HP takes on the MacBook Air with the Spectre x360 hybrid laptop

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What do you think of when you hear the name HP? Laser printers maybe? Office desktops, business laptops? All very worthy but generally dull. Well, it’s time to throw away those preconceptions because HP is putting on the style.

Its latest HP Spectre x360 range of hybrid laptops is slim, stylish and set to take on the MacBook Air. With a machined aluminium chassis that’s just under 16mm thick and weighs only 1.49 Kgs (3.3 lbs) the x360 range features full HD touchscreen displays and a choice of Core i5 and Core i7 processors. A flip over screen means you can use it as a conventional laptop, turn it into a tablet or stand it up in ‘tent mode’ for viewing movies or presentations.

The machine has also been designed in close collaboration with Microsoft to provide a pure Windows user experience with fast performance and long battery life. So far, so impressive, but what do the reviewers think of it?

Trusted Reviews starts with some faint praise, describing the design as “inoffensive” but is impressed by the machine’s construction and quality saying it, “…has the feeling of hard density that we like to get in an Ultrabook.” The 12 hour battery life also made an impression, “If you needed any more convincing that this is the HP take on the MacBook Air, this is it.”

PC Advisor describes the Spectre x360 as a rival to the more expensive Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro,

“Not only is it more affordable, it uses a more premium design. While the Lenovo uses a metal lid, the inside is a soft-touch rubber finish. With aluminium all over, the HP Spectre x360 looks and feels more desirable and stylish.”

The 13.3-inch screen they say, “looks crisp” but it gets some criticism for being highly reflective. However, the overall conclusion is positive,

“…the firm looks to have done a great a job of packing good specs in a desirable aluminium chassis at an affordable price point.”

Describing the Spectre x360 as, “…the Surface Laptop that Microsoft refuses to make.” Slashgear says it’s,

“…a beautifully constructed machine. Sure, there are some elements which are a little MacBook Air-like – the bottom panel, for instance, and the front notch in the lid – but overall the combination of brushed and polished aluminum, the consistently-even keyboard, and the excellent IPS display with broad viewing angles give it a distinct look and feel of its own.”

“The Spectre x360 is one of our new favorite laptops,” says Engadget, singling out the hinge design for particular praise, “This allows the machine to be equally thick regardless of whether the screen is in tablet mode or folded shut, like a regular notebook.” Though it does point out that the machine is less successful when used as a tablet, “What you might find, though, is that a relatively large, 13-inch PC like this, particularly one this heavy, isn’t well-suited for tablet mode.” However, the machine’s size is a double-edged sword,

“Because the x360 is slightly bulkier than its rivals, it can accommodate a cushier keyboard and a bigger battery, allowing for nearly best-in-class runtime. It also makes room for a ton of ports.”

The size is a concern for Laptop Mag  too, “At 3.26 pounds, the x360 is heavier than most other 13-inch ultraportables. Among those whose screens can fold back 360 degrees, the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is a full pound lighter, as is the nonfolding Dell XPS 13 (2.5 pounds). The MacBook Air weighs 2.9 pounds.” Despite this it concludes,

“With long battery life, good performance and an attractive design, the HP Spectre x360 is one of the best convertible notebooks you can buy.”

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If all this has convinced you that you really need one in your life, the HP Spectre x360 range starts from around £850. But we’ll leave the final word to Notebook Review,

“HP didn’t just make something that ‘looks’ similar to a MacBook … HP made every effort to deliver a product that meets or exceeds what Apple currently offers from the feel of the chassis and performance of the hardware all the way to the intangible elements of the user experience.”

The HP Spectre x360 is available now from $899.99. Visit HP to find out more.

Archos 50 Oxygen Plus: Taking the ‘smart’ out of the smartphone?

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Archos, the French multinational producer of tablets, phones and other electronic devices, has extended its range with the 50 Oxygen Plus. Okay, so its name might sound more like a medical device designed to help people breathe than a smartphone, but that doesn’t mean to say it’s not worth bothering about.

On the contrary, according to Archos, the 50 Oxygen Plus combines an ergonomic design with performance and power for an affordable price. Well they would say that, but what we ask is what do the critics think?

Tech Radar: stifled by the ‘big shots’

After a hands on review of the Archos 50 Oxygen Plus, Tech Radar came to the conclusion that whilst it’s a decent affordable smartphone, it will be difficult for the 50 Oxygen Plus to stand out amongst the ‘bigger names’ in the market.

With a SIM-free retail price of just £149.99, Tech Radar is quick to point out that the 50 Oxygen Plus offers value for money – on paper at least.

While the current model is available on 3G, Tech Radar advise to hold out until June when 4G variant with Android Lollipop makes an appearance for just £30 or so more than the current model.

Asides its low cost and incoming 4G with Lollipop, Tech Radar praise the 50 Oxygen Plus for its “strong spec.”

The key features of this “strong spec” include a 5-inch 720p display, 1GB of RAM, 1.4GHz octa-core processor, 8MP and 5MP cameras, 16GB of internal storage with a microSD slot for expansion, dual SIM support and a 2000mAh battery.

On the downside, Tech Radar thinks the 50 Oxygen Plus looks awful and a “bit like the iPhone 6” but with a cheap look and feel. As well as limited availability another weakness of the low-cost French smartphone is that its performance is a “little lacking.”

Digital Versus: Uncanny iPhone 6 resemblance

Deeming the 50 Oxygen Plus as an “extremely thin mid-range smartphone with an undeniably Apple-inspired design”, Digital Versus doesn’t seem too impressed with Archos’ new smartphone.

The review places the phone’s spec as “pretty traditional” but quick to point out the fact the handset is available in two versions.

Mobile Tech

Mobile Tech Review seem a little more forthcoming of the 50 Oxygen Plus, claiming that because the phone is powered by an Octo-Core 3G processor and a powerful GPU, users have the ability to “enjoy games, video and applications without lagging.”

Mobile Tech Review also seems pretty impressed with the handset’s 8MP rear camera with LED flash and a 5MP front camera with multiple picture-taking modes to apparently capture “crystal clear memories”.

All in all, the Archos 50 Oxygen Plus is a cheap smartphone and, as we all know, cheap can often come at the expense of quality.

That said, it’s not a total thumbs down for the 50 Oxygen Plus and to regard the handset as taking the ‘smart’ out of the smartphone would be a little unfair.

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If you’re looking a smartphone that doesn’t break the bank and with its iPhone 6 resemblance certainly “looks the part”, then the Archos 50 Oxygen Plus could certainly be one to consider.

For more information visit Archos.

Hannspree Smart Sports Watch – can budget prices drive the Smartwatch market?

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The Smartwatch market is waiting with bated breath to see if Apple’s new number can help jump-start an industry that has been idling along rather more slowly than many manufacturers would like. There could be any number of reasons why people haven’t put this down as the next must-have gadget – conflicting style, bulky designs, the fact that nobody’s sure whether respect or revulsion will be afforded to them if they’re caught out in public with a miniature Smartphone on their arm. Or it could be the expense – for what a Smartwatch gives you is it really worth splashing the cash?

Hannspree wants to find out the answer to that question and has released its Smart Sports Watch for the low, low price of just £29.99. It’s inspired in no small part by the Misfit Flash, with a minimalist look that’s predictably devoid of bells and whistles but also comes across as quite unassuming, which should help you test the water. Inside the little disc that fits into the rubberised strap is a range of technology that’s actually pretty impressive considering the current “budget” market for this sort of accessory. There’s exercise tracking with a Pedometer and distance calculator of course, which also tells you roughly how many calories you’ve burned, sleep monitoring, plus call and message notification, an alarm clock and a decent battery that’ll last 5-8 days.

The 0.68” OLED display, while basic and monochrome, seems to offer just enough clarity to tell the time and work out what notifications you have pending, and reminders set on your phone can also be transferred to the watch via Bluetooth to give you an audible or vibrate alert. It can store 20 days worth of data before it needs to be synced, which should be plenty, and it’s also quoted as splashproof, which usually means you’re fine for rain and washing your hands, are taking your chances in a shower and probably shouldn’t use it in the bath or while swimming.

If you were to be totally accurate about this device it’s more of a cross between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker, but with notifications and alerts from a phone at least provides some of the more basic advantages that are supposed to form the appeal of the more fully featured models, and as such should be a nice compromise between the two.

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Available in either black or blue and supplied with an optional necklace band if for some reason you don’t want it on the wrist, “soon” is the most accurate release date we can find for the Sports Watch touching down in the UK.

Visit Hannspree to find out more.

 

Hands On With The HTC M9 – Evolution Or Revolution?

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The release of HTC’s M9 is perhaps the company’s most significant launch since the M7 – a device that for many represented the very pinnacle of the premium smartphones market. Since then Samsung has delivered some all-metal beauties of its own and Apple made a significant generational leap with iPhone 6 and 6+, so everyone was hoping that HTC would do something special to get itself back in front.

First impressions are that it hasn’t. The now familiar dual-speaker array still runs the design, which in some ways may be holding it back because there are no immediate stand-out new features such as a fingerprint scanner or waterproofing. It has ditched the UltraPixel experiment though – or at least in terms of the main camera. Now you’ll find a beefy 20MP number at the rear, though the front-facer still uses Ultrapixel technology with 4MP resolution, which certainly seems like a sensible switch.

Elsewhere the M9 offers some pretty impressive core architecture with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 64-bit processor and a whopping 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a microSD slot for expansion with a 2840mAh battery.  The 5” display is stuck at 1920×1080 but does boast a sharp 441ppi and there’s fast-charging here courtesy of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0.

It’s a little early for full reviews but plenty of people have been getting their hands on the new M9, so let’s see if it has enough to keep HTC on the consumer’s radar.

Speaking of which, TechRadar sums things up quite well from the off by describing it as “a great phone if you’re upgrading from two years ago the concern here certainly seems to be that there’s not enough of an upgrade from the impressive M8. It lauds the beautiful design that needs to be seen up close to be truly appreciated.

“It needs to be felt. To speak about it, or even show it in pictures, doesn’t really do justice to the premium finish in the hand, to the well-balanced design, to the way everything feels weighty and solid.”

The power button has been moved to the side below the volume controls, which is slightly frustrating as they are all the same size and shape so it can be difficult to tell them apart by feel, and the familiar black band containing the HTC logo is still present but feels like it unnecessarily adds to the bulk of the phone. The display is impressive without being outstanding, with a colour temperature that’s a little on the cool side, and it points out that avoiding an upgrade to QHD resolution will do favours for the battery life. Elsewhere the high specs contribute to a pleasant user experience as:

“everything [is] feeling a little snappier again compared to the mode from last year. It’s clean, fast and apps are almost infallible in opening and closing”.

The “upgrade” to Dolby powered Boomsound  over Beats doesn’t appear to be particularly noticeable, but the important thing is that it’s not any worse, and it concludes by saying that as an upgrade from the M7 it’s great – “night and day better” in fact, but not quite the leap forward we’ve seen in the past.

Forbes continues on a similar line and describes the M9 as a “beautiful, basic upgrade” and points out that HTC has responded to questions about the design with this:

“I would describe it much like the Porsche. When you’ve got a design that works incredibly well – that’s timeless and classic – you don’t want to chuck out all that experience you’ve gained from before and start afresh”.

Fair enough. There’s obviously plenty to like about the design and here again it’s described as “one of the best looking smartphones I’ve ever held” and importantly is also very nice to use. Sense 7 brings some nifty improvements such as the ability to be contextually aware and deliver a more intuitive user experience.

“It senses when you’re at home, work or on a night out and appropriately changes the apps on the home screen”

Learning and refining based on your habits over time. Recommendations pop up depending on where you are – train times when arriving at a train station for example, and the new theme generator can use a picture you’ve taken to generate a theme based on the colours in the image.

It is also impressed by the new Dolby integration and describes it as “louder and better than the M8, with the addition of more clarity, base and a more 3D sound” and has positive things to say about the battery life (in lieu of a proper test) due to the increased capacity and power-saving features of Android 5.2 and Sense 7. Forbes concludes by saying that while not a significant upgrade, the M9 takes the important step of ensuring that it’s at least bang up to date with today’s market.

If there’s one area that’s been a point of contention for HTC it’s been the camera and rather notorious “Ultrapixel experiment”. Having distanced itself from this with the M9 and considering this is a major feature for many users we thought we’d have a look at what CNet had to say in its dedicated day and a half test of the snapper.  The switch to megapixels for the rear camera may be welcomed, but does mean it’s not quite as unique, removing, for example, “the Duo camera, which took innovative (but not always great) two-level focus photos” . More concerning than this is that CNet says “it just isn’t that good”. It’s described as a step down from the iPhone 6 Plus – photos can be grainy and struggle a bit in low light environments, the auto-focus is a little slow and though it is capable of taking some very good images, is ultimately a bit disappointing. Close-up shots fair better if you fiddle with the settings and it’s capable of 4K video recording, which is neat, and this is generally handled well. Where it does score some points, ironically, is with the front-facing Ultrapixel camera.

“It’s wide-angle, has great light sensitivity, is super-crisp, and is generally one of the best front cams I’ve seen. It’s better than the iPhone 6 Plus’ FaceTime front camera, easily.”

The only slight downside is that there’s more distortion at times due to the wider-angle but the benefits of fitting more into the shot outweigh this considerably.

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So the HTC M9 is certainly evolution rather than revolution, but fans of the original should still find plenty to like, even if M8 owners might find it a bit more difficult to justify an upgrade. The official price SIM-Free is £579 and on contract you’re looking at around £40 a month if you don’t want to pay much up front for the handset.

Visit HTC to find out more.

Samsung S6 EDGE – Game Changer or Flawed Beauty?

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Samsung’s certainly doing what it can to get noticed in the smartphone arena, not that this seems particularly necessary. After delivering all-metal bodies in the A5 and A3 for those who crave a sleeker shell it’s now thinking outside the box with the S6 Galaxy EDGE, a device that aims to take aesthetics to a new level by wrapping the screen around the side bezel.

It’s a beautiful looking device and will certainly appeal to those who like to turn heads with their mobile, but we’ve seen too many examples of form prevailing over function in the past to want to rush out and buy one quite yet. Going by the specs sheet at least, this doesn’t seem to be the case here. An uber-powerful Octacore 2.1GHz processor and 3GB of RAM runs the thing and the 1,440 x 2560 resolution of the 5.1” display, boasting a whopping 576ppi shows that it’ll probably be needed. A 5MP front camera and 16MP round the back is as much as you’ll probably ever need, but with no microSD slot you’ll have to make do with up to 64GB of in-built storage.

We’re sure everyone would want to get hands-on with the EDGE, and luckily a fair few have. Let’s see what they think.

PCPro describes it as a “stunner”, offering a range of photos but admitting that “it’s impossible to precisely replicate in a photograph just how the metal catches the light and shimmers as you move it around.”  Those curved edges importantly offer an ideal compromise in terms of a big screen and comfortable size, with it feeling very comfortable for one-handed use, and the only downside is that the battery is no longer (easily) removable and there’s no microSD slot, and sadly also no apparent waterproofing or dust resistance like the S5. Display-wise there’s some questions here as to whether it needed to be quite so high resolution, but first impressions were positive nonetheless.

“The S6 Edge’s screen certainly looks great subjectively, with bright, vibrant colours and perfect contrast”

and with Gorilla Glass 4 ensuring that extra curved area will have to take a hell of a pounding to result in serious damage we could be looking at one of the best on the market. Finally it looks at the camera, which is one thing that doesn’t seem to have undergone any major revisions, retaining the same 16MP as the S5. Some welcome tweaks should improve the overall experience though:

“The aperture is larger at f/1.9 (the S5’s was an f/2.2 snapper), and the S6 Edge now has optical image stabilisation, which should improve the sharpness of images shot in low light. It also boasts a new quick launch feature: double-click the home button and the camera app will launch in a claimed 0.7 seconds.”

Round the front the 5MP is a welcome upgrade over the previous 2MP, and with object-tracking autofocus added to video it seems as though Samsung has done enough to deliver on this front again.

KnowYourMobile certainly doesn’t hold back in its praise for the new handset, lauding the fact that the specs are up there with the very best but reserving its biggest plaudits for the display. According to tests done of the EDGE and standard S6 by Display Mate, “these are the BEST smartphone displays on market. Bar none.” Everything from pixels per inch and resolution to colour accuracy, brightness and contrast wowed the judges and it’s impressive to say the least that Samsung has somehow improved on the excellent Galaxy Note 4, when other manufacturers may have sat on their laurels.

Elsewhere it goes into detail on some of the additional features, like Samsung Pay and an improved fingerprint sensor. The former runs via the latter, using the sensor for authentication, and the whole process (on paper at least) appears to work very well.

“Samsung Pay does seem to have some advantages over Apple Pay. Namely it does not rely on NFC alone. Samsung Pay also works with MST, which allows you to use contactless payments even at cashier terminals that lack NFC—such as ones that only take swipe cards.”

Finally, TechRadar is similarly in love with a phone that it describes as “a bit bonkers” but with a screen that looks amazingly next generation.  It’s a very tidy design, managing the clever trick of being able to fit a 5.1” display into a device that’s about the same size as the iPhone 6, and though the camera does protrude from the back, which affects the overall aesthetic slightly, nobody could argue that this isn’t an uber-premium device. The display is similarly lauded, being described as “something to behold” and it seems clear that Samsung has nailed this part of the design, which will be its main selling point.

Moving on to operation, TouchWiz has been improved and offers some nice features that’ll help users take advantage of the USP.

“For instance, when the phone is flipped on its front the sides will glow a specific colour when one of your favourite contacts calls in, so you can see who it is without having to turn the Edge over.”

It’s a shame that features from the Galaxy Note Edge, such as being able to control music while browsing the web won’t make it to the S6 due to the refined design but the ability to see notifications like time and weather from the sidebar when it’s asleep will still be present, and no doubt a raft of apps will open up possibilities even further.

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It seems pretty clear that the unanimous verdict for the EDGE so far is along the lines of “wow”. But most are hesitant to suggest it’ll be a real game-changer, at least not right away. The biggest stumbling block here will be the price, which hasn’t been confirmed in the UK yet but in Europe is reported as €849 SIM-free for the 32GB model. Ouch. Couple this with the fact that as gorgeous as it is we’ll only really get an idea for how well the display works and feels for day-to-day use when it’s undergone some full reviews and it seems like there’s still work to be done to convince the mainstream market.

Visit Samsung to find out more.

The updated Toshiba Kira series: putting the ‘ultra’ in ultrabook?

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Toshiba has announced it has both expanded and enhanced its premium Ultrabook Kira range. According to Toshiba, with a range of new features, the 13.3 inch Kira takes “performance to an improved level as the ultimate Ultrabook both for personal and business use.”

The Kira range will soon be available for the first time in Europe with a range of configurations. Will it be the “detailed clarity” of a PixelPure touch screen, or the new fully HD non-glare option, that whets the appetite of the Europeans?

So what to the critics think of the new and enhanced Toshiba Kira range?

The Gadget Show is wholly impressed, running its review with a striking opening sentence that states the new Toshiba Kira “Packs more of a punch than ever.”

With a fifth-generation Intel Core i7 processor, according to the Gadget Show, not only is the new Ultrabook more powerful than previous models, but it allows for slicker day-to-day use as well as processor-heavy tasks such as gaming.

The Gadget Show review is particularly awestruck with the 1080p model, in which users can enjoy a “whopping” 13 hours of standard use.

Wooing Apple laptop users?

The Inquirer is equally as rapt by the “beefed up” Toshiba Kira range, believing that the Windows 8.1 Ultrabook will have the ability to “woo Apple laptop users.”

The Inquirer is keen to highlight the fact the full HD model weighs just 1.1 kg and the higher spec model weighs a little more at 1.32kg.

The upgrade comes with 256GB SSD storage and 8GB RAM, as well as the same Haman Kardon stereo speakers with DTS Studio Sound as its predecessor.

Trusted Reviews were also quick to jump of the Kira Ultrabook’s new processor and longer battery life, which, according to the site, jumps from around 10 to 13 hours.

As far as connectivity goes, the upgraded Kira has three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI, SD card reader and dual-band Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, Trusted Review is quick to point out.

According to the Gadget Show the 2,560 x 1, 440-pixel model will be out before the end of March, but we’ll have to wait for the 1080p model which is likely to be available before the end of June.

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There definitely seems to be a general accord of excitement surrounding the new Toshiba Kira range, and that’s even despite the fact we’re all looking forward to the arrival of Windows 10 but with the Kira update we’ll still have to make to with Windows 8.1.

The prices have yet to be disclosed.

Review round-up: The Dell Venue 8 7000 – the World’s thinnest tablet?

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Did Dell make crappy laptops? Some loved them, love hated them. But it now seems our experiences of Dell’s products can be put to one side, with the arrival of a statement-making 8-inch Android tablet – The Dell Venue 8 7000, proudly marketed as “the world’s thinnest tablet”.

So it’s definitely got our attention, but what’s the word on the street about the Venue 8 7000?

Wired, we have to admit, aren’t overly impressed. Citing the 8 7000’s new Intel processor, stylish features, unusual accessories, and a three-camera array, assets which are supposed to “blow you away”, the only aspect of the tablet that ‘does it’ for Wired is its beautiful design – sleek and slim, which at an incredible 6mm, could possibly be thinner than the iPhone 6. Despite its waif measurements and weighing just half a pound, the tablet still feels sturdy, pines Wired.

Innovative Intel Processor

Running the latest, cutting-edge Intel processor, the Venue has theoretically the perfect processor for a PC-style setup in a tablet form, writes Wired. However, the important word here is theoretically. Whilst the battery is impressively powerful and PC-like, little things like a game defaulting to inferior graphics and the multitasking menu stutters opening, are of concern to the Wired reviewer.

So mixed feelings about the Venue 8 7000 for Wired, but does the Dell tablet fare better with The Verge?

Super thin but “surprisingly solid” writes The Verge, but if only “better than the rest” counted for more!

Not a great start to the review and even less so when we learn that there’s only really two reasons why anyone should part with their money for the Venue 8 7000 – its design and its camera array.

So what about this elusive three-camera array?

Flip the Venue 8 7000 over and you’ll see three camera sensors, note the Verge. The sensors work together to form a depth-sensoring array. The first is an 8-megapixel camera which take the images, while the other two 720p cameras measure distance and determine depth information. This enables the user to get creative with photography by doing tricks such a blurring the background or isolating the subject in colour and making the background black and white. The camera even acts as a digital tape measure, informing the user of the measurements of the items in the frame.

Sounds impressive but, disappointingly, according to the Verge, the Venue 8 7000’s ‘special’ camera is reason not to buy this device. Why? Its standard 8-megapixel camera isn’t great, nor is trying to hold the device to take the photos!

Computer World seems a lot more upbeat about the Dell Venue 8 7000, referring to it as a “distinctive and premium Android tablet.”

This “distinctively stylish” tablet has some “unusually compelling” qualities, writes Computer World.

One such quality is the tablet’s impressive speakers which produce crystal clear sound. The 8 7000 is “consistently snappy” has “respectable stamina”, useful feature enhancements and clean and intuitive UI. On the downside, Computer World is critical of the tablet’s limited on-board storage

So what’s the overall verdict? Well the Dell Venue 8 7000 has certainly got the thumbs up for its super thin, sleek yet sturdy design but what seems to be a consistent let down is its camera, which, ironically, is the one component Dell probably worked the hardest on.

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And the price? The Dell Venue 8 7000 starts at £326, which is hardly a bank breaking price tag.

LG G Flex 2 – there’s no beauty without curves

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“Same is not sexy”. This is the rather bold statement LG is going with to describe its intriguingly shaped Flex 2. We’re not sure how true this is in the grand scheme of things but we’re inclined to agree that as far as sexy tech goes, LG may have a point. It’s nice to see something new in a market swarming with great looking devices that can genuinely turn heads again.

The curved 5.5”, full HD P-OLED screen on this beautiful creation was the main reason why it collected 14 “Best Phone” awards at the 2015 International CES show and now that it’s heading to the UK we’re dying to know if it has the brains to go with these looks.

Fortunately it’s no slouch when it comes to interiors, with a 13MP rear camera and 4K Ultra HD camcorder, so you can finally get your hands on some content for that snazzy new TV. A 2.1MP selfie and full HD video recorder on the front should do most people quite nicely, and with an octa-core Snapdragon 810 2.0GHz CPU keeping things ticking over should have no problems with responsive operation. 32GB of internal memory with an important option of microSD up to 2TB means you won’t run out of space if you’re getting carried away with 4K video, and a 3,000 mAh battery should mean you won’t run out of juice either.

So on paper at least, the G Flex 2 seems like it could be the complete package, but how does it all stack up together, and are there any hidden downsides to a bendy display? We had a read around to find out.

As TechRadar points out this is LG’s second attempt at a curved smartphone and one in which it has appeared to address many of its predecessor’s problems, but that the all-important display isn’t quite as radical as LG would you have you believe: “Instead, the curve gives it a subtle bow in the middle so, like one of LG’s new 4K TVs, its faint curvature goes from a 400mm to a 700mm radius.” What’s interesting here is that it isn’t just curved; it’s also flexible, which importantly makes it more durable and gives the user some degree of comfort control depending on how they’re using it.

“The Flex 2 felt contoured to my face and more accessible with one hand than a normal 5.5-inch phone. I’ve seen the G Flex withstand 1,000 pounds of pressure, and LG claims this one is even stronger. It’s the ultimate anti-iPhone 6 BendGate phone.”

It notes that the flexible nature makes it a little more effective for viewing multimedia, taking phone calls and fitting snugly into a pocket. And like the previous Flex, the Flex 2 has an “advanced self-healing back”, which can recover from light scratches in around 10 seconds. It’s an impressive claim, but may be a little far-fetched as “looking at the back cover, I still received what must be considered “medium” scratches that haven’t gone away. Sadly, it doesn’t live up to the hype.

The only other potential issues with the design are based around the controls and speaker. The sides and top are devoid of power and volume buttons. These have been placed on the rear, which can take a bit of getting used to, and a relatively powerful speaker loses significant appeal if it’s not pumping the tunes in your direction. Despite these foibles Techradar is impressed overall, awarding it 4/5.

Moving away from the USP and onto more conventional matters we’ll pick up TrustedReviews and its 7/10 review as it delves a bit deeper into the core functions. The quality of the display itself is pleasingly impressive. It writes that the smaller 5.5” size feels more manageable and the benefits of OLED (or P-OLED – since it’s made from plastic for the flexibility) shine through.

“Its sharp, black levels really impress for watching films, and viewing angles are excellent. The 403ppi pixel density of the 5.5-inch screen means it impresses for clarity as well.”

With Lollipop 5.0.2 and LG’s UI on top the Flex 2 is pretty up to date on the software front, and many of LGs additions, such as the gesture-related features and smart keyboard, are quite effective, though it is running the risk of feeling a little overwhelming. The processor keeps things ticking over nicely, allocating its cores as and when needed to cope with intensive tasks and optimise performance, but it can run uncomfortably hot, which seems largely to be a drawback of the curved design.

On the camera front you’ll find the same array as the impressive G3 with a few extra features to improve the experience, such as a dual-LED flash for better close-ups, optical image stabilisation and something called Gesture Shot, which allows you to take pictures without having to touch the screen or device itself. Overall the results are impressive, though it does note that with when it comes to shooting video, the 5-minute limit for 4K might mean that 1080p is a better default option.

We’ll let AndroidPit fill in some gaps for us with a look at the battery, which it points out is a step down from the 3,500 mAh of the original, though doesn’t suffer because of optimisations in other areas. The G Flex 2 also offers fast charging, which offers a couple of benefits. “The G Flex 2 can charge up to 50 percent capacity in less than 40 minutes. The G Flex 2 also makes use of stepped charging technology; where standard battery charging comes in at 1.8A, the G Flex 2’s stepped charging is capable of 2.6A.” It made it through a full day of fairly heavy use quite well, though the more demanding consumer might be asking for a little bit more considering the competition.

AndroidPit also emphasises the durability that a flexible phone can bring and the peace of mind that comes with it for more accident-prone users. LG has actually produced something called Dura-Guard Glass for the Flex 2, which is effectively customised Gorilla Glass that’s 20% stronger than Gorilla Glass 3 with improved strength and shock absorbency at the edges, which are most vulnerable to drops. This all culminates in:

“a premium device with serious hardware backed up by all the benefits of superior durability, flexibility and ergonomics. As a normal phone the G Flex 2 would be great, but adding a near-indestructible build quality makes it truly outstanding.”

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The LG G Flex 2 will be available exclusively on Vodaphone for six weeks from 19th March when it’s officially launched, and you can expect to pay around £500 SIM-free.