What a difference a year makes. Samsung's new mainstream sized flagship phones for 2015 are every bit as attractive and elegant looking as the iPhone 6 and HTC One M9. Clad in glass and aluminum, both the GS6 and S6 Edge are classy and attractive phones whose looks match the excellent features inside. From the scrumptious 2560 x 1440 Super AMOLED displays to the fast 2.1 GHz Exynos octa-core CPU these phones are winners. There's a much more reliable fingerprint scanner, a sharp 5MP front camera and an excellent 16MP rear camera with OIS and 4K video capture.
The Spectre x360 is a stand out, from the natural silver aluminum lid and bottom to the jewel cut sides that look like polished, precision cut stainless steel. Happily, the price is a standout too, with the base Core i5 model starting at a reasonable $899. That includes a full HD IPS touch screen with active digitizer for HP's pen, an SSD drive and plenty of ports. The 13.3" HP Spectre x360 runs on Intel Broadwell 5th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs with 4 or 8 gigs of RAM and a 128, 256 or 512 gig SSD. The $999 model has a 2.2 GHz Core i5, 8 gigs of RAM and a 256 gig SSD, which we consider the sweet spot in terms of value and future-proofing. For those who prefer higher resolution, there's a 2560 x 1440 option too. If you're in the market for an Ultrabook or convertible with touch and pen support, the Spectre x360 is worth a good look.
Let's face it, the original LG G Flex wasn't a huge sucess-- the specs were lacking and the phone was too big for most. The LG G Flex 2 remedies these issues, and it's actually a fine phone that might charm you with its attractive and comfortable curve. The LG G Flex 2 runs on the new 2 GHz Snapdragon 810 octa-core CPU and it has a pleasing curved 5.5" full HD P-OLED display that's color saturated and sharp. The phone has the same very good rear 13MP camera with OIS as the LG G3 along with dual band WiFi 801.11ac, NFC and an AV remote. The smartphone is flexible and the back has a self-healing finish that's somewhat scratch resistant.
We need more machines like the Asus Zenbook UX305: stylish, highly portable, quite capable and priced at just $699. We were already impressed with Asus' $899 Zenbook UX303 that was recently refreshed with Intel Core i5 Broadwell CPUs. The UX305 is the more affordable version of the UX303. But the key point here is that Asus cut very few corners to create the $200 less expensive UX305. You do give up the touch screen, which is the biggest drawback given Windows 8.1's push to use touch, but since it's a pure laptop form factor with no convertible-tablet feature, we'll forgive it. Instead of the Intel Core i5 used in the UX303, the UX305 has the lower power and slower Intel Core M CPU, and the UX305 loses the backlit keyboard. But there's plenty of goodness left: an all metal casing with Asus' signature swirled aluminum lid, plenty of ports, a striking and slim design, and a full HD 1080 matte IPS display (QHD 3800 x 1800 will be available in April 2015 for $999).
The 13" MacBook Pro with Retina display continues to be one of the best laptops in the high end portable arena. It competes with Windows Ultrabooks and unlike the MacBook Air, it's design still seems fresh and modern. The early 2015 refresh changes nothing in terms of design and casing, rather it's the internals and trackpad have moved up. We have Intel 5th generation Broadwell CPUs with Iris 6100 graphics, 2x faster SSD storage and the new Force Trackpad in the new model joining forces with the already excellent 2560 x 1600 IPS "Retina" display and all day battery life.
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 is a photographer's camera with easy manual control, traditional tactile dials, fantastic ergonomics, an EVF and a dense feel in the hand. Of course, those are nice but image quality is equally important, and the cropped Micro Four Thirds sensor and Leica 24-75mm f/1.7-f/2.8 delivers it in spades. The LX100 is bigger than the Sony RX100 but smaller than the Canon PowerShot G1X II and Sony a6000. It's unobtrusive and portable but you'll need cargo pants or a purse. It can shoot 4K video and like the venerable Panasonic GH4 has the Venus processor and a 16MP MFT sensor. The result? More dSLR like photos with goodies like depth of field and some bokeh that help it earn our Editor's Choice award.
The third time's a charm: The ThinkPad X1 Carbon 3rd generation model is a 14" Ultrabook with an impeccable backlit keyboard, a slim design and the usual ThinkPad durability. It's encased in carbon fiber polymer and has a magnesium alloy roll cage, yet it weighs just 2.9 pounds. The laptop runs on 5th generation Intel Broadwell Core U series CPUs with SSD drives, and it's available with your choice of three display options: 1080p non-touch TN, WQHD 2560 x 1440 IPS non-touch and WQHD 2560 x 1440 touch. Does it give the Dell XPS 13 a run for your money? Read our review to find out.
BlackBerry is back with a flourish. The Passport is certainly a unique phone that's wider than the average supesized smartphone. Though it's a challenge to hold and pocket, the design affords a useful wider display and roomy hardware keyboard that's a joy to use. The specs are thoroughly modern with a quad core Snapdragon CPU, high resolution rear camera and of course 4G LTE. We look at the AT&T version.
A $150 phone is both easy to love and hard to like. On one hand the bar is set low, so low that we're thrilled when the important bases are nicely covered: a solid quad core CPU, an IPS display and good voice quality. Throw in LTE 4G and a name brand you can trust, and you've got a phone that's hard to dislike. The Moto E is an unlocked GSM phone that will work on any GSM carrier and it runs Android 5.0 Lollipop on the new quad core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 with 1 gig of RAM and 8 gigs of storage. It has an IPS display and a 5MP rear camera. Pretty good stuff for the price. And for those who eschew 4G, there's a 3G version for $119.
It's great to see Dell back on their A game with the new Dell XPS 13, or 2015 XPS 13 as we fondly refer to it. This is a 13.3" Ultrabook with the footprint and weight of MS Surface Pro 3, which is pretty darned impressive. But wait, there's more: greater than 10 hours of battery life, a nearly bezel-less display, Dell's usual solid build and Intel Broadwell 5th generation Core U CPUs (none of that wimpy Core M stuff here). The XPS 13 starts at $799 for the Core i3 with a 1080p matte Sharp IGZO non-touch panel. The Core i5 with a QHD+ IGZO panel will set you back $1,299 and there are configurations in between.
The much improved second generation Yoga Android tablets are faster, have better displays and live up to the lovely Yoga design. We look at the 8" model in this review, and it has a pleasing 1920 x 1200 IPS display, a quad core 1.33 GHz Intel Atom CPU and a high capacity battery nicely hidden in the cylindrical base that also houses a built-in stand. The tablet runs Android 4.4 KitKat and it has 16 gigs of storage, a microSD card slot, USB host and a decent 8 megapixel rear camera for just $229.
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