Hands On

Android Auto hands-on: Promising but patchy flexibility

Android Auto hands-on: Promising but patchy flexibility

We've heard plenty about Apple's CarPlay, but what about Android Auto? Finally getting its moment in the spotlight now that Android 5.0 Lollipop is arriving, the dashboard-takeover isn't actually available on any production car quite yet, but I was able to take an early look at the LA Auto Show inside a new 2015 Hyundai Sonata. The premise is simple: plug in your Android phone - in this particular case, a Nexus 5 - via USB cable and the car's central infotainment touchscreen gets an Android Auto revamp, with specially-designed graphics for use while driving, voice control rather than stabbing at a keyboard, and smart integration with your use of Google services elsewhere. Interesting, but it's not entirely road-worthy just yet.

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Here’s what $400,000 of Bentley gets you

Here’s what $400,000 of Bentley gets you

Nobody quite does luxury and performance like Bentley. The company's legacy of Bentley Boys, flogging their supercharged cars from road race to road race in the 1920s, has been given the knowing nod by special-edition cars from the marque for decades now, but never quite so comprehensively as the 2015 Mulsanne Speed. Taking the flagship spot at the top of Bentley's range, and doing so with no shortage of style, performance, and better-then-first-class accommodation, it's not only powerful but packs a serious degree of tech behind the several hides-worth of leather. I hid my press badge and pretended there was more than just dust in my wallet to find out more at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.

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2016 Toyota Mirai First-Drive – Fuel-Cells Dawning

2016 Toyota Mirai First-Drive – Fuel-Cells Dawning

You can’t accuse Toyota of rushing the 2016 Toyota Mirai to market. The hydrogen powered sedan may look like a vision of the future circa Buck Rogers, but its fuel-cell powertrain is decidedly cutting-edge, not to mention determinedly optimistic around issues of infrastructure and regulatory commitment to zero-emission vehicles. At $57,500 pre-subsidies, it seems the future carries a significant cost of entry, too. So, after some time behind the wheel of the Mirai, the question remains: is the age of hydrogen finally upon us?

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Gold Moto 360 hands-on – Let’s talk smartwatch luxury

Gold Moto 360 hands-on – Let’s talk smartwatch luxury

Can a smartwatch be stylish? That's an argument set to run and run, but of the options on the market right now, a majority would probably point to the Moto 360 as the poster-child for looks, even if its Android Wear OS is still a work-in-progress. It was joined today as a range with a Champagne Gold version complete with a thinner, 18mm band, along with a range of new leather straps, so I brought my very best wrist along to try out Motorola's take on an altogether glitzier wearable.

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Jawbone UP3 hands-on – Smarter sensing, cleverer coaching

Jawbone UP3 hands-on – Smarter sensing, cleverer coaching

If you're going to ask someone to wear a fitness tracker 24/7, it better be good, and Jawbone believes its come up with a killer in the new UP3. It's 30-percent smaller than Jawbone's old flagship, with a new design from Yves Behar, but this is no simple remolding of an UP24, however. Instead, it's the launch vehicle for the company's new multi-sensor platform, stepping beyond the simple accelerometer found in most wearables and adding a new bioimpedance sensor among others for not only movement, sleep, and heart tracking, but the promise of even more in-depth metrics that can be unlocked with a simple firmware update. I stopped by Jawbone to find out why UP3 could put other wearables to shame.

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Jawbone UP MOVE – Body tracking for the mass market

Jawbone UP MOVE – Body tracking for the mass market

Jawbone has clearly taken leave of its senses, if the new UP MOVE is anything to go by. Taking the fitness and sleep tracking that made the UP24 a hit, and then packaging it in a tiny clip-on dongle with six month battery life, the UP MOVE not only promises liberation away from the charger but at a fraction of the UP24's price. $49.99 gets you the sort of wearable tracking abilities that, not long ago, would've cost you three times the amount. I caught up with Jawbone to find out what the big idea is, and why luxury cars might represent the best explanation for the UP MOVE.

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This is the Nexus 9, Android Lollipop’s tablet vanguard

This is the Nexus 9, Android Lollipop’s tablet vanguard

Google's Nexus 9 faces more than a few challenges. Not only does it have the job of following Google's well-esteemed Nexus 7, which for two generations gave Android tablet fans an affordable and bag-friendly option, but it also serves as flag bearer for Android 5.0 Lollipop on a tablet form-factor. Throw in the fact that it also marks HTC's long-awaited re-entry into the slate segment, and that it's the first true 64-bit Android tablet courtesy of NVIDIA's Tegra K1, and that's a whole lot of pressure resting on one 8.9-inch iPad rival. So, how does it hold up?

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Nexus 6 hands-on – A whole lot of Lollipop

Nexus 6 hands-on – A whole lot of Lollipop

A new Nexus is always a big deal, but the Nexus 6 is big in every sense. Google and Motorola opted to go large for the latest pure-Android smartphone, giving Lollipop a vast 5.96-inch 2560 x 1440 Quad HD touchscreen in which to ply its "Material Design" wares. In fact, the Moto X stylings carried over from Motorola's own-brand flagship are deceptive, and side-by-side there's a considerable difference between the two. Google has kept the real magic for itself, nonetheless, and the Nexus 6 is shaping up to be as capable as it's coveted.

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Microsoft Band vs the Wearable Competition

Microsoft Band vs the Wearable Competition

You'd need a very big wrist to wear this year's crop of fitness bands and smartwatches, but Microsoft believes the new Microsoft Band can elbow out the competition. Straddling the line between smartwatch and health tracker - not to mention spanning not only Windows Phone but iPhone and Android, in a play for cross-compatibility that rivals could learn a lesson from - the sensor-packed wearable claims to deliver the best of both worlds. In the process, though, Microsoft has arguably given itself double the challenge, so I pulled up my sleeves to see how the Microsoft Band holds up.

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Microsoft Band hands-on – Admirably Flexible Fitness

Microsoft Band hands-on – Admirably Flexible Fitness

Who would've thought it would be Microsoft that would embrace cross-platform wearables so thoroughly, and indeed first. Microsoft Band is, on the face of it, the company's play for the fitness and health market, trailing Android Wear to market but beating Apple Watch by a number of months. However, where Google and Apple's approaches are resolutely wedded to their own individual platforms, Microsoft has spread wide its arms and made Microsoft Band play nicely not only with Windows Phone but with Android and iPhone too, and you don't have to sacrifice 99-percent of the functionality in doing so. I strapped the rubberized, touchscreen-toting health band to my wrist to find out more.

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