A week in reviews: July 8 – July 13
From drones to tea with the vicar, the one thing you can’t call us is predictable.
Another exciting week in reviews saw us look at Huawei’s likeable P2, a phone which replaces the P1, a handset we also liked. It’s not the sort of phone that will generate Samsung or Apple levels of hype, but Huawei certainly has the ability to create nice hardware when it tries.
We also got our hands on the Lotus Elise S for some European driving action, and fell in love with the car. There was some messing about with the latest Parrot AR Drone, a £200 tea maker that promises to brew you the perfect cuppa, and loads more kit besides. See you next week.
Ultimate Ears UE Boom
Bluetooth speakers are ten-a-penny these days, but the UE Boom offers more, and better quality than most of the competition. Ultimate Ears has a solid ability to produce great-sounding kit, so we’re not all that surprised by how good the Boom is, we just wish it was a bit cheaper.
Quick verdict: The UE Boom may be pricey but we can think of no portable Bluetooth speaker at this scale which can better it. Lack of bass is the one true criticism we can throw at it, otherwise the colourful, attractive design is well thought out and the waterproof and a tough material finish see it soar beyond its nearest competitors. It’s class.
Full review: Ultimate Ears UE Boom review
Huawei Ascend P2
We always liked the P1, it was a solid phone, and while not exciting to many, it’s the sort of handset you could own for years and be very happy with. And the P2 follows this route.
It’s small, compact and nice to use. We had some problems with lag, and the lack of microSD card slot is unforgivable, but the phone still had enough to please us. When its price drops to around the £250 mark, it will be a veritable bargain.
Quick verdict: This is the phone that people who want a bit more than entry-level phones offer but aren’t prepared to pay £600+ for a handset. The P2 is a nice enough phone that excels at making phone calls and is an overall solid performer. Just don’t expect edge of your seat excitement.
Full review: Huawei Ascend P2 review
Anyone thinking the 2013 selection of BlackBerry handsets would rescue the firm might need to think again, after three handsets that don’t exactly set the world alight. We don’t doubt BlackBerry can create great devices, it’s just the Q5 isn’t really one of them, and we’re kind of annoyed about it.
The problem is, this phone claims “budget” status, yet it’s not especially cheap and still has the audacity to have less than ideal build quality. The company is going to need to try a lot harder if it wants to survive.
Quick verdict: With a build that feels rather generic and a price that isn’t cheap enough to justify it, the BlackBerry Q5 feels like it misses the mark. It’s not without merit, but equally is easily outpaced in smartphone terms by its rivals. If it’s a Qwerty device you’re after, the Q10 will serve you better.
Full review: BlackBerry Q5 review
Sage Tea Maker (by Heston Blumenthal)
Quite simply, this is the must-have gadget for tea lovers. Offering you a world of choice about how to brew a cuppa, and giving you settings to suit every tea leaf, it’s a really gem of a kitchen gadget.
Quick verdict: This is the perfect tea maker for those who are very precise about how they like Britain’s favourite drink and, like Heston Blumenthal, are keen to turn it into an art form.
Full review: Sage Tea Maker (by Heston Blumenthal) review
Corsair K70 gaming keyboard
Shockingly good for typing, amazing for gaming. And as if that wasn’t enough it’s built like a tank and will outlast any other component on your computer. The only gripe is the £120 asking price, but we honestly think that it’s worth considering based solely on the fact that it will be giving you reliable and enjoyable service for many years to come.
Quick verdict: There is nothing about this keyboard we don’t love, it’s perfectly designed and rock solid. We loved it for typing, and for gaming it should offer everything you need. But most importantly, this keyboard works as an all-rounder, something that’s a bit of a rarity these days. Forget those wireless typers, this is what you want on your gaming PC.
Full review: Corsair K70 gaming keyboard review
Lotus Elise S
In its class, the Lotus somehow manages to beat most of its competition, despite being a more basic car inside than most of them. What surprised us, perhaps, was just how easy it was to drive this car 1000 miles. We expected pain, what we got was a car that feels solid, planted and most of all didn’t cripple us. Worth every penny.
Quick verdict: Aside from that small petrol tank and the cost, there’s really nothing that can persuade us that the Lotus Elise isn’t the ideal car in its class. It’s very British, but it also has the power to compete with anything at this price, and possibly even beyond it. If this car is on your shopping list, take it from us, you won’t regret taking the plunge.
Full review: Lotus Elise S review
Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition
Just about the most fun you can have in the air, we’d say. This £300 flying quadrocopter offers a simple control system using your phone, and so much fun we just don’t want to hand it back to the firm next week.
Although a £300 toy is an extravagance few will be able to afford at the moment, if you are lucky enough to have some cash, then this will give you and your friends a lot of fun at your local park. Just bear in mind that ours attracted bees, and annoyed dogs.
Quick verdict: One might argue that £300 is quite a lot of to drop on a flying toy. And, the sensible bit of us agrees. But the sensible bit of us makes up about 1 per cent of our total body mass, the rest is 10-year-old child, so therfore we’re utterly in love with the AR Drone and suggest that if you have the money, or want to have some aeroplane-based fun without spending thousands on a remote control plane, then the AR Drone is perfect.
Full review: Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition review
By Ian Morris