Tech: The little box that gives you enough space to recharge
Our technology editor reviews the Imation Link Power Drive, Olloclip 4-in-1 for iPhone 6 , Asus Transformer T300 Chi, LG G Flex 2 and the Basis Peak tracker.
Imation Link Power Drive
Price: €90 from Amazon, PeatsWholesale
Rating: 4 stars
When it comes to battery life, big-screen phones are a blessing and a curse. Their bigger batteries give longer life than smaller smartphones. On the other hand, because their screens are bigger, you use them more for battery-sapping stuff, like video consumption and mobile-data activity. This has led to an explosion of small-battery backup dongles that give something close to a full recharge for your phone. An interesting variation on the theme comes from Imation. As well as a 3,000mAh backup battery (enough to refuel an iPhone 6), its Link Power Drive also loads in 16GB of additional storage. The idea is to have an all-in-one accessory for power and extra space when you're on the move. It makes sense for the entry-level iPhone devices, as their own 16GB limits simply aren't enough for all the stuff (apps, videos, photos) you'll use it for. The Link Power Drive is specifically focused on iOS devices (iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches), with the requisite 'Lightning' connector attached. There's also a small flap that lets you prop your iPhone or iPad up for viewing while you charge it. Because of its 1.5-inch thickness and weight, it is not something you'll carry around in a pocket, but is more suited to a bag.
Phone extra that takes a wider view
Olloclip 4-in-1 for iPhone 6
Price: €€80 from Apple.ie
Rating: 4 stars
Olloclip's 4-in-1 iPhone 6 lens is fun to use. It switches between a wide-angled lens, fish-eye (ultra-wide angle) lens and two macro (extreme close up) lenses for your iPhone's photos. It doesn't improve the quality or sharpness of the images, just the viewing angle. The macro and fish-eye lenses are most fun. Carrying it around is the only downside: how often will you do that, realistically? It's too big for a wallet and feels awkward in a pocket. And if you leave it on your phone, it makes the whole thing too bulky for your regular pouches. But if you don't mind keeping it in a bag, it's good for a laugh.
A super-skinny laptop hybrid
Asus Transformer T300 Chi
Price: €950 from Currys
Rating: 4 stars
While tablets are largely becoming kids' toys or inexpensive Netflix second screens, a new breed of Windows-based hybrid devices is making a reasonable attempt at being something more. Microsoft's Surface series has made some of the early running here, but they have increasing competition. Asus's new Transformer T300 Chi, which comes with a clip-on keyboard, is one of the more remarkable specimens in the genre. At just 0.8mm thick, it is the thinnest convertible laptop in the world (and a couple of millimetres thinner than Apple's super-slim new MacBook). The 12.5-inch machine also has a high-definition screen, a 128GB hard drive, 8GB of Ram and a battery life of eight hours. It uses one of Intel's new low-power Core M chips. On the downside, this has no full size USB port, which may be an issue for some.
LG shows off luscious curves
LG G Flex 2
Price: €700 from PC World
Rating: 3 stars
While Samsung believes in curved edges, its local arch-competitor LG has gone further, gently curving a whole phone from top to bottom. The result is supposed to be more naturally ergonomic, that the bottom of the phone curves more naturally in towards your mouth rather than jutting out like a stiff tablet slab. In the brief time I had with the 5.5-inch device, I didn't notice a huge difference to flatter phones. But it did feel a little odd in my pocket. I also wasn't completely enamoured with the plasticky shell on it. Aside from the curvature, it has a very tough, high-definition screen that is built to withstand a lot of physical pressure. Its 13-megapixel camera is good, while the model available in Ireland comes with 16GB of storage. This is a nice phone but unless you really like the idea of curviness, it doesn't stand out.
Peak tracker fatigue is close
Basis Peak tracker
Price: €230 from Argos
Rating: 3 stars
Have we reached peak fitness tracker fatigue yet? Apparently not. The Basis Peak tracker joins some 200 trackers already on the market, almost all of which do the same thing. This one, though, comes in black. And it has a monochrome screen, just like a retro digital watch. And it throws in vibrating notifications for incoming phone messages. And it tells the time. As for the rest of its functionality, well, you know the drill by now. Steps, heart rate and sleep patterns (meaning movement at night) are all tracked. Skin temperature and perspiration measurement are also added for good measure because it's always good to know what your skin temperature is, right? All of this, plus your weekly 'scores' are available through the accompanying app on a phone that links wirelessly to the watch. The battery lasts about three days per recharge.