TIME Gadgets

You’ll Be Able to Get Your Cheap Apple Watch Gold-Plated

Apple watch is displayed in a shop in Paris, France.
Loic Venance—Getty Images Apple watch is displayed in a shop in Paris, France.

Here's how you can avoid paying for the gold Apple Watch Edition

This post is in partnership with Trusted Reviews. The article below was originally published at TrustedReviews.com.

Several companies have revealed to us that they will be offering gold-plating services for the soon-to-be-released Apple Watch.

One such company is Goldgenie, a UK-based company that already offers paid-for gilding of Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed to TrustedReviews that it would be offering that very same service for both the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport. This will result in a cheaper mark-up than the expected Apple Watch Edition pricing.

We will be offering a gold-plating service for the standard Apple Watch, and can offer finishes in rose gold, platinum, as well as 24-karat gold,” the source explained. “The service will cost approximately £1,250, ex. VAT.”

While prices won’t be confirmed until the launch, the spokesperson said the rose gold version was likely to cost £1,300, and £1,350 for the platinum version, not including the cost of the actual device.

Just last week, we saw estimates that put the actual price of 18-karat gold on the Apple Watch Edition at a raw value of around $900 (£585).

Apple, meanwhile, is expected to retail its Apple Watch Edition at anywhere between $5,000 (£3,250) and $10,000 (£6,500) – that’s over five to ten times the raw gold value.

If third-party companies are going to take a $349 (£225) Apple Watch Sport, and then gild it with £585 of raw gold, they will be able to undercut Apple pricing while still achieving huge profit margins.

Goldgenie also says that its technicians will use at least 5 microns of 24-karat gold for the plating, which it says is ‘significantly higher’ than the average 2-3 micron thickness of most gold-plated products. The actual value of raw gold in the process is still unclear.

Another company offering a similar gold-plating service is the UK-based Gold Status.


We spoke to the company’s director Luke Paul Waterhouse, who admitted that while Gold Status wasn’t currently planning to offer Apple Watch gilding, he would consider it if there was enough consumer interest.

“If we got a lot of enquiries, we may decide to customise the Apple Watch,” Waterhouse explained. “We would customise the aluminium versions only.”

Unfortunately, Waterhouse wasn’t able to tell us how much the company would charge for such a service.

“We couldn’t estimate a price at this time as we do not have an Apple Watch to take apart and trial.”

It’s not yet clear whether Apple would have any legal recourse against companies looking to woo potential Apple Watch Edition customers with gilding services.

We’ve asked Apple for comment, and we’ll update this article if we receive a response.

For the original article, please go to TrustedReviews.com.

TIME Smartphones

Review: Lollipop Makes Your Android Phone Way More Beautiful

Google Google Nexus 6

Android is getting a massive visual overhaul

This review originally appeared on Trusted Reviews

Android 5.0 Lollipop is the latest version of the Google mobile OS. It takes over from Android 4.4 KitKat and is likely to be the last major revision we see of the system until well into 2015.

Lollipop is the future, in other words, but is it really worth getting worked-up about? We’ve been using Android 5.0 with the Nexus 9, one of the devices launched alongside the software. Here’s what we think.

Android 5.0 Lollipop: Material Interface

Having used Android 5.0 Lollipop for a while now, we think perhaps the most significant change for now is the way the software looks. Not every change made offers a dramatic shift in the way Android feels, but the interface design does.

Google calls it Material, and aside from freshening-up the look, it’s meant to add “responsive, natural motion, realistic lighting and shadows.”

First, let’s take a look at the new design. Here are your home screens:

 

Trusted ReviewsAndroid Lollipop Home Screens

You’ll notice everything is looking familiar, but a little different. Google has redesigned the soft keys — which now have a PlayStation-like flavor— and the Google app icons are different now.

It’s innocuous stuff, but tells you a lot about the aesthetic direction in which the system is heading. Android 5.0 Lollipop is all about friendly curves and shapes that have no intrinsic or obvious relationship with technology. They’re a circle, a square and a triangle: you don’t get much more basic than that.

Trusted ReviewsAndroid Lollipop Soft Keys

We assume the idea is that they’re friendly compared with the rather more complicated soft keys of Android 4.4 KitKat. Despite their simplicity, the functions of two are pretty obvious even to relative technophobes.

The triangle already forms an arrow sign, and the circle is just like the Home button on an iPhone. When in doubt, copy Apple. The one on the right is called Overview these days, but it has much the same function as before: it brings up the multi-tasking menu.

The movement of the homescreens has changed. The animations are a bit less severe, with greater variance in their speeds and a greater sense of inertia. Android 5.0 Lollipop is all about shaving off that geeky exterior Android is still seen as having in some quarters.

You’re also likely to see a whole lot of the two headline backgrounds of Android 5.0. These are designed to look as though they’re made from real materials with clever use of textures. Once again, it’s a step away from the sharp technical refinement that has been more a clearer visual feature in previous Android UI elements. These backgrounds are still precise and geometric, but the textures are intended to ground them in the “real.”

It’s not so much “less geek, more chic,” but “less geek, more family-friendly.” Its no wonder Google has opted for this style, with tablets like the Tesco Hudl 2 plugging away at family buyers hard.

Is the new look good? Yes, it’s great. We already liked the Google Now interface used in some Android 4.4 phones, though, including the Nexus 5 and Moto G 2014.

The use of the real-time shadows/lighting promised on Google’s website is pretty subtle too. Those expecting jaw-dropping visual flashiness may be disappointed by this lack of bravado. Where you see the these live shadows most obviously is in the multi-tasking menu, which, as usual, is accessed using the right (square) soft key. Multi-tasking has gone 3D, folks, and each pane casts its own shadows. These are “design” shadows rather than realistic ones, mind you, and again are pretty diffuse. We like the look…

For the full Android 5.0 Lollipop Review, visited Trusted Reviews.

See more from Trusted Reviews:

Google Nexus 6 Hands-On

Google Nexus 9 Review

iPad Air 2 review

TIME Smartphones

Hands-On With Google’s New, Insanely Huge Nexus 6 Smartphone

Google Google Nexus 6

Bigger might not mean better

This hands-on originally appeared on Trusted Reviews.

In recent years, Google’s Nexus smartphone line has become synonymous with high-end functionality and great value for money. The Nexus 6, however, is something of a curve ball, and a massive one at that.

It’s a phone brimmed with high-end components – a 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor, QHD display – but one which has overlooked mass market appeal in favor of a phablet dwarfing 6-inch form factor. As the phone’s size has gone up, so too has its price. The handset will set you back $649 or $699 depending on your choice of internal storage – 32GB or 64GB.

Nexus 6: Design

There is no getting away from it, the Nexus 6 is huge. At 159.3mm tall, 83mm wide and 10.1mm thick it dwarfs flagship phones such as the Galaxy S5 and LG G3. Although it features an overall footprint not much larger than the iPhone 6 Plus or the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, it doesn’t carry its size as well as either rival.

I found the phone to feel bulky and cumbersome from the start. Its considerable 184g weight is distributed well across the phone’s sizeable form, but unlike some overweight handsets, the Nexus 6 does little to hide its size. It’s wider than the 6 Plus, less graceful than the Note 4 and fatter than both — it’s an awkward, gangly teenager of a handset.

Visually, the Nexus 6 is basically an oversized Moto X. It’s not ugly phone, but it lacks the refined simplicity of the Nexus 5 and certainly can’t match the iPhone 6 Plus or Note 4. The two-tone colour scheme is easy on the eye and the metallic blue edges give the phone an air of elegance, but this is overshadowed by the phone’s cheap-looking – and feeling – plastic back.

Further highlighting the Nexus 6’s awkward design are the phone’s physical buttons – a power key and separate volume rocker. Both feel dwarfed by the handset’s overall size. They are well located in the centre of the phone’s right-hand edge, but are small and fiddly to operate.

Nexus 6: Screen

As with the phone’s overall look and feel, the Nexus 6’s screen fell slightly short of expectation on first use. While the handset’s 5.96-inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel QHD panel is sufficiently sharp and detailed, it lacks the pop and vibrancy of either the Note 4 or 6 Plus.

Unusually for an AMOLED panel, I found the Nexus 6’s colour range to be a little subdued. Hues aren’t exactly muted but neither do they wow. This ran throughout all elements of the Nexus 6 from the new Material OS design to web pages and the image viewer.

Where visuals were slightly off, the screen’s touch capabilities and performance were on point. Screen transitions were smooth, swipe gestures fluid and all multi-finger commands handled with ease. Brightness levels are also hard to fault. The phone’s screen adjusted elegantly to bouts of direct sunlight and periods in a shadowy corner.

We’ll need more time with the Nexus 6 to judge the screen definitively, but it doesn’t wow as much as the raw size and resolution suggest…

For the full Google Nexus 6 Hands-On, please visit TrustedReviews.com.

See more from Trusted Reviews:

iPad Mini 3 review

iPad Air 2 review

Amazon Fire HD 6 review

TIME Gadgets

Everything You Need to Know About Google’s New Nexus 9 Tablet

Google Google Nexus 9

How does Google's new flagship tablet stack up?

This review originally appeared on Trusted Reviews.

The Nexus 9 is Google’s new lead tablet, the first to launch with Android 5.0 Lollipop and the first of the Nexus troupe to use a 4:3 screen rather than a widescreen one.

People hoping for a tablet with which to replace their Nexus 7 may be slightly disappointed by the price, though. At $399, it’s not the market-defining bargain that the earlier Nexus was. Given the little issues here and there, it’s not as complete or coherent a device as the iPad Air 2. There’s a slight spark of magic missing that means it probably won’t go down in history as an all-time classic.

However, what’s commendable is the direction it demonstrates. 8-inch non-widescreen tablets like this will no longer be ‘non-canon’ third-party oddities, and that’s a very good thing. We don’t think it’ll take the Nexus 9 18 months to be topped for value, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is already a fairly compelling alternative. But for a larger device, the Nexus 9 offers up a solid ‘go-to’ standard.

Nexus 9: Design

The Nexus 9 sets itself up for criticism. Its style and shape are pretty similar to the iPad Air 2, a departure for the Nexus series. This in itself is a good move. Larger tablets feel a lot more natural when they adopt a less-widescreen aspect: both the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 are 16:10 ratio, whereas the Nexus 9 is 4:3.

However, the Nexus 9 doesn’t offer quite as impressive build quality as an iPad, and when the design similarities are so clear, it’s hard not to compare the two directly despite their differing platforms. You may bring up price difference ($100 more for the iPad Air 2), but also consider that the still-pretty-great first-gen iPad Air costs now exactly the same amount as the Nexus 9. To explain, let’s look a little closer at the Nexus 9’s hardware design.

Much like the Nexus 7, the Nexus 9 uses a plastic back cover, one that that’s firmly strapped into a metal frame that runs around the tablet. It’s a fairly innocuous design, and despite using a very mild soft-touch textured finish, it still feels conspicuously like plastic.

We’re also slightly disappointed with some of the finishing elements, given how much more expensive this tablet is compared to the Nexus 7. The plastic rear flexes at certain points, even producing a slightly disconcerting clicking noise towards the top of the tablet, and there’s a roughness to the metal frame as it pokes ever-so-slightly above the screen glass.

The volume keys too feel a little cheap, the action slightly misjudged and shallow, even if they are metal. This may be us simply grasping for explanations, but HTC’s relative inexperience may be to blame: it makes the Nexus 9 and hasn’t released a tablet since the 2011 HTC Flyer.

While we have no particular worries about the longevity of the Nexus 9 – it doesn’t feel poorly made, just not all that well finished – it seems like a bit of a middleweight contender for what is meant to be the standard-setting Android tablet flagship. We’ll see other elements that suffer from this sort of vibe later on.

It’s not just the iPad Air 2 the Nexus 9 needs to compete with, either. The Nexus 9 is 7.9mm thick and 425g (Wi-Fi), a load heftier than the 6.6mm thick, 294g Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 – the Samsung is smaller, but still a good size. The Nexus 9 is arguably just not leading the pack in the way it really should be.

However, cast away those comparisons and in real-life use the Nexus 9 is pretty good. The non-widescreen aspect is great, there’s just enough side bezel to rest your thumb on, and it’s very comfortable to use, especially if you have both hands spare or are sitting down.

Like the iPad Air 2, which is a somewhat-similar weight, you can use it one-handed for a while without discomfort, but it’s far off the feather-lightness of the 8.4-inch Samsung or the iPad Mini 2/3 (we recommend the former, by the way).

Just like the Nexus 7, the Nexus 9 leaves out a microSD card slot. There are 16GB and 32GB versions of the tablet, with a slightly disappointing $80 gap between the two. That’s even more than Apple charges: you get a bump up from the 16GB iPad Air 2 to the 64GB model for $100. Who’d have thought Google would charge even more than Apple’s often notoriously-pricey upgrades?

Step back a minute, and we can see the factors behind the Nexus 9’s failing to offer the market-defining package we’re after. It doesn’t offer class-leading value or class-leading design, and doesn’t have all the geek-friendly features that might excuse these two points.

The hardware spec list is relatively simple too. There’s no IR transmitter, for example – something found on the Galaxy Tab S 8.4. If this is all sounding terribly negative, you need to understand it in with context of the weight of expectation laid on the Nexus 9. It’s not just meant to be ‘an’ Android tablet, it’s meant to be ‘the’ Android tablet.

So far: good, not superb.

Google is also to offer a Nexus 9 folio keyboard case, which comes with solid keyboard action even if typing on it can feel a little cramped. It’s not cheap at $130, but bumps up the tablet’s potential as a portable productivity tool.

Nexus 9: Screen Quality

The Nexus 9 has an 8.9-inch screen. That’s a fair bit smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad Air, but it still feels much, much larger than the Nexus 7 – far closer to the iPad’s league.

What’s important to note here is the screen shape. A 4:3 aspect isn’t so hot for widescreen movies, but it’s great for just about everything else. Browsing, (most) gaming and a great many kinds of apps feel more at-home on this shape display.

Unlike an iPad, relatively few Android apps will have been made with this squatter screen shape in mind, but then most are created with a great deal of scaling versatility in mind: they have to cater for screen from three inches to 23 inches, or even more when you factor in things like Amazon Fire TV.

We love the shape, and while the extra portability of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is handy, a straw poll of the Trusted team sees most of us side with the squatter Nexus 9 style.

Thumbs-up for the screen style, but how are its tech chops?

The Nexus 9 has an 8.9-inch 2,048 x 1,536 pixel IPS LCD screen. That’s the same resolution as the iPad Air 2 crammed into a smaller space, getting you pixel density of 281ppi.

It’s enough to ensure you get nice, sharp images and text. Pixel peepers will be able to see a wee bit of jaggedness right up close, but if that’s an issue, get the higher-res Galaxy Tab S 8.4 or an iPad mini 3. Or, more to the point, get your priorities in order. There are issues with the Nexus 9’s screen, but a lack of resolution is not one of them.

The first thing you might want to worry about is black level. It’s decent, but only for an LCD screen. This wouldn’t have been an issue to raise until recently, but Samsung’s Tab S tablets offer reasonably priced, high-quality AMOLED screens that let you opt out of the insanely saturated colours that used to come as part of the OLED package. These screens offer much greater contrast. We think it’s only seriously worth worrying about if you’re going to watch films on the tablet in lower lighting.

Any lack of contrast or limit to the black level is a symptom of an IPS LCD screen, not a particular failing of the Nexus 9, though, and IPS comes with benefits too. Colours are excellent — vibrant without being remotely radioactive (as the Samsung Tab S tablets are in multiple display settings) and viewing angles are good.

There is the odd sign that this isn’t a real top-notch screen in QA terms, though. First there’s fairly significant backlight leakage at the top of the screen. This is basically where you can see the effect of the side-firing backlight LEDs, making one edge of the screen significantly brighter than the rest of the display. It’s a fairly common occurrence, but one that we’re disappointed to see so clearly in a tablet of this grade.

Our particular Nexus 9 sample also suffers from a spot of backlight bleed. This is where parts of the screen are lit-up slightly more than others, another form of backlight leakage. It is only very minor, though, and unlikely to be noticed unless you like staring at screens of dark greys and have — like us — acquired a certain degree of irritating tech pedantry.

Despite its issues, the Nexus 9 screen is certainly one we’d happily watch films on. Just make sure that backlight leakage isn’t going to get on your nerves too much.

Nexus 9: Speakers

The front stereo speakers are an obvious choice for movies too. Coming from the HTC design labs, they bear the same BoomSound branding as the HTC One M8 speakers. These speaker outlets sit at the extreme ends of the Nexus 9, just as the screen cover meets the metal band that rings around the tablet’s perimeter.

We were initially worried that these speakers might be a bit easy to block when holding the tablet, but they’re virtually immune to it actually. Clever internal design means you need to block the entire speaker port for it to have any detrimental effect on the sound, something that can’t be said for the speakers on the bottom of an iPad. Care-free stereo is a big win for a tablet, and is obviously great for games as well as films.

It’s just a pity, then, that sound quality isn’t quite as on-target. The Nexus 9 tries desperately to offer beefier-than-average sound, but it doesn’t really have the hardware to do this in style. As revealed in the Nexus 9 ifixit teardown, the tablet has fairly small driver units, and you can hear this effect. The output of the tablet is subject to fairly extreme compression and equalization in order to squeeze as much power out of the tiny little speakers as possible, but it results in rather forced sound that just isn’t particularly pleasant to listen to.

It’s warmer than the tablet norm, which is good. However, we can’t help but feel HTC could have done better. It’s no doubt a symptom of fitting the tablets into such a small front cavity, and potentially a cost issue too. There are much worse tablet speakers out there, but the Nexus 9 is outclassed by the iPad Air 2, which offers greater top volume and less processed sound.

Audio quality through wireless speakers and headphones is much better. The Nexus 9 supports aptX for higher-quality wireless streaming and the output from the headphone jack is excellent.

Nexus 9: Android 5.0 Lollipop Software

No matter how many unfavorable comparisons we may make to other Android and Apple devices, we can’t take away that the Nexus 9 is the first tablet to launch with Android 5.0 Lollipop.

It’s a major update, one that brings a whole new look and a bunch of behind-the-scenes features. However, anyone who has used an Android device in the past few years will find it terribly familiar, and a good deal of the added features have been seen before in custom Android interfaces.

This being a Google release, though, everything in the Nexus 9 is executed with an extra kick of class and cohesion that these custom Android interfaces generally lack. It also seems to want to add a bit of texture and depth to Android. The texture comes largely from the two rather lovely ‘torn’ paper default wallpapers, but there’s also a little bit more depth to some of the interface. Most of it is aesthetic – different animations here, some slightly clearer drop shadows there – but it works. Google calls the new look Material.

It also involves a tweaked colour scheme. Bold colours have been given a pastel inflection that provides the whole system a slightly more lifestyle-friendly look. Where the Android 4.4 KitKat look was bold and a little cartoony, the new look makes Android 5.0 easier to accept for those who might still consider Android a bit geeky next to Apple’s iOS devices.

But what’s actually new and, well, useful? There’s a bunch of alterations, but most are things we’ve seen before. For example, you can now check out your notifications very easily in the lock screen, and there are easier-access feature toggles in the notifications menu. You just drag down once more from the notifications screen to access them. It’s a great improvement for vanilla Android devices, but is nothing new in more general terms.

Cross-device support has been improved too. You can resume content between, say, an Android 5.0 phone and tablet, although this will naturally only apply to apps that have this support built in. Without a whole swathe of Android Lollipop devices to switch between, we have a little while to wait and see what this really feels like.

Other important elements of Android Lollipop live under the surface, and are things most people do not need to consider. For example, it’s the first version of Android to offer native support for 64-bit CPUs like the Nexus 9’s Nvidia Tegra K1. It also sees Android switch to the ART runtime from the DALVIK one, a measure designed to speed-up overall performance at the expensive of a little storage space. However, at present the difference is not really noticeable.

Nexus 9: Performance

The issue is that for all its power and its bleeding edge software, the Nexus 9’s performance is not impeccable. On occasion, elements that should scroll smoothly show a bit of judder and app load times are frequently a little longer than we’d like in such a new and important piece of hardware. We experiences a few jarring glitches too.

For all the pre-release promise of Android 5.0 Lollipop, it doesn’t have the immediacy of iOS 8 on a latest-generation iPad. Yet. We’re willing to chalk these minor niggles down to Lollipop being brand new and still a few tweak-heavy updates away from full speed. This is supported by the fact that we didn’t experience any of these issues on the Nvidia Shield Tablet that has similar innards.

The Nexus 9 uses the Nvidia Tegra K1 CPU, a dual-core CPU. The performance of just one of these cores isn’t far off the full capabilities of 2013 flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. It’s very powerful indeed. This is the second version of the K1, using a more advanced architecture than the A15-based version used in the Nvidia Shield Tablet.

In the Geekbench 3 benchmark, it scores 3562 points total, and 2038 per core. That’s an extremely good score, besting the Snapdragon 805 version of the Galaxy Note 4. That’s better than the similarly priced iPad Air but a lot less than the iPad Air 2 scores.

It’s the GPU power of the Nexus 9’s Nvidia K1 that’s truly exciting, though. It uses the same 192-core GeForce Kepler GPU as the Nvidia Shield Tablet, and can benefit from some of the optimizations made for that model. Nvidia even got Half-Life 2 working for the tablet, although that’s not available for the Nexus 9 at present.

The big deal here is that it uses the Kepler architecture, the same used in some dedicated GeForce graphics cards. It’s designed for ‘proper games,’ as some gaming snobs might describe them. We’re already starting to see some of the benefits, such as in Dead Trigger 2, which offers snazzier water effects than with other devices.

However, how far will it go? Development for Kepler on mobile devices has been pushed along by Nvidia to date, but longer-term momentum has yet to be proved. It seems likely to be end up a game of lowest common denominator bingo, with the other players being Qualcomm’s 805 and successive chips. The future shows exciting promise, but is uncertain.

Nexus 9: Battery Life

The Nexus 9 has a 6700mAh battery, a good deal smaller than the 9000mAh one in the old Nexus 10, but smaller display size and improved efficiency means the Nexus 9 doesn’t need as many milliampere hours as that mostly-forgotten minor classic.

When playing a 720p MP4 video on loop with brightness at mid level, the Nexus 9 lasts for 11 hours 25 minutes. That’s an excellent result for an Android tablet, whose stamina rarely matches up to Apple’s tablets: this still doesn’t, but it’s close. The tablet comes with just a 1.5A charger, which is a little low-powered for a device with as chunky a battery as this. It takes more than four hours to charge – not terrible, but could be a bit better.

It’s battery stamina that matters more in our book, though, and here the Nexus 9 performs very well.

Nexus 9: Cameras

Shall we leave the best bit to last? No, of course not. The cameras are something of a weaker point of the Nexus 9. Hardware specs sound perfectly fine: it has an 8-megapixel rear camera with a flash, and a 1.6-megapixel front unit. For a tablet, that’s a perfectly respectable higher-end setup. But in person it’s nothing too impressive.

The Nexus 9’s autofocus is pretty remedial, being relatively slow to lock on, and with a clear back-and-forth motion that, while part of any contrast detect system, is more laborious and obvious than most. Image quality is not terrific either. Hand it an unchallenging scene and it’ll come up with decent result commensurate with the 8-megapixel resolution – colours will be fine too. But that’s not what being a good camera is about.

The Nexus 9 suffers quite badly from light bloom when there’s a strong source in or just outside the scene, and poor dynamic range tends to leave you with shots that are either a bit dull-looking or washed out and overexposed in parts. Unfortunately, there’s no HDR mode to help out. And predictably, lower-light photos aren’t too hot. Unlike some phone cameras, the Nexus 9 doesn’t radically brighten-up dark scenes to make what’s going on clearer. Unless you use the flash, you’ll end up with murky shots. Flashes can upset the look of shots a bit, but even having one is pretty great in a tablet – many don’t.

The Nexus 9 reportedly uses the same camera sensor as the HTC Desire 610, but as we saw with the Nexus 5, its implementation could do with some tweaks. However, for a tablet this sort of performance is perfectly passable.

Google has redesigned the camera app a bit for Android 5.0 Lollipop, but the core features remain pretty similar. You get Panorama, Photosphere (360 degree panorama), Lens Blur and video capture up to 1080p.

Anything Else to Consider?

The Nexus 9 comes in 4G and Wi-Fi varieties — we’ve been looking at the latter here. Getting mobile Internet costs you an extra $120, which isn’t too bad when Google asks you to pay $80 just for a measly 16GB of extra internal storage.

There’s one other hardware omission not talked about that often, too. In the push to get us all to use Chromecast, the Nexus 9 does not appear to support either MHL or SlimPort, used to transmit video over HDMI through a microUSB port.

Should I buy the Nexus 9?

The Nexus 9 is an important tablet for Google, for HTC and for Android in general. And it doesn’t manage to make quite the impact the Nexus 7 had in 2012, and in 2013 with its follow-up.

At a time when Apple is offering pretty compelling value with its legacy models, Samsung has significantly upped its game in the tablet field, and new players like Nvidia are bringing releasing tablets, the Nexus 9 doesn’t really set any new standards. And that’s a shame. However, it is a very good tablet in its own right, especially if you’re willing to forgive the little failings in its screen and other hardware elements.

We do think that the Nexus line needs a new lower-cost entry to recreate the vitality it had back in 2013 with the Nexus 7, though. While the Nexus line was perhaps never intended to be a paragon of value, a high-value, low-nonsense approach is what we’ve loved about the best Nexus devices. It’s something the Nexus 9 doesn’t quite have enough of.

Verdict

The Nexus 9 is a powerful, handy tablet that’s fun to use, but it feels a little more like a suggested starting point for other manufacturers than a device that’ll stick on our most wanted list for 18 months.

See more from Trusted Reviews:

iPad Mini 3 review

iPad Air 2 review

Amazon Fire HD 6 review

TIME Tablets

These Are the 10 Best Android Tablets of 2015

A visitor tries out Samsung Electronics Co.'s 10.5-inch Galaxy Tab S tablet during an event in Tokyo, Japan on July 31, 2014.
Koji Sasahara—AP A visitor tries out Samsung Electronics Co.'s 10.5-inch Galaxy Tab S tablet during an event in Tokyo, Japan on July 31, 2014.

10 categories on size, price, and suer group rank the top contenders

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 9.42.33 AM

This post is in partnership with Trusted Reviews. The article below was originally published at Trusted Reviews.com.

If you know that the iPad Air 2 or a device running Windows isn’t for you, then this is the place to be. Check out all of our top picks from the list below, or flick through the round-up by clicking the arrow above.

Best 10-inch Android tablet | Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5
Best 8-inch or 9-inch Android tablet | Nexus 9
Best 7-inch Android tablet | Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C
Best sub-£100 Android tablet | Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176CX
Best sub-£200 Android tablet | Tesco Hudl 2
Best Android tablet for work | Asus Transformer TF701T
Best Android tablet for entertainment | Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (2014)
Best Android tablet for kids | Amazon Kindle Fire HD 6
Best Android tablet for drawing | Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2
Best Android tablet for gaming | Nvidia Shield Tablet

If, however, you’d like a little more guidance on what to look for when buying a new tablet, you should read our tablet buyer’s guide, which explains the strengths and weaknesses of each type of tablet and anything else you may need to consider, technical or otherwise.

One of the golden rules you need to remember when looking at Android tablets is that you should steer clear of cheap, no-name models. There are a countless number of them available from various vendors and they’re almost never worth purchasing, mainly because they don’t tend to last very long.

As for the ‘best’ Android tablet, there isn’t really one at the moment. What we do have is a number of great Android tablets that perform some tasks better than others, whether that’s gaming, work or general entertainment. What’s best for you may be very different from what the person next to you might need.

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5

Originally reviewed by 28 July 2014

Read full Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 review

Best 10-inch Android tablet

Key features:

  • 10.5-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Super AMOLED screen
  • Exynos 5 Octa 5420 CPU
  • Over 14 hours video playback

This has one of the finest screens of any tablet of any type. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5‘s display is stunning, and a marvel for watching video. It’s also among the slimmest and lightest tablets of its size and packs in a few extras like expandable storage and a fingerprint reader, though the latter isn’t all that good.

Performance is also excellent, while battery life is fantastic, at over 14 hours. Elsewhere you’ve got all the usual extras such as front and rear cameras and stereo speakers, while a somewhat clunky but still useful case system seals the detail. It’s simply the best 10-inch Android tablet around.

Price: £344 (£399 at time of review) / $374.99

 

Nexus 9

Originally reviewed by 07 November 2014

Read full Nexus 9 review

Best 8-inch or 9-inch Android tablet

Key features:

  • 8.9-inch, 2,048 x 1,536 IPS LCD screen
  • Powerful GPU
  • Good battery life
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop

The Nexus 9 looks starkly different to Google’s previous tablets. It is far broader and the 8.9-inch display, with an aspect ratio of 4:3, isn’t as good for viewing widescreen movies as previous Nexuses, but games and apps feel much nicer. Colours are excellent, viewing angles are good and the 281ppi screen is nice and clear. At 425g and 7.9mm thick, it’s also comfortable enough to hold for extended periods of time.

One of the standout features is that, unlike any of its rivals who will have to wait for the software, it ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop. The battery life, combined with the powerful GPU, allow for an excellent gaming experience. The 8- and 1.6-megapixel rear- and front-facing cameras aren’t the best you’ll ever come across, but it’s a terrific piece of kit nonetheless.

Price: £299.99 (£319 at time of review) / $349.99

For the rest of the list, please go to TrustedReviews.com.

 

TIME Smartphones

These Are the 10 Best Android Phones of 2015

A model of the Android operating system logo at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 27, 2012.
Bloomberg via Getty Images A model of the Android operating system logo at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 27, 2012.

From size to battery life to selfie abilities, the list is ready to meet your needs

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 9.42.33 AM

This post is in partnership with Trusted Reviews. The article below was originally published at Trusted Reviews.com.

The “big four” high-end Android smartphones – the HTC One M8, the Samsung Galaxy S5, the Sony Xperia Z3 and the LG G3 – have been joined by a plethora of other great handsets of all shapes and sizes, from the mini Sony Xperia Z3 Compact to the maxi Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

So, if you’re ready to see which we’ve picked out as the best, follow the links below. Alternatively, read on to find out a bit more about Android.

Best Big Android Phone | Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Best Google Experience Phone | Nexus 5
Best Small Android Phone | Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Best Cheap Android Phone | Moto G 2014 Edition
Best Android Phone for Battery Life | Sony Xperia Z3
Best Android Phone for Watching Video | LG G3
Best Big Brand Alternative | OnePlus One
Best Android Phone Camera | Samsung Galaxy S5
Best Android Phone Overall | HTC One M8

Best Android Phone for Selfies | HTC Desire EYE

The main benefit of choosing an Android phone is, of course, choice. Choice of manufacturers, prices, shapes, sizes and more. As such, our list of the Best Android Phones includes some cheaper models like the Moto G, smaller models like the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and even bigger ones like the One Plus One.

If you are happy to spend big on a monthly contract or buy a high-end Android smartphone outright, then you’ve plenty of options and you‘ll get the hardware that pushes the operating system to its limits. Think lightning-fast quad-core processors, huge HD touchscreens and the kind of cameras that’ll allow you to finally ditch the compact. Some of these handsets are even waterproof now.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can save yourself several hundred pounds and still get a great Android phone – one that is often a more pocket-friendly size, has all the core features you’ll need and still runs nice and quick. Crucially though, it will let you play games, watch YouTube videos, check Facebook, browse the web and access the full wealth of apps available on the Google Play store. If getting the absolute cheapest phone you can is your main priority then also check out our pick of the Best Cheap Mobile Phones.

The Android operating system has been praised for letting you truly customise your phone. It has for some time though lacked the polished, good looks of Apple’s iOS. Google has upped its game recently, though, and in Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, the more recent Android 4.4 KitKat and the freshly released Android 5.0 Lollipop, we have the cleanest and most user-friendly version of the operating system since it was first released back in 2008.

If you really don’t fancy owning an iPhone 5S or a Windows Phone 8 handset , then maybe it’s time to go down the Google avenue. Hunting out the top rated high-end and mid-range handsets, we’ve selected the 10 best Android phones to buy right now.

 

Google Nexus 5

Originally reviewed by 04 November 2013

Best Google Experience Phone

Key features:

  • 5-inch Full HD 1080p screen
  • 8-megapixel camera with decent low-light camera performance
  • Powerful enough to run apps smoothly

The Nexus 6 is not exactly in the same price bracket, so the Nexus 5 still has the qualities to make it a phone worth considering for the pure Android feel.

At £299.99 or less if you shop around, it’s cheaper SIM-free than all the other Android big hitters like the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. It’s an excellent performer overall, has a smart design and is undoubtedly still one of the best Android phones you can buy, even if it is getting a little old now.

Designed by LG, the Nexus 5 is just 8.6mm thick and has a super-slim bezel making it far from a chunky affair. The screen is exceptionally sharp and viewing angles are perfect making it primed for movie-watching.

It will give you around a day’s battery life, which isn’t quite up there with the best, and the camera doesn’t quite compete either, but it still has everything to make it a high-end Android phone bargain.

Price: £265 (£299.99 at time of review)

 

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Originally reviewed by 10 November 2014

Best Small Android Phone

Key features:

  • 4.6-inch 720p screen
  • 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor
  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • Great battery life

Sony caused a stir with its Xperia Z1 Compact, finally delivering a small (ish) Android phone that didn’t scrimp on other specs. Now the Xperia Z3 Compact has carried the flag forward, and it’s not just the best small Android phone but in fact one of the best phones in general.

It all starts off with the smaller screen and thus a smaller body. At 4.6 inches, its not exactly tiny but it’s markedly smaller than other flagship phones like the full-size Sony Xperia Z3. This makes the Z3 Compact so much easier to handle.

The screen quality is decent too, though the use of only a 720p resolution is a stop or two below the options on the biggest phones. Still, with a pixel density of 319ppi, it’s still sharp enough and doesn’t look at all fuzzy or grainy.

The other headline feature is the waterproofing and dustproofing. This phone will last for up to 30 minutes in over a a metre of water, making it one of the best-protected phones of its type on the market.

The two key areas where this phone doesn’t scrimp compared to bigger models is the camera and processor. Both are up there with the best, making this a unique proposition among small Android phones. Battery life is also class-leading. You can get two days out of this handset quite easily and three if you’re careful.

All told, if you’re not a fan of phones getting bigger and bigger, the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is the one for you.

Price: £365 (£430 at time of review)

For the rest of the list, please go to TrustedReviews.com.

TIME Video Games

The Only Guide to PS4 vs Xbox One You’ll Ever Need

A gamer plays 'Entwined' on Sony's PS4 at annual E3 video game extravaganza in Los Angeles on June 10, 2014.
Frederic J. Brown—Getty Images A gamer plays 'Entwined' on Sony's PS4 at annual E3 video game extravaganza in Los Angeles on June 10, 2014.

How to choose, how to choose... This is how

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 9.42.33 AM

This post is in partnership with Trusted Reviews. The article below was originally published at TrustedReviews.com.

With both the Xbox One and PS4 now having a year of their life-cycle under their belts, it’s becoming more and more difficult to debate the pros and cons of buying either console over the other.

Microsoft has stuck to its promise of releasing monthly updates for the Xbox One. Every 30 days, Xbox One owners get treated to several new features for their console, making it rapidly the better choice for the all-rounder entertainment console.

Those updates have included a plethora of entertainment-focused features, including enhanced TV integration, DLNA support and the ability to upgrade the Xbox One’s internal storage via external hard drive.

Sony has gone down the opposite route, instead choosing to release major software updates sporadically, making them much more highly anticipated.

The latest PS4 Update 2.0 introduced the SharePlay functionality, dynamic backgrounds and YouTube support among other smaller new features – all of which were focused on the games.

That’s not to say that Microsoft is ignoring the gaming side of the Xbox One. Far from it. During the recent Windows 10 event, Microsoft announced you’ll be able to stream your Xbox One games to your PC and tablet, allowing you to play console games on your Windows 10 device.

So it’s a tricky decision. Both consoles have their pros and cons, their quirks and quibbles, often making it difficult to put on before the other.

To help you work out which console is right for you, we’ve compared each aspect of the console duo, so you can make an informed decision in your PS4 or Xbox One debate.

 

PS4 vs Xbox One -Video Comparison

Check out our PS4 vs Xbox One comparison video:

Read more: Does Xbox One and PS4 game revolution really matter?

 

Xbox One vs PS4 – Price

A year into the lifecycle of both the Xbox One and PS4, the two consoles have pretty much reached a pricing stalemate. When the Xbox One was launched it was a whopping £80 more expensive than the PS4, due to the fact you were forced to purchase the Kinect pre-packaged with it.

However, back in May, Microsoft introduced a Kinect-free Xbox One option for the same price as the PS4 – £349.99. This help boost sales and made it a much more viable choice for those who couldn’t afford to spend over £400 on a new console.

Now, the Xbox One tends to be cheaper than the PS4, even bundled with a game. We’ve outlined what tends to be the average prices below, but there’s always going to be a bit of leeway if you do your research and find the latest deals.

Read more: Best console deals in the UK

The Xbox One currently retails for:
Standalone Xbox One console – £299
Xbox One with Assassin’s Creed Unity and AC 4: Black Flag – £329.99
Xbox One console with Kinect – £380
Xbox One console bundled with a game – £329

The PS4 currently retails for:
Standalone PS4 console - £329
PS4 console bundled with a game – £349

Prices correct at the time of writing – Jan. 22, 2015

Read more: Best Games of 2014

 

Xbox One vs Sony PS4 – Design

Xbox One – 10 per cent larger than 360, ‘big black box’ design, 3.18kg
PS4 – Slanted design, 2.8kg

In terms of design the Xbox One and PS4 are completely different prospects.

Microsoft’s Xbox One is far, far larger – an imposing black monolith of the living room. The PS4 is sleeker, slimmer and less likely to dominate your under-TV space.

Both keep the severe, black and masculine style that’s common to games consoles, though.

The Xbox One is 10 per cent larger than its predecessor, the Xbox 360. It weighs around the same as the last console, though, at roughly 3kg.

The PS4 is only marginally lighter, at 2.8kg. This shouldn’t come as a great surprise, though, as they both have to fit in similar components.

Why the extra size in the Xbox One? It’s likely that part of the internal volume of the Xbox One’s case is there to aid cooling.

Overheating was a significant problem in the Xbox 360, responsible for causing many of the red ring issues that plagued the console’s earlier years.

The charging cables are also something to consider when it comes to design. The Xbox One has a huge power brick that it requires in order to turn on. It can make your neat wire organisation pretty complicated, as you’ll need to make space for it behind the TV somewhere. The PS4 on the other hand has a single power cable that runs from socket to console with no power brick in sight, meaning it’s far easier to move from room to room when required.

We’d rather have the smaller PS4 in our living rooms, but the Xbox One may end up being more reliable in the long term thanks to that extra cooling. We’ve gone a year now though and neither console appears to have any major hardware issues which is great news for consumers.

Read more: PS4 Tips and Tricks

 

PS4 vs Xbox One – Interface

Here’s a quick look at what the interfaces of the Xbox One and PS4 look like in use:

Xbox One

xbox-one-interface
Trusted Reviews

The look of the Xbox One software is heavily inspired by elements of Windows Phone and Windows 8. Microsoft clearly wanted to reach a certain level of parity between its platforms.

It has a modern look, but many people have criticised the software for its glitchiness and bouts of odd behaviour. At present it doesn’t quite feel right – it’s something that Microsoft is likely to address in time, but is something to consider if you want to do more than just play disc-based games on your console.

PS4

ps4-interface
Trusted Reviews

The PS4 has a simpler, somewhat less ambitious user interface. As it leaves you scrolling in just one direction most of the time, we find it a more intuitive experience than the Xbox One’s software.

There is room for improvement, though. For example at present you can’t bring out the Netflix app to the top ‘recently used’ layer of the UI, even though it’s a PS4 favourite for many people.

 

Xbox One vs PS4 – Controllers

Which is the better gamepad? The DualShock 4 or the Xbox One pad? It’s not an easy one to call. First, let’s have a look at the pads.

Xbox One Wireless Controller

xbox-one-pad
Trusted Reviews

PS4 DualShock 4

dualshock-4
Trusted Reviews

Both have the genetic material of their forebears, but the DualShock 4 feels like more of a change. Microsoft has stuck with what worked so well in the Xbox 360 controller with the Xbox One pad, and as such it’s more of a tweak than a full ground-up redesign.

There are two main changes. The Xbox One pad has rumble motors built into the triggers to give you feedback when, for example, shooting guns. Microsoft has also made huge improvement to the D-pad. The mushy Xbox 360 D-pad has been switched for one that’s much more clicky and responsive. It’ll work wonders on Street Fighter-style fighting games.

Sadly, the Xbox One controller still requires to be powered by a pair of AA batteries as standard, rather than being rechargeable like the PS4’s DualShock 4. You’ll have to buy the Play and Charge kit separately for each controller for £19 a go.

However, if you do stick to AA batteries, you’ll definitely see your Xbox One controller pack a longer play time than the PS4 controller, which we seem to have to charge after every single play session.

The DualShock 4’s changes are more marked. It’s a bit chunkier than the previous DualShock controllers and a lot heavier too, giving a firmer feel than the last-gen Dualshock 3 pad.

Sony has also massively improved the analogue sticks in the DualShock 4. Where the DualShock 3 wasn’t really much cop for first-person shooters, the new pad is great for almost all types of console games. There’s also a new touch pad on the front, between the sticks and the main buttons, and a Share button to make uploading your gameplay videos easy.

After all that, have we really found a victor? Not as such. If you loved the Xbox 360 pad, you’ll probably prefer the Xbox One controller. However, the DualShock 4 has a robust feel that previous PlayStation pads simply haven’t had.

Read more: PS4 Controller Battery Life – How to make your DualShock 4 last longer

 

PS4 vs Xbox One – Which is more powerful?

If you’re a hardcore gamer, there’s a good chance you care about how your games look. And that’s all down to the power a console has on tap.

Which of the new consoles is more powerful? The simple answer is the PS4. We’ll look deeper into the technical reasons why in a minute.

What this means in practice right now is that some cross-platform games, such as Battlefield 4, run at a lower resolution on the Xbox One than they do on the PS4. This may equalise over the life of the consoles as developers learn more about each consoles, but the PS4 definitely has a slight edge at launch.

Read more: Xbox One Tips and Tricks

 

Xbox One vs PS4 – Processor

Xbox One – AMD 8-core Jaguar CPU
PS4 – AMD 8-core Jaguar CPU

The Xbox One and PS4 use extremely similar CPUs made by AMD. Both use an APU setup, which links together both CPU and GPU into one package.

The CPUs are 8–core chips using ‘Jaguar’ cores – a term picked by their maker AMD to denote their chipset generation. The Xbox One runs at 1.75GHz, which was bumped-up from their original spec of 1.6GHz. Sony’s runs slightly cooler at 1.6GHz, which may make some of you think the Xbox One is more powerful. This is not the case. The power of the GPU is much more important here.

Read more: Xbox One FAQ – Things you need to know before you buy

 

PS4 vs Xbox One – GPU and RAM

Xbox One - Comparable to Radeon HD 7000-series, 8GB DDR3 RAM and 32MB eSRAM
PS4 – Comparable to Radeon HD 7000-series, 8GB GDDR5 RAM

The PS4 and Xbox One both use an AMD GPU.

At first glance it seems like their GPUs may be identical, but they are not. On paper the PS4 graphics processor is 50 per cent more powerful, with 1,152 shader processors against the Xbox One’s 768.

Realising that this sounded pretty bad, Microsoft worked on upping the One’s power a bit and on 2 August announced that its GPU speed from 800MHz to 853MHz. It’s a nice tweak for the tech heads, but doesn’t see the Xbox One match up to the PS4.

Having extra processing power will let the PS4 perform more tasks simultaneously – which should in theory allow for more impressive visual effects.

A more impressive GPU is matched with more impressive-sounding RAM. The PS4 uses GDDR5 RAM, while the Xbox One has more conventional DDR3 memory – and both have 8GB of the stuff.

GDDR5 has much higher bandwidth than DDR3, designed for intensive applications such as in graphics cards, while DDR3 is ‘bog standard’ system memory.

If DDR3 was all the Xbox One had, it’d be in serious trouble. But it also has an eSRAM buffer that should help to bridge the 100GB/sec bandwidth gap between the two RAM types. It has a 32MB chunk of eSRAM that will function as a frame buffer.

The news that the Sony PS4 is (almost) categorically more powerful than the Xbox One is one of the reasons why the PS4 pre-order sold out before the Xbox One’s.

With a more powerful GPU and, seemingly, faster memory, the PS4 is clearly out in front on graphical specs.

But how do they pan out compared to PC graphics cards? The Xbox One is said to be on-par with a Radeon 7790, the PS4 a Radeon 7870. Unless you’re a PC gamer, that’s really not going to mean much.

Let’s reduce it to cold hard cash. That the Radeon 7790 costs around £100 and the Radeon 7870 £150 tells you all you need to know.

Read more: Best cheap graphic card

However, EA’s chief technology officer Rajat Teneja claims that the consoles are a whole generation ahead of the top-end PCs on the market. To some that’ll seem like a ridiculous statement when top-end gaming PCs cost thousands of pounds, and these consoles will cost a few hundred.

What’s less contentious is that the Xbox One and PS4 are around 8-10 times as powerful as the previous-gen Xbox 360 and PS3. However, let’s not forget that an increase in graphical fidelity requires an exponential increase in power – so we won’t be looking at games that look 8-10 times as good.

 

Xbox One vs PS4 – Graphics

One of the main reason core gamers have chosen to favour the PS4 over the Xbox One is its categorically better graphics hardware. But does it translate to better graphics in games?

In quite a few cases it does. It’s not necessarily a case of missing effects, less complicated shadows and other such obvious cut-backs, but output resolution. With many games, the PS4 renders at a slightly higher resolution than the Xbox One.

If you have a good 1080p TV, you will be able to see the difference if you get up close and personal. However, in the current wave of games there is not really a gigantic difference between the two.

Here are a few grabs from some of the many graphics comparisons that have been made online:

Xbox One vs PS4 1

 

Here it looks as though there’s more detail in the Xbox One shot, however, the PS4 details are actually obscured by an environmental dust effect. The PS4 footage is also a lot higher-contrast, which is seen consistently in graphics comparisons.

Xbox One vs PS4

 

Once again, there’s higher contrast in the PS4 footage, and there appears to be a bit more texture information in the road surface.

Digital Foundry performed a very interesting test to see the difference between the hardware available to the two consoles. It specced-out PCs with roughly the same GPU hardware as the Xbox One and PS4, and found that the PS4 performed roughly 24 per cent better in benchmarks.

Xbox One vs PS4 2

 

We’re already seeing the PS4 perform better in current games, and this is only likely to continue as more ‘new-gen’ titles are released.

Take a look at our graphics comparison of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on the Xbox One and PS4 side by side:

Read more: PS4 FAQ – Things worth knowing before you buy

 

Top reasons to pick an Xbox One

Larger size may mean it’s more reliable long-term
The huge console size of the Xbox One gives air more room to circulate, which is likely to ensure the console does not overheat even when under strain for prolonged periods.

Kinect is undeniably cool
Not everyone likes Kinect, but it has serious potential that you don’t get with the PS4 camera. For example, you can use it to control the console, swiping in the air to perform commands.

Wider distribution of Kinect will mean for more interesting motion gaming
Now that the Xbox One will ship without the Kinect in some bundles this might not be as much of a benefit, but the Kinect sensor means that developers will be able to more confidently put Kinect features into their games.

It acts as a hub for your other home entertainment gear
You can plug another piece of hardware into your Xbox One using its HDMI input. This lets you switch between, say, your digibox and the Xbox One, using the Xbox interface. There’s only one input, but if you use a receiver it’s all you’ll need.

Inbound Xbox One exclusives like Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection
If you haven’t yet played a Halo title, The Master Chief Collection is a great time to get involved. The whole Halo series is being remastered for the Xbox One in HD along with all of the awesome multiplayer maps. Sunset Overdrive’s colourful, manic gameplay is also exclusive to the Xbox One and is certainly worth a punt.

The One Guide makes for seamlessly integrated cable TV
You can plug your cable TV boxes straight into your Xbox One via HDMI and watch TV with the Xbox One UI overlaid. The feature allows you to access your live TV guide directly through your Xbox One, making it the entertainment system Microsoft has been pushing from launch. If you’ve got a Kinect you can also use voice commands to jump from channel to channel. Basically, it saves the faff of switching inputs and once you’ve tried the One Guide, you won’t want to change back.

It’s not all about cable TV integration
If you’re not lucky enough to have access to TV services like Sky or Virgin Media, you can now purchase the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner accessory for £24.99. This will let you feed Freeview and other free-to-air TV platforms into the Xbox One too.

EA Access is only available on Xbox One
EA’s new subscription gaming service is exclusive to Xbox One. So if you’re a particular fan of EA titles you can pay £3.99 for free unlimited access to a select collection of games via the EA Access Vault. There’s a few other perks too, but read our EA Access Guide to find out more.

3D Blu-ray support is finally here
After a lengthy wait, you can finally watch your 3D Blu-ray titles on your Xbox One – if that’s your bag.

You can plug in an external hard drive for additional storage
One of the most requested features was external hard drive support for the Xbox One. Well, now you can use up to two external hard drives at once. Each one has to be 256GB or larger, but once it has been formatted, it can be used to store games, apps, DLC and other content if your Xbox One is getting full.

The media player will add tunes to your entertainment system
Although the media player hadn’t arrived at the time of writing, Microsoft promises a future update will let you play media files on your Xbox One via a USB device. You will also be able to stream your media files over a Wi-Fi network using DLNA, just as you could on the Xbox 360. There will also be more file support, including animated gifs, mkv and mpeg 2 TS.

Xbox One finally has Games with Gold perks
As you do with the Xbox 360, you now get two free games a month for the Xbox One with an Xbox Live Gold membership. You also get access to Deals with Gold too, giving you significant savings within the Xbox One Games Store.

Read more: Far Cry 4 tips and tricks

 

Top reasons to pick a PS4

It’s much smaller than an Xbox One
If you have a cramped lounge/bedroom, the smaller size of the PS4 will come in handy. It is much, much smaller than the Xbox One.

It doesn’t have a separate power brick
Also important, the PS4 incorporates its own power supply while the Xbox One has a separate power brick. This is a big win if you want to take the console around a friend’s house as it’s a good deal lighter.

The PS4 is more powerful
The PS4 has a significantly more powerful GPU – graphics processing unit – than the Xbox One. It’s about 50 per cent more powerful.

Remote Play for Vita is awesome
This one only matter for PS Vita owners, but the PS4’s Remote Play is pretty neat. It lets you play full PS4 games on your Vita over your Wi-Fi connection.

Playstation TV will let you play your PS4 elsewhere in the house
The Playstation TV announced at E3 2014 will let you stream and play games on any TV in your house. There’s a bit of lag and the graphics lack some detail but it’s super-useful if your main TV is often taken up by couch potatoes watching soaps. The Playstation TV will retail for £89 when it goes on sale.

PS Plus’s free games plan is great
The PS Plus service costs about £40 a year, but it gets you free games every month. And at present it’s better than the freebie games offering you get with an Xbox One through Live Gold.

The PS4 controller is better
We think the PS4 controller is better than the Xbox One’s. This one will divide opinions, but we’re not fans of the clicky triggers on the Xbox One pad.

PS4 gets 3D Blu-ray support too
Just like the Xbox One, the PS4 also now has 3D Blu-ray support. However, there’s no word on media support for the PS4 anytime soon.

PS4 Share Play is going to be a huge new feature
PS4 Share Play arrived with the PS4 2.0 system update, Share Play is a brand new feature that will create what Sony is calling a “virtual couch”. It creates a local co-op experience but all online, meaning you can invite your friend to play with you, even if they don’t actually own the game. Each session has an hour time limit, but there’s apparently no limit as to the number of sessions you can have.

Read more: PS4 Share Play – How Sony is changing multiplayer in a big way

 

Verdict

There’s no particular ‘wrong choice’ to be made between the two consoles at present. However, the PS4 seems to be the gamer’s choice. Its PlayStation Plus service is great, it’s significantly more powerful and we think the controller is a bit better. If you want to save some money, though, you can get far better deals for the Xbox One at this point.

There’s a lot more to making this decision. For the rest, go to TrustedReviews.com.

 

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