M chip. Launched last month, the chip is based on a new Maxwell graphics architecture touted to provide more performance while consuming less power.
T his is the second high-end business laptop I have tried this year. Like the Lenovo X1 Carbon, the HP EliteBook Folio has more in common with ultrabooks than typical business laptops. That is to say, at times, its form takes precedence over substance.
It looks and acts like a flash drive. But it might be more accurate to call the SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive a wireless card reader.
Regular keyboards use plastic membranes with dome-shaped rubber switches under the keys to determine when a user pushes a key.
Red on the outside and sporting a black bezel and silver palm rest, the HP Pavilion x360 appears, at first glance, to be encased in a protective plastic cover in the way in which mobile devices are so often wrapped.
Unlike its predecessors, which use the 1/1.7-inch or smaller image sensors, the LX100 uses a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds (MFT) image sensor found in Panasonic's interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras.
Unlike its predecessors, which use the 1/1.7-inch or smaller image sensors, the LX100 uses a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds (MFT) image sensor found in Panasonic's interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras.
It has been two years since Canon released the PowerShot G1X prosumer compact camera to counter the rise of mirrorless cameras.
If you cannot afford Sony's flagship α7 or α7R, the new Sony α6000 might just be the perfect mirrorless camera for you. It sits just behind these two top-range cameras.
Nikon's D3300 is the successor to the entry-level DSLR D3200, so it is natural to compare the two.
The entry-level a5000 is Sony's smallest and lightest interchangeable lens mirrorless camera.
Nikon's latest 1-series mirrorless camera arrives in the form of the J4.
This is the smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera in the world, Samsung says. The NX mini mirrorless camera is only 22.5mm thick and weighs 158g (without battery and memory card).
It seems as if Nikon is following Apple's iPhone naming methods. Its flagship DSLR, Nikon D4, has been updated and given the name D4S.
Samsung's NX30 is the latest camera in the Korean company's NX mirrorless series. Unlike its cousin, the rangefinder-like NX300, the NX30 sports a traditional DSLR form factor.
Fujifilm's FinePix X100 was a game-changer, with its large image sensor, fast prime lens, hybrid viewfinder and rangefinder-style retro look. It likely ignited the "retro" trend in the camera industry three years ago and the third-generation X100T is finally here.
An Android tablet with a large 13-inch display is unusual enough. But Lenovo goes even further by building a projector into its new Yoga slate.
An Android tablet with a large 13-inch display is unusual enough. But Lenovo goes even further by building a projector into its new Yoga slate.
Tablet users with an artistic bent will appreciate the stylus that comes with this 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet.
Compact is an apt name for Sony's latest tablet as it is essentially a smaller 8-inch version of the 10-inch Xperia Z2 Tablet. Both devices are cut from the same cloth, following the design language used by Sony for its recent Xperia mobile devices.
Small tablets all look roughly the same. They have rounded corners so as not to cut into your palms and a narrow bezel that makes the screen more prominent. Even the headphone jack, volume rocker and power button are often placed in standard locations, regardless of the manufacturer.
This is a safe and mundane tablet. Rounded corners, a black bezel and a dark soft-touch back do little to make it stand out from the competition, nor does the token 2-megapixel rear camera which you probably will not want to use.
I feel depressed when I look at my Apple iPad 3, which is only 18 months old.
The Asus Fonepad is a tablet which can handle phone calls. This is not unique for an Android tablet, but this one, with an 8-inch screen, is the largest Fonepad yet.
Just how do you make the best tablet in the world better? Apple’s iPad Air was Editor’s Choice and Readers’ Choice for Best Tablet in the 9-inch plus category, in the last Digital Life Awards. So, for an encore, Apple just had to improve on the Air. And it has. So it is thinner. And faster. And lighter
The iPad mini 3 got scant mention during last week’s event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino. And it is not difficult to know why. It is a minor upgrade over the iPad mini with Retina display, now renamed iPad mini 2. The only improvements are the addition of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and the extra colour option of gold.
With its rounded corners, narrow bezel and a lightweight body, the MeMO Pad 8's design is practically identical to the previous iteration, but thinner.
Some men relish running a sharp blade against the contours of their face, while others prefer taking the electric route.
Some men relish running a sharp blade against the contours of their face, while others prefer taking the electric route.
Nespresso is clearly the dominant capsule-coffee brand in the market, not because it has one of the largest library of flavours available, but because competitors, such as Keurig and Starbucks, do not sell their consumer machines here.
This is the cheapest of the cameras in this shoot-out, and accordingly, the most basic.
Do not let its diminutive appearance fool you. Despite weighing less than 130g, the D-Link DCS2136L packs a powerful punch with its video-image quality and variety of functions.
Though it cannot pan or tilt, its other advantages more than make up for these deficiencies.
This camera looks solid and professional, with a dome shell protecting it. It is simple to install, with the option of simply scanning a unique QR code to set up the camera by itself.
One of the more affordable cameras here, the Sineoji PT335V Megapixel Wireless Pan & Tilt IP Camera is small and rounded, with an inoffensive all-white design.
To make soya-bean milk at home, you first have to soak the raw beans for eight hours. A small price to pay, for a homemade product free - or so you hope - of additives and chemicals.
The first time I heard about remote-controlled lights, I scoffed at the very idea.
Some like their noodles with bite, the quality that Italians refer to as "al dente". But good luck trying to buy such noodles in the market.
The Wahoo Fitness Rflkt is the world's first iPhone-powered bike computer, according to its maker. It is for cyclists who need to keep their iPhones safe, inside a waterproof bag for instance, but still want their biking statistics displayed in real time.
I reviewed the TomTom Runner GPS watch a few months ago and found it to be a capable lightweight running watch, albeit an expensive one. Now, TomTom has released the new Runner + MultiSport Cardio watch.
Vibram, the company behind the Fivefingers "barefoot" shoes, has just settled a US$3.75 million (S$4.69 million) lawsuit that alleged the company made false and unsubstantiated claims that its running shoes strengthen foot muscles, improve posture and yield other health benefits.
The Wahoo Fitness Rflkt is the world's first iPhone-powered bike computer, according to its maker. It is for cyclists who need to keep their iPhones safe, inside a waterproof bag for instance, but still want their biking statistics displayed in real time.
If you baulk at paying $200 or more for a fitness tracker, here is one that does practically everything the others do, but which costs just $125.
Unlike some run-of-the-mill fitness devices that merely track steps taken, the Phyode W/Me wristband uses a proprietary Life Spectrum Analyzer to measure your mental state.
If I were still a photojournalist and had to walk a fair distance, I would have no problem hitting the targets this fitness tracker sets.
Not all shoes are equal. You buy a pair of running flats to run on tracks and a pair of trail running shoes to run on, well, trails.
Nike's LunarGlide 6 shoes are designed for runners with flat feet or those who need extra stability.
The good folk at Garmin must have gathered around a table one day and decided to design a GPS running watch to rule them all. That is how the Garmin Fenix 2 was born.
Regular globetrotters may find it a hassle to adjust their watches each time they cross time zones.
The Sony MDR-1ADAC and Focal Spirit Classic are likely to be on the shortlist of those searching for headphones in the $500 range. But they could not be more different - both in looks and sonics.
The Sony MDR-1ADAC and Focal Spirit Classic are likely to be on the shortlist of those searching for headphones in the $500 range. But they could not be more different - both in looks and sonics.
Audiophile brand Bang & Olufsen is known for its product design. The Beoplay H6 does not disappoint and is a good bet to turn heads with its natural leather finish and polished metal earcups.
From far, the Samsung Level Over headphones look like a clone of the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H6, with both sharing similar colour schemes and a two-tone motif.
The Sennheiser Urbanite XL headphones have a dressy and urban look about them.
French hi-fi brand Focal may be one of the newer headphones makers, but it has garnered accolades with offerings like the Spirit One and Spirit Professional.
I like the XBA-A2 so much that I revisited nearly every track of my music collection with it during the review - just to hear what sonic thrills I have been missing all this while.
The BeoPlay H3 earphones pack premium touches everywhere, but you will have to look closely to spot them.
Designed for the fitness crowd, these wireless earphones can repel sweat and withstand shock. The Jabra Sport Pulse can even monitor your heart rate.
The PowerBeats2 is Beats' first wireless in-ear model.
Klipsch calls this pair "reference" earphones, but I beg to differ.
The Linksys E8350, part of the latest "Wave 2" generation of Wi-Fi routers, is among the fastest wireless routers available. It is the second router after the Asus RT-AC87U to provide 2,400Mbps in wireless-transmission capacity.
The Linksys E8350, part of the latest "Wave 2" generation of Wi-Fi routers, is among the fastest wireless routers available. It is the second router after the Asus RT-AC87U to provide 2,400Mbps in wireless-transmission capacity.
Though not yet as prominent as GrabTaxi, Easy Taxi is known for providing the cheapest rides on the market so far.
MoobiTaxi was launched last year by Maven Lab, a website and mobile development company that was awarded $10 million by the Infocomm Development Authority's (IDA) Digital Concierge initiative.
The United States transport network company, started in 2009, made waves when it began to compete head-on with taxi companies by connecting passengers directly with drivers for hire.
Currently the most prominent third-party taxi app on the market - thanks to a fresh injection of capital from Temasek-backed Vertex Venture Holdings earlier this month - GrabTaxi prides itself for providing good payouts to drivers.
Apps that allow money to be moved using your smartphone are the latest offerings meant to make mobile banking more convenient for users.
Losing your smartphone not only hits your wallet, it also puts your privacy and personal information at risk. To mitigate this, there are apps you can use to locate your lost or stolen phone or other valuables.
Pebble, the poster boy of smartwatches, is back. In steel.
When Samsung launched its Galaxy Gear smartwatch last year, many people still did not know what to expect of wearable tech, but thought that this smartwatch was not what they wanted.
Parallels Access is an Apple iPad-only app which lets you control a Mac or Windows machine remotely using your iPad. Now, version two is here.