All the week’s reviews
A good week for hardware saw TomTom putting our driving into the hands of the masses; Sony proving that not all beautiful all-in-one PCs come with extortionate price tags; Asus slapping its Eee logo on yet another cheap and cheerful piece of plastic, and RIM taking a leaf out of Apple’s book for its latest iPhone rival.
Asus will get the headlines with its little lump of white plastic, the touchscreen Eee Top ET1602, and while it’s not going to win any speed competitions, we liked it nonetheless. “We can see it finding a niche both in homes – say, the kitchen, or a child’s bedroom – and offices. It’s even got enough style to be a front-of-office PC,” gushed Mike.
Even more popular was the Sony VAIO VGC-JS1E. Take note of the fast processor, the sleek metal frame, the stunningly vibrant screen and the amazing price. As the review concludes, “for years Apple users have been happy to pay a silly premium for this sort of beautiful design, so if Sony can offer the same for a comparative pittance, we’ll be first in line.”
Traffic shaping satnav
We try to keep reviews editor Jon Bray away from things with wheels – the Labs currently houses around 17 bikes and he arrives in indecent Spandex most mornings – but we had to let him loose on TomTom’s Go 740 Live. And we haven’t seen him since. It hooks up to GPS satellites and mobile phone networks to map and shape traffic as it builds up. You can even talk to it when you’re driving, which is probably why Jon called it “undoubtedly the best third-party sat-nav you can buy.”
Onto phones, and RIM’s BlackBerry Storm 9500 likes you touching it so much that it just has to have more. Jon reckons “the touch-then-click approach also avoids those infuriating accidental taps that so often happen with other touchscreen phones,” but iPhone owners may struggle with the idea of having to physically push the screen in until it clicks. Credit to RIM, though, it’s like the new MacBook touchpad, but actually works.
Best of the rest
Picasa 3 arrived from Google, and Tom was very close to elevating it to the A List ahead of Photoshop Elements – but it remains a great choice for casual photographers nonetheless. And the Genetica 3 software utility impressed him with its approach to texture creation, too.
Viewsonic’s VX2260wm highlights the current move towards 16:9, 1080p panels on large-format monitors, with mixed results, while Gigabyte’s EX58-UD5 is the first Core i7 motherboard we’ve tested – and the price tag is as high as you might expect. We also saw the barebones PC that housed dual-core Atom we benchmarked last week, the Shuttle X27D; small, well-designed and very quiet, it certainly had Darien impressed.
And on the business side of things, we exclusively reviewed the Boston 3000GP rack server with one of the world’s first AMD Shanghai processors inside; we saw Western Digital’s ShareSpace attempting to make an impact in the desktop NAS appliance market, and Dave Mitchell played with the brilliantly named Splunk log management utility.