Apple's latest product releases

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We compare Apple's top gadgets to cheaper alternatives

When Apple unveiled its latest goodies at the company’s much anticipated developers’ conference in San Francisco last month, Time Out was one of the few publications allowed in to drool over innovations. Apple’s appeal is more addictive than ever, but it can come at a hefty price. However, says David Phelan, there are cheaper alternatives out there that can be just as satisfying (if not quite as cool).

Smartphone

APPLE Apple iPhone 4S. Beats the competition for: Apps

The phone that has everything and that everyone has, with neat design, an exceptional 8-megapixel camera, and more apps than anywhere else – more than 650,000. Siri, a ‘Knight Rider’-style voice recognition program lets you set alarms, check the weather and dictate texts – it even opened the Apple conference with a bunch of cheesy jokes. From free on contract. www.orange.co.uk

THE ALTERNATIVE HTC One X. Beats Apple for: Screen size

The iPhone looks a bit puny next to this job, thanks to the One X’s colossal 4.7-inch display. As well as its impressive measurements, the phone has a super-fast processor, outstanding Beats Audio sound and cool features like a camera which takes snaps while simultaneously shooting video, plus free online storage. From free on contract. www.phones4u.co.uk

Tablet

APPLE New iPad. Beats the competition for: Screen, apps.

While it looks like a weirdly big iPhone to the untrained eye, and doesn’t run Microsoft Office or Flash websites, for email, games, photo apps, iPlayer, stunning high-resolution display and much more, it’s sublime. Rivals have tried to beat the iPad, but nobody significantly undercuts it for price without a smaller screen. From £499. www.marksandspencer.com

THE ALTERNATIVE BlackBerry PlayBook. Beats Apple for: Design, price

Superbly built, with a great 7-inch screen and high specifications. The playbook had a bit of a wobbly launch, bizarrely lacking an in-built email application (since remedied), and has dropped in price hugely, making it now great value. It’ll be even better when the new BlackBerry 10 software arrives next year. An underrated marvel. From £169. www.carphonewarehouse.com

Streaming TV

APPLE Apple TV. Beats the competition for: Design

The cute, tiny, sleekly designed box that is Apple TV connects by HDMI cable to your goggle box and – wirelessly or with cables – to your broadband network. With it you can access thousands of films, documentaries and television shows to rent or buy instantaneously making it a true couch-potatoenabling device. The 1080p image quality is tremendous. From £79.94. www.amazon.co.uk

THE ALTERNATIVE Sky+ HD. Beats Apple for: Recording features

This bigger box (available in wacky skins like this Vic Reeves design) delivers all of your TV stations as well as a hard drive to store them on. Around 500 titles are instantly streamed to the TV via broadband. For the best picture quality, there’s also a wide range of on-demand films and TV programmes that are streamed over the air to your dish. Box prices vary, subscription required. www.sky.com

Laptops

APPLE MacBook Air. Beats the competition for: Build quality

The undeniably beautiful Air is not cheap, but given the components, specifications and aluminium casing, it’s good value. It is also amazingly light and thin, but at 11 inches has the same full-size keyboard as a 15- inch screen MacBook Pro. Plus, it’s instant-on, meaning you never have to go and make a cup of tea or two while you wait for it to boot up. £849. www.selfridges.com

THE ALTERNATIVE Toshiba NB510-11E netbook. Beats Apple for: Price

It isn’t encased in Apple’s trademark brushed metal, the keyboard is more cramped, and it’s a Windows machine (so you’ll be the odd one out in the wi-fi coffee house), but you can buy three of the blighters for the price of a MacBook Air and still have £100 of macchiato money. Considerably heavier than Apple’s featherweight beauty, but with more storage and longer battery life. £239.95. www.johnlewis.com


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