Best of TechRadar: this week's star features and hottest reviews

8th Mar 2014 | 08:00

Best of TechRadar: this week's star features and hottest reviews

All the hottest hits and techiest toys from the past 7 days

The Oscar-winning effects of Gravity

Gravity

In space, no one can hear you pee?

It is hard for a blockbuster nowadays to deliver the all-important 'wow' factor. Audiences in the 21st century have been conditioned to expect expensive special effects - so much so that they are only usually noticed now if they fall short of being exceptional. When it comes to Gravity, though, it was not the audience's expectations that had to be met but that of the director's. Continue reading...

Godz and Monsters: the making of Godzilla

Godz and Monsters: the making of Godzilla

Godzilla director talks about bringing the monster to life

When making a Godzilla movie, the conclusion you are going to come to pretty quickly is that size matters. For director Gareth Edwards there was only one way he wanted to go with the size of his Godzilla and that was upwards. Continue reading...

Apple CarPlay: Everything you need to know

Apple CarPlay: everything you need to know about iOS in the car

iOS in the car is finally here

Finally announced at the start of March 2014, Apple CarPlay is the much-mooted and long-awaited 'iOS in the car' project finally coming to fruition. With our digital tech barely having made a scratch on the largely analogue in-car experience, the automobile is considered by many to be the next great tech battleground. Because the lifespan of a car is so long compared to the lifecycle of digital technologies like phones and the software they run, the challenge is to create a smart in-car infotainment system that can stay up to date even as your car ages. Here's everything you need to know about CarPlay

Why internet speed should determine your next home

Bricks and broadband: why internet speed should determine your next home

Don't bet the house on a crap connection

What's a decent broadband connection worth? According to some reports, it could account for as much as 20% of the value of your home. Never mind homes built on flood plains, homes on fire or homes next door to Piers Morgan: it seems that the thing that scares homebuyers more than anything else is a crappy connection. Continue reading...

Google vs Apple CarPlay: why maps hold the key for in-car supremacy

Google vs Apple CarPlay

Maps, Glass, driverless cars - Google is miles ahead already

With the launch of CarPlay, Google and Apple are on collision course in the contest for car tech supremacy. But in my view, Google already has Apple well beaten. Both Apple and Google have now unveiled plans to get their mobile operating systems, usually found in phones and tablets, running in cars. The first skirmish in what is likely to be a drawn-out battle will be all about mapping and navigation. And Google Maps is miles ahead of Apple Maps. Factor in Google's broader track record in automotive tech, including driverless cars and the promise of Google Glass and a very strong case for favouring it over Apple in the contest for in-car supremacy emerges. Read:Google vs CarPlay

PlayStation Games are too expensive, here's why Valve has the right idea

PlayStation games are too expensive, here's why Valve has the right idea

It's time for PSN pricing to reflect digital values

Did you miss the biggest games story of the last seven days? If you play your games on PlayStation, you probably did. PC developer Valve Software has told its dev partners they can now freely discount the prices of their games on the Steam download store. So why does this matter to PlayStation? Because Valve has just triggered a downhill sales race on Steam. Many developers, understandably eager to seize the spotlight in front of an audience of more than 75 million PC gamers, will give in to the temptation to go low, driving others to go even lower. Read:PlayStation Gamer

Why The Walking Dead makes triple-A video games look like zombies

Why The Walking Dead makes triple-A video games look like zombies

In the new world of games, story counts more than size

With the release of The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2 this week, studio Telltale is continuing to do things differently. Instead of focusing on one full-length retail title, Telltale launches its games in episodes, with one 2-3 hour instalment of a series being released every couple of months. It's a great approach to development and marketing, and it works. The result is a fresh, reactive game with a fanbase who are constantly hungry for more. Frankly, more studios should be sitting up and taking notice. Shorter games could be the future of gaming. Read:Xbox Gamer

Spying smartphones could save your life

Spying smartphones could save your life

Never mind the NSA - we need iPod nannies

There's a big problem with wearable health tech: the people who need it won't buy it. With the obvious exceptions - people who have conditions that mean they need to keep a close eye on what their bodies are up to - the kind of people who'll embrace wearable health gadgets are the kind of people who don't really need them. If you care enough about your health to drop hundreds on health kit, you're probably not the kind of person who runs screaming from salad bars. We don't need health sensors for healthy people, we need them for everybody else. We need smartphones that will spy on us.

How Spotify dealt a huge blow to its rivals

Spotify buying Echo Nest is great news for fans - horrible news for everyone else

Swedish streamer just got a lot more powerful

Spotify just bought The Echo Nest - a music intelligence engine. If you're a Spotify user, you should be happy about the move - the company has inherited a treasure-trove of music data, which can only make Spotify's products better. "With The Echo Nest joining Spotify, we will make a big leap forward in our quest to play you the best music possible," said Daniel Ek in the company's statement. But if you're not, you might find the musical rug being whipped out from underneath you.

This week's hottest reviews

LG 55EA980W review

LG 55EA980W

It's OLED. It's curved. It's bloody brilliant!

The long, long wait is over and vaguely affordable big-screen OLED entertainment has finally arrived. And what style it's arrived in, with the 55EA980W imperiously rising to the challenge of living up to all the hype OLED has built up around itself over the past three or four years. Apparently OLED screens remain prohibitively difficult to make, leading to everyone bar LG seemingly withdrawing from the OLED market again for the time being. But that loss looks set to be LG's gain, for if it can continue to make OLEDs as outstanding as the 55EA980W, there will surely always be people out there desperate to buy them. Read:LG 55EA980W review

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 review

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2

Samsung throws everything into the fledgling maxi-tablet category

As the first significant manufacturer to step forward with its vision of a super-sized tablet, Samsung has quite a job on its hands to convince the world that there is a genuine need, and that this isn't just a gimmick. If nothing else, the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 successfully answers that question to the affirmative. It's not a tablet you'll want to lug around with you or whip out in public, and it is dauntingly expensive. But if productivity is foremost in your mind as you shop for an Android tablet, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2's combination of huge HD display and S Pen interactivity is a compelling combination.
Read:Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 review

Nokia Lumia 1320 review

Nokia Lumia 1320

A capable phablet, but is it already obsolete?

The Nokia Lumia 1320 is positioned as budget alternative to the all-powerful Nokia Lumia 1520, but there's a problem. The Nokia Lumia 1520 has dropped in price significantly, making the 1320 seem surplus to requirements. Comparisons aside, it's an extremely hefty phone that lacks Nokia's usual design flair, with a workmanlike plastic construction that's prone to creaking. This middle-of-the road feeling continues with its underwhelming processor, average camera, and lack of any stand-out software that really marks the Lumia 1320 out as unique. You'll be getting a strong Windows Phone 8 experience here, but that can be had for less money and in a more desirable package these days. Read:Nokia Lumia 1320

Pentax K-50 review

Pentax K-50

A weather-proof all-rounder well-suited to beginners

This is a good purchase for those looking for their first DSLR and want something a little bit rugged that can cope with a wide variety of different shooting conditions. If you have no particular affiliation to the Canon and Nikon standards here, definitely think about the K-50, if for the weather-sealing alone. Read: Pentax K-50 review

Alcosense

AlcoSense Digital Breathalyser Lite

An affordable and reusable tool for testing your blood-alcohol levels

There are two conundrums facing the Alcosense Digital Breathalyser Lite. Firstly, is it accurate? On that subject we can't be sure thanks to the disappointing lack of co-operation from Avon and Somerset Constabulary. That said, we've seen enough to think the device works well and would function in its intended role. In other words, we think the Alcosense Digital Breathalyser Lite will indeed give you a good guide as to whether you are risking driving over the allowed limit.
Read:AlcoSense Digital Breathalyser Lite review

Philips Fidelio E2 review

Philips Fidelio E2

A decent two-speaker setup that offers sound far above its paygrade

Slight sound niggles aside there is a lot to love with the Philips Fidelio E2 speakers. Coming in at a price point that (literally) sounds to good to be true, they will be hard to beat in their category. The only issues you may have are with styling - the wood finish won't fit all living rooms - and an occasional low dirge but these are slight complaints when the overall package is such a multi-faceted delight.
Read:Philips Fidelio E2 review

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