Best of TechRadar: this week's star features and hottest reviews
9th Nov 2013 | 11:01
All the hottest hits and techiest toys from the past 7 days
Is the internet bringing us together or keeping us apart?
Is there any satisfaction to be had from a digital book signing?
If ever there were a phrase that summed up the point to which the internet has brought us, it is "digital book signing".
"It's a world first and I always like to try new things," says David Beckham awkwardly at his digital signing which has been set up through his Facebook page. He mentions the technology amid compliments on his hair, invitations to Brazil, discussion of his favourite goals, his family, his tattoos and the photos that make up his book. Continue reading...
How the PS3 won the console war
Despite its shaky start, Sony's seventh-gen powerhouse played a blinder
In part one of our console retrospective series, we have a true underdog story. PlayStation 3 launched in Europe some 14 months after Xbox 360 in March 2007, delayed by a shortage of diodes used in its Blu-Ray drive, of all things.
When it finally did arrive, it came with a considerably bigger price tag than Microsoft's offering, and was plagued by second-rate versions of cross-platform releases. The writing, it appeared, was on the wall: Xbox 360 was going to win this generation's console war.
But incredibly, Sony turned that less-than-desirable start to its advantage, and as we stand on the precipice between seventh and eighth generation consoles and take stock of the last six years, any fool can see PlayStation 3 ends the era victorious! Continue reading...
How the Xbox 360 won the console war
Ignore the red ring of death, the Xbox is the real winner here
In part two, not so fast! In looking for proof of the Xbox 360's position as the defining console of the age, you can refer to no less an authority than President Barack Obama.
It was he who criticised Republican behaviour over the recent US government shutdown by saying "You don't get a chance to call your bank and say, 'I'm not going to pay my mortgage this month unless you throw in a new car and an Xbox.'"
This bit of partisan point-scoring represents the zenith of Microsoft's incredible success in the seventh console generation - the point at which even the President admitted that "Xbox" had became interchangeable with "games console"in the way that "Playstation" had at the turn of the century.
It was, and is, the device on which most self-described gamers play games. Continue reading...
How the Nintendo Wii won the console war
With 100m+ sales, the Will is obviously the clear winner!
Part 3 - stop right there, clearly the Nintendo Wii was actually the triumphant console this generation! Did it have the graphical might to stand shoulder to shoulder with the PS3 and Xbox 360? Hell no. Did it have the hardcore library of the GameCube? Nope. Did it have a stupid name? Yeah, we sniggered.
And guys, it couldn't even play DVDs. But the Wii won this generation by doing something much, much bigger: it got the whole world playing videogames. Continue reading...
Watch out, Cinemas: Netflix is coming to get you
On demand is in demand as Netflix continues its march to glory
Every time someone speaks at Netflix HQ, it must be like nails down a chalkboard for TV and movie execs. The streaming service has gained so much momentum over the last year or so that every speech its executives make offers up an idea, an element, that will eventually prove disruptive to the entertainment business.
It was only last week that Netflix Ted Sarandos revealed that Netflix wanted to stream movies as soon as they are released in the cinemas and now we have news that Netflix will exclusively release its first original feature-length film in early 2014. Continue reading...
Car meet console: How Xbox One influenced the creation of Forza 5
This is the sixth title in the Forza franchise, and we chatted with Turn 10 Studios creative director Dan Greenawalt
Maneuvering the curvacious corners of Yas Island Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi at 140 miles an hour in a rare sports car is any adrenaline junkie's dream, though likely never more than a fleeting midday fancy for most of us.
Enter Forza Motorsport 5, a launch day game destined for the Xbox One and a title bound to fulfill a championship series fantasy or two. We put the peddle to the metal in the heart-thumping, smile-cracking racer at a recent Xbox One Games Preview Showcase hosted by Microsoft in San Francisco. Continue reading...
Google: the Nexus 5 has lost your X-Factor
What's the point in Google's Nexus device program these days?
I mean that literally - what is the point in it?
I used to know, but now, I just don't get it. Is it a developer device?
Is it a consumer item? Is it both? What day is it?
Google's only just announced the new Nexus 5 and for the first time since the Nexus One joined the party, I wasn't excited in the least. I know that puts me in the minority because the Nexus 5 section of this site was getting some serious hits in the build up to the announcement and launch, but WTF?! Continue reading...
This week's hottest reviews...
Apple iPad Air
Probably the best tablet ever made by Apple or anyone else
Make no mistake - Apple has finally nailed the tablet with a great combination of specs, power and a decent OS. It's a joy to hold the iPad Air. From the clever construction to the fast processor to the improved user interface, Apple has found an answer to every criticism we had of the device and then some.
The fact it's not even more expensive than its large-screen brethren is really impressive for an Apple product, and the suite of apps that are now free, coupled with the excellent App Store and premium build, make this a no brainer for anyone looking to enter the tablet market.
We'd advise that you get the largest capacity your budget can manage - although at the top end you're verging on Macbook territory, so make sure you're ready to use a tablet and think about getting an external keyboard to make full use of the extra apps you've now got.
You've seen the score, and for those keeping tabs you'll realise this is TechRadar's first five-star tablet. It's a device with almost no flaws - it's not just Apple's best tablet, it's the only tablet you should be considering this Christmas if you're keen on a larger screen. iPad Air review
AMD Radeon R9 290
Forget the 290X, this is the real star in AMD's Radeon stable
No sooner had we put the finishing touches to our R9 290X review but the red-tinged graphics gurus go and release another new card based on the exact same GPU. So here it is, the Radeon R9 290, another new graphics card based on the Hawaii silicon. And it's a bit of a doozy.
We would bet that when anybody who dropped a lot of money on an R9 290X is probably going to be cursing vociferously. At a far cheaper price point all you're really losing out on is the 'X' in the title – the actual gaming performance has barely suffered at all. AMD Radeon R9 290 review
Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti
Nvidia aims its bug guns at AMD's Hawaii cards and wins on power at least
Desirability is something the Radeon cards, with their toy-town plastic shrouds and noisy fans, just don't have. They may be quick and fantastic value, but where the vast majority of gamers were desperate to get their mitts on a Titan they'll now be after a GTX 780 Ti.
Those people wont have changed their targets to either of the more-affordable, but almost-as-quick Radeons. Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti review
The latest Android console doesn't quite get the formula right
The thing with is, while there's much about the GameStick that's inoffensive, that's really the best we have to say about it. It offers nothing meaningfully unique, and is almost universally either a little behind or considerably behind other consoles in other areas. There's the potential for something good in the idea for the GameStick, but it remains unrealised here. PlayJam GameStick review
Apple iMac 21-inch
Apple's popular desktop gets a late 2013 refresh
While the 2013 update is a welcome refresh, it's also nothing radical. Perhaps this is unsurprising coming less than a year after the radical redesign of late 2012. But it's nonetheless welcome, with a switch to Haswell processors and, for the more expensive 21.5-inch version, Nvidia 7 Series graphics.
We're not too happy about the discrete GPU vanishing from the entry-level, 2.7GHz model, though. With the 2.9GHz version costing only slightly more, we think it represents better value for money. 21-inch Apple iMac review
Apple iMac 27-inch
Apple's large-screen all-in-one desktop Mac also gets some welcome upddates
The 2013 refresh is a solid, if unremarkable, update for Apple's most popular desktop computer. It wasn't a radical overhaul, but nor did it need to be. Instead, the specifications got a welcome boost while retaining the well received form factor of the previous generation.
The £50 increase in the cost of the more expensive 27-inch model is simply inflationary, while the £100 price hike for the cheaper one is justified by the advances it makes. An excellent refresh. 27-inch Apple iMac review