Archive | June 2014

Snap Happy (Z2)

Following on from my previous post about the Z2, this little write-up is going to look at some of the results you can achieve with a phone these days. A colleague in Test Lab is fortunate to live by the sea and was able to capture some truly stunning and atmospheric shots over the weekend. They were taken in manual mode at full resolution then edited with Snapseed using “HDR scape,” and took four screen taps to achieve:

Full resolution here:

Full resolution here:

Full resolution here:


No bull these were taken with a phone and edited with an app on the same phone. Impressive, no?




Back in the Saddle

A year is a long time in the technology world. This time last year I was the proud user of a brand-new Xperia Z, the very latest phone bequethed to me from Sony. Shortly after receiving this phone Sony changed their digital agency and it seemed Test Lab was forgotten about….Cue several months in the wilderness, nursing my Xperia Z and watching forlonly as the Z1 and the Z1 Compact came and went. All was quiet until just about Easter time, when the wheels of Test Lab slowly started grinding again and abruptly span to life just 10 short days ago with the delivery of the Z2 handset. Huzzah! Back in business!

Using everything they’ve learned from previous iterations of the Z series, the Z2 comes out guns blazing; 5.2″ 1080p screen, 2.3GHz quad-core processing, 20MP camera, 3200mAh battery, IP527 waterproofing and a slew of new software improvements. The Z2 has it all.

It follows a similar design aesthetic to handsets from the previous 18 months and is another glassy slab, this time offset with some silvery side panels. It feels a lot less boxy in the hand compared to the Z with smooth corners and a slick feel to the front and rear. This could generate issues with the handset flying from your hand but provided you’ve got a steely grip (or a non-slip case) it shouldn’t be a problem.

In terms of memory, anyone expecting the 32GB onboard storage offered by the Xperia S will be a bit disappointed as Sony have fallen back to the seemingly industry-standard 16GB. But eschewing industry standards Sony have yet again included microSD support making them still one of the only manufacturers to offer this. And it’s a good job too, as the 4K video recording offered by this handset takes up a tremendous amount of storage even when shooting very short clips.

Speaking of the camera, the Z2 is packing a 20MP that eclipses anything previously offered on a Sony Mobile and takes some glorious photos in practically every mode. Another blog post will show off some stunning photography taken with the phone. In short, it’s an impressive camera package that’s sure to please.

Following up the hardware is an equally impressive software packge – the Z2 launched on Android 4.4.2. Yes, 4.4.3 was released a few short days ago but for Sony to be practically neck and neck with releases of Android is something to behold. Long may it continue.

There’s not really a lot to complain about with this handset; I could grumble about the magnetic charging port and Sony not including an attachment to make the most of this and keep the waterproof integrity of the phone intact, but for £7 you can pick up an attachment on Amazon that does the same thing. And I could grumble about my demo box missing the much-touted noise-cancelling heaphones from Sony but I’ve got an SBH-20 that perfectly suits my musical needs – and lets me hear imminent and impending doom from the outside as well!

It’s an impressive handset on every level and to have been given the opportunity to put it through its paces is certainly a very pleasant turn up for the books. Those looking for a state-of-the-art handset that offers pretty much everything you could want in a phone would be very hard pressed to find something better.