Reviews

By March 7, 2014 Read More →

Sony Xperia Tablet Z Review

xperia-tablet-zSince their split from Ericsson in 2011 Sony have battled hard to achieve a status they once owned in the mobile arena. 2013 has been a very successful year for Sony after releasing an array of satisfactory phones using a lot of the alphabet for their names they came across their most successful at the end of the alphabet. The letter ‘z’. The Z phone was followed on by the successful Z1.

Sony announced their Xperia tablet Z in January 2013 and released it in May 2013, still currently priced between £349.99 and £379.99 its main competition lies with the iPad air. At the time of this press release it was to be the lightest 10inch tablet around, feeling threatened by a lighter product Apple rushed production for the iPad air. The difference in weight is minimal; the Sony tablet Z weighs 495g the iPad air weighs 469g compared to the heavier and bulkier iPad 4 weighing a massive 652g.

By February 19, 2014 Read More →

Sony Xperia Z Ultra Review

Z UltraYou may have seen the review that I did for the “regular sized” Sony Xperia Z1 a short time ago and if not I suggest you take a few minutes to read that review as most of it is true of the Z Ultra but in a super-sized way.

Sony Xperia Z1 review

If you haven’t seen the unboxing Matt did you might want to check it out as it will give you some idea of the size and scale of the Z Ultra.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra unboxing video

 

By February 16, 2014 Read More →

Motorola Moto G Review

front copyHere we are again with another review of an exciting new device, the Motorola Moto G. This phones has had a lot of press recently and it has even been suggested that this is the bargain of the decade by some. The phone is the Motorola’s second successful smartphone behind their hugely successful Moto X in the USA, soon to be here in the UK too.

So with this much excitement for a product how does it fair in everyday life?

Well to find out the answer then please do read on, make sure to check out the hands on video of this Moto G Beta device from Matt.

 

Product Specifications:

  • 2G Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • CDMA 800 / 1900 – CDMA version
  • 3G Network: HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
  • CDMA2000 1xEV-DO – CDMA version
  • Micro-SIM
  • Dimensions: 129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6 mm
  • Weight: 143 g
  • Display: IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 720 x 1280 pixels, 4.5 inches
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Internal Memory:  8/16 GB
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP, LE
  • MicroUSB v2.0, USB Host
  • Primary Camera: 5 MP, 2592х1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama, 720p@30fps, stereo sound rec.
  • Secondary Camera: 1.3 MP
  • Android OS, v4.3 (Jelly Bean), upgradable to v4.4.2 (KitKat)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
  • Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7
  • Adreno 305
  • Accelerometer, proximity, compass
  • FM radio
  • GPS with A-GPS support and GLONASS
  • Non-removable Li-Ion 2070 mAh battery

 

10 Second Review:

  • Product: Motorola Moto G
  • Price: from as little as £119.99 +top up on pay as you go and from £149.99 Sim free. Contracts begin at £11 also.
  • Summary: This little phone is unbelievable value for money, so much so that I haven’t used my own Nexus 5 during the week that I’ve been using this device! A must buy!
  • Best Of: Display for the price, performance is great, size, upgraded to KitKat on day one!
  • Worst of: Camera could be a little better, non-removable battery is a pain and lack of MicroSD support and also there’s no NFC or 4G.
  • Buy from: www.phones4u.co.uk and www.clove.co.uk and many more…
  • Also Consider: At this price point there’s nothing more to consider but if your budget can stretch then I would say the Nexus 5 or Samsung galaxy s3/4 minis.

 

General:

Atop the Moto G is a little hole which is the second microphone and next to that is the 3.5mm jack.

 top

 

 

The left has nothing but smooth plastic.

Moto G Left

On the right is where you will find the power button and quite a small up/down volume rocker.Moto G Right

 

 

The bottom of the device is where the MicroUSB charging port is placed, this incidentally is the place that you have to try your best to remove the back cover, and it’s very difficult! There’s also the microphone for use during voice calls. The Sim Card slot is beneath the back cover also.

Moto G Bottom 

 

On the back is the 5 megapixel autofocus camera with single LED flash as well as the external loud speaker…note the word loud for later in the review. There is also an indented Motorola logo underneath the flash.

Finally on the front of the phone is the ear speaker at the top with the LED notification light hidden away next to it along with your usual sensors too. Underneath these is the 4.5 inch 720p HD display and as this device uses basically a ‘vanilla’ Android 4.4 there are no physical or capacitive buttons on the device itself as they are in the software as you will see soon.


 

Review:

I will start this review by talking about the slightly surprising sale of Motorola by Google to Lenovo of all companies! When I read the news I was very surprised and my initial thoughts were based around the epic success of both the Moto X and Moto G and whether this success would continue under new ownership, only time will tell on that front I suppose. For now though let’s concentrate on the here and now and talk about the simply brilliant Moto G.

 

Hardware:

As always with my reviews I like to concentrate first on whether the devices are well built and also whether they look desirable from a consumer point of view, and although the device that I had for review was a slightly battered beta model I was very impressed, firstly by the way the phone looked but second to that was the great build quality which if I’m honest wasn’t expected at this price point. Yes it is cheap plastic but what do you expect for as little as £119.99?! I felt that the phone felt very sturdy although why Motorola decided to put in a completely pointless removable back cover is really beyond me, there are two reasons for removing this, the first is to access the Sim card slot and the second is definitely aimed at the younger generation as it allows you to swap out the back cover for different colours and types of flip case. To see what I mean here’s the link to the site where you can buy these cases just for you to see the various colour options: http://www.clove.co.uk/accessories/motorola/moto-g/cases-covers

 

Software:

When I received the Moto G in the post and turned it on for the first time the software installed was Android 4.3 jelly bean but literally an hour after switching it on an awesome notification popped up saying that 4.4 KitKat was now available for download! So I downloaded this immediately and here’s the proof:

Moto G 4.4Moto G Kit-Kat

 

 

As I have used the phone for 99% of the time with 4.4 Kit-Kat I can’t comment on any aesthetic changes to the OS or what is added or removed from it so I will simply speak about my experience using the updated software.

In comparison to my own Google Nexus 5 running 4.4.2 the software for the Moto g is almost identical, in fact the only real difference I found was that the default messaging application wasn’t Hangouts. So the fact that the software is almost unchanged from that on the nexus devices is a real plus for adopters of this device as you are getting a reasonably fast and extremely user friendly phone for a bargain price.

So without further ado I shall now show the interface to simply give those who’ve not seen 4.4 before a glimpse at what to expect.

First of all here is the lock screen which has the lock screen widget feature as well, I spoke about this in depth in my review of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom.

Moto G Lock Screen

Next up we have the home screens, which are set up exactly as you would expect, there are five customizable panels with the ability to add widgets and shortcuts etc…the biggest difference between the Moto G software and the completely vanilla Nexus 5 software is the way in which you add widgets and shortcuts to the screens. On the nexus 5 you simply tap and hold anywhere on an empty home screen and a nice menu featuring shortcuts, widgets, and wallpapers appears, whereas on the Moto you have to open the app drawer and select the widgets icon at the top, then drag and drop to your screens, this is the way you did this in the vanilla android 4.2 as well if I remember correctly. It’s just a tad strange that Motorola wouldn’t add the new feature, especially considering the fact that at the time of release they were still owned by Google. Anyway here are my home screens that I used during testing:

Moto G Home Screen1Moto G Home Screen22014-01-29 02.09.442014-01-29 02.09.582014-01-29 02.10.28

 

We also have the customary app drawers which expand with the more things that you download, the difference you will notice here as I mentioned earlier is the fact that there is a ‘widgets’ button on screen which is very different from that on the Nexus devices:

2014-01-29 02.10.352014-01-29 02.10.42

 

 

 

On the home screens whenever you like you can swipe down from the top to bring down the notification pane which also has some quick settings to choose from with a press of the button at the top right, you can also swipe down from the top of the display with two fingers and the quick menu comes straight up, I use this every day on my own Nexus 5 as it’s great and so simple to use, unlike that on the Samsung Galaxy devices or even the new LG G2 which just look too scrambled and cramped to work well enough. Anyway here is an image of that notification pane for you guys:

2014-01-29 09.59.152014-01-29 09.59.08

 

 

 

Speaking of settings, on the Moto G they are just as easy to use as the nexus devices and there isn’t much of anything new in the 4.4 update compared to the 4.3 that it shipped with but for those of you who haven’t seen what they look like and which settings are available to change etc here’s a screenshot for you:

2014-01-29 09.59.232014-01-29 09.59.532014-01-29 10.00.082014-01-29 10.00.16

 

Browser:

Moving onto the key factors about this device now and first I would like to mention the internet browser performance from Google Chrome.

Since Google integrated Chrome into their operating system the browser has improved to become in my opinion the best browser on the market as it offers great flexibility for users, just the other day I had twenty two pages open at once! Anyway that’s beside the point, the browser is brilliant to use on the Moto G, this is possibly due to a combination of the snappy quad-core processor along with the great 720P 4.5 inch display but I enjoyed using this device for my browsing needs just as much as my Nexus 5 and prefer it to my previous devices such as the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and I think the reason is simply because it feels so great in the hand so it just makes it so simple to browse for long periods of time.

The images below won’t be anything new to most of you guys but I thought I would show them to you anyway as is customary with my reviews:

2014-01-29 10.05.002014-01-29 10.05.222014-01-29 10.05.54

 

 

E-Mail:

I thought in this review that I would talk briefly about the e-mail as you’ve heard most of it before to be honest.

There are again two stock e-mail applications, the G-Mail and normal E-mail apps and both of them perform to about the same standard as on my Nexus 5 which can only be a good thing, images are crisp and text is easy to read with the only bug bear being the fact that e-mails render zoomed in by default and this is the same on my Nexus 5 too so it’s not phone specific.

Here they are for you:

2014-01-29 10.01.452014-01-29 10.02.092014-01-29 10.02.212014-01-29 10.02.492014-01-29 10.02.592014-01-29 10.03.21

 

 

Motorola Applications:

Pre-installed on the Moto G are a few helpful software additions from Motorola that really cannot be ever considered to be ‘bloatware’ there is one application called Moto Assist and this is a superb little application that allows the user to simply switch off the communication side of the device for specific things such as in the middle of a meeting or during sleep.

Here is the app set-up process in action:

2014-01-22 22.52.002014-01-22 22.52.10

 

And here is the rest of the application interface for you, you will notice a very simple to use app that does what it says on the tin, it blocks incoming calls during the hours that you set unless you choose to tick the option for it to accept a call if the same number calls twice or more, all of the app’s features worked seamlessly for me when I tested this out, including the ‘Auto reply’ feature which allows you to set a pre-defined message to send to the person who called last, a little like the call back feature build into Android’s phone app.

 

2014-01-22 22.52.262014-01-22 22.52.342014-01-22 22.52.512014-01-22 22.53.252014-01-22 22.53.442014-01-22 22.54.30

 

The one other thing that Motorola has included in the package deal is a really good help section whereby if the user asks the feature how to use a certain aspect of the phone it will scour the web and find the answers for you, it works great too so for those who have yet to venture into the smartphone market then this device at the amazing price point with this great help section will do the trick very nicely.

Here it is in action:

2014-01-29 10.00.342014-01-29 10.00.52

 

Motorola Keyboard:

I’ve named this section ‘Motorola Keyboard’ because, the Moto G’s keyboard looks at first to be the stock Google keyboard from the Nexus devices and that which you can now download from the Play store, but when I began to use it for the first time I noticed a slight difference from what I am currently used to, so I went ahead and checked the input settings and low and behold the keyboard is lacking the simply fantastic ‘Swype’ function!

This to most people wouldn’t be a problem at all but for me it kind of is, this is because I have become accustomed to using the function on many of my recent phones and find that it is a more efficient way of typing anything from a text to even this review which I am currently typing up on my Nexus 5 for a short time while I am out. There is of course a very simple solution to the lack of Swype support, download SwifKey but admittedly on my high horse I am simply saying that the function should be there in the first place.

Screenshot_2013-12-19-14-04-22.pngScreenshot_2013-12-19-14-04-31.png

 

Camera/Video Camera:

The cameras on most of the high end smartphones or ‘Flagships’ are vastly becoming a real thing of beauty, particularly when you take a glance at the likes of the Nokia Lumia 1020 and its incredibly good 41 megapixel sensor or even the HTC One, One Mini and One Max with their Ultrapixel technology, but today we aren’t talking about a high end devices amazing camera but we are talking about a simple run of the mill 5 megapixel autofocus camera with an LED flash on the Moto G.

How does it perform? Well in short, quite well really, It was never going to be amazing but it certainly isn’t bad by any means, some of the photos i will show you are in my opinion at least pretty good, at least good enough to have as your Facebook background image or something to that effect.

I tested the camera in a variety of locations and situations with different lighting conditions too (this is England after all!) And for a phone that you can pick up for just £119 I would say the images are quite good indeed, but first I would like to show you the pretty cool camera interface, there aren’t many settings to choose from here, which I think is why it does looks so nice but there is a HDR mode, slow motion video mode and also a Panorama mode. Take a look below:

 Screenshot_2013-12-20-23-53-13.png Screenshot_2013-12-20-23-58-55.png Screenshot_2013-12-20-23-59-01.png Screenshot_2013-12-20-23-59-23.png Screenshot_2013-12-21-00-02-03.png Screenshot_2013-12-21-00-01-55.png

 

Now we move onto the actual photographs that I’ve taken with the above camera, unfortunately I wasn’t ever in a position to use the slow motion video function so I am unable to comment on that but I did manage to use the panorama mode and I can tell you that it’s not great, the images didn’t stitch together properly so the images were never really worth keeping I’m afraid to say guys, plus I am unable to show you any sunshine because while I had the phone there wasn’t a single day in which we had any where I live.

Here are some of the images I did take for you, all three of them were taken with HDR switched on but the one of the Labrador was in very low light indoors using the LED flash.

2014-01-28 11.47.032014-01-28 11.48.142014-01-25 15.30.41-2

 

There is also the ability to shoot 720p video footage within the same camera application, I would say that the video quality is ok but it’s nothing to shout home about but then again it’s not supposed to be as this is of course a lower end device. I would say that it does perform well enough to capture those great moments in life but to watch on a big screen it leaves a little to be desired.

Here is the footage for you:

http://youtu.be/7FxU036LJu8

 

Motorola’s gallery app is quite different to the stock android 4.4 app and is even now available to download as a separate app from the play store for other users. Before i talk about why it’s different I will show it to you:

2014-01-29 10.01.112014-01-29 10.01.152014-01-29 10.01.282014-01-29 10.01.33

 

 

It’s the aesthetic touches that I like about this app, the fact that it lays the photos out for you with different sizes of square looks nice, plus it is just so easy to find images within the app as there are three sections, these are the main camera roll, timeline which lays out your photos in chronological order and then there’s albums too. It works almost exactly the same as any other gallery app to be honest, every photo that you take goes immediately into the camera roll but also into the applicable album be it a screenshot or an instagram upload.

Media:

Media consumption on the Moto G isn’t difficult at all, in fact it’s just as easy to pick this little device up as it is an iPad etc because the screen although 720p is pretty darn good for videos, particularly YouTube which is to be honest mainly what I watch on a smartphone due to having all many of other devices to watch TV and movies on. The only problem that I found with watching YouTube videos was the battery life which wasn’t at all good, I only watched three five minute videos in one go from 100% and the battery was down at 71%…so i think you will agree this isn’t brilliant? But watching the videos was a nice experience indeed.

As for music I wasn’t impress at all with this aspect of the phone, the external loud speaker is quite loud but its pretty rubbish by all accounts, it just sounds very distorted which in turn makes listening to music difficult. Listening to the same tracks using my Beats by Dre headphones wasn’t much better to be honest, again it’s very loud but the quality is terrible. There are a set of audio settings that would suit a higher end device better than this one because they are pretty good. There are settings for both the loud speaker and headphones, there are some pre set options and also a custom option where you can choose the levels of the bass and such to what suits you. You will see all of the aforementioned settings in more detail in the screenshots below, I haven’t chosen to show you guys the music player due to the fact that I didn’t really use it as I use Spotify for all of my music consumption these days, plus because the music quality wasn’t brilliant.

2014-01-29 10.13.092014-01-29 10.13.252014-01-29 10.13.322014-01-29 10.13.45

 

 

Battery Life and Performance:

Onto the last small section of my review now, I will begin with the battery life and say that as long as you aren’t watching a lot of videos on the device then the battery life is actually decent, It definitely lasts the whole day on a single charge but even if the battery does deteriorate at all during the day it charges really quickly so a quick top up isn’t out of the question which is a great thing these days.

The performance of the phone was a real surprise for me as at this price point you usually get single core or dual-core processors but with the Moto G we’ve got a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, yes its a low powered one but in practice it performs superbly allowing me to play all manor of games such as the Simpsons tapped out, Real racing 3 and more without any lag whatsoever, I’ve been very impressed by what this phone can do during the relatively short time I’ve used it for and i would even go as far as saying that I would have it a secondary device that I take everywhere with me.

I did a couple of benchmark tests to get a gauge of just how well the phone performs from a technological perspective, you will be surprised what difference a year can make in the smartphone world as this phone performed at a higher standard than last years Nexus 4! Unreal to think that phone was a flagship device. I used Quadrant Standard and Antutu and the results are below for you:

2014-01-29 10.11.512014-01-29 10.27.192014-01-29 10.27.26

 

 

 

Conclusion:

I have really enjoyed reviewing the Moto G as it has really surprised me by just how brilliant it is, and at £119 for the 8GB version it has to be considered a must buy for tech fans or people who are still looking to venture into the smartphone market for the first time, this would be an unbelievable first phone for someone.

It has it’s flaws yes but so does every smartphone to date, they are either too heavy or too large, not powerful enough etc but we still love them and that’s the point that I want to make here…I fell in love with the Moto G while reviewing it, I literally didn’t use my Nexus 5 much at all, only for the odd e-mail here or a text message there as everything I did be it YouTube or web browsing I did it on the Moto G.

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: , ,
By February 15, 2014 Read More →

Sony ACX-2 Case for DSC-QX10/QX100 and Xperia Z1

ACX2-2Having recently acquired a Sony Xperia Z1 for myself and already owning a DSC-QX10 Lens I decided to get myself a case for the Z1 which would allow me to attach the lens to the camera without the need to use the slightly chunky mount that comes with the QX10.

Sony now produce cases that will allow their two lenses to the Xperia Z, Z1 and Z Ultra in black and white finishes. The price for the Z1 is quite expensive for what is (without the lens attachment) quite a basic case at £25 from the Sony website.

http://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/cyber-shot-compact-cameras-cases-covers-straps/spa-acx2

I decided to give it the case a try anyway and when I received it I was quite pleased to note that the case actually solved one of my criticisms of the Z1 and Z Ultra, namely the glass construction and slim profile make both devices very slippery.

The fit of the case onto the Z1 is, as you would expect from an official accessory, perfect and the lens attaches quickly and effortlessly. I was really impressed and decided that the Z1 with the case would be my every day device for my week long holiday overseas.

ACX2-2a

The ease of attaching the lens to the phone made this my goto camera for the whole holiday and I found that i did not take my DSLR out of the safe once on the whole trip.

The case did have one major downside however! You may have noticed that the photos of the case and camera that I have shown so far are taken from the Sony website. The reason for this is that on the second day of my trip, whilst sitting and having lunch I heard a “crack” noise from my pocket. Upon inspecting the case, two corners had broken off and there was a crack down the back of the case.

IMG_20140213_200657

A quick web search reveled this to be a fairly common occurrence and that the normal response upon contacting Sony is to be offered a refund rather than an exchange.

I managed to baby the case through the rest of the holiday but I will not be seeking a refund and I will, in fact, be purchasing a second one.

The reason for this strange course of action is that during my research into the cracking problem, I discovered that many people have successfully removed the camera connection from the case and have attached it to an alternative case which is more durable. This is my plan as well and if I’m successful I will post up the results.

Here are some shots of the damage to the case and how the camera looks when it is attached. It is an exceptionally good idea that was let down by the execution.

IMG_20140213_200745IMG_20140213_200720IMG_20140213_221635IMG_20140213_221701

 

Posted in: Cameras, Phones, Reviews
By January 23, 2014 Read More →

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom ReviewFirst we had the Nokia 808 Pureview Symbian smartphone with a beastly 41 megapixel camera, then Nokia came out, all guns blazing, with the Nokia Lumia 1020. This time toting Windows Phone 8 which you either love or hate…and Samsung clearly saw the relative success of the 1020 in particular and thought ‘ooh let’s have a go ourselves’ and you know what…they did have a go with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom and its 16 megapixel 10X optical zoom camera slapped on the back.

So, you may be wondering, why? And do we really need such a device, or better yet why would anyone want a device such as the S4 Zoom?

Well to find out the surprising results of my testing and to have all of your questions answered I suggest you read on but I warn you…it’s going to be a long ride…

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: , ,
By December 22, 2013 Read More →

Lenovo IdeaTab S6000 Review

Lenovo IdeaTab S6000 Review Lenovo, for those who don’t know, are the guys behind the Yoga Convertible laptop range, and also now the Yoga tablets too. But that hasn’t stopped the company from thinking about the ‘little guys’ as they’ve also released a range of tablets designed to be both functional and affordable. And that’s where the S6000 comes in, it’s a budget 10-inch tablet with some decent specs to boot and we’re going to put it through its paces in this review.

How will it fair against the huge competition? To find out please read on, obviously not before watching Matt’s IdeaTab S6000 unboxing and demo video.

Posted in: Reviews, Tablets
By December 14, 2013 Read More →

Lenovo IdeaTab A3000 Tablet mini review

lenovo a3000

With Christmas just around the corner it seems to be that Tablets are sitting quite high up on many a Christmas list and whether you’ve been naughty or nice theres lots of choice on the tablet market at the moment.

I suspect that many parents will be looking for tablets for their kids this year and with a number of budget options on offer starting at around £80 tablets are finding their way in the to the hands of much younger kids that before.

Here in the UK there have been some high-profile budget tablets over the past few months with 7″ Android tablets on offer from Tesco, Argos and now Lidl, you’d think that the supermarket chains could have had it all sewn up but as tablets are this years must-have toy, and true to form for the popular toys, these tablets are either out of stock or in very short supply.

So, carrying on with our look at some of the tablets on the market this year we have the Lenovo IdeaTab A3000. The A3000 is a budget tablet that will compete in this years tablet frenzy on the run up to Christmas. It may be budget priced but it has been on the market for a while so is the A3000 a tablet that can hold its own in the 7-inch tablet arena? We have a quick look.

Posted in: Reviews, Tablets
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By December 13, 2013 Read More →

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 ReviewThe Samsung Galaxy Note was a device that many figured would die at launch. It was a gamble thankfully turning out to be a good one. The device was the first of a new craze and met with great reviews and only the cynical labelled it “too large.” Here we are two years later and the second revision of that ground break device has been launched and the eyes are on it. Can the King of the Phablets play a hat trick?

I have used the Samsung Galaxy Note II for a full year and would continue to be using it now had it not been for a slight accident that resulted in a cracked screen, a home repair left the device non-replaceable under insurance and a tear forming in the corner of my eye. “Worry not” I figured “the Note III will be here soon and shall pack all kinds of awesome, I shall never look back.”

Certainly, it arrived with an almighty clap of thunder but I did not hit any plastic to keep it in my life, and here’s why.

By December 7, 2013 Read More →

Bose QuietComfort QC20i headphones review

QC20i_lgQuite some time ago we got our hands on the Bose QuietComfort QC15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones and I was hugely impressed with their performance in noise cancelling and they sounded amazing. However, I’m not a huge fan of over the ear style headphones and prefer a more discrete in-ear style.

So when Bose announced the new in-ear QC20′s I was keen to give them a try.

The Bose QuietComfort QC20 offers the same noise cancelling technology as the QC3 and QC10 but as the headphones themselves are smaller there isn’t room for the batteries and circuitry that fit in side the headphones of the other models. Instead the QC20 has an external control unit and battery pack that holds all the clever stuff. A small compromise and the battery has the convenience of being charges via a micro USB socket.

There are two slightly different QC20 models, the QC20 has an in-line microphone and two-button control which is designed for Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices, while the QC20i is for Apple devices and has the in-line microphone and a four-button remote. Both have play/pause controls but the Apple variant also has volume control buttons.

So lets start off with a look at what’s in the box and a closer inspection of the headphones…

By November 30, 2013 Read More →

Sony Cybershot DSC-QX10 Review

IMG_4168The Sony DSC-QX10 and DSC-QX100 lens cameras for use with smartphones seem to have polarized opinions in the press with regard to their usefulness with some critics claiming that they are products that are looking for a purpose. Here we will be reviewing the base model DSC-QX10 camera using both Apple and Android smartphones.

If you haven’t already seen Matt’s unboxing and hands-on video, please take a few minutes to get an idea of what the Sony QX10 is all about.

Unboxing and Setup Video

The 10 Second review:

  • Device: Sony Cyber-shot QX10
  • Price: RRP £180. Available from £135 from various on-line retailers.
  • Summary: An add on camera for iOS and Android devices.
  • Best of: Picture Quality, focus speed, 10x Optical zoom.
  • Worst of: Occasional connection slowdowns. Currently not fully compatible with Android 4.4.
  • Buy it now from: Amazon UK
  • Also consider: Stand alone compact camera

 What’s in the box?

  • Sony Cyber-shot QX10 Lens
  • Rear cover to attach lens to phone
  • Battery
  • MicroUSB sync/charge cable
  • Wriststrap
  • Instruction Manual

Sony Cybershot DSC-QX10 Review Specifications

Sensor 18MP, 1/2.3in BSI CMOS
Lens 10x optical zoom, 25-250mm in equivalent terms
LCD n/a
File Formats JPEG, MPEG 4
Shutter Speeds 4 – 1/1600 sec
Exposure Modes Auto, i-Auto, Program
Metering System Multi
ISO Range 100-3200
White Balance auto
Flash Modes n/a
Memory Card microSD, micro SDHC, micro SDXC
Connectivity USB 2, Wi-fi, NFC
Power Li-ion rechargeable
Dimensions 62 x 62 x 33 mm
Weight 105g
Video 1440 x 1080 @ 30fps

General

I think that it is probably worth starting off by saying what the QX10 is and what is does and doesn’t do. Put simply the QX10 is a compact camera that is missing a screen or viewfinder and most of the controls. The reason that these normally important features are missing is that you can access them by using your smartphone!

The QX10 incorporates WiFi into it and by connecting the two devices together. On an iPhone it is simply the case of switching the camera on and going to the WiFi settings on the phone and pairing them. On a Android phone with NFC it is even more simple. Just touch the two devices together and the paring process starts. Once that is done The Sony Play Memories App can be downloaded form either The Apple App Store or Google Play and off you go.

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Whatever the lens sees is shown (almost) immediately on your smartphone screen. The reason that I said almost is that there occasions when it seems to go a little laggy but generally it is fast and stutter free.

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Settings for the camera can be adjusted using the app. These include the photo or video mode, the photograph resolution, the image size that is automatically transferred to the phone and the sounds that the camera makes. It is a very simple app and for the most part performs very well. One current downside to the Play Memories app is that it currently does not support Android 4.4 KitKat. As I have a Nexus 5 as my personal device this did cause a few moments of head scratching but I discovered that Camera360 has recently been updated to connect to the QX10 although video mode is not supported.

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What is it like to use and does it really serve a purpose?

I am quite a keen (if not very good) photographer and I am generally not keen on using the cameras on phones to record anything other than quick photos for social media sites. I’ve usually got a camera of some kind available whenever I am out and about and often with a collection of lenses in a bag. I very often take a shot with my camera and then a second with a phone to share straight away.

With the QX10 these issues suddenly disappeared! I was able to keep the QX10 in one pocket and my phone in another and when I wanted to grab a shot, there was a simple less than 10 second process to switch on, attach to phone and open the app to get the shot. You can also use the lens in one hand and the phone in another to get shots that you normally would find hard to frame.

The QX10 has a thread for a tripod so it can be set up in a location and remotely controlled and viewed which might be useful if you like to do wildlife photography.

I would not try to claim that this camera could ever replace a DSLR, m4/3 or Sony NEX camera but it allows another option when choosing the kit that you need. I would happily take it out on its own though and know that the shots that I brought back would be excellent!

I found the QX10 to be a really fun camera to shoot with and a couple of my photographer friends who tried it out agreed and have ordered their own.

As a video camera the QX10 is very capable and is able to capture 1440x1080p video at 30 frames per second. Matt recently used it to record the unboxing of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra recently.

Why not have a look at the video and see what you think? Sony Xperia Z Ultra unboxing and hands-on

Here are a few sample shots taken with the Sony Cybershot DSC-QX10

All shots are straight from the camera memory card and were taken hand-held.

 

Conclusion

The Sony DSC-QX10 was the 1st device in a long time that has truly amazed me! The slightly laggy response from the viewfinder was forgotten every time I used the camera. I would say that if you are considering the QX10 or that if you are curious about it, you would probably enjoy it as much as I do. If you think that it’s a silly idea then you should try one out – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

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