Nokia Lumia 2520 review: a good Windows tablet, not the best for typing

The Lumia 2520 is Nokia's first Windows tablet -- and it may well be its last. By the time Nokia is ready to design a follow-up product, the Finnish firm might officially be a part of Microsoft. For now, though, the Lumia 2520 is about to go on sale worldwide under the Nokia brand, and will compete directly with Microsoft's Surface 2, the only other Windows RT tablet available right now. Like the Surface, it's a flagship-caliber device, with a 1080p screen and top-of-the-line processor. But whereas Microsoft sees the Surface as kind of a laptop/tablet hybrid -- a real productivity device -- the 2520 is, at its heart, just a tablet. The 2520 has no kickstand, no full-sized USB port -- not unless you buy the optional keyboard cover, anyway.

Nokia also brought its A-game imaging wise, installing the same camera used on the Lumia 720 (hey, for a tablet that's actually unprecedented). Additionally, there's one other thing the 2520 has that the Surface 2 doesn't: LTE. In fact, you can't even get the 2520 as a WiFi-only device; you can either buy it unsubsidized for $499, or you can purchase it here in the US for $400 on-contract. So it definitely looks good on paper (and in press photos), but what's it like to use? Turns out, it's pretty nice.

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Nokia Lumia 1520 review: the best Windows Phone device yet

Windows Phone has never looked this good. The latest update to Microsoft's mobile operating system, known as Update 3, added support for 1080p displays, large smartphone screens and state-of-the-art processors. And now, these features are finally showing up on actual hardware. The first device to tick off all these boxes is the Nokia Lumia 1520, a 6-inch flagship with all of the trimmings we've been waiting to see on a Windows Phone device for three years now.

Because high-end Windows Phones have been limited to whatever specs Microsoft officially supports, we've felt that Nokia's flagships didn't differ enough in specs from the lowest-end Lumias to justify the enormous price difference. At least, they didn't until now. The Lumia 1520 is the first top-of-the-line Windows Phone device that brings the best possible components. So, what's WP8 like on hardware that isn't behind the times? Let's find out.

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Vivo Xplay review

A review of a smartphone that's primarily sold in China? Yes, that's exactly what this is, and with good reason. The Vivo Xplay merits attention because of the components it contains -- some of which are exotic, like its "HiFi grade" audio chips, and some of which are straightforward but desirable, like its huge, 5.7-inch 1080p display and Snapdragon 600 processor. The handset also helps to set a benchmark for what smartphone hardware is actually worth, since its $480 street price puts it closer to the smaller, Google-sponsored Nexus 5 ($350) than typical big-phones like the Galaxy Note 3 or HTC One Max, which fetch around $800 unlocked. Although US customers can import the Xplay for $520, it lacks the right bands for proper 3G support in North America and is actually more suitable for HSPA+ networks in the UK, where it costs £495. So, let's find out what China can deliver for that sort of money.

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DNP Nexus 5 review

When you're shopping for a smartphone, what do you expect to get for less than $400 without a contract? Certainly not a top-of-the-line device, right? Until recently, that kind of price has been reserved for devices that were mid-range at best, or entry-level at worst. Ever since the gorgeous and powerful Nexus 4 came out last year for $300 on the Play Store, however, it's been clear Google is trying to give the high-end, $600-plus Android flagships a run for their money. Now the company's back with the Nexus 5, a power user's dream that sells for $350 and features some of the same specs you'd expect to see in a top-shelf device.

That is, if you can even get your hands on one. The device sold out in less than two hours, and new orders won't get fulfilled for at least a few weeks. But what's so intriguing about the Nexus 5 that it's causing such a ruckus on the Play Store? It's a $350 flagship phone with the serenity of a pure Android experience and all the trimmings, that's what. The question is, can you survive the estimated three to five week waiting time?

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DNP Tesco Hudl review Can a supermarket chain put out a decent tablet

One may seem like a paragon of modernity compared to its 94-year-old rival, but the UK's two biggest retailers have a lot in common. For starters, both Amazon and Tesco succeeded far beyond their original missions (bookseller and greengrocer, respectively) to become retail giants. Both understand the value of consumer data and exploit that information mercilessly. Finally, both sell dirt-cheap Android tablets in the hopes of maintaining a foothold in our living rooms, hearts, minds and, most importantly, wallets.

In the UK, there are around 50 million people who don't own a tablet or any other mobile computing device. That's the group of people that Tesco is going after with the Hudl, an Android slate that tech snobs, obsessed with blistering benchmarks, would turn their noses up at. Priced at £119 ($191), but available for £60 ($91) if you redeem Clubcard vouchers, it's not a surprise that the company sold 35,000 units after launch. So, is it better than the Kindle Fire that it seeks to emulate? And when all is said and done, is this the device for which we'll be stuck doing technical support when the in-laws inevitably purchase it?

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Sony SmartWatch 2 review a fair effort that still hasn't cracked it

Cast your mind back to the period between August and October 2012, and there was barely a whisper about a smartwatch round these parts. Pebble was funded and well underway, and we discovered a curious Google patent -- but that was pretty much it. In that same period one year later, you'll find nearly 40 news stories on Engadget alone. There's definitely been a climate change.

One player in this year's wrist-based technology battle is Sony's SmartWatch 2. That number appended to the end of its name lets you know that this isn't the company's first foray into this area (it's technically its third). Because it's a tech giant, then, and also one of the more established players in this market, our expectations were rather high. So, can Sony show the competition how it's done.

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Samsung's Galaxy S4 Zoom leaked for AT&T

Itching for a better smartphone camera, but can't afford to buy an unlocked device? You're in luck: Samsung's Galaxy S4 Zoom appears to be coming to AT&T. Images of the AT&T branded smart camera (complete with carrier identification and official apps) appeared on Twitter today, hinting that a AT&T subsidized version of the device could be forthcoming. The 16-megapixel Zoom is an intriguing mash up between the Galaxy Camera and the Galaxy S4 Mini, but unless Ma Bell has made some major tweaks to the device, we wouldn't run out to your local AT&T store: the original was kind of a mess.

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HTC One Max review

The debate around giant smartphones is over. Manufacturers like Samsung, Sony and LG have amply demonstrated that it's possible to build a pocketable, phone-like device with a screen bigger than five inches. Now it's HTC's turn. But instead of re-imagining the much-praised One for this new category of device, HTC's designers have mostly just cloned it, while adding a drop of Miracle-Gro to produce a 1080p panel that measures 5.9 inches diagonally, versus the One's 4.7 inches.

The result is the One Max, a product that carries over some good things from the One while also finding room for a few notable extras like a fingerprint scanner and expandable storage. At the same time, it also introduces some major snags -- not least of which are the its intimidating size and weight. The job ahead of us is to somehow find the upper body strength to weigh it all up.

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DNP BlackBerry Z30 review

Let's be honest: it's not a great time to be BlackBerry right now. Each morning brings yet more news stories that hint -- no, scream -- at the company's rapid unraveling. In the nine days following the announcement of the Z30, the company halted its BBM rollout and announced plans to fire 4,500 employees. Meanwhile, T-Mobile withdrew retail support, Motorola started sniffing around BlackBerry's top talent and its manufacturing partner looked for an exit. Finally, BlackBerry entered into a sale agreement, and the company had to concede that it lost a billion dollars on unsold Z10 handsets. So, what does all of this make the Z30?

There had been plenty of rumors ahead of time that suggested BlackBerry would launch a phablet. The 5-inch Z30, however, isn't big enough to warrant that name, and the company itself has positioned the device as the flagship for the holiday season. That means the handset dodges comparisons with devices like the Galaxy Note, but instead stands in the line of fire between the iPhone 5s, Galaxy S 4, HTC One and Lumia 1020. Unlike those other devices, however, the Z30 isn't packing any flashy, headline-grabbing specs, nor does it offer bleeding-edge internals that will excite performance nuts. There's also the looming question of whether this hardware will make it over to the US in a timely fashion, as BlackBerry has only confirmed that it'll launch in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the UK (priced at £500 off-contract).

It's almost redundant to ask if this is the device that will save BlackBerry. After all, with the uncertainty surrounding the platform's future, we wouldn't be surprised if corporate buyers waited for the dust to settle before making more orders. Instead, let's ask if this handset, when judged on its own merits, is worth your cash. Is it the first step on a road to rejuvenation, or is the Z30 destined to become a footnote in technology history?

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ZTE Open review: Firefox OS gets off to a modest but promising start

As the first Firefox OS smartphone, the ZTE Open is an ambassador for its platform: it's built to prove that web apps can do the hard work of their native equivalents. It's also geared toward first-time smartphone owners with its simple interface and an $80 unlocked price. This combination of open, standards-based software and affordable hardware sounds like a dream for both developers and newcomers alike. But is that how it works in practice? Read our review and you'll find out.

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 Samsung Galaxy Gear review

When we speak of smartwatches, what do you think of first? If you're the nostalgic type, your mind might drift back to Dick Tracy, or to those times when Michael Knight yelled at KITT to help get him out of impossibly tight spots (which, let's face it, was nearly every single episode). But those types of products, once associated with sci-fi movies and TV shows, are now a dime a dozen -- they're so numerous in 2013, in fact, that an entire industry has been built around them, and big-name companies like Google and Apple are starting to show an intense interest in them.

It was only a matter of time (har) before a large manufacturer like Samsung tossed its hat into the wearables arena. Its first attempt, known as the Galaxy Gear, was announced alongside the Galaxy Note 3 and the new Note 10.1 about a month ago. With a 1.6-inch AMOLED screen, upcoming third-party support and even a camera, this promises to be unlike any smartwatch we've played with before. Still, the suggested MSRP of $300 is a pretty high price to pay for the convenience of looking at texts on your wrist, and you may not even see Warren Beatty rocking the thing on the red carpet. But is this first-generation Samsung device executed well enough that you might consider purchasing it along with your new Galaxy Note 3? Let's see.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review global edition

Three is the magic number. Three is lucky. Three's a crowd. Okay, ignore that last one, but the number 3 does also apply to the latest Galaxy Note, and we're curious to know which of those maxims might apply. What are the marquee features this time around? Well, there's the usual bevy of specification improvements (a 5.7-inch display, quad-core Snapdragon 800 and 3GB of RAM), Android 4.3, some new S Pen features and the small matter of the Gear, that optional, polarizing companion watch.

Samsung makes a great many products, even if you just consider the mobile ones. However, since it burst into existence in 2011, the Note has been up there with the Galaxy S series on the flagship pedestal. So, it'd be fair to say that we're expecting big things from this big phone, but with a SIM-free price in the UK of £620, it requires even deeper pockets than its predecessor did at launch (that one cost around £530). That said, if you want one, you'll need big pockets anyway. While you check their size, we've scribbled, doodled and gestured the Note 3 with abandon to see if it's worth the bounty. Read on to find out if it is.

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Sony Xperia Z1 review 20 megapixels and no humps

It's time to set the record straight: the original Xperia Z, launched back in February, was a decent phone. A solid phone. It was as if Sony had suddenly paused its chaotic schedule of handset releases in order to take stock of what Android users actually want: things like 1080p, microSD and a premium look and feel. And yet, the Xperia Z failed to be compelling. It wasn't just its subpar battery life that held it back. It was also the lack of a standout feature, which caused the phone to be buried amidst all the news of the GS4 and the HTC One -- and also by the announcement of the Lumia 1020 Windows Phone, whose camera suddenly made Sony's pokey, 13-megapixel module look like old technology.

That's why today, just seven months later, we're looking at a new flagship: the Xperia Z1 (codenamed Honami, and not to be confused with the Xperia ZL), with a far more boast-worthy camera and some other subtle-but-important enhancements. Buyers of the Xperia Z may understandably be displeased at being left behind so soon, but -- as much as we feel for them -- we'd hazard a guess that they don't constitute an especially large population anyway. In contrast, the Xperia Z1 should have much greater mainstream appeal. Read on to discover why.

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DNP The meaning of life how the Knights of Ni coopted the number 42

After weeks of leaks and speculation, the iPhone 5c is finally here. Apple's colorful new lower-cost handset slots below the iPhone 5s flagship and ships with iOS 7. This is the first time the company's launched two new iPhones simultaneously. The 5c replaces the iPhone 5 in the middle of the lineup, and the 8GB iPhone 4s is now available free on contract. Unlike years past, the iPhone 5 doesn't carry on as a second-tier device -- it's just gone. The 5c is built from steel-reinforced, colored-through, machined polycarbonate that's coated in a glossy finish. Apple's last plastic handset was the iPhone 3GS in 2009, but it only came in black and white. In contrast, the 5c arrives in a rainbow of pastel hues: white, pink, yellow, blue and green, along with a matching set of cases.

Spec-wise, the 5c is basically an iPhone 5 with an improved front-facing camera and global LTE support. The 16GB model costs $99 with a two-year commitment ($549 unlocked) and the 32GB version is $199 on contract ($649 unsubsidized) -- as such it's more affordable than the departed iPhone 5. While Apple's clearly positioning the 5c as an aspirational product, we suspect it's also less expensive to manufacture than the iPhone 5, which means the company gets to enjoy some higher profit margins. It's obviously not the cheap iPhone some folks were expecting, and frankly, we're not surprised -- it's an Apple device, after all. So does the 5c live up to the hype? Is it an improvement over the iPhone 5? Should you pony up for the iPhone 5s instead? Let's find out.

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iPhone 5s review

Forward-thinking. It's ironic that Apple's marketing slogan for the iPhone 5s invites us to look ahead to the future when, from the outside, the device looks like a carbon copy of last year's model, the iPhone 5. But just like any other odd-year iPhone -- the "S" version, if you will -- the 5s plays the Transformers card by offering more than meets the eye, with a few key improvements on the inside.

Though it's easy to dismiss this handset as iterative, the 5s is the first smartphone with full 64-bit support and a capacitive fingerprint sensor, and it also ships with a fresh, revamped version of iOS. This might not matter to folks who were content with the status quo, but it matters a lot to Apple -- and to the company's future as well -- especially if the company wants to fend off an increasingly fierce pack of competitors. But is a "forward-thinking" phone worth the investment today?

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