Le Eco 1s Eco review

LeEco (earlier known as LeTV) forayed in the Indian smartphone market this year with the launch of Le 1S and LeMax. The company has ambitious plans for the country. It is going all out to grab a big marketshare and aims to be among the top three smartphone manufacturers in India by the end of this fiscal.

The LeEco 1s Eco is essentially a revised version of the LeEco Le1s and features an all metal design, a 1.85 GHz MediaTek Helio X10 processor, 32GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM.

Marketed as LeEco’s first ‘Made for India’ smartphone, the USP of the phone lies in the company’s ecosystem-based LeEco membership program. Users can access 2,000+ movies, 100+ live TV channels and more than 3.5 million songs right from their smartphone. In addition, the company is also offering 5TB cloud personal space storage space.

While the LeEco Le1s is available for Rs 10,990, the Le1s Eco has been priced lower at Rs 9,999. The device will compete with the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, the Coolpad Note 3 Plus, the upcoming Motorola G4 as well as its predecessor. Does it have what it takes to compete with such formidable competition? Let’s find out.

Specifications:

Display: 5.5 inch Full HD IPS LCD display

OS: LeEco’s EUI running on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop

CPU: 1.8 GHZ Helio X10 Turbo MTK 6795T Octa Core Processor, 3GB RAM

Storage: 32GB storage (no microSD card slot)

Cameras: 13MP f/2.0 rear camera (single LED flash), 5MP front camera

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, 4G/3G/2G, GPS, Bluetooth, USB Type C charging port, IR blaster

Battery: 3,000mAh

Dimensions: 74.2 x 151.1 x 7.6mm

Weight: 170 grams

Price: Rs 9,999

Design and Display

Featuring a full metal unibody design, the phone looks and feels very premium. There are no creaks or rattles and it feels solidly put together. In fact, based on design and build quality alone, the phone can be easily mistaken for a high-end device. The phone is slippery though, and slid off my desk on more than one occasion. A case is recommended.

The all glass front looks really sleek, although the black boundary around the glass tends to take away from the immersiveness of the display.

There is a mirror finished, highly scratch resistant fingerprint scanner on the back, which according to LeEco has an accuracy of 99.3%. The fingerprint scanner is extremely fast and accurate, and is a pleasure to use. There is a headphone jack on top, a USB type C port and a speaker on the bottom and the power and volume controls on the right. The phone weighs a rather hefty 170 grams and its dimensions are 74.2 x 151.1 x 7.6mm.

LeEco has chosen to adopt the new USB Type C connector on the Le 1S Eco. USB type C has its own sets of pros and cons. While it does make the phone future proof and is reversible, it is not very common and will become a frustration when your phone runs out of charge and you’re without a charger.

The single external speaker, though loud, is quite muddled. The earpiece is more than adequate though and calls made through the phone could be heard loud and clear.

The display itself is a 5.5inch, full HD IPS panel with a pixel density of 401 PPI. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for scratch resistance. While in the day and age of 2K screens, a 1080p resolution may sound disappointing on paper but, the display is rather impressive, with ultra-vivid colors, good viewing angles and adequate brightness levels.

The display is colorful and full of detail, though the blacks aren’t as deep as I would have liked. Thanks to the great viewing angles and brightness levels, sunlight legibility was never a problem.

Hardware

The Le1S Eco packs a Media Tek Helio X 10 (ARM Cortex – A53, 64-Bit) processor coupled with a Power VR G6200 GPU, a 5.5-inch full HD display, 32GB of non-expandable internal storage and 3GB of RAM

The difference between the Le1s Eco and its predecessor Le1s is minimal. The only tangible difference lies in the processor speed. While the Le1s packs the same Helio X10 Turbo MTK 6795T Octa Core Processor as the Le1s Eco, the Le1s runs at 2.2GHz while the Le1s Eco’s processor has been under clocked to 1.8GHz.

Amongst the competition, The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 offers a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor, 16/32 GB of internal storage, a 5.5 inch full HD display, micro SD support and 3GB of RAM.

Performance

The LeEco Le 1s Eco performs incredibly well. For day to day usage, the phone is more than capable. Apps launch rather quickly, scrolling is very smooth and web browsing is a delight. However, there are some random stutters and lags in between.

Create column charts
It easily outscores the likes of the Coolpad Note 3 Plus and the the 3rd generation Moto G in benchmarks. These do translate into real world use with games like Subway Surfers and Traffic Rider running very smoothly. However, frame rate dropping does occur while playing graphic intensive games like Asphalt 8 Airborne and Real Racing 3.

During testing, one thing I noticed is that the phone tends to heat up quite a bit during heavy usage and while charging. Hopefully, the company will be able to fix this up through an OTA update.

Overall, the MediaTek Helio X10 processor along with the PowerVR G6200 GPU ensure that this device can handle multi-tasking and daily tasks with ease, and is good for some basic gaming as well.

Software and Connectivity

The phone runs on Le Eco’s own EUI, running on top of Android 5.0.2 Lollipop which is a rather mixed affair. Though fast and snappy, the extensive amount of customization done by Le Eco is not to everyone’s tastes. The lack of an app drawer and notification shortcuts are major irritants. Rather, the quick shortcuts are located in the app switcher screen. LeEco has adopted to include its own gallery, music and video apps, leading to confusion between its own applications and Google’s own. In fact, the default browser out of the box is not Chrome, but LeEco’s own.

As mentioned above, LeEco heavily advertises the content ecosystem that you get along with the phone. Users get one-year access to the content for free along with the phone, which according to the company is worth Rs 4,900. There is 5TB of cloud storage which can be accessed after making a LeEco account. There are two main apps offering the gamut of content – ‘Levidi’ and ‘Live’.

Levidi allows users to access Bollywood and regional movies while Live (Yupp TV) allows users access to YuppTV’s entire live TV channel catalogue. A service called Le Music, which will go live in Q3 2016 will give users access to over 3.5 million songs from 25 different languages in partnership with Hungama.

Levidi offers a rather comprehensive library of movies, but the actual implementation of the concept is a hit and miss affair. Some movies played flawlessly while others simply refused to play. Live worked well though, offering an extensive range of live TV channels that can be accessed on the go including popular choices like Sony and Colors.

The phone has dualSIM support and runs on all Indian 4G LTE bands. Other connectivity options include 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 as well as GPS. The phone has 32GB of internal storage, with no microSD card support. The lack of external storage options is a big letdown. With only a handful of apps and some games, I managed to fill 12GB of the available 21.02 GB of internal storage.

Camera

The rear 13MP camera with a f/2.0 aperture produced sharp and vibrant images, although they were slightly lacking in detail. In well-lit situations, the camera can challenge phones twice its price. Indoor shots with adequate light turn out surprisingly decent, and do not reflect the price tag of the device.

The phone handles Macro shots really well producing crisp and vibrant results.

However, the low light performance is as you would expect of a phone of this price- mediocre. The pictures are legible and not a dark mess, however noise tends to creep in and the phone really struggles with exposure. The flash is decent, though the lack of a dual LED flash results in unnatural skin tones and colors.

The 5MP front camera has a wide angle lens and is more than adequate for your social media selfies. Video however, is not so promising. The lack of OIS and 4K in the rear camera, along with mediocre 1080p footage limits this phone’s appeal in this area.

The camera is very snappy, with no lag in focusing or recording the image.

Overall, the camera is decent for the price, but the results wont blow anyone away anytime soon.

Here are a few camera samples –

Battery Life

The LeEco Le1s is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery which produces solid, if not spectacular results. At the end of day with moderate usage, I was left with around 8 -10% of battery with a screen on time of about 4 hours. But with even slightly heavier use, the smartphone struggled to last a whole day.

Likes

There a lot to like in the LeEco Le1s Eco. The smartphone has a fantastic build quality, good looks, a great display as well as a promising content ecosystem. The camera is also decent for the price.

Dislikes

There is no option to expand the 32GB of internal storage, out of which only 21Gb is available to the user. There is no OIS or 4K recording in the camera, and the even the HD video quality is average. The phone also tends to heat up a lot during intensive usage and while charging.

Verdict

At a price of Rs 9,999, The ‘LeEco Le 1s Eco’ seems like an extremely value for money proposition that can challenge the likes of Xiaomi, Huawei and Micromax. The build quality of the phone is fantastic and the phone feels much more expensive than it really is. However, the heating issues and mediocre battery life dilute the experience.

iPhone 7 release date, news and rumors

Update: The iPhone 7 back panel may have been pictured and the phone could be the same size and shape as the iPhone 6S, though it’s still unclear whether it will have a Smart Connector or not. iPhone 7 Plus is rumored to have the big upgrade for 2016: a dual rear camera and 3GB of RAM.

Looking for the iPhone SE? Then you’ll want our everything you need to know article.

With the iPhone 6S, Apple delivered its best handset yet, but aside from sporting some fancy new 3D Touch technology, it was also very similar to the iPhone 6.

That was to be expected – after all, Apple typically only overhauls its handsets once every two years, but that overhaul is due with the iPhone 7, so we’re expecting and hoping for big changes: think a whole new design, piles of power and a bunch of new features.

The leaks, rumors and reports are already ramping up, although the iPhone 7 probably won’t arrive until late 2016. We’ve collected all the latest from around the web and beyond for you below, to give you the clearest picture possible of what you can expect from the new iPhone.

Fancy Android? Here’s everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S7
In a rush? Get the latest iPhone 7 news in our video roundup below:

Cut to the chase

What is it? Apple’s next all-new iPhone
When is it out? Likely September 2016
What will it cost? Probably the same as the iPhone 6S
iPhone 7 release date

If we were betting people, we’d say the iPhone 7 will probably arrive in September 2016. Apple tends to stick to a schedule, and the last few iPhones have all been launched in the month of September.

But according to a ‘reliable source’ Apple might actually bring it to market earlier. Sadly, how much earlier is unclear, but it will take a while to even finish development and manufacture of the phone, so we wouldn’t expect to see it before the summer. September is still the best bet for now.

iPhone 7 design

Hottest leaks:

A super slim build
Water resistance
No more antenna lines
The iPhone 6S looked a lot like the iPhone 6, but it’s likely to be all-change with the iPhone 7. Exactly what form that change will take remains to be seen, but there are some rumors.

iPhone 6S

For one thing, it could be even slimmer than the 7.1mm-thick iPhone 6S; Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities reckons it’ll be dropping to between 6mm and 6.5mm thick. That sounds unnecessarily slim to us, especially as it could cause the battery life to take a hit, but the Samsung Galaxy S6 is only marginally thicker at 6.8mm, so it’s possible.

If TSMC makes the chips, as has been rumored, then some space could be saved, which might help Apple slim it down without making sacrifices in other areas, while another report claims Apple will use fan-out technology to save space and reduce the thickness of the iPhone 7.

Slimming down the iPhone 7 could mean Apple will have to ditch the bulky 3.5mm headphone jack. That could lead to a great dependence on Bluetooth headphones, but another leak also suggests there will also be a pair of special Apple earbuds included in the iPhone 7 box.

iPhone 7 headphone jack

Don’t ditch your headphones just yet though, as an image supposedly showing iPhone 7 circuitry has emerged and the 3.5mm jack is intact in it. Removing the jack could do more harm than good, especially in the short term, so we doubt it will happen.

Another rumor suggests the iPhone 7 will have an all-metal design with a bezel-less display. It would be a big change for the iPhone design, but bringing in a new kind of screen technology would be a sensible move for Apple.

iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 could be built to last too, as according to Mac Otakara there are a number of iPhone prototypes with “ruggedized” features, which could mean a water and dust-resistant phone is on the way.

In fact, that’s exactly what we’ll get according to a supply chain source. Yet another suggestion of a waterproof iPhone 7 comes from the Apple supplier Japan Display. The supplier has come up with a new technology called “Pixel Eyes”, that is now in its second generation and makes it easier to use the screen while you have wet fingers.

That’s always an issue with waterproof phones such as the Sony Xperia Z line, so the fact Apple’s main supplier is looking to stop the problem may be a big hint at what the iPhone 7 will do.

However, another report has suggested Apple will opt for a slimmer phone rather than a waterproof iPhone 7. Apple will likely get a new LCD display technology as well, which could allow the iPhone 7 to be 1mm thinner than before.

A design tweak rumor which will likely please many is that Apple will ditch the camera bump which has been present since the iPhone 6/6Plus – with the firm going for a sleeker finish on the iPhone 7. As well as being totally flat the back could also be uninterrupted, as the same report points towards the removal of the antenna bands.

That tallies with an image leak picked up by Nowhereelse.fr, which claims its snapshot shows the iPhone 7 to have no antenna bands and a larger camera.

iPhone 7 – LEAK

A few days after that, a leak of the iPhone 7 chassis design showed the new design for the antennas. So it increasingly seems Apple may sort out one of the more controversial elements of the design of the iPhone 6S.

iPhone 7

However, the overall size and shape of the iPhone 7 may not change much, as a sketch complete with dimensions shows it as being the same length and width as the iPhone 6S, as well as having similarly curved corners. That would be surprising for a new numbered model though and the sketch could easily be a fake.

iPhone 7 leak

A purported photograph of the back panel has emerged on MobiPicker, showing the phone in gold with a rounded design, antenna lines at the top and bottom and a new camera module, which could be a laser autofocus. The image is likely a fake, but the general design is largely in line with rumors so it could still be the shape of things to come.

iPhone 7 screen

Hottest leaks:

A sharper screen
An edge-to-edge display
The iPhone 7 could be in for a big resolution jump if a DigiTimes source is to be believed, as Apple is apparently likely to move to glass-on-glass screens, which in turn opens up the possibility of a QHD or even a 4K display.

A lot of Android phones already have QHD screens, and the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is 4K, so it’s possible that Apple will pump up the resolution of its next flagship, but given that the iPhone 6S isn’t even 1080p we’re sceptical that it’ll get anywhere near 4K.

If the iPhone 7 does get higher resolution it might get bigger too, especially as rival phones are growing in size all the time. We’re not convinced though – we’d still bet on seeing 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models.

iPhone 6S

Then there’s the first image of the LCD backlight on the iPhone 7. It comes from trusted French blog NoWhereElse and shows the panel from the iPhone 7 up against the iPhone 6S.

All the connectors are in different locations around the phone, suggesting there will be a few design changes on the next iPhone.

A jump in resolution might not be the only way the iPhone 7 imitates Android though, as there’s also talk that it could switch from an LCD display to an OLED one, much like Samsung uses on most of its phones.

One new rumor suggests the iPhone 7S will be the first Apple phone to feature an OLED display. The rumor comes from Apple telling supply chain sources that it will be switching from LCD panels to OLED panels in the next couple of years.

Sadly it doesn’t seem like the technology will be here in time for the iPhone 7 and we’ll have to wait for the iPhone 7S. That said, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has dismissed the rumor, arguing that Apple won’t likely switch to AMOLED before 2019.

On the other hand it’s now been reported by the Chinese Wall Street Journal that Apple has ordered 100 million 5.5-inch AMOLED panels for a 2017 iPhone. So all we can say with any certainty right now is that we won’t see an AMOLED iPhone this year.

There’s also talk of Apple taking a leaf out of Samsung’s book and opting for a 5.8-inch curved AMOLED display on a future iPhone, although this could be something for the iPhone 8 rather than the iPhone 7.

Hopes of an edge-to-edge display on the iPhone 7 have been raised slightly after an image appeared online claiming to show just that – although having seen hundreds of iPhone leaks over the years we think this offering looks rather fake.

iPhone 7 – LEAK

The iPhone 7 screen could be hard to smash, as an Apple patent has been unearthed showing bumpers which burst out from the edges of the screen to ensure it doesn’t touch the floor when dropped. Patents often don’t turn into products, but you never know – and it would certainly be nice to see a stronger screen.

3D Touch is bound to make a return, though it’s likely to be improved in some way, perhaps by enabling you to scroll through the previews of content you ‘peek’ into, rather than just having static previews.

iPhone 7 rivals

The iPhone 7 is likely a way off yet, but many of its main rivals have already launched. The biggest ones are the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. Both of these phones have received five star reviews on techradar – which we hadn’t previously given out to a phone for two years – so Apple has some serious work to do.

Check out our full reviews of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
The HTC 10 looks to be a worthy alternative to Apple’s handset too. Coming from HTC it’s as stylish as you’d hope and the audio quality is a cut above.

Check out our full HTC 10 review
There’s also the 4-inch iPhone SE which has arrived with a palm friendly size, 6S specs and an affordable price tag. For those looking for a phone which is manageable in one hand, this is the one you want.

Check out our full iPhone SE review
iPhone 7 camera and battery

Hottest leaks:

A dual-lens snapper
No more camera bump
A larger battery
Apple overhauled its camera tech for the iPhone 6S, replacing its old 8MP snapper with a shiny new 12MP one and boosting the front-facing camera up to 5MP.

iPhone 6S

Given that Apple tends to stick with camera components for a long time we wouldn’t expect to see a change in megapixels for the iPhone 7, but there’s a good chance it will have performance tweaks and additional features to help set it apart. Optical image stabilization perhaps?

A shot of the rear of the iPhone 7 from Nowhereelse.fr suggests the camera lens will be bigger. It doesn’t seem to be a dual-camera lens, but it looks much larger so may mean some big improvements on the camera tech.

As for the iPhone 7 Plus, trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI Securities in South Korea believes the larger phone may go for a dual-camera set up. It would allow for optical zoom and give a wider field of view in shots – but it’s not exactly certain why this feature would only be on the phablet version of the iPhone 7.

The analyst hasn’t also said he believed there may be two versions of the iPhone 7 Plus, one without this camera set up and another with it, which he dubbed the iPhone 7 Pro. He’s walked back that speculation, saying that there will be just one iPhone 7 Plus, and it’ll feature that dual lens setup. It sounds like the camera specs unearthed in a recent Apple patent.

The benefit to the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 without the dual camera system is that a smaller lens could remove the camera bump while still packing in plenty of tech.

As for the battery, it was one of the greatest failings of the iPhone 6S, so we’re really hoping for some improvements here. Sadly, though, if the phone does slim down further as is being rumored there’s not much hope of a big juice pack – or is there?

A recent leak suggests that Apple will increase the battery size in the iPhone 7 while reducing the handset’s thickness. If that’s true, then great, but we’re not holding out much hope.

iPhone 7 OS and power

Hottest leaks:

A hexa-core processor
3GB of RAM
iOS 10
The iPhone 7 could be in for a huge performance boost, with whispers on Weibo that the phone will pack a hexa-core A10 chip, up from just a dual-core processor in the iPhone 6S. We’re sceptical that Apple would go for that much of a jump, but it’s an exciting thought.

We’re not likely to see any more RAM in the iPhone 7, as Apple only just pushed the iPhone 6S up to 2GB, so it will likely stick with that for a while yet. However, the iPhone 7 Plus may upgrade to 3GB of RAM to account for its dual camera image processing.

3GB of RAM is big jump in a short amount of time for the new 5.5-inch iPhone 7. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus just got 2GB of RAM seven months ago, and the 1GB of RAM had been three generations strong in iPhone 6, iPhone 5S and iPhone 5.

As for the OS, we’d expect to see the iPhone 7 land with iOS 10, since we’re up to iOS 9 on the iPhone 6S. That’s likely to include improvements to Siri, an Apple Music redesign and a standalone HomeKit app, among other changes.

iPhone 7 other features

iPhone 6S

Hottest leaks:

A pressure-sensitive home button
Wireless charging
A smaller headphone jack
We could be in for a redesigned home button, as according to one source it won’t be a button so much as a sensor that you just have to place your finger on. The same source reckons that it might also be pressure-sensitive, so presumably if you press harder something different will happen, such as it taking you to a different screen.

A whole slew of possible features are apparently in testing for the iPhone 7, with five different prototypes being used to test multi-Force Touch tech, a dual camera, wireless charging, a fingerprint scanner in the screen and a USB Type-C connector that’s compatible with headsets.

That all comes from a post on Chinese social networking site Weibo, but even if it’s true given that there are apparently five different prototypes much of this may not make it into the final phone.

In other rumors, the iPhone 7 could have a smaller headphone jack than the iPhone 6S. We’re hesitant to call this a feature, as it’s more a likely annoyance which could be necessary in order to further slim the phone down.

There’s an Apple patent which points to a 2mm connector, down from the standard 3.5mm headphone jack found on most phones. That would certainly help Apple slim the device down, but would also mean you’d either need special headphones or an adapter. Fortunately a newer leak suggests the iPhone 7’s headphone jack won’t be changing after all, which is good news as far as we’re concerned.

iPhone 7 Smart Connector or no Smart Connector?

One of the weirdest iPhone 7 rumors is that it might have a Smart Connector like the iPad Pro range. On Apple’s slates this allows for the connection of a keyboard, which seems an unlikely fit for a phone, but it’s possible that one could be used to connect headphones if the 3.5mm headphone jack really is ditched – something which itself seems unlikely.

iPhone 7 Plus dummy

So far there are conflicting rumors on whether or not it will have a Smart Connector. The first we heard of it was from supply chain sources who revealed a dummy iPhone 7 Plus unit to Mac Otakara. As you can see in the image above it has three tell-tale Smart Connector dots at the bottom.

A few weeks later the same site came back and said that Apple had “shelved” plans for a Smart Connector port on its next phone.

iPhone 7 dummy

But that wasn’t the end of the story. Since then another dummy has popped up, this time from an anonymous tipster at MacRumors. The dummy is likely of an iPhone 7, rather than an iPhone 7 Plus, as you can tell from the smaller camera, and once again there’s a Smart Connector present.

It could easily have been faked and even if it wasn’t it’s possibly an old dummy from back when Apple was apparently considering it. A Smart Connector on the iPhone 7 is still possible, but we’d say it’s unlikely, as it never made a whole lot of sense to begin with.

iPhone 7 cost

There aren’t any price rumors yet, but in all likelihood the iPhone 7 will cost roughly what the iPhone 6S currently retails for. That would make it $649/£539/AU$1,079 upwards.

Though if Apple finally ditches the 16GB model the starting price might be even higher.

Sony Xperia X

The Sony Xperia X is a curious device. I say curious because I don’t really know what kind of phone it is.

I could look at the CPU used, the screen size and resolution and the intended market – but based on what Sony’s telling me, the first two points aren’t really relevant and there’s no information on which sort of buyer the Xperia X is aimed at.

It’s very much a Sony phone though, stuffed to the brim with components from all departments in the company: screen tech from Bravia, audio from the Hi-Res Audio workers and the DSLR team working in tandem with the smartphone guys to make a compelling spec list.

Sony Xperia X review

But given we’ve been waiting for the Xperia Z6, the all new flagship, for ages it’s hard to know if this is the new phone or just a side-range that sits alongside the Xperia Z choices – and given Sony doesn’t seem to know the answer to this question – or just isn’t telling me – it’s hard to gauge.

What we do know now is that this phone is £459 in the UK (around $660 / AU$900), which is pretty expensive indeed – not quite flagship prices, but a lot more than I was expecting.

Design

The Xperia X is a phone that, as shown by the spec list below, is dripping with Sony heritage. Coming with a 5-inch Full HD screen, it sits within the same industrial-style design that the previous handsets have used.

Sony Xperia X review

It’s something of a shame really – and that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with what’s been put together here. No, the front glass is strong and slightly curved at the sides, the back is all metal and the sides, while plastic, really fold into the chassis well.

No, it’s a shame because this is meant to be a new chapter for Sony, and that was a chance to rip up what it’s done before and start with a blank slate, a phone design that starts a new direction and maybe appeals to a new set of consumers.

Sony Xperia X review

There’s still the same lozenge power button on the side, which doubles as the power key, and as the phone isn’t water resistant this time around doesn’t have extra flaps to cover the charging port, which lives at the bottom (and sadly isn’t USB Type-C, which Sony tells me is just a timing issue from when it created the phone).

The smaller screen is still sharp and vivid and the 5-inch form factor slides into the hand pretty well, although it’s not a patch on the beautiful edge-to-edge display of the Xperia XA, which is curiously cheaper than the more well-specified X.

Sony Xperia X review

The power under the hood comes from the new-but-mid-range Snapdragon 650 CPU from Qualcomm, and combined with 3GB RAM is a decent enough combination of battery-saving and grunt to run the phone.

That said, the Xperia X didn’t like taking a lot of large (23MP) photos in a row, as it began to slow down rapidly after that. I’ll give this a pass though, as I’m among the first in the world to get a hands on experience with this phone and it’s very much early software – and camera speed optimisation is one of the first to improve.

Sony Xperia X review

The camera is clearly the big hitter on the Xperia X, the only part of the phone that’s higher-spec than the previous Xperia Z5. It’s the same 23MP camera, but with Predictive Hybrid autofocus.

What those overly complicated words mean is that the phone can go from sleep to tracking an object in space very, very quickly – the tests we did showing the camera could go from sleeping to taking a picture in 0.6 seconds were indeed proved true.

Sony Xperia X review

It doesn’t mean you’ll get a GREAT picture, as you’re pretty much guessing at the framing of the shot, but it’s a nifty ability if you’re rushing to get a snap of your child pulling over the laundry bin or your dog doing something hound-like – you know, the usual stuff the human race is obsessed with.

There’s still some tidying up to do on the camera, as some of my test shots weren’t amazing – but then again, some were. Sony’s attitude seems to be that it recognises what it’s missed with the camera in the past, and is looking to make the phone more user-friendly to get great shots from without having to mess around with the professional settings.

Sony Xperia X review

The battery life on the Xperia X should also last longer – not just in terms of time between charges, but also the length of time before your battery becomes so awful that you need change your phone.

That’s another way to get around the lack of removable battery that some smartphone fans still clamour for (although microSD card is supported).

Sony Xperia X review

The system works by constantly monitoring the charge going into the battery and then making sure the phone is completely removed from the charging while the wall outlet is still plugged in. I obviously couldn’t test this yet, but a long time shooting with the phone for an afternoon didn’t make anywhere near the dent in the battery performance that I was expecting.

There are some other decent features as well, from the smoother lock screen to the continued use of Hi-Res Audio. I don’t understand why the brand has given up on water resistance, one of its key selling points, though.

Sony Xperia X review

The overall ethos of Sony’s new Xperia X range is yet to be defined – after all, this isn’t even the first X smartphone from Sony, as the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 was actually the first to bear the moniker and was very much a flagship device (although it was NOT a great phone…) but it’s hard to see who this is aimed at.

Early verdict

The Sony Xperia X is a phone that’s just crying out for an identity to hold onto; a cheap price, a superb build quality, a stunning screen, and it has none of those things. At first glance it’s a slightly different Xperia Z with lower spec.

Sony Xperia X review

But dig a little bit deeper and you’ll see a phone that’s wanted to come out and play for a while, but it couldn’t because the other kids in school were having none of it. Then it grew up and got much better looking BECAUSE it was alternative, and suddenly the world was very much interested in what this handsome hunk of tech has to say.

The price of £459 in the UK is confusing, as it seems to suggest the Xperia X is going to be a flagship phone, one that’s worthy of taking the Z’s place at the head of the line.

Sony Xperia X review

The camera is great, the audio strong and the battery has potential – but I still think we should have seen a new design ethos from Sony when the new phones came out. Then again, I’ve been banging that drum for years – maybe it’s time to admit this is just what Sony does to its phones.

Either way though, the Xperia X needs the ‘why should I buy it?’ answer when in your local phone shop choosing between the reams of options, and I can’t think of anything amazing off the top of my head – just very good elements.

10 best mirrorless cameras in 2016

Best mirrorless compact system camera

Once upon a time, keen photographers bought a DSLR – it was the established order of things. But the mirror mechanism of a DSLR is complex and noisy and adds to the weight of the camera, and that’s where the mirrorless camera, or compact system camera comes in. They keep the big sensors and interchangeable lenses of DSLR cameras but ditch the mirror to produce a smaller, lighter and simpler camera.

In fact, there are still pros and cons to both designs. If you want to find out more, read this: Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras: 10 key differences.

Some mirrorless cameras have a compact, rectangular body, some are styled like DSLRs with a ‘pentaprism’ on the top – though this houses an electronic viewfinder rather than the optical viewfinder you get with a DSLR.

Be aware, too, that cheaper mirrorless cameras don’t come with viewfinders at all – instead, you compose the photo on the rear screen, just as you do with a compact camera or a smartphone. (If you’re still not sure what kind of camera you need, read our easy to follow guide: What camera should I buy?)

No two photographers are exactly the same – we’re all looking for slightly different things, so we’ve ranked the 10 best compact system cameras you can buy right now based not just on specs, handling and performance, but size, simplicity and value for money too.

Fuji X-T10

1. Fuji X-T10

The X-T10 makes access to Fuji’s terrific X-mount system affordable

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 16.3MP | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3-inch, 920,800 dots |Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p

See more Fuji X-T10 deals

Excellent build and design

Value for money

High ISOs are JPEG only

Lacks X-T1’s weatherproofing

At first sight the X-T10 just looks like a lower-cost alternative to Fuji’s flagship DSLR-style X-T1, and you might be expecting a whole bunch of compromises as a result. In fact, though, the X-T10 uses the same sensor and Fuji’s latest AF technology, which the X-T1 needs a firmware update to match. The X-T10 has a slightly smaller viewfinder image and simplified external controls which don’t match the retro appeal of the X-T1’s, but apart from that it’s hard to see any major benefit to the X-T1 that could justify the big price difference. We love the compact DSLR-style body, the superb Fuji image quality and film simulation modes, and Fuji’s growing range of premium lenses. This is top-quality mirrorless technology at a mid-range DSLR price point.

Read the full review: Fuji X-T10

Olympus OM-D E-M10 II

2. Olympus OM-D E-M10 II

The brilliant E-M10 II ticks boxes you probably didn’t even know about

Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16.1Mp | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3-inch tilting display, 1,037,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8.5fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p

See more Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II deals

Compact size, lenses too

Excellent viewfinder

Smaller sensor than some

Pricier than original E-M10

It’s a close-run thing between this and the X-T10 for the top spot in our list. We loved the original E-M10 for its size, versatility and value for money, but the E-M10 II adds features that take it to another level. The old camera’s 3-axis image stabilization system has been uprated to the 5-axis system in Olympus’s more advanced OM-D cameras, the viewfinder resolution has been practically doubled and the continuous shooting speed, already impressive at 8fps, creeps up to 8.5fps. Some will criticise the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor format (roughly half the area of APS-C) but the effect on image quality is minor and it means that the lenses are as compact and lightweight as the camera itself. It’s small, but it’s no toy – the E-M10 II is a properly powerful camera.

Read the full review: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II

Sony A7R II

3. Sony A7R II

Sony’s highest resolution full-framer is going down a storm

Sensor size: Full-frame (35.9x24mm) Resolution: 42.4Mp Viewfinder: EVF Monitor: 3-inch TFT LCD with 1,228,800 dots Maximum continuous shooting rate: 5fps Maximum video resolution: 4K

See more Sony A7R II deals

Huge, high quality images

Excellent quality viewfinder

Needs a faster AF point settings

Tilting rather than vari-angle screen

The introduction of the 1300D means the 1200D isn’t likely to be available for much longer but while it is it’s possible to pick up a real bargain. So if you’re not concerned about being able to connect your phone to your camera via Wi-Fi or NFC, it could be the one to go for. Although the first wave of Sony’s Alpha 7 full-frame compact system cameras (CSCs) grabbed our attention, the second wave has really got photographers talking – especially the Alpha 7R II. Some attribute the rise in popularity of CSCs in countries that had previously largely ignored them to the launch of the series. So why all the fuss? Well despite being small enough to fit in unnoticed amongst other CSCs, the Alpha 7 series of cameras have a full-frame sensor. That means the sensor is the same size as a piece of 35mm film, which is good news for image quality and depth of field control.

The A7R II has proved especially popular because it has a pixel count of 42.2 million, so it generates huge images that have bags of detail, and noise is controlled well. What’s more, it can also shoot high quality 4K footage and there are lots of professional-level video features available. In addition, there’s an excellent stabilisation system and Wi-Fi/NFC technology built-in so you get sharp images at lower than normal shutter speeds and you can share them quickly via a connected smartphone.

Read the full review: Sony A7R II

Sony A6300

4. Sony A6300

Forget any worries about slow focusing with this little beaut

Sensor size: APS-C Resolution: 24.2Mp Viewfinder: EVF Monitor: 3-inch TFT LCD with 921,600 dots Maximum continuous shooting rate: 11fps Maximum video resolution: 4K

See more Sony A6300 deals

Very capable autofocusing system

Excellent electronic viewfinder

Screen not touch-sensitive

Tilting rather than vari-angle screen

You don’t have to go full-frame to get the benefit of Sony’s great camera technology and this APS-C format model makes a great choice for enthusiasts looking for an alternative to big, heavy SLR. One of the challenges for CSC manufacturers has been to make their autofocus systems as good as the ones in SLRs. The A6300’s comes very close, especially in bright light; it’s able to track moving subjects around the frame and as they move towards or away from the camera. There’s also an excellent electronic viewfinder that makes it easy to see when the subject is sharp and correctly exposed. Image quality is very high and there’s built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity to allow to share images via a connected smartphone.

Read the full review: Sony A6300

5. Fuji X-T1

Classic handling, beautiful images – the X-T1 doesn’t put a foot wrong

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 16.3MP | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3-inch tilting display, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p

See more Fuji X-T1 deals

Classic controls

Rugged build

Advanced filters JPEG only

Expensive compared to X-T10

Not so long back the X-T1 was our favourite compact system camera, but things change quickly in the world of cameras, and it’s been pushed out of the top spot. Price has proved the X-T1’s main enemy – it’s a great camera, but it’s held its price almost too well, so that the newer Fuji X-T10 is almost as great and much cheaper. The Olympus E-M10 II has come along too, with its brilliant blend of size, features and value, and competitive pricing means the Sony A7 II is now very good value for those who value performance above all else. The X-T1’s external manual controls for shutter speed, lens aperture and ISO setting are still a joy to use and we love the results from its X-Trans sensor, but its rivals are getting ever stronger.

Read the full review: Fuji X-T1

Olympus OM-D E-M5 II

6. Olympus OM-D E-M5 II

Amazing features, impressive results, inspired thinking… but not cheap

Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16.1MP | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3-inch articulating display, 1,037,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p

See more Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II deals

Innovative 40M high-res mode

Effective 5-axis stabilization

Some fiddly and complex controls

Holding its price a bit too well

The E-M5 II is another technological tour-de-force from Olympus, with a 40Mp High Res mode that produces detail far beyond the sensor’s native resolution (though only with static subjects), 5-axis image stabilization for both stills and movies (so it’s great for ‘run-and-gun’ style videography), a fully-articulating touch-screen display and some clever and exciting low-light exposure modes. It’s also small and perfectly formed – yet, for an enthusiasts’ camera it’s not cheap, and the controls can be baffling. It’s a similar price to the Fuji X-T1 and faces a similar problem – it’s desirable enough, but there’s a newer, much cheaper camera in the range (the OM-D E-M10 II) that makes you question the price.

Read the full review: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

Panasonic G7

7. Panasonic G7

If you can get past its somewhat bland styling, the G7 has a LOT to offer

Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16MP | Viewfinder: Electronic | Monitor: 3-inch articulating screen, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps | Maximum video resolution: 4K

See more Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 deals

Excellent OLED viewfinder

4K video and stills mode

Two-year-old sensor

Plasticky build

Panasonic’s D-SLR-style G-series cameras are easily overlooked, as the company tends to put its latest technology in its smaller, rectangular GX-series cameras – the new GX8 is the first to use Panasonic’s new 20Mp Micro Four Thirds sensor. Nevertheless, they offer a good blend of features, technology, practicality and value. Indeed, the G7 is a pretty good stills camera for the money, but it goes a whole step further, adding in Panasonic’s 4K movie capability and the option of grabbing 8Mp stills at a rate of 30fps. Interestingly, though, Panasonic has kept to its ‘old’ 16Mp sensor for this model, reserving its latest 20Mp sensor for the GX8. Nevertheless, this is a great camera, especially at today’s prices, and its 4K imaging technology is still ahead of the curve.

Read the full review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7

Panasonic GX8

8. Panasonic GX8

Panasonic’s flagship CSC has a brand new sensor, but it’s pricey

Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 20.3MP | Viewfinder: Tilting EVF | Monitor: 3-inch tilting screen, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps | Maximum video resolution: 4K

See more Panasonic GX8 deals

New 20Mp sensor

Mag-alloy build, dust and splash-proof

Larger than the old GX7

Expensive at launch

Panasonic’s compact system camera range is pretty confusing. You might expect its DSLR-style G-series cameras to get the best and latest tech, but actually it’s the the box-shaped GX8 that’s the first to benefit from Panasonic’s new 20Mp Micro Four Thirds sensor – this has performed really well in our lab tests, putting it on the same level as a good DSLR. The GX8 also comes with 4K video and the ability to grab 8Mp stills from it (it’s like continuous shooting at 30fps). The rear screen is tilting and so, unusually, is the electronic viewfinder eyepiece. It’s a very good camera, but the price is a sticking point, and the Sony A6000 (above) gives you more for your money.

Read the full review: Panasonic GX8

Sony A7

9. Sony A7

A more affordable way to go full-frame with a mirrorless system camera

Sensor size: Full-frame (35.9x24mm) Resolution: 24.3Mp Viewfinder: EVF Monitor: 3-inch TFT LCD with 921,600 dots Maximum continuous shooting rate: 5fps Maximum video resolution: Full HD

See more Sony A7 deals

High quality images

Full-frame sensor, affordable price

Needs a faster AF point setting

You’ll need a second battery

With 24 million pixels the A7 may not be able to able to capture quite the same amount of detail as its high resolution sibling, the A7R II, but as it has the same sized sensor you get the same level of control over depth of field. That means you can make your sharp subject stand out from a blurred background. As it’s from the first generation of Sony’s full-frame compact system cameras it lacks the handling refinements and stabilisation that come with the second. But you get a lot of camera for your money, so it’s too much of a bargain to exclude from this list. And rest assured, the image quality is excellent.

Read the full review: Sony A7

Panasonic GH4

10. Panasonic GH4

Is it a stills camera or a 4K video camera? The GH4 is brilliant but conflicted

Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16.1MP | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3-inch tilting screen, 1,036,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 12fps | Maximum video resolution: 4K

See more Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 deals

4K video and 14fps continuous shooting

Metal chassis

Some fiddly and complex controls

Pro build quality and 200,000-shot shutter life

The GH4 was a terrific, ground-breaking camera and its 4K video capabilities became legendary amongst professional film-makers. It’s also a very good stills camera capable of shooting top-quality 16Mp images at up to 12 frames per second. You can even extract really good 8MP stills from 4K video shot at 30fps. But all this processing power has made the GH4 expensive, so unless shooting high-speed action stills and video is your speciality, you could be paying for power you won’t use. It’s a firm favourite amongst 4K film-makers and early adopters, however, and while prices have fallen since its launch in 2014, its reputation just seems to keep on growing. It’s been standing still just a little too long, though, and 4K video capability is becoming relatively commonplace.

LG’s next hit product might not come from LG

LG Electronics has announced it is spinning off two in-house ideas into their own entities – and plans to do the same with future projects.

It’s part of what the company calls its “open innovation” strategy, which could lead to more interesting ideas getting off the ground.

The first two to be spun off, Acanvas and Infit & Company Inc, will be managed by former LG employees and be responsible for their own fundraising and strategy. Meanwhile LG will give them the use of the patented technology.

Acanvas is a digital picture frame for hanging up in the home, which recently launched on Kickstarter. The fact it’s digital obviously means you can change the art it displays as you wish, all controlled by your phone.

It also has an interesting charging feature whereby a small charge connector drops down from the frame on a wire at night and slots into a dock connected to the mains.

Meanwhile Canvas is Infit & Company Inc has made what it calls a Modular Diagnosis Machine, which uses a more affordable and safe alternative to radiation to diagnose conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Just the start

But this is just the start: LG says it wants to expand the number of initiatives, getting more innovative ideas off the ground and spun out into their own programs.

As an incentive to get these projects off the ground. LG has promised employees joining the new companies they will have jobs at LG if they decide to return to the mothership within three years.

“By giving these two startups their own identity and freedom from the bureaucracies of a larger organisation, we are sending a very clear message to innovators and the public that were are not interesting in maintaining the status quo,” said Dr. Skott Ahn, President and CTO of LG Electronics.

OnePlus 3 release date, news and rumors

Update: Rumors suggest the OnePlus 3 could be launched in less than a week with sources claiming it’ll be announced on May 18. The OnePlus 3 has also been spotted in suspect shots and it may be able to juice up from empty to full in under 15 minutes using VOOC fast-charging tech from Oppo.

The OnePlus 2 is a great phone, with a beautiful screen and a brilliantly low price, but there are plenty of things that could have been done better – or just done, full stop.

OnePlus underwent a lot of criticism for losing NFC and it’s hoped that will be sorted on the OnePlus Three.

Lots of rumors and leaks are starting to come through for the OnePlus 3, suggesting we may see the phone very soon. Here’s all the juicy details we know so far about one of the most exciting phones of 2016.

Cut to the chase

What is it? The next affordable flagship from OnePlus
When is it out? Probably mid-2016, maybe even the end of May
What will it cost? Likely around £239/US$329
OnePlus 3 release date

OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei previously revealed the OnePlus 3 is likely to launch near the end of Q2 2016, which means we should have it by late June.

Chinese site GizmoChina has also had word of a release date of May 18, meaning we may see the phone in under a week’s time.

Nothing is for certain yet though. Although Pei has claimed it will be here by the end of Q2 2016, OnePlus has missed deadlines before.

What isn’t certain is how readily available the phone will be once it has launched. The OnePlus One, OnePlus 2 and OnePlus X all launched under an invite system and we’d expect the same to happen for the OnePlus 3 considering the company is still relatively small.

OnePlus 3 design

The design on the OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 was largely similar, but OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed that the OnePlus 3 will sport a new design.

The most recent leaked shots point to something more iPhone-inspired, with a plain back likely made of metal and an antenna band running along the top. But the dull design and lack of logo suggest they could well be fake.

OnePlus 3 leak

The same source leaked shots purportedly showing the front of the OnePlus 3 and these look slightly more convincing, with a large (likely 5.5-inch) screen, slim bezels and a home button that probably houses a fingerprint scanner. But given the questionable back we’d take this too with a pinch of salt.

OnePlus 3 leak

Alternatively, the OnePlus X, a cheaper phone the company launched last year, may be inspiration for the new design if earlier leaked renders turn out to be true. The images of the phone even suggest the design will come with a glass back like the OnePlus X.

But this time there’s a mirrored front screen, which is a strange step for OnePlus.

OnePlus 3

The leaked renders are also missing a fingerprint scanner, suggesting these may not be real. If OnePlus drops the fingerprint scanner we’d expect it to come up with an iris scanner or something similarly impressive to go in its place.

OnePlus 3 specs

Various OnePlus 3 benchmarks point to the possible specs of the phone. Recently two different ones have appeared, pointing to either 4GB or a massive 6GB of RAM. Another rumor seems to offer an explanation – there will be two different versions.

A source has claimed there will be a 4GB RAM version with 32GB of storage while a 6GB of RAM version will cost a little more with 64GB of memory onboard.

If this turns out to be true, that will mean an end to the 16GB OnePlus model. The source who claimed this said the 32GB version will cost a similar amount to what the 16GB OnePlus 2 did though, so you shouldn’t expect a big jump in price.

The benchmarks also suggest the OnePlus 3 will have a Snapdragon 820 processor, a 5-inch 1080p screen, 64GB of storage, Android Marshmallow, a 16MP rear camera and an 8MP front-facing one.

That same benchmark also suggests there will be NFC support on the OnePlus 3. That’s a big deal for OnePlus customers who missed the technology on the OnePlus 2.

OnePlus 2

Upon the launch of the OnePlus 2, OnePlus confirmed to techradar it decided to ditch the feature as it “saw most of [its] users weren’t using NFC” on the OnePlus One. But things have changed since 2014 and a lot of people will now be using the technology for mobile payments.

One source claims the phone will only launch with 32GB of storage. That seems strange considering the company now only sells the 64GB OnePlus 2 in the UK.

On battery, a source claims the OnePlus 3 will come with a 3500mAh cell rather than the 3300mAh one used on the OnePlus 2. An import listing also shows the phone will include Oppo’s VOOC fast-charging technology for the very first time.

That means the OnePlus 3 may be able to charge from empty to full battery in just 15 minutes.

OnePlus 3 price

The big selling point for OnePlus is the price. The OnePlus 2 cost £239 or US$329 (about AU$460) so we’d expect a similar price point for the OnePlus 3.

One source even claimed it could be even cheaper at around US$310 (about £210, AU$409). We’ll have to wait until the official announcement to know for sure though.

OnePlus 3 competition

OnePlus launched the OnePlus 2 as the “2016 flagship killer” even though it came mid-way through 2015. It held its own against some of the best phones you can buy, but the spec now looks a little dated compared to the brand new flagship handsets.

There’s stiff competition for OnePlus with the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5, HTC 10 and the iPhone 6S. In September, we also expect to see the iPhone 7 launch as well.

But then there’s both the OnePlus X and the OnePlus 2 as well. Even though both of these phones are older, they’ll be cheaper than the OnePlus 3 when it launches and the biggest benefit is they are readily available while the OnePlus Three is likely going to be invite only. At least for a bit.

How to set up your TV for the perfect picture

Today’s TV images have never looked better. Indeed, the latest 4K Ultra HD screens are so good that broadcasters and content providers are struggling to offer programmes able to truly do them justice.

These 3840 x 2160 televisions offer four times the pixel density of regular Full HD sets and with deep colour technologies, like Quantum Dot , OLED and enhanced WCG panels, have a depth and vibrancy that leaves yesterday’s goggleboxes looking positively pallid.

Yet despite all this, it’s still possible to buy the best and see the worst.

If you inadvertently view your new screen on a preset with colours set to sear or ramp all the picture processing modes to Max (because that’s bound to be for the best, right?) you’ll be left wondering just why you upgraded your viewing in the first place.

The good news is that fine tuning your screen is not that difficult (in fact it’s easy), and you really can’t go that far wrong. You don’t need to be a calibration wizard.

And even if you do get into a multicoloured motion-blurring muddle, we have an easy fix for that as well – just hit the Factory Reset.

It’s an obvious truism, but in order to get the best from your TV you need to put the best into it.

This boils down to both using decent source components (if you’re still rocking a VHS VCR STOP NOW – unless it’s because you dig the cool retro vibe of bad tracking and poor resolution, in which case carry on daddy-o). DVD players represent the base line of what’s acceptable, but if you’re quality conscious, they should really be ousted in favour of Blu-ray and HD set top box (Sky+, VirginMedia Tivo, BT TV, EE TV box et al).

If you’re broadband speed is up to snuff you should also consider a streaming solution for Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and those catch-up services. These days Internet delivered HD can look as good as packaged media.

Of course, once you have your kit, it’s imperative that you use the right connections. We probably all know someone who watches a Sky+ HD box through the SCART connection (hint, you ain’t gonna get HD that way).

By and large, the only connection you should be using is HDMI, unless there’s an overriding reason to opt for a legacy interface. Owners of high-end Panasonic TVs will also have the option of DisplayPort. This is used for connecting PCs and can deliver equally high quality signals.

Source components usually have a variety of display options, but will typically manage themselves depending on the display they’re partnered with thanks to the EDID (Extended display identification data) info they encounter. You can manually intervene though if your combination results in some aberrant behaviour.

Hi-def from set top box services is invariably 1080i. In Auto mode, the upscaling of SD content is carried out by your TV, rather than the set top box. In most cases, your screen has the tools to do a better job, although on a budget HD screen you’ll probably be hard pushed to tell the difference.

This Auto advice also applies to Blu-ray players, but with caveats when it comes to upscaling on 4K televisions. Some high performing 4K upscaling BD players have better (or perhaps more accurately, different) upscaling characteristics, which could prove preferable.

For example, the Sony BDP-S7200 has superb 4K silicon that we found outperforms that found in Sony’s (2014) 4K screens. The Amazing Spider-Man (Blu-ray) demonstrates more realistic detail when the player is left to do the upscaling. For example, when Gwen Stacy turns up at the Parker house after the funeral sequence, we found her tear stained face has more texture via the player’s 4K output than when upscaled by a Sony UHD TV.

That said, Sony TVs have the edge when it comes to upscaling fine vertical and horizontal lines. Which is better is a matter of choice – this is interpolation after all.

Best sat nav 2016: the best GPS navigation devices and apps in the UK

UPDATED: This is our continuously updated list of the best sat navs and top five sat nav apps.

The car sat nav (GPS or navigation for Americans) is an essential form of technology that we all take for granted. These days, with GPS-supporting smartphones and apps from the likes of TomTom, Garmin and the rest, you don’t necessarily need a hardware sat nav, but they are still coming out from a few stalwart brands. Specifically: TomTom and Garmin.

Long story short: hardware sat navs have better GPS receivers, which is particularly important in urban areas, and only really do one thing (although Garmin is always keen to bolt on fancy extras).

Smartphone sat nav apps have better interfaces and screens, and are cheap (if you ignore the cost of your phone). Some are even free.

Another peculiarity of sat navs is that because the core functionality has barely changed in a decade, they tend to remain on sale for years, at ever-reducing prices.

Anyway, if you want a sat nav that won’t let you down, you’ve come to the right place. The top five hardware devices are on page 2, the top five apps on page 3, a couple of oddities – a HUD and a motorbike specialist – on page 4. You have now reached your destination, says “English Jane”.
1. TomTom Go 5100

The 5-inch member of TomTom’s latest range is pure sat nav at its best

Unless you desperately need a screen an inch bigger, in which case try the Go 6100, we’d say this 5-incher is the sweet spot in TomTom’s sat nav range. The essential difference between TomTom’s devices and Garmins is that TomTom’s are a little more stripped back, with fewer smartphone-style features. In our opinion, that’s a better route to go down, excellent though Garmin’s sat navs are.

You get speed camera and traffic updates for life too.

Read: TomTom Go 5000 (predecessor) review

Garmin NuviCam

2. Garmin NuviCam LMT-D

Garmin modernizes the sat nav with a built-in dash cam

Dash cams are gaining popularity around the world. The NuviCam LMT-D incorporates a 1080p dash cam with the Garmin sat nav features you know and love, including: the smartphone companion app, hands-free calling support, detailed graphics and lane change notifications.

If your insurance company provides discounts for having a dash cam, you can even save money on your premiums too. It even adds forward collision warning and lane departure warning capabilities so you can add driver assist technologies from the latest cars to your own car.

Read: Garmin NuviCam LMT-D review

TomTom Go 6000

3. TomTom Go 6100

The big brother of the Go 5100 offers more screen but less value

The TomTom Go 6100 is an impressive piece of kit. The interface is intuitive, with TomTom’s excellent routing benefiting from being able to draw on live traffic data to make for incredibly accurate journey times as well. The fact that it includes lifetime map and journey updates for 45 countries in Europe make it all the sat nav you should ever need.

The 6-inch screen is bright and clear and easy to see whatever the lighting outside, and the voices are clear and precise too. The new mounting system is solid, yet it’s easy to remove the sat nav from its cradle if you need to. You can charge the sat nav from a standard micro-USB connector, if you’re away from your car too, which adds to its flexibility.

Camera data, traffic and global map updates are free for life. However for us, the six-inch screen is overkill, so we recommend the cheaper, 5-inch Go 5100 over this. If you’re all about screen real estate, feel free to ignore us on that one.

Read: TomTom Go 6100 review

Garmin Nuvi 3490

4. Garmin nuvi 3490LMT

Another smartphone-like sat nav offering from Garmin

This was among the first sat navs to take design cues from smartphones. To that end it’s got a capacitive touchscreen, increased slimness and decreased thickness, live services via a connected smartphone app, and looks and feels great.

Elsewhere, the admittedly steep sticker price buys you UK and Euro maps with updates for life, Bluetooth and voice control. You have to pay £17 for camera updates.

This has been largely superseded by the Nuvi 3598LMT but remains available and a viable option. Its price hasn’t come down as much as you might think, though.

Read: Garmin nuvi 3490LMT review

Garmin 58LM

5. Garmin nuvi 58LM

A decent budget sat nav option

The Garmin nuvi 58LM is a five-inch device (there’s an equivalent 68LM for those who prefer a larger 6-inch screen) with a very modest 480 by 272 pixel display.

Given its budget price, you need to keep your expectations in check. HD screens and all manner of streaming data features are simply not going to happen. But if you want a simple offline nav device for the car, you could do a lot worse. We just wish Garmin would give its graphics a bit of a polish.

10 of the best Apple Watch docks

Apple took eight months to release a charging stand for the Apple Watch after launching the device back in April 2015, but that didn’t stop accessory manufacturers from stepping in with their own dock offerings in the meantime.

And you’ll be glad they did. Apple’s plain white Magnetic Charging Dock (US$79, £65 AU$129) is decent enough, but if you’ve personalized your watch with a strap, why not go the whole hog and choose a stand that fits your style too?

We’ve compiled some of the best third-party docks over the next 10 pages, ranging from handcrafted wooden designs to docks machined from aircraft-grade aluminum. So click the Next button below to check out the finest stands available for your bedside table. Just remember to bring your charging cable.

Native Union Dock

Native Union Dock

Colors: Slate/Space Gray, Midnight Blue/Gold, Stone/Rose Gold | Official page

Native Union Dock

Native Union’s minimalist dock comes in two parts: a heavy block base made of rubbery-soft matte graphite silicone, and a plastic/aluminum cylinder. The Apple Watch charging disk snaps into a moulded cradle on the cylinder, which has an elliptical groove inside where the cable feeds through and runs out of the bottom from a discreet well.

With the charger in place, the cylinder slots magnetically into the reversible base, where it can be rotated freely. Your Watch snaps onto it securely, buckled or not, while the base can be reversed and placed horizontally or vertically, depending on how you want to view and interact with the watch display. Nightstand mode works fine as well.

Apple’s Midnight Blue wristband colour really looks the part with this design. The dock works with both watch sizes, too. The price is a bit steep for something so simple-looking, but at 450 grams, the sheer heft of the dock feels like money well spent – unless you’re packing it for travel, of course…

Griffin WatchStand

Griffin WatchStand

Colors: Black, White | Official page

Griffin WatchStand

Your Apple Watch is a gorgeous thing to behold, so it’s no surprise Griffin has designed this totemic stand to help you show it off when it’s not on your wrist.

At the top of the plastic stand lies an angled cradle for your Watch’s charging connector and a hole for the cable to wind around the detachable rubber inner core and slip out the rear of the base. The Watch sits securely on top with the band either buckled round the back or open and hanging down the front (hint: not the best look).

The weighted, non-slip base provides confident footing to the display and has a thoughtful lip at the front to rest your iPhone against lengthways; there’s no power outlet for it, mind, but that’s where Griffin’s WatchStand Powered Charging Station(£41/US$60/AU$84) comes in – it takes care of your iPhone’s power needs too.

Pad & Quill Luxury Pocket Stand

Pad and Quill

Colors: American Cherry, Exotic Sapele, American Walnut | Official page

Pad & Quill Luxury Pocket Stand

This all-natural hardwood stand has a signature handmade rustic feel that’s typical of most Pad & Quill products, and while an Apple Sport band might seem out of place on it, the sculpted look and smooth lacquer finish of the grain make a Hermès leather band look positively at home.

The adjustable-angle stand has a neat nook to house your Watch’s magnetic charging disc, with a channel for the cable which then loops behind and runs neatly down into an inlet and out the back from beneath the base.

The horizontal cut-out for the buckled strap provides a secure fit for both sizes of Apple Watch, and when the stand’s not in use it folds away into a compact, lightweight wooden block no thicker than a matchbox.

TwelveSouth HiRise for Apple Watch

TwelveSouth HiRise

Colors: Black, White | Official page

TwelveSouth HiRise for Apple Watch

TwelveSouth has taken the same brushed aluminum of its mainstay HiRise for iPhone device and machined it into a wide-base stand that gives great stability if you like to interact with your watch when it’s not on your wrist.

The charging disk fits snugly into a silicone recess in the reclining stand and the cable runs down a rear channel and underneath the base’s band-friendly leather-lined platform, which raises for easy routing and storage.

Silicone padding on the cut-outs protects from any mishaps when placing and removing your watch, making for a solid, yet surprisingly lightweight, stand all round.

Boostcase BLOC Wireless Dock

Boostcase BLOC

Colors: Silver Aluminum, Space Gray Aluminum, Bamboo Wood | Official page

Boostcase BLOC Wireless Dock

This is different. The BLOC is not only the most Apple-looking dock we’ve covered, it’s also the only one in our roundup that offers wireless charging, thanks to a 2000mAh battery inside.

It’s not ‘plug and play’ though and comes in six pieces: an almost 10-inch long piece of metal (wood also available), a battery with micro-USB cable for charging, two rubber inserts for two sizes of charging disc, and a guitar-like pick.

Once assembled, your Apple charging cable winds through a series of labyrinthine turns inside the dock and connects to the battery, which snaps in magnetically at one end and has enough juice for (in our tests) three full charges. Three LEDs along the same end let you know how much power is left at a tap.

It’s not too heavy, but it’s a bit of a wrangle getting the cable in and out, so you might want to buy an additional one just to avoid the hassle. Otherwise, this is a neat alternative for minimalist desktops that lives up to its claims and also comes in a variety of colours.

Fuse Chicken Bobine Watch

Bobine Watch

Colors: Silver/White | Official page

Fuse Chicken Bobine Watch

Most docks are rigid, inflexible things, but not the unique Bobine Watch from Fuse Chicken. The cable-like device can be twisted into all manner of shapes, meaning you can get the perfect angle for your desk or bedside table every time (to activate Nightstand mode, for example).

We managed to wrap this thing around pretty much anything – coiling it around a lamp, an iPhone stand, and even a bed post for some in-your-face screen interaction. Of course, flexibility is key to its adaptability, but crucially the stand holds position on its own and doesn’t droop under the weight of even the heaviest metal wrist straps.

The only drawback is the lack of cable routing beyond a small plastic clip tucked behind the charging disc holder – ideally you’d be able to channel it through the inside of the stand – but to be fair you can wrap the cable around the neck pretty easily instead.

The Bobine also comes with stabilisation clips for mounting in your car. For only 20 quid, this is a steal.

TwelveSouth Forté

TwelveSouth

Colors: Silver/Black | Official page

TwelveSouth Forté

The second TwelveSouth stand to feature in our roundup, the Forté goes one better in the style department and genuinely looks great from any angle, on any surface. The chrome and leather combination helps, but it’s actually the open design of the curved stand that puts your watch’s band front and centre.

The clasp goes over or through the curve, which is where your charging cable routes through (it has a rubber-lined open back). The chrome mount has a metal ring that pops off, revealing the rubber enclosure for your charging disc.

The 45-degree angle of the mount activates Nightstand mode in sideways orientation and provides ample support for interacting with the screen. And the leather lining of the base provides a soft rest for open clasps, for when you just can’t be bothered to buckle up.

Just Mobile TimeStand

Just Mobile TimeStand

Colors: Black, Silver | Official page

Just Mobile TimeStand

If you’re not so taken by the idea of twinning your all-metal Watch with a plastic stand, take a look at this artful option from Just Mobile. Machined from a single block of aluminium, the cylindrical bar feels nice and weighty in the hand but stays kind to bedside cabinet surfaces thanks to its protective rubber-lined base.

The Apple Watch charger slots in to an angled recess in the top, which has a channel running out from the side and down to the base to route the cable neatly. And that sculpted cylindrical hole isn’t just for looks – your Watch’s buckled wristband tucks in here when you mount it on the stand (in portrait orientation at least). The price seems about right, too.

Mophie Watch Dock

Mophie Watch Dock

Colors: Metallic Silver | Official page

Mophie Watch Dock

This aluminum stand keeps things simple from the moment you open the box. The included quick start guide explains how to place your Watch’s inductive charger into the circular cut-out and feed the cable down a rubber channel inside the vertical arm, through the base and out the back.

Faux leather padding on the angled cradle provides a safe buffer between the metal and the back of your watch, while a rubber pad on the base provides protection for your desk/table. At four ounces, it’s fairly light, but provides a stable mid-size mount for both sizes of watch. Some might find the price a bit steep though…

Proper WatchKeeper

WatchKeeper

Colors: Black, Tan | Official page

Proper WatchKeeper

Stand-based docks are great for showing off your luxurious timepiece, but if you’re after more discretion then check out this leather-lined protective steel case from Proper.

Your watch lies flat inside in a soft EVA foam tray. Leather band owners may find this a fiddle at first – and Milanese loops need to be detached at the clasp – but once your watch is in, it’s protected on top by more foam lining in the case lid. The charging disc lies in a cut-out in the tray, while the cable runs discreetly underneath and out of a side port for connecting to a power source.

The case also doubles up as a hidden stash for your cable when it’s not in use, making this case a fine travel accessory. It’s also compatible with both watch sizes. Nice.

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