Review: Apple iPad Mini

Apple iPad Mini 2013Apple iPad Mini $330

We’ve been looking at the tablet market and all anyone’s commented so far is ‘what about the iPad?’ Well, here it is.

Apple more or less defines the tablet market – despite Bill Gates’ ahead-of-its’ time tablet in the ’90’s. Yes, Microsoft was there first, and we’ll look at the fight back, the Surface, next time.

For now, $100 more than a Nexus 7, gets an iPad Mini. Not the ‘maxi’ iPad with Retina Display that’s $500 for the base model. No, in this list, the Mini is much better value, although the $170 saving means you lose the iPad with larger Retina Display and A6X processor. The Mini uses an A5 processor in a much lighter and thinner device – 0.68 lbs (309g), which is slightly heavier than a Nexus 7, but has an inch more screen space. Continue reading

Review: Google Nexus 7 Autumn 2013 Tablet

Google Nexus 7 (2013) from AsusGoogle Nexus 7 (2013) $230

If you’re looking for a cheap, small, performance tablet, look no further than the Nexus 7. This is a step up from the 2012 model.

Thinner and lighter than last year’s model, the new Nexus 7 features a swift 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2 GB of RAM (found in the Nexus 4 smart phone) . Despite it’s low cost, this is still a performance tablet. If you want your tablet for media viewing, then the dual stereo speakers produce great sound for such a small device. It weighs only 0.64 lbs (290 g) and battery life is excellent, but that’s not the best thing about it. Continue reading

Review: Lenovo IdeaTab A1000

Lenovo IdeaTab A1000Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 $130

If you can get it at the most affordable price of $130, Lenovo’s IdeaTab A1000 is very much the entry level. Sold under the tag-line “optimised for music” you know the screen and performance won’t be great…

With a 7-inch, 1024×600 screen, a the 1.2GHz MediaTek MT8317 dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of memory, front and rear cameras, and dual front-facing speakers, it also it has a Micro SD card slot for expanded storage. Pretty thick by current standards at 0.42 inches (10.7 mm), it’s easy to hold, if heavy. Continue reading

Review: Outlook.com Web Mail 2013

Outlook.com Welcome messageHotmail gets the Metro treatment to become Outlook.com. Microsoft’s web-based email service remains solid, without starting a revolution.

Realising that Hotmail was getting long in the tooth, and was hardly a unified experience sitting in the Windows 8 browser, Microsoft is now adopting Outlook as a brand for personal, web-based email services.

The accompanying facelift – or face-flattening when you look at the Fisher-Price Metro/Modern-UI look imported from Windows 8 – means it sits comfortably in the Metro browser.

I finally got ‘upgraded’ from Hotmail to Outlook.com, which I put off as long as I could: as we know, not all such upgrades are an improvement. Continue reading

Review: Crossing England in a Punt: River of Dreams

Tom Fort in his Trent Otter puntFrom the Staffordshire hills to the Humber estuary, spirited explorer Tom Fort embarks on a 170-mile journey down Britain’s third longest river, the Trent. Beginning on foot, he soon transfers to his own custom-built punt, the Trent Otter, and rows many miles downstream. Along the way he encounters the power stations that generate much of the nation’s electricity, veterans of the catastrophic floods of 1947, the 19th-century brewers of Burton and a Bronze Age boatman who once made a life along the river.

In typically British fashion, a restrained middle-aged white bloke in shorts and sand shoes paddles off along a non-descript English river doing that low-key, under-stated and quite reserved presenting of documentary that only restrained middle-aged white blokes in shorts and sand shoes can pull off. Continue reading

Review: Free YouTube Downloader

HOW's Free YouTube DownloaderYou want to save a bit of YouTube video, but can’t work out where it caches the flash video played on your browser – not since YouTube changed the way it embeds video on the site, anyway.

So you want a YouTube downloader. There are many, free and paid, offering convenience and utility; grab and save video from YouTube’s vast archives.

HOW’s Free YouTube Downloader not only downloads videos from YouTube but also converts and saves them in a variety of common file formats. But the installer should come with a health warning. Continue reading