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Hands-On

  • Xiaomi Mi 4 hands-on: it’s almost here, South Africa

    Xiaomi: it's a brand some won't know but many have heard of. It's often called the Apple of China (which is itself a term steeped in incredibly irony) and demonstrates the weight this relatively new company has on its shoulders. Its plans to enter the South African smartphone market haven't exactly been secret either. Although we've known since September that the company was looking at launching its devices to African markets, we had no idea when exactly. Finally, we do. In less than two weeks, Xiaomi devices will be available to purchase South Africa. There'll be two smartphones on offer initially, including the Xiaomi...

  • Samsung Gear S2 hands-on preview: touch me, tease me

    There are many gimmicky devices floating around in the consumer cloud. Smartwatches are arguably the lousiest of the lot, with manufacturers promising you all and more this world has to offer on the small wearable screen. They rarely deliver on this promise. While there are some great examples of smartwatches, don't get me wrong, including the likes of the Sony SmartWatch 3 and the Apple Watch, I still don't see a reason to buy one. There's no intrinsic need for them. Bread. Water. Air. Sure. But smartwatches? The hardware isn't really the limiting factor either. Some feature internals that could power...

  • Huawei Mate S hands-on preview: middle child syndrome

    When we first gained word of the Huawei Mate S at IFA 2015, it definitely sounded like the Chinese company was leaping bounds beyond the Mate 7 and the P8 -- two fabulous phones in their own right. Generally, that's what an S version of your product should be: a step above and beyond its predecessor in generally every way. But the Huawei Mate S doesn't force me to ignore its two stablemates, or the the iPhone 6S, for that matter, what is arguably the best example of an "S" phone. Recently we got our paws on the Huawei Mate S...

  • Sony Xperia Z5 Compact hands-on preview: that familiar feeling

    I'm a big Sony smartphone fanboy, so much so that I believe the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact was the greatest Android phone ever made. While, yes, that does sound decidedly subjective, there's a good reason why I say this. The camera was a peach, the screen was great, it was small, light and the battery lasted an age. It was quick when it needed to be, and thrifty when I didn't require it, and it wasn't the worst looking thing on the planet either. So, how do you upstage, or build on a device that can almost do it all? Well,...

  • LG G4 Stylus hands-on preview: yep, yet another G4 variant

    It's safe to say that LG's recent mid-range phones have suffered from an identity crisis, well, largely because most of them have been awful when compared to their flagships. I only have to think about the LG G4 Beat, and it's predecessor the G3 Beat, and the number of awkwardly named devices as well. But sometimes, naming a device after its parent flagship is a good idea. Although I don't endorse it. The LG G4 Stylus is one such example of a slight bucking of the trend, and it follows the other trend that the Samsung Galaxy Note pioneered all those...

  • TomTom Bandit hands on: extremely different

    Ask a common consumer to name an action camera and they'll almost immediately say "GoPro." But that doesn't have to be the case. Although the American marque is there on merit launching some great devices at perfectly timed intervals, the world of action gadgetry is taking an interesting turn. More and more companies that haven't trudged this space before are finding that there's one massive market here, especially for South African weekend warriors, who enjoy getting their bikes dirty in the Cederberg. That's where the TomTom Bandit slots in. Although it launched the device in Amsterdam back in July, TomTom has only...

  • ‘Layers of Fear’ Early Access preview: trust nothing, fear everything

    Enter a world of true madness where nothing is as it seems. A terrifying place where the lines between horror and reality are all too blurred. Layers of Fear, a first-person indie title by Polish developer Bloober Team SA, is one of the most outstanding horror experiences I’ve ever had. A game has honestly not scared me this much since I played the original Outlast. In Layers of Fear you delve into the mind of a mentally insane painter who is on a quest to create his magnum opus, the greatest work he will ever produce. But in the pursuit...

  • Windows 10 first impressions: what Gearburn thinks of Microsoft’s new baby

    For all Windows 10 related views, breaking stories and deeper analysis, visit our comprehensive Windows 10 Hub before and after Microsoft’s big launch. We may be soulless journalists, but that doesn't mean a software release has no bearing on our lives. As a squad of Windows users (except for one or two in this office), we expect to receive the best user experience constantly. The operating system we use daily doesn't only affect our productivity, but our sanity. Microsoft's new baby has a lot to live up to especially after the problem children that were Windows 8 and Windows Vista (an...

  • Hands on with the Hisense H6 smartphone and Sero 8 Pro tablet

    Something interesting happens when technology starts to become so ubiquitous that we can't imagine living without it: the ability for manufacturers to differentiate themselves from the competition starts to slowly diminish. If you're one of the big Android manufacturers especially, then you're starting to see it in the smartphone and tablet space in the same way as notebook manufacturers did a few years back. You can try innovating, but someone, somewhere out there can simply copy said innovation at a much lower cost. And let's be honest, your average member of the public is going to care a lot more...

  • Alcatel One Touch Idol Alpha hands on review: light up my life

    New, exciting and brimming with promise. Yeah, it’s another Android smartphone, but the Alcatel Idol One Touch Alpha (let’s call it the Alpha for brevity) is a beautiful phone. We managed to get our hands on it and have created a sort-of, kind-of review. It’s also the first phone I’ve ever used that comes in two flavours of champagne colouring, namely gold and rose (although South Africa only gets the rose-coloured variant Q4 2014). The one I used had the third, boring-as-sin "slate" colour, but thankfully it's wrapped in a metal frame that's almost as handsome as the iPhone...