Author Archive: Peter McMullan

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By July 21, 2017 Read More →

F-Secure Sense Review – The best online security?

IMG_20170623_211739-001Is your smart home safe? Let SENSE take over!

Trojans, Malicious spyware, Botnets are just some of the potential threats to your home network.  Many people are unaware that these threats can infiltrate your home network by a simple click on a website that like a cyber landmine could have a catastrophic effect on your digital self.  Credit card details, access to your personal documents, photographs anything that you have online that is of value can be taken remotely in seconds. This is truly frightening and the attitude this will never happen to me will not protect you. Prevention is better than the cure!

Thankfully F-Secure a Finnish cyber security and privacy company established since 1988 have been working on SENSE a device designed to create a secure home network and protect you and your family’s digital identities.

SENSE is a smart security router that is being heavily advertised as ‘The missing piece of your connected home’ Being a family man I want to protect my home and family from any threats so what can SENSE do?

SENSE can connect to all devices in the home from tablets and smartphones to games consoles and baby monitors.

In the age of IoT it is important that all items within your home are under your control and not left open for an unknown presence to use at their will.  Listening to F-Secure’s Mikko Hypponen at this years TNW 2017 conference in Amsterdam, made me stand up and take notice that the possibility for a hacker to infiltrate my home through a games console is a reality. With the WannaCry ransomware attack happening in May 2017 F-secures timing to launch SENSE could not have happened at a better time. Everyone needs to be more security savvy and with SENSE F-secure has made this easy to do.

You can check out the unboxing of SENSE here with Gareth.

Out of the box, you have to appreciate the commendable design of the SENSE router, a strikingly bright white triangular shape with the router panel hidden away at the back, definitely different from past routers I have had which have been typically black/grey and boring.

f-secure, sense, review, firewall, security, IoT, antivirus, home security,

Inside the box, there is a rather striking cardboard panel welcoming you as a smart person for purchasing SENSE. I guess in the world of smart technologies we also need to adapt and become smarter people. Under this you have a few leaflets; Product safety information and a Quick guide setup for SENSE.

Below the leaflets, you have the angelic white SENSE router, the power cord and plug and an ethernet cable.

The instructions on the cardboard panel instruct you to download the SENSE app from either the Google Play Store or App store. There are a number of ways to connect SENSE to your home network. They are clearly outlined in the instructions. Setup took about ten minutes which was surprisingly quick. I downloaded the SENSE app from the play store and followed the on screen setup. Below you can follow the screenshots of the setup.

My current broadband provider is with Sky.

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SENSE connected effortlessly to the internet and boom it was ready to serve and protect.

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SENSE creates a secure WiFi network within your home network. It splits the frequency between 2.4ghz and 5ghz which is useful. Your original WiFi network will still be available to connect to but there will be two further options to consider F-SECURE SENSE 2.4 and 5ghz.

 

I’m not sure what I was expecting with this newfound technology. SENSE requires minimal effort and works tirelessly to protect all my devices connected to it.  SENSE so far has blocked 386 threats on the 8 devices I have connected to the network. As you can see from the screenshot these threats are generally websites blocked that SENSE realises there is a potential threat. We all have clicked on a ‘where are they now?’ link to be faced with a barrage of advertising and pop ups. Even though you could just look ‘them’ up on a search engine you still proceed to click here for the next page allowing your vital information being collected by a website like this. SENSE recognises the potential threat and blocks the website from being viewed. Unless you don’t mind having your data shared by a website like this SENSE will allow you to continue against its better judgement.

f-secure, sense, review, firewall, security, IoT, antivirus, home security,

My wife and kids are also becoming smarter with SENSE. They are now learning where to access the information they need safely as SENSE has blocked a few of their usual news feed websites are deemed unsafe.

f-secure, sense, review, firewall, security, IoT, antivirus, home security,

The SENSE app also gives a breakdown of each device on browsing protection and tracking protection. The beauty about SENSE is that it will evolve with time, more updates and patches will be created all included with your one off fee of £169.

f-secure, sense, review, firewall, security, IoT, antivirus, home security,

 

One thing I found surprising is that my phone which I leave on all night was trying to access websites as I slept. This may be an application that has not closed down properly but with SENSE to the rescue it has discovered something sinister and blocked the action.

Should you invest in SENSE? The price tag of £169 for SENSE with 12 months membership followed by £8.50 a month subscription may put a lot of consumers off, why pay for internet security when you can get it for free? As you will know nothing is free nowadays and that free software is making you pay for it with your privacy.

SENSE does not track your internet history as explained here.

 

With SENSE now running in my house for three weeks, I have discovered WiFi signal to be stronger. Previous to SENSE we had suffered drop offs and had to restart the router in order to connect to the internet again. SENSE boosting WiFi signal is an added bonus to the job it was designed for.

SENSE has proven a welcome addition to my now smarter home. The digital clock displayed on the front has become more useful than I originally thought. We have absolutely no luck with analogue clocks in our house no clock has the right display, knowing that the SENSE router has the right time my wife and kids just pop into the hall if they need to know the time.

I have peace of mind that my family and my IoT devices are not going to be attacked as SENSE acts as my cyber Guardian. F-Secure has not rushed the production of SENSE as they wanted to get the product just right. Their patience and endurance have truly paid off as SENSE really is the missing piece of your connected home.

A mobile device to run the F-Secure SENSE app is required to operate:

  • iOS 9 or higher (iPad 2 not supported)
  • Android 4.4 or higher
  • Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE)
  • Support for WPA2 WLAN encryption
  • Extra security functions are available on Windows 7 (SP1) and later (32 and 64 bit) and Android.

    Hardware Specifications
  • WLAN
  • IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz, 5GHz, AC 1750
  • Antenna 4 × internal
  • USB – 1 × USB 3.0
  • WAN – 1 × RJ45 Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps
  • LAN – 3 × RJ45 Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps
  • Bluetooth 4.0 & Bluetooth LE
  • CPU – 1 GHz Dual-core 
  • RAM – 512 MB DDR3
  • ROM – 1 GB
  • Power DC: 12V 2A, AC: 110-240V, 50/60Hz 0.8A max.
  • Dimensions – 217 × 125 × 90 mm (8.54 × 4.88 × 3.54 in)
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By June 6, 2017 Read More →

Has F-Secure created the best cyber security system?

IMG_20170518_202958Not so long ago the world was a simpler place the internet was used to check emails and if you wanted to know what your friend had for dinner you asked them on your landline.  With the growth of technology and faster internet connections a whole new world of possibilities evolved.  It was a magical time when the impossible was made possible. A time where we waited patiently for a website to load and hoped that the connection was not disrupted with someone using your home phone.

It was 1995 and I went to watch ‘The Net’ starring Sandra Bullock as a young computer programmer, Angela Bennett.  This was the first time I witnessed computer hacking, I recall being completely horrified as Miss Bennett’s digital identity was erased and replaced with a new identity as Ruth Marx a wanted criminal.  This was almost a science fiction thriller, the technology we had back then was nowhere near as advanced in this movie and as I left the cinema I thought this could never happen to me, could it? Complacent with my anti-virus software I felt that this was enough to protect me.

Fast forward to the year 2017 and we are so technology dependent the millennials could never have coped with life in 1995 nowadays your friend who you have not spoken to in real life for years posts what they had for dinner and you click a like button to show acknowledgement.  We post our whole lives online, which can be argued to be a positive thing but if your home was hacked and your digital identity erased how much of your life would you lose?

The 12th May 2017 was the beginning of the worldwide cyberattack of the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware which targeted computers running Windows by encrypting data and demanding ransom payments in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.  The world had its first wake up call that cyber attacks are a potential threat and that normal people can be affected.  In Britain, the NHS were affected and the ‘Wannacry’ threat dominated headlines making the average Joe take notice.  There is now an awakening that there could be a loophole in people’s security software. Perhaps smart devices have the potential to work against you if you do not have the right protection.

The smart move is to be prepared and not be in a position to get hacked in the first place.

 

Thankfully F-Secure a Finnish cyber security and privacy company established since 1988 have been working on a device to protect your home network and the forever growing number of IoT devices.

They have developed F-secure SENSE which offers a three layer protection; Firstly with the SENSE router that you connect to your existing router in your home, secondly the SENSE advanced security app allowing you to manage your home network and protect devices, even outside the home, and third, they have developed cloud protection which monitors your network for threats in real time.  

 

SENSE creates a complete secure home network that will prevent personal private information being shared with companies without your permission. SENSE was unveiled last month at The Next Web conference held in Amsterdam. Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer from F-Secure gave a speech about the internet of insecure things and captivated the audience with a tale on how your toaster will soon be connected to the internet, not for any benefit to you but the manufacturer.  He also discussed how people do not read instruction manuals and how back in the 80’s and 90’s video tape players all had a flashing display of 12:00 as no one had the patience to sit and programme the time.

 

Hypponen’s Law “Whenever an appliance is described as ‘smart’ it is vulnerable.” With this law in mind, F-secure had a task before them to create a simple yet powerful device that will protect your home network and the ever growing internet of things. “SENSE revolutionises online security by protecting your entire home network, not just specific devices. Its IoT security technology senses traffic from connected devices to provide extra protection against IoT threats”

F-secure SENSE was unveiled to a select few journalists and bloggers from Europe where we got to see the router in action.  Harri Kiljander, Director Customer Experience Design Consumer Cybersecurity demonstrated how the SENSE app and router work. Check out a short interview with Harri on the Techaddicts podcast hereThe app was simple to use as he connected two mobile devices to the router and demonstrated how the app would pick up a malicious website.

“Everyone in your SENSE network can surf the web with peace of mind. SENSE secures browser traffic by automatically blocking phishing, intrusive tracking and other malicious attacks”

Ultimately there will be other security routers similar to SENSE appear on the market but F-secure promise ongoing automatic updates that will be free, making every SENSE network even more private. Shipping now £169 with free delivery you receive the SENSE router plus one year’s security subscription.  Subscription costs £8.50 per month after the first year. F-secure have developed a product that in theory sounds like a device that every home will need, the monthly subscription is a small price to pay for a piece of hardware with software that will update to protect your home and IoT devices against computer viruses and hackers. Without the subscription, SENSE still functions as a powerful router. 

We will be unboxing and providing a full review within the next month here on the Tech Addicts.

Posted in: Editorial
By May 18, 2017 Read More →

F-Secure to Plug the Security Hole in Millions of Connected Homes

F-Secure_Sense_3534_2000pxSmart is the new Vulnerable

Here at TNW 2017 in Amsterdam, we will see the launch of the highly anticipated F-Secure SENSE.  Announced a few years ago F-secure has been steadily working on perfecting a product that will protect your home, family and smart devices from hackers.  

How secure is your home?

Smartphones, Tablets, Televisions, Baby monitors all could potentially have a backdoor allowing hackers to steal private information. Thanks to SENSE it will act as a guardian protecting your home from any potential threats.

“F-secure SENSE is the combination of a smart security router, an advanced security app and industry-leading cloud protection. SENSE easily secures every connected thing in your home using on the device, now and in the future.”

Acting now and protecting your home and the people just makes SENSE. Do not wait to be a victim make sure you are #nothacked in the first place.

Shipping from June 2017 the F-secure SENSE costs 199 with 12 months subscription with a 9.90 subscription thereafter. A small price to pay for what could potentially be fatal.

Buckinghamshire, UK – 18th May 2017: F-Secure is delivering the one device that will secure the internet-connected things in consumers’ homes. F-Secure SENSE combines a secure Wi-Fi router with an advanced security app and industry-leading cloud protection to provide the missing piece that modern homes need to secure any device, computer or appliance that connects online.

By the end of 2017, consumers will be using 5.2 billion connected things, according to Gartner*. That number is set to more than double to 12.8 billion by 2020. As many of these devices gain access to our most intimate aspects of life, consumers feel worried and helpless as to how they should secure themselves against threats they read about almost daily. Unfortunately, they’re receiving little-to-no reassurance from the IoT-device manufacturers.

F-Secure chief research officer Mikko Hypponen fears that makers of devices for connected homes are repeating “the same mistakes we already fixed 20 years ago” in the PC market. Manufacturers are failing to prioritise security, even as the adoption of internet-connected devices and vulnerabilities in those devices grow exponentially. During his countless talks about security around the world, Mikko often warns that “The Internet of Things is a clear and present danger to the internet” and he tries to make consumers aware of Hypponen’s Law, which states: “Whenever an appliance is described as being ‘smart’, it’s vulnerable.”

Despite the risks, connected devices offer unlimited potential to make homes more comfortable, enjoyable and sustainable. That’s why SENSE offers a dynamic blanket of protection for those devices by meshing three security technologies:

  • The SENSE router replaces all internet security products in a connected home to protect everything from desktop computers to phones to smart TVs to baby monitors against viruses and hackers
  • The SENSE advanced security app manages the SENSE network, offering additional security features that provide protection on the go**
  • The SENSE cloud utilises cutting edge artificial intelligence to sense the traffic of connected home devices and to protect against IoT threats and hacking

“It’s an inspiring time for F-Secure and the IoT security industry,” says Perttu Tynkkynen, F-Secure vice-president of Direct Consumer Sales & Marketing. “There are new developments on nearly a daily basis. Within a short time of launching, we expect SENSE to receive regular updates with new security features to keep consumers protected at all times against evolving threats.”
F-Secure will initially deliver SENSE directly to customers and then plans to roll the product out to the 200 broadband and mobile operators already offering the company’s security products around the world.

“We are extremely pleased to launch F-Secure SENSE to our consumer customers and operator partners,“ says executive vice president Kristian Järnefelt. “Many of our operator partners are already looking into securing the connected home and F-Secure is uniquely positioned to help them execute this strategy. By combining award-winning endpoint protection, network-based security and a cyber security ready router hardened against hacking, a capability that many traditional Wi-Fi routers lack, SENSE provides one seamless solution that delivers the security most connected homes are missing, as the IoT explosion is happening.”

The release of F-Secure SENSE was previously announced and does not have an impact on F-Secure’s financial outlook for 2017.

Pricing and availability

F-Secure SENSE is available at F-Secure.com and includes the hardware and software, as well as a 12-month subscription to the service for 199 EUR/USD. Monthly subscriptions can be renewed for 9.90 EUR/USD per month.

SENSE is currently available for order in these countries:  Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States. More countries will be added in the future. Device shipments and software will be available in June 2017. Learn more at www.f-secure.com/sense.

Posted in: Featured
By January 24, 2017 Read More →

Lenovo P2 Unboxing

Image32Peter takes a look at the newest budget phone from Lenovo, released exclusively to Three in the UK. This £199.99 4G phone has a stunning list of features for such a small price tag:

Lenovo P2 smartphone comes with a 5.5-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920×080 and a PPI of 401 pixels per inch. A 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor powers the device backed by 3GB of RAM. The phone packs 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 128GB via a microSD card. A 13-megapixel primary camera sits on the rear and a 5-megapixel front facing camera for selfies. Currently the Lenovo P2 runs Android 6.0 with Nougat in the pipeline.

The killer feature of this phone is the 5100mAh non-removable battery. Also supporting fast charge a bundled dongle can turn your phone into a power bank for those in need.

It measures 153.00 x 76.00 x 8.20 (height x width x thickness) and weighs 177.00 grams. The P2 is a dual SIM (GSM and GSM) smartphone that accepts Micro-SIM and Regular.

Check it out on Three here.

Posted in: Phones, Videos/Unboxings
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By January 5, 2017 Read More →

Universe2go Review

slider1_neu-1180x1180Stars, Constellations, Mythological Characters, Planets and Galaxies are all waiting to be explored within the Universe2go star viewer.  This could be the perfect gift for a budding astronomy lover or for a young mind who wants to begin to learn about the stars above.

Out of the box the star viewer has a hard plastic casing and feels like a solid premium product. Available from Amazon for £85 this product promises to transport you to another world.

The top of the star viewer can be lifted and this is where you put your phone when running the app Universe2go. The star viewer is different to other VR headsets by using a design similar to the telescope the image from your screen is mirrored.

 

With a removable front of the star viewer you can see the world around you with the screen of the stars still being projected allowing you to align what you are seeing on-screen to the actual stars above.

The app itself is free to download on the play store and with a unique code in the box allowing you to access exclusive content. As you scan the skies you can see where stars and planets are situated with interesting facts being displayed. I was impressed by the depth of knowledge made available. I gave the star viewer to my kids aged 6 and 8 they thought it was cool it soon lost interest after they got to see Saturn and a few different constellations. This gift would have to be for a budding astronomer as it only has the singular use as a star viewer.

This is what makes this product unique, although the design is not entirely user-friendly. Being visually impaired and wearing glasses I found myself in a struggle with the viewer I could use it without my glasses although the writings on the screen required me to get my glasses on to read it. At 99 euros this product is perhaps overpriced bit if you are buying it for someone who has a telescope and a real hunger for the heavens above us then it is a good purchase.

Purchase from Amazon.

By December 30, 2016 Read More →

Xiaomi Mi band 2 Review

img_iv2za6With the season of gluttony upon us, it will only be a matter of time before you may start thinking about getting a new pair of trainers and heading off to your local gym in a desperate attempt to look amazing for the Summer of 2017.  Should you get a personal trainer or should you use a wearable tracker to monitor your progress?

My trainers have been dusted off since September and in October I purchased the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 to monitor my progress, I was curious to see if a fitness tracker is a must have accessory or is it just a gadget that will be used and discarded within a few weeks of wear?

May it be a gift to yourself for Christmas or a stocking filler for that person who has everything, the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is available online from amazon from £33.00. The unboxing of the Mi Band can be found below.

Xiaomi is a multi-billion dollar company which was founded in 2010. The company are among the world’s largest mobile manufacturers competing with Apple, Samsung, Lenovo and LG.

Their phones are beginning to make an appearance in the UK market with the Mi Mix, Mi Note2 recently being announced with specs to impress, Xiaomi will hopefully become a main contender in the UK market soon.  The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 was released on the 2nd June 2016 and is an updated version of the popular Mi Band and Mi Band 1s.  The Mi Band 2 differs from the previous models as it now features a 0.4inch OLED screen and a capacitive button.  The display really helps make the device more appealing than a fitness tracker with no display.  I have met people who have been using other fitness trackers and they are frustrated that they have to look elsewhere to get the time for example.

Out of the box, you have the Mi band 2 capsule, the black wrist strap, and the charging dock.

The black wrist strap is made from silicone and has hypoallergenic properties making it ‘smooth to touch and comfortable even for people with sensitive skin’

Growing up I have never been a fan of wearing a watch if it had a metal strap with links the hairs on my arm were plucked daily if the strap was leather I would eventually break out in a rash so up until now I have avoided any smart wearable device. I was worried that my skin would react to the silicone strap but surprisingly after extensive wear, I can say there have been no issues.  The Mi Band 2 is lightweight and was almost unnoticeable when wearing.

The mi band app is available on both the android play store and the apple store. It is easy to follow installation and the on-screen setup helps you link your band to your phone via Bluetooth. The Bluetooth connection does not have to be continually on as the mi band records the information gathered throughout the day then uploads it all when connected to the device.  

There are a number of customizable options with the Mi Band 2 via the app, these includes what is displayed when you push the capacitive button.

You can simply have the time, or time and date – always handy when shopping and you can not remember the date. The pedometer counter that displays a number of steps walked that day. This sometimes is not 100% accurate as a waving hand motion can add a number of steps on to your daily total.  Distance walked in meters, calories burned, heart Rate monitor – when pressed the Mi band will track your heart rate and display it with a vibration within 15 secs. Battery Display – The battery life is fantastic I have only needed to charge the device once every 29 days.

There is also the sleep monitor which tracks your sleeping pattern breaking your nights dreaming into a light and deep sleep.  With a baby in our household, this has been a great feature to prove to the other half what time I was up at during the night as it will also track periods awake.

I found that having the mi band connected to your phone via Bluetooth you will receive notifications such as incoming calls and texts which over the past few weeks is a feature I do not think I could do without now.

Via the app you can also set your pedometer goals. The NHS had introduced the 10,000 steps a day challenge stating the average person walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day. I set my goal at 10,000 which if reached you received a buzz notification on your mi band 2 display of a shield. I thought that I would have been able to achieve this goal daily, but I was only averaging about 7,500 steps daily.  I activated the idle alert on the Mi Band2 that would notify me to get up and move about the office if i was sitting more than an hour at my desk. This notification really worked and now that I have added extra steps to my routine I now can reach my goal daily.

“With a built-in motion sensor, Mi Band 2 knows exactly when you begin your workout. You don’t have to switch modes or tell it before you start. Measure your heart rate to adjust the length and intensity of workouts. Keep calm and work toward your fitness goals”

The only workout the Mi Band 2 can monitor is walking and running. It cannot tell you a number of calories burned weightlifting or spinning. This can be disappointing but if you connect to google fit the mi band 2 can sync steps and sleep data and then you can input your workout on your timeline.

The Mi band 2, is a fantastic value for money multi-function fitness tracker for anyone wanting to venture into the realm of wearable technology.  This is my first time trying a smart wearable and I have to say I have been more than impressed with the Mi band 2 and what it has to offer.  I have realised that I need to walk more and through tracking my sleep have made changes to my lifestyle resulting in a current weight loss of 24 lbs.  I have managed to create substantial wear and tear on the strap and have ordered two replacements. For anyone wanting to achieve their fitness goals for 2017, I would thoroughly recommend starting your quest with the added help of this fitness tracker.  

Purchase the Mi Band 2: Amazon – Gearbest

 

By December 22, 2016 Read More →

Mi Band 2 Unboxing

vlcsnap-00026The Mi Band 2 is the latest fitness tracker from Xiaomi. Perfectly pricey to encompass everything a fitness fanatic needs to keep track of their exercise.
Record daily motion data, Xiaomi bracelet to help you record all-day event, calculate walking distance, and calorie consumption.
Smart Vibration alarm clock, simulate wake up naturally status: You can set the alarm on the APP, in front of the preset alarm within 30 minutes, with a slight vibration to wake you from a shallow sleep, when to wake up slowly shallow sleep, naturally wake up closer.

Grabs one here: http://amzn.to/2hsAZed

By December 2, 2016 Read More →

Choetech Wireless Headphones review

choetechStuck for ideas for a Christmas present for that someone special or just looking a cheap but fulfilling stocking filler? You can never go wrong with a pair of headphones and with a price tag of around £23 from Amazon these Choetech wireless headphones could be the answer you are looking for.

Once you go wireless it is frustrating to go back to wired headphones. I have been using various wireless headphones for the past few months and have found them to be most advantageous.

Listening to music gives me the get-up-and-go to get the house cleaned or tackle the garden shed when needing a clear out. Using wireless headphones gives you the freedom to get more done, quicker and without the struggle a wired connection can bring. Check out the unboxing of the Choetech Wireless headphones here with Gareth.

Out of the box, the headphones feel premium, notably, the ear pieces are smaller than other wireless headphones as there are added in-line controls to the lower of the right earpiece.

The headphones come with various ear tips and hooks, so if you have petite or giants ears like me these will ensure maximum comfort.

dav

The in-line controls allow you to adjust volume, skip tracks and between the volume rocker, there is a multi-function button which acts as the power button, answer call button, and tap for Google search. There is also a microUSB connection is for charging the headphones.

There is a voice built into the headphones to tell you what action is being performed, when you turn on the headset you are alerted of “power on,” then if you have paired it already with your phone it will connect to “Mobile Device One.”

When there is an incoming call the headphones vocalise the number to inform you who is calling, which is a nice feature. One push of the multi-function button allows you to answer the call, a long press on the multi-function button will cancel the call. These features help minimise the interruption during exercise and are extremely useful to have.

dav

When the battery is running low, after you hear the first warning, there is approximately ten minutes of usage left before you will have to recharge. The box recommends a charge time of two hours, however, I found that I got a full charge in an hour.

The audio quality with these headphones is great, audio is clear and crisp with the only distortion happening when you move around 10 metres away from the device you are connected to.  I recently used these headphones whilst training for an 8 hour Spin-a-thon and had no issues with them.

The Choetech Wireless Headphones have really impressed me and I would definitely recommend them to anyone for their own use or if you are feeling generous a Christmas present that someone will actually like.

Posted in: Headphones, Reviews
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By September 19, 2016 Read More →

Sengled Boost LED and Wi-Fi Repeater Review

For over 137 years we have been used to light bulbs in our homes with thanks to Edison, Swan and Maxim. A creation that has served a single purpose to bring light to a room or a place when it is turned on until now…

Sengled, a company who have over 10 years experience within the lighting industry have sent us the Sengled Boost LED and Wi-Fi Repeater. Bringing a once revolutionary household product and combining it with a Wifi repeater is just ingenious making the Boost a must have product for any household that has dreaded Wifi dead zones.

Out of the box the Boost weighs 290g, which is roughly 180g heavier than the bulb I was replacing it with.  The weight of the Boost makes it feel like a premium product. The Boost boasts an A+ energy efficiency rating, two built-in antenna supporting high-speed data rates up to 300Mbps and support for WiFi 2.4Ghz. The LED light does not lack in brightness, the Sengled Boost provides 6 watts of warm colour.  The device is controlled by downloading the Sengled Boost  app from either Google Play or App store.

dav

Installation is very simple, I downloaded the app and followed the step-by-step guide, I put the Boost in my utility room, a room with limited WiFi. Sometimes when doing a mundane task such as ironing, the boredom can be lessened by watching a programme on the laptop or tablet. Until now the WiFi signal has never been strong enough to sustain a perfect stream. The Boost did exactly what it was built to do, carry the WiFi signal from my router into a zone that had very poor signal.  Not only did the Boost extend the Wifi signal to my utility room I was able to pick up the WiFi signals outside in my garden.

For those who are security savvy, do not fear, the Sengled Boost supports common security and encryption technologies like WPA/WPA2 as well as WEP making the connection secure.

When installing the bulb to your home network via the app you have the choice to rename the bulb helping you determine which bulb you are remotely turning on. The light uses the conventional light switch to turn on and the app allows you to turn off the bulb when you only need the WiFi extender. Ingenious, with the product being A+ energy efficient leaving this device turned on does not create a spike on electric usage in the house.  

sdr

The Boost also could work as a security feature, if you hear a noise outside you could warn off a passerby using the app to have your house lit up like Blackpool illuminations within seconds.

My kids found the novelty of a light bulb being controlled by an app fascinating. They went into other rooms of the house to turn off those lights and were disappointed that it didn’t work. ‘Dad are you getting more of these cool bulbs?’

The Sengled Boost gives the ordinary light bulb a new lease of life by giving it dual functionality as a WiFi repeater. Wireless dead spots will become a thing of the past thanks to Sengled. A must have for any home that suffers from poor wireless connectivity.

Sengled have a range of other bulbs including speaker bulbs and security camera bulbs. Buying a normal bulb will be a thing of the past….

Thanks to Sengled for the sample.

sengled-bulb

Posted in: Accessories, Reviews
By August 5, 2016 Read More →

Alba 10inch 16GB Wi-Fi tablet review

606-4998015-ATN041XWith summer in full swing we have been graced with only a few long hot sun filled days, so entertaining your kids on their school holidays can be quite a challenge. With the new Argos catalogue being released on the 16th July expect a wide new range of technology and toys to make their summer a memorable one.

Argos has sent us a 10-inch tablet from the Alba range which you can see the unboxing video below with Gareth.

Out of the box, this tablet has an impressive 10.1inch screen, with a resolution of 1280×800. Unfortunately, there is a disappointing 144 pixel per inch pixel density.  The screen is not as sharp or as clear as you would like but one has to remember that this is a mid-range budget tablet costing only £89.99. There are a few options within the tablet with Miravision to help sharpen the image on screen.

While trying out various combinations within these settings the screen still lacks in comparison to more expensive tablets but it still serves its purpose.

Out of the box, the tablet comes with two silicone bumpers for extra protection and also has the added bonus of a screen protector. Taking off the silicone casing the shell of the tablet is hard plastic but feels sturdy.

Powering the tablet we have the MTK quad core 1.3 Ghz processor with 1GB RAM. The tablet runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with 16 GB storage expandable up to 32 GB by MicroSD.

With the tablet held landscape you two speaker grills on the left-hand side. On the right-hand side you have the power button, the volume rocker, microuUSB port, microSDd slot and finally the Mini -HDMI slot.

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On the top and bottom of the tablet there is nothing. On the front screen of the tablet in the top right hand corner there is a VGA camera. On the rear of the tablet there is a Camera and a reset button.

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With a quick test using AnTuTu Benchmark this Alba tablet scored a reasonable 31344.  Although when running the AnTuTu 3D Benchmark app the tablet was a bit sluggish on performance, that being said the tablet was able to cope with any of the games my kids wanted to play on them, as well as being able to cope with playback of various streaming applications.

5.0 Android lollipop works fine on the tablet, with no heavy overlay, the layout on the tablet is the usual, simple stock Android experience. For newcomers to Android it will not be long until you get to grips with the layout and begin to utilise the tablet. There is the usual app drawer where you can access all your installed applications as well as full customization with widgets and wallpaper but simply holding down on the screen.

Argos boasts a pre-installed application called Teenlimit which gives parents ‘peace of mind’ by limiting what apps their children have access to and also setting time limits on the device. Fortunately this was not preinstalled, on checking reviews of this Teenlimit app on the Google Play store the app scored 2.7 stars with the majority of users complaining the app was power draining and difficult to use. I like to have full control on any device my kids use by setting up a profile  for them with their games and YouTube kids installed. You can never be too cautious when it comes to your children and internet safety.

The tablets loudspeakers are disappointing, at full volume you would need to be be within close proximity to the tablet to hear it.  Perhaps this is a good thing for kids as it will never be too loud. That being said my son was quick to pair his bluetooth headphones with the tablet so he would not be interrupted by his siblings during his gaming time.

The tablet runs most games without a hitch, Clash Royale, Minecraft, Crossy road, Roblox and the very popular Pokemon Go. With the latter app the tablet will need wifi connection if you are going on a pokemon hunt, also you will probably need the addition of a portable charger to keep the tablet going. Gameplay for the games my kids have played on the tablet has been smooth, their only gripe was the tablet was heavy weighing in at 568g it often had to be perched somewhere if they were watching video playback.

The battery life on the tablet lasts just over 5 hours of heavy usage. This can be lengthened by dimming the screen.  The battery however takes well over 7 hours to become fully charged so overnight charging is recommended!!

The cameras on the Alba 10 inch are of low spec, the rear camera is 2 megapixel and the front camera a VGA resolution. The picture quality and video quality is mediocre. Below are some examples of images and videos taken with the tablet.

Although the tablet comes with a 2 year manufacture warranty Argos have introduced a new monthly insurance scheme where you can insure the tablet for as little as £3.49 a month with added benefits like unlimited repair requests, approved repairs include damage caused by accident and a brand new product if Argos decided to replace it.  This for me was essential as you never know when accidents can occur.  Many of the tablets and phones I have owned in the past have often suffered a misdemeanour at the hands of one of my kids or myself so to have monthly breakdown care it can give you peace of mind.

It is hard to believe that this tablet costs only £89.99, and although it is from last years range. The Alba is still sufficient for any child or adult on a budget.  Is the tablet future proof? Will the tablet get a marshmallow update? These questions remain unanswered however I still use a tablet that runs Android 4.0 with no problems.  As newer games roll out some may not work however Netflix and Chrome still work well. So if you are on the lookout for a large screen, budget tablet, despite some flaws, this Alba tablet is a good purchase.

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