It's been a particularly exciting week for the reviews team. We finally got our hands on Sony's sensibly-sized new 4K TV, we tested Nokia's latest flagship smartphone and we've also played with the new Apple MacBook Air.
The KD-65X9005A is much more than just another large screen telly. The poster boy for a new generation of broadcast technology, it delivers a 4K picture experience quite unlike conventional Full HD screens. Image quality with native 4K content is simply astonishing, both in terms of absolute fidelity and image depth. But perhaps the biggest surprise is just how beneficial its panel density is with Full HD too. Upscaling is extremely effective, and with Blu-ray (particularly Mastered in 4K discs), it simply shines. There's been considerable debate as to whether the 4K at this screen size is an appreciable advantage in the average home. Well we can confirm it most definitely is. Debate closed.
The 2013 MacBook Air refresh is not a radical overhaul. The extra microphone aside, the chassis is identical to last year's MacBook Air, though there are significant improvements under the hood. Unfortunately, there are one or two drawbacks too. The new low-power Haswell processors really boost the MacBook Air's battery life so you can run it for an entire day on a single charge. The Haswells bring better graphics too, with the Intel HD 5000 integrated chipset giving a speed boost of up to 40%. Solid state storage is doubled compared to the previous generation, and faster flash storage brings a welcome performance increase. The new MacBook Air is the first Apple computer to adopt the new Wi-Fi ac protocol, which is up to three times as fast as wireless n. Many will bemoan the lack of a Retina display too, at least as an optional extra. But factor in the better battery life and improved Wi-Fi, and the 2013 MacBook Air is a clear win overall.
The Nokia Lumia 925 is undeniably a great phone in its own right, but it's just not a big enough improvement over the Nokia Lumia 920 for there to be any reason to buy it if you own last year's model. Even if you don't, you might be better off buying the Nokia Lumia 920, since it's substantially cheaper at around £330/US$400/AU$420 SIM-free. With dated specs the Nokia Lumia 925 is definitely a case of style over substance. If it was priced around the same as the Nokia Lumia 920 that would be fine, but it isn't. And while it's still one of the best Windows Phone 8 handsets available, it's still got a long way to go to catch up to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One and even the iPhone 5, unless you're a particular fan of Windows Phone. Some call Windows Phone refreshing, but it does still come with limitations and lacks a certain fluidity that Nokia hasn't managed to fix. This is a good phone, sure, but as a flagship we need to have our socks blown off, and at last check they were still firmly on our feet.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is a surprisingly well built, premium looking handset with a good range of bells and whistles which will please any prospective buyer. We weren't overly impressed with the microSD placement or the bundled Samsung keyboard, plus the amount of internal storage available is disappointing - but these aren't huge issues and overall the Galaxy S4 Mini appears to be an excellent smartphone. As long as Samsung can keep the price sensible the Galaxy S4 Mini is going to be one of the big contenders in the mid-high end of the market and we'll struggle not to recommend it.
And the rest of this week's reviews...
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