Pricer than other models, LG’s second Android Wear smartwatch improves on both the original G Watch and the Moto 360
Although we liked the original G Watch from LG, it seemed a little too basic for the price you had to pay for it. This time around, LG has taken a different path and the G Watch R feels like a totally new project distinct from the original. First and foremost, the metallic design of the G Watch R is fantastic and the build quality is second to none. It’s also circular, a big contrast from the ugly square exterior on the original G Watch, and noticeably more comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time. There’s a handy dial around the edge of the 1.3-inch screen, as well as the charging port around the back. Although the leather strap that shipped with the G Watch R is comfortable to wear, you’ll almost certainly want to invest in the metal strap to add to the premium feel of this smartwatch.
Connecting to Android Wear is easy enough and, similarly to the Moto 360, it’ll take just a few minutes to get up and running. Users can enjoy the G Watch R’s entire 1.3-inch display without any area of it being cut off and the 320 x 320 resolution leaves everything crystal clear. Notifications appear from the top and bottom of the app and it’s a simple case of dragging them to open them up on the watch. Android Wear isn’t perfectly optimised for circular devices as of yet, with several notifications being cut off in the corners of each screen, but it’s more of a problem on the Moto 360 than on the G Watch R. Thanks to being able to use every pixel of the screen, responding to notifications and generally getting around the watch is a pleasant experience.
Although we still think smartwatches do require at least 1GB of RAM to keep everything running completely smoothly, a decent Snapdragon 400 processor backs up the 512MB of RAM here. The added processing power does affect the battery life to some degree and although the 410mAh offering here can make it through a day without charging, it depends entirely on just how much you use it on a daily basis.
Struggle to get up in the morning? This top Android app may have the solution, courtesy of budgetmobilecover.co.uk
There is nothing worse than the sound of an annoying beep or buzz first thing in the morning. Instead our friends at Budget Mobile Cover suggest using Wakie – Social Alarm Clock for Android.
Rather than a siren, Wakie brings you around with a free phone call from another user. With a global community of 1.5 million users, Wakie calls could come from all sorts of people from different countries around the world.
A truly vast RPG with a focus on combat
Following the Enhanced Edition of classic RPG Baldur’s Gate, it’s now the turn of Icewind Dale. A tweaked HD update of Black Isle’s classic PC game of 2000, it doesn’t offer all that much brand new content: some extra classes, equipment and spells. Still, it does include the Heart Winter expansion pack and it is a vast game, as you might suspect from the hefty 2.63GB download. So, while the price might seem a little high, you do get a whole lot of adventuring for your money.
Set in the Forgotten Realms and based on a modified version of the AD&D ruleset, this is a hardcore, combat-heavy RPG – with less emphasis on exploration and character interaction. While some brief tutorial videos run you through the basics of the gameplay and user interface, it still throws you into the deep end somewhat and RPG novices may well be bemused at first. Even if you take the shortcut of using a preset party of six characters rather than generating your own, you’ll need to spend quite some time kitting them out with weapons, armour and items – from a large selection in the shop – before you do any actual adventuring.
The redesigned user interface works well, including a ‘Quickloot bar’ to aid item pick-up. The isometric graphics are impressively detailed, featuring the ability to zoom in. Text for menus and character conversations is pretty small, though, and may prove hard to read on smaller phone screens.
Rev up for some Eighties-inspired arcade action with Asphalt’s car chase spin-off
This spin-off from the Asphalt racing series is more of a simplistic arcade game that’s clearly been designed for one-handed play – hence the use of portrait mode. The only control you have is swiping to switch highway lanes in order to avoid obstacles and side-swipe other vehicles for takedowns. The latter increase your nitro bar, activated by double-tapping, which proves handy for outrunning the cops in the main Getaway mode where you simply have to stay ahead long enough to complete each stage.
Other race modes add variety, including a fun Stunt Run where you can perform fancy rolls off ramps, and Destruction where you need to achieve a certain number of takedowns within a time limit. While steering is limited to lane switching, there are occasional forks in the track that are often worth taking to collect more nitros, plus cash and gold bars – the two currencies of the game. Up to three stars can be earned in each stage, according to your performance – get enough stars in each of five ‘Turf’ areas and you can take on the boss to unlock the next area.
Back at your base, you can visit the dealer to buy a new car and check out some classic vehicles including a Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am, Delorean DMC-12 and VW Camper Bus. Cash may also be spent upgrading your vehicle’s speed, acceleration and nitro tank. So there’s a decent strategic angle in spending your money wisely. There’s also a social aspect in creating or joining a gang to compete in gang events, as well as solo leagues.
In a nod to the nation’s self-indulgent tendencies, last Monday Three launched CalendarMe, an app which allows people to create a 2015 calendar featuring none other than themselves.
Since its launch more than 10,000 people completing their own calendars at www.three.co.uk/CalendarMe every single day, averaging at 417 an hour and 7 every minute.
People can star in a variety of crazy scenarios and view all their creations online.
Lianne Norry, Director of Brand and Marketing Comms from Three, added: “The CalendarMe app follows hot on the heels of our hugely popular Sing It Kitty app, which launched earlier this year, proving the power of silly shareable content. CalendarMe is all about people having fun and getting into the Christmas spirit, whilst tapping into the current trend for people buying themselves, as well as their loved ones, gifts for Christmas. Not only did our own sales data show a clear trend for self-gifting, with people buying phones and tablets as a treat in December, but our research clearly showed that this is the case across the high street.”
Feature-packed and stylishly slender, Sony’s new tablet is a Nexus 9 killer.
If you want to buy a premium, small Android tablet, what do you choose? The Nexus 7 (2013) is nice, but not really premium in price or design. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 with its gorgeous AMOLED screen? Again, a good device, but it doesn’t feel really high quality. In issue 45 we reviewed the slightly larger Nexus 9, giving it a maximum score of 5/5. But the game has just been changed. Enter the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact.
From the minute you unbox the tablet and hold it in your hand, you know that it’s something special. Quite often when we review devices, we talk about the feeling of quality that comes with weight and density. The Nexus 9 is a prime example of this approach: it feels solid and therefore it feels well made. The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact comes at it from a completely different angle – it’s incredibly light, unbelievably thin and exceptionally finished. Not everybody is a fan of the ‘OmniBalance’ design theme that Sony has been perfecting since the original Z phone, but there’s no denying that the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact offers one of the best implementations of it to date.
Turned on with the now traditional power button on the right of the device in the style of a watch crown (or by double-tapping on the screen when configured), the tablet immediately demonstrates another of its most impressive features – the 8-inch, 1920 x 1200 Triluminos display sitting between front-facing stereo speakers. It has taken a while for Sony to really deliver on its potential when it comes to displays (the original Z and Z1 were particular lowlights), but it finally seems to have got it right. The screen is clear, sharp and, like the Xperia Z3 itself, incredibly bright.