Toshiba's W30T is an odd device. It's a smartly designed and affordable convertible that can function as either a laptop or tablet. Unfortunately, its size and weight prove to be a hindrance in both modes. See what's the best laptop you can buy in 2014?
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Toshiba Portégé R30-A-14K review a £900 laptop with relatively lightweight design, long-lasting battery and disappointing display
Toshiba tends to take its time when it comes to new fads like Ultrabooks, or even updating its laptops with the latest Haswell processors. True to form, its Portégé R30 is a distinctly unassuming mid-range laptop with a modest specification and little in the way of eye-catching features. See The best laptops: What's the best laptop you can buy in 2014?
The VP2772 from ViewSonic is a gentle update to last year's VP2770-LED display. Both are 27in widescreen IPS monitors, boasting a healthy resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. See also Group test: what's the best display?
These are meant to be serious low-frills designs aimed at designers using Windows on a budget, although at around £600 this monitor still represents a large investment.
Apart from the Pioneer Blu-ray drive, there's nothing aesthetically to distinguish it externally from Quiet PC's Serenity Nano or Dino PC's Microraptor. It also shares the same £999 price tag with the latter. (See also best gaming PC 2014.)
Wired2Fire Hadron review: gaming PC with excellent build quality and a flash drive that provides great gaming performance
The Hadron, from Wired2Fire, is much like a standard gaming PC – only much smaller. Where many are built into cube-style cases, the Hadron lives in a tiny – and rather good-looking – tower in the form of the EVGA Hadron Mini-ITX case. (See also best gaming PC 2014.)
Standing vertically on the desktop, it exudes a rather expensive feel with attractive rounded edges and a transparent side panel. The meshed top surface houses a pair of quiet cooling fans which whir into action when necessary, while the front is blank save for the power switch and finished in a glossy piano black.
Friday, March 28, 2014
"Divergent" is going to disappoint people expecting another "Hunger Games" - hint: it's not - and satisfy those with lower expectations. Yes, it's another dystopic fantasy based on a popular young-adult trilogy, and yes there is a strong, young female at the center of it. But the obvious similarities end there.
While the book failed to hold my interest, "Divergent" as a movie is more engaging. It's certainly not life-changing stuff, but it serves as a fine escape for a handful of hours. This is in large part because Shailene Woodley is great at making you care about her and root for her. Look no further than "The Descendants" and "The Spectacular Now" for proof.
As Tris, the heroine of "Divergent," Woodley takes on a more action-packed role and pulls it off. Set in the future, where things are bleaker than modern times - think unemployment is rough? At least you're not in the wrong faction! - society is divided into five groups. You're either Abnegation, for the selfless; Amity, for the peaceful; Erudite, for the intelligent; Dauntless, for the brave; or Candor, for the honest. Or you don't fit neatly into any of these factions, in which case you're Divergent, and people would like very much to see you dead.
A peek at the animated hit "Frozen" on the Disney Movies Anywhere iPad app.
Typically, when you buy a movie, you want access to it everywhere. Disney is one of the companies looking to put your purchases anywhere and everywhere that you want them, with its newly announced Disney Movies Anywhere app.
No one can accuse David O. Russell of being a one-note director. He provided a peek at an incestuous relationship in his 1994 debut Spanking the Monkey; allowed us to ride shotgun on Ben Stiller's search for his birth parents in 1996's Flirting with Disaster; parked us ringside for Mickey Ward's rise in 2010's The Fighter; and got Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence to trip the light fantastic in the 2012's Silver Linings Playbook.
Of course, there were plenty of other adventures in between, but the bottom line is: The guy knows how to diversify his portfolio.
Now, he's added something very ‘70s to his resume with American Hustle, a fun, fictionalized version of the FBI's Abscam operation in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Historical accuracy isn't half as important as the time period here, from the soundtrack and the furnishings to Amy Adams' plunging necklines and Bradley Cooper's super-tight curls. (Don't even get me started on what was on Christian Bale's head. That thing deserved its own credits.)
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Can a business intelligence dashboard pulling data from multiple sources be used to predict a winner for this year's Best Picture Oscar?
The 86th Academy Awards ceremony is this weekend and millions will tune in to see if their favorite films, directors, actors and crew take home a golden statue. Some viewers make things "more interesting" by participating in office Oscar pools. They put their film knowledge and intuition of the movies up against their friends and co-workers for bragging rights (and maybe a few extra bucks). Our own David Kempler shares his Academy Award predictions, based on his experience as a critic, plus a bit of insight and intuition.
After all of these years, it's really hard to believe that Disney has any magic left in the vault. Yet here's Frozen, the studio's 53rd animated film and most recent Oscar winner. (It just snagged awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.)
It's been a few years since Tangled, so Frozen is going to double your princess pleasure (and the studio's merchandising possibilities) with the story of Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), two orphaned sisters who spend most of their existence locked away from the rest of the world. Why so sheltered? Well, that could have something to do with Elsa's crazy ability to shoot snow and ice out of her fingertips.
"Everything you touch turns to shit."
The above statement could be applied to a lot of the characters in the Coen Brothers' universe. You can pretty much take your pick. However, the one on the receiving end of this particular statement is Llewyn Davis (played by Oscar Isaac).
He is the main character in Inside Llewyn Davis, the tale of a 1960s folk singer who's at a bit of a career crossroads. According to the Coens, the fictional character is based on Dave Van Ronk, all the way down to his album cover. Of course, Van Ronk was way more influencial than Llewyn -- at least in the music world.
Llewyn does manage to touch a lot of people in the movie. As you can spectulate by the above quote, it's not necessarily in a positive way. After his partner commits suicide, Llewyn finds himself at a standstill. Does he continue with music or go back to being a Merchant Marine?
Do you want a keyboard in your living room? Logitech hopes you do and is ready with the Harmony Smart Keyboard.
If you enjoy streaming movies or music, or playing games on your TV, then you've probably discovered something: most TV and set-top box remotes are painful to use. Simple stuff like navigating within on-screen menus, pausing or rewinding videos is easy enough to do. But when you want to search for music or videos, surf the web, or even set up your account with e-mail address and password, scrolling and clicking for letters on a virtual keyboard is just painful.
HD Guru cites Samsung's F9000 series as a possible hazard, due to a less sturdy style of pedestal.
Here at Big Picture Big Sound, we're used to seeing a lot of wall-mounted HDTVs. However, there are plenty of people who prefer to put that TV on top of a shelf or cabinet. There's nothing wrong with that option, but you need to make sure that TV is placed safely. Of course, we're not just talking about putting it out of the reach of greasy fingertrips. Placing a TV on top of a shelf or cabinet may create the potential for "tip-over" injuries.
Digital music is easy and plentiful. Unfortunately, it just doesn't pack a big punch when it comes to sound quality. Two companies are working on that -- and they're doing it together.
Liztic LLC just announced a new partnership with HDTracks. The two are joining forces, in an effort to bring high-resolution audio to every music lover out there.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
After the success of "The Muppets" in 2011, a sequel was inevitable. Technically, as some of the characters point out in this film, this is the eighth "Muppet" movie, but "Muppets: Most Wanted" takes up where the previous film left off. The opening of this film shows "The End" spelled out in fireworks from the previous film, and what follows after the credits rolled: the extras walk away, the set is struck, and the Muppets wonder what to do next. A sequel of course, and the first musical number poses the question of what they should do for a follow-up. The answer? A World Tour!
Dominic Badguy -- "it's pronounced Badgey!" (Ricky Gervais) -- steps in as a seedy name-dropping manager who convinces the Muppets that a global tour is just what they need to capitalize on their renewed fame. In reality, this is just a cover for a fiendish plot to steal the crown jewels. While the Muppets are filling halls in Europe, Kermit is kidnapped and replaced with the world's most dangerous Frog, Constantine, recently busted out of a Siberian Gulag. During the tour, Constantine and Badguy break into various museums picking up clues that reveal the secret of stealing the crown jewels. And how do they plan to get into the Tower of London? A wedding of course! Yes, the pig and the frog are finally tying the knot, and they've managed to snag the Tower as their wedding venue. But will Miss Piggy end up marrying the wrong frog?
Despite being an "entry-level" model, the VSX-80 Elite 7.2-channel AVR has support for IP control and 4K 60p Ultra HD upscaling.
Roku recently announced plans to bundle its MHL-capable Streaming Stick with products from a select group of manufacturers. Pioneer Electronics is one of those lucky few.
Samsung’s U9000 Curved UHD TV includes the Auto Depth Enhancer feature, which promises a 3D-like image without the glasses.
Back in January, Samsung introduced the world to the 105" Curved UHD TV. So where is it? We still don't have a lot of answers. What we do have is a slew of new TVs.
The Samsung HW-H750 Soundbar comes with a wireless subwoofer for a total of 320 watts of sound.
We're seeing more wireless music solutions these days -- and that's just from Samsung! The company was showing off several new A/V options at a press event in New York City today, and some of them will easily put audio into any room in the house.
Not all Disney tales are filled with pixie dust and colorful characters. Well, some are colorful in a different way. Saving Mr. Banks is one of the latter, providing us with a behind-the-scenes peek at the not-so-magical making of 1964's Mary Poppins.
Despite being the creator of a legendary literary character, the film finds author P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson) having quite a few money problems. With no motivation to write and few royalties left, she decides to make a deal with the devil -- and in this case, that devil is Walt Disney himself.
Of course, Disney doesn't come off as a devil here. After all, it's a Disney movie. Instead, he's rather likeable. He expects his employees to address him by his first name, he greets the public with a smile and pre-signed autographed cards, he places bets with the boys, and he's played by Tom Hanks.
Mike Dunn, president of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, and Joe Stinziano, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics America, announce a content partnership for Ultra HD (4K) at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City on March 20, 2014.
This is the year of Ultra HD (4K) TV. We saw so many sets unveiled at January's CES (and since then), it would make your eyeballs explode -- in a good way. Offering four times the resolution of full HD, Ultra HD is truly a sight to behold.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
After 2011's Thor raked in $449 million, a sequel was almost immediately given the greenlight. Disney managed to get everyone to return for Thor: The Dark World -- except director Kenneth Branagh. Instead, Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) is taking on the god of thunder's second outing.
All that really matters is that Chris Hemsworth is returning as our hunky superhero. And as you'd expect, the big lug is still trying to save the universe. However, some dark family history disrupts Thor's plans to restore order. Malekith (Doctor Who's Christopher Eccleston) is the one that isn't having it and wants to use a weapon known as the Aether to destroy everyone and anyone in his path. Soon, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is infected by the Aether, because well... she needs to be a major part of the sequel, right?
Since SONOS first launched its line of wireless music products back in 2003, many manufacturers have tried to duplicate the sound and the style of the company's products. SONOS has since become the standard for wireless whole-house music.
For a limited time, Walmart is rolling back the price on the Apple iPhone 5s 16GB from $145 to $119.
Did Ellen Degeneres' Oscar night Twitter pic have you longing to take better selfies? You don't need to be flanked by the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Meryl Streep and Brad Pitt -- although it certainly wouldn't hurt. However, it would probably be a lot easier to upgrade your smartphone.
If you want to build a home theater, a receiver is an absolute must-have. A big screen is awesome and good speakers are certainly appreciated. However, a receiver is the component that ties the two together. It can even add several other audio and video components (Blu-ray player, gaming console, Roku, etc.) into the mix.
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson prepare for the coming of "Godzilla." Photo: © Legendary Pictures & Warner Bros./Kimberley French.
Oh yes, Godzilla!
It looks like moviegoers won't be fearing the upcoming release of Godzilla. Instead, Dolby is making it so that viewers will be flocking to the nearest theater -- at least the ones with support for Dolby Atmos.
With a typical online price of around £299, the new X102BA from Asus is one of the most affordable Windows 8 laptops that we've seen. It's obviously not going to be a top performer at that price, and its compact 10in screen and downsized keyboard won't suit everyone. But it does provide good value for money if you just want a light, affordable laptop for basic web browsing and running Microsoft Office. See also: Group test: what's the best budget laptop?
Monday, March 24, 2014
Entry level smartphones are extremely popular all-over the world, so it should come as no surprise to you that Asus are looking to take a chunk of the market with the cheap ZenFone 4. We got to spend some time with the device at CES 2014, here's our Asus ZenFone 4 hands-on review.
Gaming is a popular reason to buy and use tablets, so it should come as no surprise that Archos has released an updated version of the GamePad. We've been playing with one in our office for some time now, here's our Archos GamePad 2 review. See What's the best tablet in the UK?
The pricing of the Archos GamePad 2 is interesting in that it markets itself as the perfect tablet for gaming, yet it comes with a £150 price tag that places it amongst budget tablets - making you immediately question the quality of the hardware onboard.
Choosing a budget Android tablet isn’t easy because there are so many good-quality models to choose between. Tesco’s Hudl and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD fight it out at the low end (and don’t forget the Asus Memo Pad HD 7), while Google’s own Nexus 7 is the current benchmark, albeit at a higher price of £200.
Now, Currys PC World has waded in with its Nvidia-based Tegra Note 7. The Advent Vega name might sound familiar, and that’s because it’s the same name PC World used for its own-brand tablet back in 2010.
The BL2411 comes in the old-school 16:10 widescreen format, prevalent before the influx of shallower, wider 16:9 displays all but forced them out of the market. See all display reviews.
This means you get a screen resolution of 1900 by 1200 pixels, rather than the now standard 1900 by 1080. This gives you a little extra height to play with, which makes a noticeable difference when working with vertically-oriented tasks such as word processor documents or Web pages, making it better suited to business than pleasure.
The screen is the first clue to the target market of the Dell Precision M4800. The 15.6-inch panel is labelled Quad HD+ which in plain English is a resolution of 3200 x 1800 pixels. That level of detail should make it attractive for CAD and fullscreen editing of better-than-HD video formats. Take a look at Group test: what's the best high-end laptop?
Dell C2665dnf review: a significant improvement for Dell in the multifunction colour laser printer market
It was just over a year ago that we looked at Dell's previous multifunction colour laser printer workhorse - the C3765dnf - and now comes the succeeding C2665dnf with some surprising new features. See all printer reviews.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
This MG5550 MFD offers print, scan and copy facilities, and follows very much in Canon's stylish Pixma range, with its curved edges and low 148mm design cutting an attractive figure. Not quite so pleasing is the long output tray that stretches out rather further than we'd ideally like. The control system is simplistic, and these Pixmas have yet to fully embrace touch sensitivity. Instead, you navigate using three select buttons placed underneath the relevant on-screen options, with the occasional need to move across to a separate directional pad. It's the need to alternate between the central three-button system and the directional pad that can make negotiating the MG5550's many options a little less intuitive than it ought to be. The system works reasonably well for the most part, but we do think Canon could do away with some of the buttons for a better experience overall. The 2.5in screen is adequate, if hardly the largest we've seen. See all printer reviews.
Chillblast's Fusion Probe is a compact gaming PC. Our review sample is housed in a white Aerocool DS Gaming Cube case, which lends it a minimalist, yet stylish appearance. It's also available in black, red, orange or gold if you prefer.
Measuring only 230 x 502 x 507mm, it's significantly smaller than a standard ATX case, making it tiny for a gaming rig. Its reduced size also requires a smaller motherboard, and in this case it's a Mini ITX form factor GA-Z87N-WIFI from Gigabyte. As its name suggests, it comes with built-in Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth capabilities.
The Infinity Perseus XT is a traditional big black box of a gaming PC, housed in the latest Mk III version of Coolermaster's Dominator 690 mid-tower case.
There's plenty of room for upgrades inside and it offers adjustable drive bays which can switch between 3.5 and 2.5in sizes without tools. It also incorporates multiple dust filters to maintain excellent airflow. Although rather large and imposing, it's much easier to access internal components in a case such as this than in one of the compact Mini ITX form factor cases. You can also see all of those sexy components through the large transparent side window.
We love simple and addictive games which have great artwork and Dumb Ways to Die ticks those boxes nicely. The game, made by Metro Trains Melbourne, is free and available on iOS and Android.
Looking a little similar to the iconic Mr.Men, the characters in Dumb Ways to Die all have an attraction to dangerous situations. Your task is to stop them meeting with fatality and doing so will gain you points. See all Android app reviews.