Work Alert: April 2015
This month feels like it’s been really busy but, when I look at my spreadsheet, it looks a little quieter – and then, when I look at my calendar, I can see why. I had a long weekend in Aberystwyth, there’s been a bank holiday and I took most of the day off for my birthday. This month’s been a little lop-sided, too. All of that stuff was in the first half of the month, which proved quite disruptive, and I feel like that half of the month was dominated by more mundane stuff – sourcing kit, running benchmarks, making notes, getting ready. It’s also been dominated by business kit. The second half of the month has been turning that lot into reviews. There’s been Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook, which is a fantastic business laptop that faces strong competition from consumer-friendly rivals. I’ve also reviewed the Dell Latitude 12…
Six months with Motorola’s Moto G
If you’re into smartphones it was difficult to ignore the Motorola Moto G in September 2014. The second iteration of Moto’s mid-range handset upgraded with a bigger screen and a better camera, and its £145 price was tempting compared to Samsung and Apple phones at four times the cost.
It was universally praised. One review said it was “another cracking budget phone” that’s “a joy to use”, and another said multi-tasking didn’t “bring the Moto G to its knees” thanks to “impressive performance”.
This affordable, well-received phone ticked the right boxes: enough power to use Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Reddit, and fresh from the factory – I’d cracked my Nexus 4’s screen badly enough to stop it working, so I need something fast. Gaming and other intensive tasks were deferred to my Nexus 7.
It’s six months later, and I’m pining for a new handset. I can’t wait to get rid of the Moto G.
Why are so many high-end laptops just not good enough?
I’ve just opened a £1,200 laptop from one of the world’s biggest computer companies. It’s obvious that this machine is designed to beat the MacBook Pro at its own game: it’s dripping in aluminium, there’s a glossy black bezel around the screen, and a beefy specification. That’s great. MacBook Pros are stunning, but I’m all for competition. If other big players in the laptop market can build systems as fast, sturdy and good-looking as Apple’s beasts, with native Windows, then they’re welcome to a hefty chunk of my hard-earned. I’ve tested dozens of MacBook rivals. All cost more than £1,000, and many are near the £1,699 price of the Apple machine – and some cost even more. Some get near Apple in one or two categories: raw performance, perhaps, or build quality. Maybe a Retina-beating screen, if you’re lucky. Only one recent machine matched the MacBook in almost every department. Too many…
Steam Machine speculation and a sad lack of hardware knowledge
PC hardware often isn’t glamourous, but it’s never been so important to know about the silicon that powers the latest PCs and consoles. Valve’s CES press conference revealed a horde of Steam Machines: PCs designed for the living room, built by third parties, coming with Valve’s SteamOS and controller as standard. The machines range in price from $499 to more than $6,000. UK pricing and availability will be announced in due course. Steam Machines make sense. By using Linux for SteamOS, Valve has more software control than it has with Windows – important when Microsoft is moving away from the PC and towards the touchscreen – and Valve also has a tight grip on the games allowed on the OS. Valve’s controller gives the firm more control and, crucially, an easier route to the sofa: it’s more familiar to console gamers, and more comfortable than the keyboard and mouse. Like all great…