What do you get when you combine TechRadar's favourite features, hottest reviews and most vivacious videos? It's the best of the week round up, clearly.
It's been a trying week it really has. We were forced to review the lovely LG G2 smartphone and the cheapest-ever 50-inch TV from a major brand. OK so not so trying - we've actually had a blast writing some cool features and making some videos we hope you'll really dig.
So please sit back, relax, and drink in the best of TechRadar.
Project Loon explained: Can Google's balloons unite the world online?
A load of hot air or an idea of stratospheric magnitude?
When Google first announced Project Loon back in July, we had to check the calendar to ensure it wasn't another of the company's elaborate April Fools' gags.
Thousands of balloons on the edge of space, floating around the globe on stratospheric wind currents, self-aware and conscious of each other's movements like a flock of birds, sounded outlandish enough, but beaming Wi-Fi down to remote or underprivileged black spots? Pull the other one, chaps!
However, as we listened to the pitch, the derision evaporated. Yes, this idea seemed beyond crazy – its absurdity is even acknowledged in the name – yet somehow still plausible. In Loon's case, the premise is so crazy that it just might work. Continue reading...
Do the latest Apple Maps have what it takes to win you back?
Apple Maps: One year on
This time last year, Apple told Google to get lost: from iOS 6 onwards, Apple would provide its own mapping app.
You can imagine the snickers at Google HQ when the launch of Apple-powered Maps proved to be a disaster: 3D maps appeared to have suffered terrible disasters, entire towns disappeared and the maps appeared to be so error-prone that Apple ended up in the humiliating position of urging customers to use rivals' applications.
The debacle saw the exit of mapping team head Richard Williamson and iOS senior vice president Scott Forstall, and by December 2012 we were all delightedly installing the new standalone Google Maps app and relegating the Apple one to our "crapple" folders. Is Maps still lost? Continue reading...
The evolution of Shazam: from music maestro to TV tagging
Can Shazam become the only app you need for TV?
What is that song? It's a simple question but one Shazam has built an audio-recognition empire on, having answered it billions of times through its app.
It was first answered on 19 April 2002. T Rex's Jeepster was the very first tag, when the service was then called 2580. Skip to 2013 and the 10 billionth answer was given this month as Lady Gaga's Applause.
"It took 10 years for the first billion, 10 months for second and two months for the last billion," explained Shazam's Chief Product Officer Daniel Danker to TechRadar, who puts Shazam's immense popularity down to smartphone growth and the service "being an inherent behaviour now". Continue reading...
This week's hottest reviews...
Is this the start of LG's comeback?
The LG G2 is the beastly smartphone that is LG's answer to the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. It's a massive, yet not entirely unwieldy, smartphone brimming with specs that would make the most discerning geeks drool.
So far, LG has been a distant cry from where Samsung and HTC find themselves in terms of popularity and smartphone ownership. And between the latter two, Samsung is really dominating the space.
With the G2, it seems like LG took a lot of cues from its Korean counterpart and built what many called a Galaxy S4 clone. It's large, made of lots of plastic, shaped similarly and is jam-packed with more features than a single person can handle. LG G2 review
Microsoft Surface Pro 2
Old looks aside, this is a meaty Windows 8.1 machine
Microsoft is taking a second stab at the tablet market with the introduction of the new Surface Pro 2. On the surface, the new tablet looks almost completely identical to its predecessor, but Microsoft claims the Pro 2 is so powerful that it will make you think twice about buying your next laptop.
The Surface Pro 2 headlined a New York press event where Microsoft showed off two new Windows Surface tablets, the other being the Surface 2.
The Surface Pro is a 10.6-inch tablet running Intel's latest Haswell chip, which will give it some appreciable speed and battery life. We took a spin with the new Surface Pro 2 to see if it's really worth its $899 (£719, about AU$951) starting price. Hands on: Microsoft Surface Pro 2 review
Great value, but does 'good for the price' mean it's any more than OK?
All the talk in the TV world right now is of the hot new 4K/UHD and OLED TVs that exploded into action at the recent IFA technology show in Berlin. Exciting though such cutting-edge kit may be, it's also – for now at least – well beyond the affordability of your average UK household.
Which is where the Toshiba 50L4353 comes in. For while it might not be stuffed with cutting edge features it most certainly is cheap, offering a 50in screen for just £600.
This sort of value proposition, whether the TV makers like it or not, is much more likely to set tongues wagging among mainstream TV consumers than more pixels, higher contrasts and thinner designs. Toshiba 50L353 review