Dedicated pedometers are in trouble at the moment. They re under fire from phones doing the same job passably and smartwatches doing it well. It all makes the concept of having a dedicated fitness tracker seem a bit pointless. It’s just another accessory to keep charged… and where the hell did I leave that proprietary charger anyway? So, they re in a race to do things that phones can t or won t: sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring or just showing the time on your wrist. You know, like a watch. Some, such as the Asus VivoWatch1 do the whole sort-of-smartwatch thing quite well, but the Honor Band just leaves me scratching my head and wondering who it s aimed at. It s fine, but it just doesn t really excel at anything at all.
Honor Band Z1 review: Appearance
At first glance, the Honor Band is an attractive thing. I have a soft spot for round watch faces, and the stainless steel rim looks good. There are no buttons, and nothing to distract from its appealing, diminutive shape. Weighing in at just 25g and with a 1.06in touchscreen, this makes most smartwatches feel positively obese.
There’s nothing to distract, except for a fairly ugly rubber strap. There doesn t seem to be any obvious way of changing it, either. Honor has at least tried to make it look a little nicer with a faint criss-cross pattern embossed into it, but it still looks rather tacky compared to the watch face itself. This feeling is only confirmed when the screen springs to life. Rather than the crisp and clear faces that appear in the press shots, the monochrome P-OLED here is considerably more pixelated, giving it more in common with the first-generation Pebbles than the latest Android Wear beauties.
Of course, there are perfectly good battery-shaped reasons for this, but it does detract from the luxurious feel they re pitching at. Plus, the press shots mislead here again. The watch faces on Honor’s website clearly extend further out than on the real product, where the designs are held in place by an ugly black box. The round screen, in other words, is just a small square screen in a round frame and an obvious one at that. This may seem overly critical, but Honor is marketing this as a beautiful, minimalist product, but upon the slightest inspection the illusion crumbles. In the few days I wore it, the stainless steel rim showed signs of picking up faint but noticeable scratches.
Honor Band Z1 review: Features
In terms of features, the Honor Band performs better. The pedometer tracks steps subtly in the background, and you don t need to switch on any kind of fitness mode for it to notice you ve broken into a run. Just as well, as I found bringing the screen to life an inconsistent process. It s a touchscreen so, in theory, a jab of the screen should activate it, as should shaking the arm. Neither worked consistently, and it s times like these when a button would be really handy, even if it meant compromising the purity of the design. On the plus side, once recognised, the touch gestures work extremely well, even through a pair of gloves that my phone s touch screen refused to recognise.
The passive measurements extend to sleep tracking and buzzing whenever you re sat still for too long. It can also set off a silent alarm on your wrist so that only you and not your partner are disturbed by your selfish need to get out of bed.
It dabbles with smartwatch functionality, but never really gets going. If you have a phone call, your wrist will buzz with the phone number dialling in, but no text messages or emails appeared on the screen, despite claims that they would. On the plus side, the band s waterproof credentials extend beyond just running in the rain, and there s no need to take it off when you step into the shower.
- ^ Asus VivoWatch (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
- ^ Here’s our favourite fitness trackers and smartwatches today (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
2016 looks to be a bumper year for gaming, with lots of great upcoming titles on both consoles. Here we re going to list our top picks month-by-month, so you can plan out your gaming year somewhat. If you re looking for something to play now, we ll be listing the most recent top release at the top of the article, while games without fixed dates are lurking at the very bottom.
While the PlayStation 4 has taken a lead in sales in the current generation, it has been the Xbox One that stands out in terms of exclusive titles. With Sony s internal teams misfiring or being delayed, Microsoft has built up a decent library of titles, though nothing quite console-selling, bar the excellent multiplayer in Halo 51, has yet come to its aid. This year looks potentially strong for Microsoft again but at present there are too many titles with vague 2016 release dates for our liking. We ll have to wait to E3 to see if we re actually going to get to play the likes of Gears of War 42 and Crackdown 33 this year, or whether we ll be forced to wait yet again. We ll be at E3 to find out, so follow our coverage there.
(17th) Rocket League
Would Rocket League ever have been made without Top Gear s now-famous football game with Aygo cars? We think not. Already hugely popular on PC and PS4, Rocket League has proven itself to be a pro gamer staple in just a few short years since its original release – as the brilliantly titled ‘Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars’. Easy to pick up but incredibly hard to master, with constant rewards in the form of custom car bits and bobs, Rocket League is mouth-wateringly addictive and breathlessly fast-paced. An essential buy in February. Video of Announcing Rocket League for Xbox One
(23rd) Far Cry Primal
Remember when prehistoric epics were a regular experience for moviegoers? Us neither, but Ubisoft is trying to turn the clock back to the sixties when grunting specimens with spears were all the rage. Ubisoft is very proud of having a gun-free Far Cry and the series certainly needed mixing up after a couple of samey outings. However, with Ubisoft s usual giant map of icons to engage with and the use of animals and fire as key weapons (both of which featured in recent Far Cry games as well), we re not yet convinced that this will be as radically different as it first appears. That said, we ve hugely enjoyed the last couple and there isn t much competition for your time in February. But be quick because in just two weeks …
Video of Far Cry Primal Gameplay Walkthrough EUROPE
(8th) The Division
Everyone s been banging on about The Division for years now. With many others, I was demoed the game at E3 two years ago and it looked pretty polished and playable back then, so god knows what s taken so long. Griping aside this once next-generation poster boy is finally being released and it s set to be the biggest time-sink of the year. A third-person shooter with heavy RPG elements doesn t quite do it justice, as it shares a lot of its DNA with Bungie s Destiny. That means seamless single-to-multiplayer transitions, heavy co-op elements and lots and lots of lovely loot to grind. The setting is a little NRA fantasy, with a devastated New York that needs cleaning up by heavily-armed civilians. But despite that, I ll see you online from the 8th. Read more in The Division4 article. Video of Tom Clancy's The Division Gameplay Walkthrough – E3 2015 US
Coming so soon after The Division looks like a crazy move for the usually cold-and-calculating Hitman but it s more complicated than that. The new game in the long-running assassination series is being split into episodic chunks, each one centred around a location and high-profile target, each ensconced in a huge sandbox area with around 300 NPCs in huge crowd scenes. Additional content will be released throughout the year, plus players will be able to design their own contracts for other to take on. Video of HITMAN – World Premiere 'Showstopper' Playthrough
(29th) Quantum Break
There s only game to consider this April (unless of course you have a PS4 as well) and that s the much-hyped Quantum Break. This time-bending shooter gives you a wide range of powers that will literally leave your opponents standing still. Your temporal mastery also allows you to traverse dangerous environments in platform-puzzle sections. On top of all that, Quantum Break is a game for the HBO-Netflix age, as the action is interspersed with high-quality TV segments, that vary depending on your choices in the game. Arguably the biggest, most exciting new game on Xbox One this year. Read more in our Quantum Break5 breakdown.
Video of Quantum Break Gameplay Trailer – New Quantum Break Trailer Gamescom 2015
Returning to its roots, the rebooted Doom takes all the gore and action of the original and brings it smack up to date. This feels distinctly different from most modern shooters, there s no cowering in cover, instead you have to keep on the move to stay alive, and be even more aggressive than your demonic enemies in order to triumph. The multiplayer takes a similar old-school approach, even including health that doesn t regenerate. I m eager to take a step back in time and into hell in May. Video of HITMAN – World Premiere 'Showstopper' Playthrough
With Team Fortress 2 aging there s been an opening for a new team-based shooter to take the crown. Overwatch comes from Blizzard and draws from the design crack that is MOBA. Highly-character based, the first person shooter gives players the opportunity to specialise in their favourite heroes and learn every nuance of their highly-varied skillsets. This, Blizzard hopes, will create an exciting and varied meta-game as teams try to outmanoeuvre each other before the first shot is fired through character choices. It could become the darling of competitive gaming but Blizzard is also making sure it stays accessible too. Video of Overwatch Gameplay Trailer #2
(23rd) Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
The long-running Deus Ex series is back with this direct sequel to 2012 s Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Expect more of the same in terms of an awesome cyberpunk feel, fantastic upgrades for your agent and a complex plot of shadowy conspiracies in which you get to make big choices as to the outcome. This time around combat has been reworked heavily, to create gunfights that are as fun and tactical as the sneaky approach, plus there s still lots of security systems to hack and turn to your will. When summer gets too much, pull on your virtual mirrorshades and head for the shadowy world of Deus Ex. read our full Deus Ex: Mankind Divided6 preview for more details.
Video of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided World Premiere Gameplay Demo
No date confirmed
There s a bunch more titles that are tentatively pencilled in for a 2016 launch date. However, the developers and publishers haven t yet announced a date more exact than a year. Some of these may get dates at the E3 show in June, while other will almost certainly drift into 2017.
Gears of War 4
Halo Wars 2
Sea of Thieves
Final Fantasy XV
Mass Effect Andromeda
LG Electronics will not show off its mobile payment system LG Pay at the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in order to put the full focus on the G5, a report from South Korea claims. According to DigitalDaily1, the South Korean tech giant has postponed the unveiling of LG Pay to the second quarter of the year to “concentrate” on the G5.
Latest news on Asia
LG Uplus, the mobile carrier affiliate of LG Electronics, was due to go to Barcelona to display the mobile payment system, but its display area had been removed, South Korean media said, citing an unnamed LG official. A separate report earlier claimed that LG was planning to unveil a universal payment card called LG White Card2 at the mobile tradeshow.
South Korea’s second-largest electronics firm put in fingerprint recognition on last year’s flagship V10, speculated to be in preparation for the launch of its own mobile payment app. In November last year, it signed agreements with local credit card firms3 Shinhan Card and KB Kookmin Card for mutual cooperation in the area. Apple and Samsung have already launched payment services in the last year and are heavily promoting them globally.
According to TrendForce, global mobile payment will grow to $620 billion in 2016, a growth of 37.8 percent from 2015’s $450 billion. LG revealed that its new phone will be called the G5 when it unveiled a quick cover case4 for the likely metal phone earlier this week. A LG spokesman declined to comment.
12 February 2016
The latest version of the seven-seat people carrier, the Ford Grand C-Max, has been through our comprehensive lab tests. Is it a Best Buy?
People carriers (or MPVs multi-purpose vehicles) can be fantastic cars if you have a large or growing family. But a bad people carrier will drink lots of fuel, can be difficult to manoeuvre thanks to factors like a wide turning circle and poor visibility, or just feel underpowered, leaving you to struggle uphill with a car full of people, luggage or both.
Which? members can go straight to the updated Ford Grand C-Max review to find out whether this people carrier has what it takes to be a Best Buy. Not a member yet? Sign up for a 1 trial and discover the benefits of having over 700 car reviews at your fingertips.12
Grand C-Max (2010-) seven-seat MPV – facelift
The Ford Grand C-Max is a seven-seat people carrier with sliding rear doors. The current generation launched in 2010 but has since benefited from a comprehensive mid-life facelift. In keeping with current Ford styling, among the updates to the exterior is a new grill, which we think looks a little bit Aston Martin-esque certainly no bad thing.
The insides have also been revamped and now feature a more intuitive and cohesive dashboard design, which should make it easier to use. There’s a greater range of standard equipment, too. All cars come with alloy wheels, air conditioning, a DAB radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity, heated windscreen and voice control. But some recent additions worth highlighting include tyre pressure monitoring and ‘MyKey’. What s MyKey? Well it allows you to take a second car key and programme it setting speed limits, maximum stereo volume, when you get low fuel warnings and more. Potentially a very helpful feature if your children are learning to drive and you want to encourage good driving habits.
The engine line has also been revised. Both petrol and diesel power have been updated and boast decent fuel efficiency and low CO2 ratings (which means low car tax). This all sounds very promising, but how does the car actually feel to drive, what mpg does it get in real life and is it as practical as it sounds? Get the answers to these questions and more by reading our Ford Grand C-Max review3.
Top 10 tips for buying a used car
Buying a car used is an affordable way to get your hands on the car you want. But buying any car is no simple thing. Is it best to go to a franchised dealer, private seller or auction? How does the badge and the fuel affect the sale value? What information can I use to haggle for a better price? Here are two example tips from our guide:
Dealer or private?
An approved used car from a manufacturer’s franchised dealer is usually the most expensive option, but the car should have been checked thoroughly, and it will come with a warranty.
Independent dealers generally offer lower prices and more choice, as they re not tied to a particular marque. However, any warranty offered may be limited. Buying from a private seller is usually cheapest, although most cars are sold as seen , so you will have very little legal comeback if things go wrong. You may also have to arrange your own insurance cover to legally test drive a car offered by a private seller, whereas most dealerships will have a policy that covers test drives. Finally, a car auction could be cheaper still. Auctions are fast-paced, though, so make sure you set a budget and stick to it. Attend a sale first to learn the ropes before you decide to bid.
Do a history and finance check
A used car history or vehicle provenance check will show if a car has outstanding finance, or has previously been stolen or written off by an insurance company. We recommend checking any potential purchases in this way, particularly if offered by a private seller.
12 February 2016
The big six energy suppliers are all dropping their gas prices
The six largest energy supplies have announced they will reduce their gas tariffs by up to 5.4%, with one smaller supplier also following suit. This follows reductions in the price of gas last year.
The price cuts may seem like good news, but wholesale gas prices continue to drop by more, so we still think that consumers are paying over the odds for their gas. The average saving for current customers will be around 30 per year, but you could save far more by switching energy suppliers. Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: ‘Price reductions are a step in the right direction for customers struggling with their energy bills. But seeing all of the big suppliers mirror each other with small cuts in the face of falling wholesale prices will raise questions in many people’s minds about whether competition is working in this market.’
Gas price drops
All of the following energy companies have announced drops in the price of gas of 5 – 5.4%. Some of these will not come into effect until March. Below we show you each company’s reduction and when you will see this on your bill. Click on the links above to read the Which? review of each energy supplier.
Which? calls for fairer pricing
While Which? welcomes this move, energy prices remain high and we will continue to campaign for them to drop further.
In a market where competition isn t working effectively more has to be done to make pricing fair, switching easier and ensure the most vulnerable are protected. Join our Fair Energy Prices campaign2 to tell the Competition and Markets Authority to do just that.