Reviews

By January 22, 2016 Read More →

Panasonic Viera TX 50CX802B review #VieraVIPclub

downloadLast year we saw Panasonic putting out a pretty fantastic Viera television set the really blew  away the competition with a feature set that included some of the nicest looking Smart TV software experiences available at the time. This year Panasonic have changed their focus away from pushing a software feature set in favour of display technology where their heart really lies.

A new super bright LED panel featuring wide colour phosphor technology which combines LED back lighting with a new colour filter system has increased brightness significantly without increasing the power requirements. This keeps the television as a low power option whilst maintaining a fantastic picture quality. This year’s 4K set has proved to be better than we could have imagined featuring crisp Blu-ray images on the panel’s generous 8.3 million pixels.

Some folks may pass this by as it is an LCD screen, nowadays most are all about LED. Panasonic is managed to produce a picture from an LCD screen that truly resembles in many ways the picture they managed to get from the plasma technologies that they so dearly clung onto for the last few years. It is a crazy notion that a company uses older technologies to achieve the best however Panasonic are certainly getting close.

Major work has been done to avoid the glow effect LCD TV’s sometimes suffer from when trying to show black, Panasonic has spent a lot of R&D time eliminating this glow effect and delivered a sense of depth and realism in the brighter content, the likes of which we haven’t seen before. Utilising clever light management Panasonic have been able to deliver deep blacks and can seemingly crush the bleed that can come from the side of the pixel affecting the next pixel. Each individual pixel seems to be able to offer its own degree of colour without affecting those surrounding it. An impressive technological feat that will probably be lost on the average viewer.

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The Tom Cruise movie Oblivion is widely considered to be one of the best test cases for a screen and Panasonic have no qualms about showing off this movie on one of their screens. This is primarily because the television can handle it easily, and if I can handle that movie I can handle any.

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The television itself is gorgeous with a minimal bezel surrounding the 50 inch screen. The stylish stand, admittedly that some may find impractical, possesses 3 HDMI sockets, 3 USB ports and an SD card slot alongside integrated Wi-Fi and wired network options. Changing from their in-house software the television now features Firefox OS as it’s main operating system. This has may concern some as recent news suggests that Firefox OS has become “a genuine open source project” and has been discontinued for smartphones. No word on the future of the television variant, and I hope that there is no plans to stop development as this it really works well. Minimal without being threadbare yet packing a lot of features that most TV manufacturers can’t manage to find a logical way to integrate without clustering of the user interface.

Functionality of this television is deeply impressive. We are given the option to simply be able to add frequently used features of the television to the main screen. I’m not talking about just a channel that is loved but a shortcut to your HDMI 3 instead of having to cycle through the TV/AV option on the remote control several times to get to HDMI 3. The helps greatly when wanting to use a Playstation or something a little more custom.

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As a cord cutter I was skeptical of the television’s ability as a smart TV to function without an aerial or satellite feed. Firefox OS has an app collection that covers the main basis of television viewing whilst not stretching the boundaries. This was to be expected given the infancy of the operating system. Whilst most people will probably not actually use the TV’s inbuilt  smart technology favouring Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku, Android TV options for their streaming needs there are some who will find the television’s operating system’s life span a concern as apps may not be supported for the long. For now, all is fine and like any emerging platform, only time will tell.

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Panasonic are one of the first manufacturers to include a Freeview Play app. This app opens up the ability to view live television from all of the main UK terrestrial broadcasting platforms and integrate with their catch up platforms in a seamless experience to make up to the last month’s programming available at any time.

Adding to the Freeview Play option comes the Market. A diverse collection of content delivering apps that vary in quality however the main contenders are there. Wuaki, Youtube, Amazon, Vimeo and Netflix lead the way with around 100 others to flirt with. Catch up options are all pre-installed  and might only need an update before use. Honestly, Firefox OS is beautifully convenient for a TV operating system, it’s hard to get right, Amazon and Roku’s hardware could learn a lot from this simple setup. In testing the 4K however I found there to be a bit of a scarcity of material. YouTube, Vimeo and Amazon are the only apps that deliver 4K out of the box. Netflix have some however I would have to change my subscription for gain access, as a legacy subscriber I get the HD for £5.99 instead of £6.99, to get 4K this would have to change to £8.99.

However judging a television cannot solely be based on the smart technologies inside. Many users never touch TVs in built operating system outside of setting the TV up. The Panasonic Viera is a display first and foremost and a phenomenal one at that. This is a television that people will stand in awe looking at and when you tell them how much you paid for it they will be considering going to the same retailer as you and picking one up.

Panasonic have lost the IPS technology they used in last year’s model and we’ve actually seen a bit of a u-turn on the viewing angle however this allows for a more impressive contrast performance.This helps Panasonic achieve the 4K Studio Master process they’re very proud of. Panasonic are hoping to deliver a similar experience to that directors see when editing their movies in Hollywood, on the master screens. Whilst most will probably not be able to tell the difference they’re taking it almost as a personal goal for the company to create the best-looking colour representation on screen this year.

If there is anything negative to say about the television is that the 3D included really feels like unnecessary addition that they don’t really expect you to use. Case and point, there are no glasses included in the box. Unfortunately I was unable to test the 3D without glasses and  whilst content providers and exactly pushing 3D as much as they had been it’s likely someone who is actively going to purchase this television will have some 3D movies on amongst  a media collection. Plan ahead, know where to get glasses.

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Many will complain that they have too many remote controls in their living room, this Panasonic Viera will add two more. Oddly they both do pretty much the same thing. One controller is a standard long candy bar with the typical functions you would expect to find on a TV remote control save for a few shortcut buttons added in for convenience such as Netflix.

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The second controller is the more interesting of the two. Much like last year Panasonic have be working on touch and voice controls. Lacking backlit buttons and a somewhat slippery exterior this little controller was more difficult to use than it’s bigger brother and be completely honest somewhat unnecessary as the touch controls felt a little unnatural. Certainly it is great to show off and voice control on your television is a wonderful addition especially when done right as with Apple TV, Fire TV and Roku however Panasonic haven’t quite nail this yet.

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On the most cutting-edge television sound really isn’t taken seriously. The speakers here perform quite well however having the screen technology that is on display only makes sense that you plug-in a suitable system rather than relying on the inbuilt rear facing speakers. It seems a little crazy that it’s a given that people will purchase a surround sound system to go along with a television and the Panasonic Viera is no exception to this rule. If you want the most you will have to add something to it. The volume can go reasonably high and it renders voice is quite well. There was no noticeable disruption during noisy sequences however it just lacked that the immersive quality.

This TV is currently priced at £1,300 in Currys. Given that 4K TV’s can cost roughly doubt that this seems like an absolute bargain and if you purchase one you will be deeply pleased with your choice. Panasonic Viera maybe arguably slightly inferior to some of Samsung’s top offerings right now however Panasonic have a loyal customer base and those who are upgrading to this will be deeply impressed and thoroughly satisfied. Those who are not should really consider just why the loyal customers keep coming back to Panasonic.

 For more information and demonstrations please check out:

 http://www.panasonic.com/uk/consumer/viera-televisions/led/tx-50cx802b.html

 

 

 

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By January 11, 2016 Read More →

EasyAcc PowerBank PB10000CF Review

easyacc-2nd-gen-brilliant-10000mah-power-bank-“Make it easy to keep running.” We are becoming a more power hungry society, with technology connecting us instantly to friends, family and news there is nothing worse than that dreaded notification on your mobile device that your battery is running low. You hope that the remaining 8% battery life will enable you to make that important phone call, or let you listen to a few tracks on the journey home but there is no need to worry if you have a portable powerbank to charge your device on the go.

The EasyAcc powerbank PB10000CF is a fine example of many of the power banks available by the company. The company describe it as a super battery pack that can give your smart devices enough juice to keep them running.

Specifications:

  • Capacity 10,0000 mAh/37 Wh
  • Battery Type Lithium-polymer rechargeable battery cell
  • Input DC 5V 2A (max)
  • Smart Outputs DC 5V 2.4A (max)
  • Size – 144x75x14.8mm/ 5.7×2.95×0.58 in.

I have previously used powerbanks to give my battery a boost but this power bank can fully charge your phone not once, twice but three times on a single charge. The battery takes about six hours to fully charge and about 90 mins to fully charge my phone from zero battery. The device is quite weighty and is about the size of my palm. EasyAcc describe it as i phone 6 plus size and boast it is capable of charging the new mac book.There are two USB ports on the device and a flashlight in between.  Double tapping the button on the right hand side turns the torch on and off. There is a 4 light indicator of the power banks charge, and it is charged with a micro usb port.  

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This is the 2nd generation of this battery and the advance on style and shape is a great improvement from the 1st generation.

I have used this power bank extensively over the Christmas period, and to my surprise have used it more than I imagined I could, the 10,000mAh battery just keeps going. Not only did I take it with me as a charging source in the car, on my commute to work I have also found use in charging my gaming consoles’ controllers. I have battery packs on the controller that the charge never lasted for any great length of time. My son used it as an excuse to sit too close to the television as the charging cable was plugged into the console. Now he has to sit at an appropriate distance away from the television as this power bank can keep up with his gaming needs.  No longer do i hear cries of despair as batteries are running low, it is now pass the power bank.

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Currently priced at amazon.co.uk from £10.39 this EasyAcc powerbank is a great purchase for any user of smart technologies. It really does make life easier and help you keep running all day long.  It is also available in a variety of colours. Black and Orange, Black and Green, Black and Gray, Black and Purple, White and Gray…

This is a fantastic product and is now an essential item that i do not think I could do without. Head over to Easyacc’s website to read more about this product.

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Other specifications

  • OUTER CASE - premium grinding craftsmanship with better touch
  • BATTERY - High-quality Li-polymer battery cell
  • CENTER FRAME - Uniquely colored and durably constructed
  • Auto On/Off - Auto on/off when devices are connected or unplugged
  • PCB - Highly sophisticated and safe smart ICs;
  • Short circuit protection;
  • Overcharge protection;
  • Overdischarge protection;
  • Overcurrent protection;

 

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By January 7, 2016 Read More →

Kit: Type C to A Cable review

ctoaMany will grumble however evolution is necessary and Type C USBs are here. A new phone, tablet Chromebook or laptop you purchase has a small chance of having one and its time to let go of those the majority of the MicroUSB cables you have knocking about. If you are rocking a MiniUSB or even ExtUSB then my hat is off to you. 

Kit: Type C to A Cable is a robust option for charging and syncing your Nexus, One+, Nokia, or Pixel devices. The cable acts as as a charger, adapter, and data transfer providing ultra fast data transfer speeds of up to 20x faster than standard USB 2.0. The cable can also to power anything with a Type-C connector this includes even laptops. The Holy Grail for anyone with Type-C is the reversibility, which means that it doesn’t matter which way round you plug it into your device it will be ready for action, something Apple users have been used to for a few years now.

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However, much like Apple’s Lightening cables it isn’t just a case of picking up any old cable off Ebay, Google have warned that buyers need to identify the best cables for their devices. There is a method to test, using a 2015 Chromebook Pixel. 

Kit: offer a number of different cables and are no strangers to the market. This Type C to A is to hit market shortly and whilst currently a no-frills affair the cable delivers some pretty solid results. Copying the HD video a Nexus 6P took much less time than expected. Copying a 3gb video file was measured by Windows 10 to take 15 minutes, however in reality the transfer was 60 seconds. Charging was no slower than the cable included in the box.

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Playback of UHD video files located on the phone through Windows Explorer resulted in a buffering icon however I would go as far to say this might be more a problem with Windows 10 than the cable. 

Kit will be releasing a variety of Type C cables, and they are all compatible with the new Macbook and Chromebook, the Nexus 6P/5X, the Nokia N1 tablet, Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950 XL, and the OnePlus 2. It is even being rumoured that the new iPhone will have a Type C connection. 

RRPs start from £9.99

Website: http://yourkit.co.uk/

Twitter: @KitaccessoryUK

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kit-Accessory/

YouTube: YouTube Channel

Posted in: Accessories, Reviews
By January 4, 2016 Read More →

Elite 8 Pin Braided USB Cable from Gadjet Review

P1020514There is an ongoing problem that Apple users are constantly having to deal with, Lightening cable burn out. Living in a household with a number of Apple’s recent portable offerings there seems to be a silent struggle with the lack of charging cables as those that are provided with the device might not last as long as the purchaser will have expected. The first is usually replaced by a second official Apple cable with grumblings about the price, for a cable. Thereafter most folks hit Ebay or Amazon looking for a cheaper alternative. This seems like a great solution until that packs in a few months later, sometimes longer, sometimes a lot shorter.

There are many reasons for a cable to stop working, burn out, something snapped inside, heat problems when using cases, even firmware updates can get the blame. The advice is always back to getting the official cable.

Gadjetsupply however have another solution, their Elite 8 Pin Braided USB Cable. Priced at £7.99 this is sitting right in the mid range of the Apple cable price list however you would be hard pressed to destroy this cable so easily. Compatible with all devices rocking a Lightning port: iPhone 6 plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5, iPad Mini, iPad Air, this cable features one of the most solid connectors I have used for a while.

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When using an iPad in bed, with the cable providing power, the cable felt somewhat resilient. Previously, having lost one cable to such a challenging task, I have watched a cable tear and fray in slow motion. I have faith that the Elite will withhold a large amount of movement whilst continuing to charge. Oddly enough, using a device in bed does put a lot of strain on the cable as it is usually stretched to the maximum, in this case 1.2 metres, a little longer than Apple’s.  Additionally the cable also transfers file, as the user would expect, between your computer and iPad/iPhone.

Apple’s devices are normally considered fashion accessories, aside from the recently released Smart Battery Case, however you could easily carry the GadJet cable with you instead as there are a variety of colours available. Orange, Green, Blue, Pink, Charcoal make for a pretty if basic look however there is also the Elite Metal 8 Pin USB Cable available with striking looks whilst loosing the unique braided feel.

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Moving forward I will be using this cable to power and charge my devices on the go, I have no fear throwing it in a bag, oddly the braided texture allows the cable to keeps it shape a little more than Apple’s. I have been rough with this in testing and believe me I will be updating this review in the future if the cable does give in. However, be aware, this has been stretched, coiled, left in a car overnight through freezing conditions, subject to a chair rolling over it on carpet and crucially given to a 17 year old girl, with lots of friends, for a week whilst home, sick in bed. Without resorting to fire, water and methods of actual destruction the cable looks like new. At £7.99 this isn’t breaking the bank to have a little piece of mind that your cable will work when you need it to.

The charge cable shouldn’t be a cause for concern, talk to an Android or Windows Phone user and they will not know the woe. If you need one, I heartily recommend the Elite USB range.

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By December 22, 2015 Read More →

Syma X5SC explorers 2 Review

syma-x5-sc-1-explorers-2With the mad Christmas rush reaching fever point you may find yourself stuck finding that perfect gift for someone. Look no further than red5.com for some fantastic gift ideas. Whether or not a Quad copter is on your child’s or your own Christmas wish list they are fast becoming the must have fun item for this Christmas and new year.  You can spend hundreds of pounds on a drone however if like me you are a complete novice you can start with a low budget quad copter like the Syma X5sc explorer for £58.95 available in black or white.

This was my first time test driving a quad copter so when I unpacked the Syma X5sc explorers 2 I was surprised at how light it was. My main concern was would this break easily?

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When my kids saw the drone they were thrilled and could not wait to have a turn, however I had to make sure that I was able to show them how to fly it, so after a few hours they lost interest waiting for their turn as I needed another go, just to be sure.

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Out of the box it took 15 minutes to attach the legs, blade safeguards, camera and battery.

With the remote control taking 4 AA batteries I was ready to fly.  I like most men had a quick glance at the instructions and figured i would instantly know how to fly the drone. I was proven wrong. I suggest you have a long read at the instruction booklet as the controls are quite tricky to get use to.

My first test flight was indoors as storm Desmond was still attacking the UK.  The controls were tricky to begin with as i was restricted to the flight paths available. But i must say it was incredibly fun, dodging doors and christmas decorations. The blade safeguards proved to be extremely useful as they prevented any damage that may have been caused on my first few turbulence filled flights. 

On my second attempt i took the drone outside with my son as my navigator we went were no drone had been before.  With a full battery charge we managed six minutes of flying. To recharge the battery it took just over one hour and thirty minutes before the quad copter was ready to fly again.  I have been told by colleagues that this wait time for a battery charge was incredibly fast.

The controls outside were easy to handle as I was not restricted by the inside obstacles. The quad copter took off and I was able to control very carefully around my back garden, however there were a few epic crashes.  The Quadcopters light frame was very durable as there were a number of times the it fell from great heights and seemingly like a cat bounced into an upright position ready to fly again.  On testing my seven year old son and I did not manage to damage the Quadcopter or blades. There are however four extra blades included in the box but I am sure these are only there as after extensive use they will eventually need replaced.

In my videos I have included a couple of the crash landings the copter experienced.

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The quality of the video is fine for a 2 megapixel camera. Understandably if you wanted a better recording device you would have to spend more money on a better on board camera. For there most part there is a small amount of fragmentation in the recorded image and some might be unhappy with it, however for the money it is considerably better than the competition.

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Product features

  • Super Stable quadcopter
  • Built in HD camera
  • 2.4 GHz frequency
  • 6 axis gyroscope
  • 720p video recording
  • Take in flight videos and photos
  • Headless flying fuction – easier in flight control
  • Bigger improved optional blade protectors
  • Raised landing skids optimize camera viewing angle
  • 2 fly modes – beginners and advance
  • 360^ flips and tricks
  • 4GB micro SD card and card reader included
  • Colourful LED lights indicate front of quadcopter
  • USB charging
  • Measures approx. 32cm x 32cm x 11cm

The Syma X5sc explorers 2 has 360 flight which you can do many stunts with as with time I am sure I could master.  For a budget under £60 I feel you cannot go wrong purchasing this Quadcopter. As a learning experience before moving onto a bigger, more expensive device, or perhaps just for curiosity, I have never purchased one before however I will consider purchasing this one for my son’s birthday as he thoroughly enjoyed test flying it.  The camera recording may not be as fantastic as you would want but for a 2 megapixel camera the recordings are adequate.

The best place to get the Syma X5SC quadcopter is from Red5.

By December 15, 2015 Read More →

Asus Zenpad 8.0 Review

IMG_20151026_182344Christmas is normally a time that folks start looking for a cheaper tablet to appease a younger child or to slip down the side of an armchair for quick usage and there are a bunch of online lists of the best tablet to grab for not too little money. Over the has couple of years the Tesco Hudl has usually been the all rounder that many would pick up however this year there is no refresh and the Hudl name is a thing of the past.

This creates a gap in the market and there will be a flurry of tablets fighting to be the hit this year. From this tech enthusiast I would recommend avoiding the unknown and going with the trusted. Looking around the options there is no tablet that really ticks all the boxes however one tablet gets very close, it’s from Asus.

Having impressed everyone for the last few years, admittedly with Google supporting them, with the Nexus 7 devices Asus know how to put together a winning package. Some of their ventures between the Nexus 7 2013 and now have been a little forgettable however they are back with the Zenpad range and I urge you to check them out.

Most manufacturers will fill their devices with tech and you will have little to no option save for some storage options depending on your location. Asus have gone the other way with a confusing array of differing tablets that will fit your desired spec without inflating the price too much.

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At the lower end is the  £80 Zenpad C Intel Atom X3 processor with 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB ROM. Moving up through various different price bands and losing the C there is a Zenpad 7 and 8 with a base model spec increase with 2-4gb of RAM, 16,32 and 64gb of storage and display sizes of 7, 8 and 10” inch size. You will have to spend some time to get your desired spec.

There is also a high end option called the Zenpad S that seems to have the strongest spec options however lacks the customisable hardware we will be looking at next.

In this review we will be having a look at the P022 Zenpad 8.0 with 2gb ram, 16gb rom, 800 x 1280 (189 dpi,) Intel Atom Z3560 processor. Asus were kind enough to provide the optional extended battery and an alternate cover. The covers and setup were previously illustrated in this Unboxing video.

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The extended battery comes with a simple, yet funny charge adaptor that clicks onto the battery with little fuss. I would suggest it is easy to lose based entirely on size however it does provide a handy alternative to using the tablet to charge the extended battery. In a sense you do never need to charge the tablet if you were to make full use of the extended battery every other day. Combined we are looking at roughly 14 hours of continual use or over a week of standby. The little adapter that magnetically grips the extended battery cover and charges it independently, hardly a fast charge I clocked a full charge at 5 hours.

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One additional add-on is the ASUS Audio Cover, a simple folio cover with an over-the-top cinematic, 5.1-channel surround sound built in providing the ZenPad with DTS-HD Premium Sound and SonicMaster technology provide further enhancement. I’m not sure where this might be useful however I love it exists. In saying that I would probably want to be able to use it everywhere.

One issue I would have is the alternate cover. I would have been fairly annoyed having purchased it as the clips are broken having removed it once. Given the nature of the extended battery the covers should have a more durable fitting method.

The tablet has a very standard layout, aside from the lines of the back cover. Here is a little gallery of the device’s notable edges:

Below is a video illustration of the Asus Zenpad benchmark scores and compared again a high end Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4. The Zenpad has a decent amount of power inside to keep things ticking over and for the money I hope to see if stand up well against an ageing super beast of a tablet, in saying that the innards of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 are almost identical to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S. 

Asus have also included a fairly heavy overlay. This doesn’t intrude as much as Samsung’s Touchwiz or HTC’s Sense UI, instead it adds a number of features for helping the user get more from the device’s settings.

Take, for example, the screen settings. Ordinarily Android offers the ability to adjust the screen brightness with sensors above the screen measuring the direct light on the screen. In a step forward manufacturers have taken the brightness and contrast settings and allowed the user to pick from different settings to customise the look of the screen’s colour palette. Asus have taken another step again allowing a massive amount of freedom in boosting and subduing the colour palette to get the most out of the screen. Adding filters to help reading in the dark and reduce eye fatigue.

The screen is good. Using a Samsung Galaxy Tab S as my main tablet I am spoiled when it comes to screen tech in my life. The Zenpad, doesn’t quite measure up yet I would find it difficult to fault. The IPS display works well, has great brightness and contrast levels alongside some commendable colour representation. Movies and games look very well and there is no evidence of a limited viewing angle. The Tru2life additions give great options for the user to get the most out of the screen alongside some presets that enhance the most basic experiences.

Android 5.0.2 is whats at play here. Far from stock as the Zen User Interface is in full swing. Whilst I had initially thought Asus had really taken strides to enhance the user experience on the tablet I realised quite quickly that the Zen UI is for the Zen range as there are tools and options that are really designed for the Zenfone and there is no way they would put the level of effort into a camera application as they have here for such a poor camera optic.

The Camera isn’t terrible, however it’s about as far from award winning as you could get and falls in line with the majority of tablet cameras. Fit for purpose, little more. The front facing will work for video calls and the lesser quality will help disguise blemishes and not-quite-so-beauty spots better than most smoothing options. Yet those beautification additions are resident, turning the user into a mannequin, an obvious leftover for a better camera on the Zenfone. 

Video quality is pretty bad and there do seem to be some bugs with the camera software itself when rotating the device. There are only two options for the camera, SD or 720 HD. Both feature a large amount of image fragmentions.

The front facing speaker is a welcome addition, there is only one however it proves to be loud and whilst hardly amazing quality will provide a decent output for sound when watching a video or playing a game. The user won’t accidentally cover the speaker but it would have really been a step up had there been a second speaker on the other side of the screen.

There is a bit of bloatware on the device, something I am not a fan of, especially when dealing with a 16gb were only 9gb being available. Most of the pre-populated apps are Asus’s own however the odd app like Trip Advisor pops up and isn’t removable. It can be hidden however it’s still there, and that bugs me.

In all the Zenpad range is a truly welcome move and entry to the market. Priced nicely with echoes of the Nexus 7 legacy here and there and no real compromises with the hardware. You are getting what you pay for and knowing upfront how well it should really operate. This is the device to replace an aging Hudl, a kids beaten up cheapie or something to slide down the side of the sofa for quick reference.

 

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By November 27, 2015 Read More →

Garmin NuviCam LMT-D review

Garmin nüviCam £309.99

Picking an in-car satellite navigation system is a very difficult choice at the moment. What with mobile phones becoming so much more competent at being companions on the road. It seems a bit futile for you to spend money on a decent, dedicated GPS system. However this has not stopped Garmin from producing a high end unit that dwarfs older units from years gone by.

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Looking around the device, on the top there is nothing but a large shutter button, allowing you to snap a quick and easy picture. Obviously not whilst driving as that would be dangerous, however if a moment were to present itself whilst you are parked then you can grab it quickly and easily.

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The back features the power button, a grill for a speaker that is easily fit for purpose and inside a magnetic circle are some ports for connecting the charger and mount. One of the handiest features is the NuviCam’s ability to just pop onto it’s mount to start charging. No need for fiddling with MicroUSB connector or a proprietary connector every time. A powerful magnets guides you in and clamps the two together with a satisfying connection. This great mechanism eases the burden of having to remove the unit from view every time you leave the car.

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On the bottom are three ports, one for a mircoUSB when connecting the unit to a computer or power source outside the car. There are two MicroSD card slots. The first is an expansion port for storage of maps whereas the second is dedicated storage for the dashboard camera. A simple and tidy solution. A 4GB card is included as standard for video recordings.

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The Garmin is a massive device first and foremost. A 6 inch screen fills a huge unit however this size allows the NuviCam to capture so many desirable aspects of in-car equipment that you would not normally have access to. Not only does it tell you directions and find local services but it integrates with your phone via Bluetooth, it records your journey via camera, preserving important maneuvers to SD card for easy playback when required and barks orders at you to help or correct your driving.

The device is easy to set up, has a fantastic holder that connects to your dashboard with minimal effort, alongside a very simple to use interface.  One thing I can’t sing praises about is the wiring, the power cable and microphone cable are incredibly difficult to conceal. Whilst one is a double width cable that you cannot easily conceal in dashboard seams. The other is so fine it slips out with a simple knock or shudder. However you can forgive this because the rest of the unit works so darn well and there might also be cars out there that have particular troughs that can accommodate. Here is, rather crude, video to illustrate the nuisance wiring.

 

Whilst we are on the topic of video here are some examples of the in built camera:

As you can see from the footage in the video above the picture quality on the inbuilt DVR is exceptional. A wide angle lens captures everything you could need on the road right down to the fine detail and most importantly number plate information from a considerable distance. Videos are recorded at full HD 1920 by 1080 resolution at 8mb per second. The quality is perfect level of detail and you should hopefully only ever have to use the footage in the instance of an accident. A already mentioned it is pretty handy to be able to hit the button to allow you capture a still image along the way in case of something interesting ahead of you. I can’t imagine too many instances that you would need to grab a still image, however it a nice feature to throw in. The 4gb card in included and this is great for about an hours worth of footage, if you were to upgrade to a larger card, say for example 64 gigabytes you can get almost 18 hours of storage.

The screen is excellent, on paper a 6” screen sounds pretty hefty for a portable device however it makes sense when in use as it really has to rival the screens built into the dash of modern cars. One criticism is that modern day smartphones tend to use swipes and gestures to navigate around the menus and the user may find that they are swiping unnecessarily as a Garmin does not support swipe-like movements.

Whilst driving with a camera I noticed that there were a number of warnings as I’d progressed through my journey. There were things like Lane departure notifications, speed limit warnings, proximity collision alarms and whilst these are very handy they become a little annoying from time to time and distracting whilst driving. They were easy enough to turn off and on again whilst parked however I was unable to find a way to vocally interact with these warnings perhaps including the voice command “shut up” may have be a good idea.

Garmin have included a Digital Traffic via DAB radio service. This has a DAB radio receiver built into the unit that allows the device to update itself with traffic information every minute. I found this to be somewhat accurate during rush hour. The Digital Traffic lifetime subscription is included with the new Nuvicam however this does not stretch to all countries around Europe, instead a handful including Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Germany. For other countries you receive standard RDS-TMC updates which aren’t quite as luxurious and only update every 15 minutes.

 

One handy extra feature is the integration of Foursquare point-of-interest locations that appear on the map. This is a nice use of relevant social networking to keep the Garmin system as an up to date platform.

 

When it comes to the voice commands I found it to be fairly accurate. I do not have a particularly broad Northern Irish accent and I did not have to make a much of an affort to “bend” my accent to help the system pick up certain phrases or words. Once you learn how it works you find it to be quite confident at picking up local requests. I did have an issue trying to find the nearest Smyths Toy Shop at one stage and it recommended Smiths Tours or some such over 300 miles away. Changing it to Smyths-Toy-Shop-Belfast sorted that out on the first try.

 

Comparing this to a smartphone app like Google Maps the Garmin is a very choice satellite navigation system. The differences are phenomenal. Having used Google Maps to navigate for the last few months I have found it I have made several errors whereas the Garmin has always kept me right I have not had to question its logic or lane placement when leaving a motorway. The roads around Dublin tend to be quite difficult for new drivers to understand and mistakes are often made along the way, the Garmin helped me navigate them very easily and in a sensible fashion that I was able to understand whilst not distracting me from my driving.

P1020452 

Certainly the Garmin is more expensive than using your smartphone on the road. There is no doubt it is really for the road warrior as opposed to the casual driver. Having something like this in your car will require forward thinking as this is such a large, bulky device you will likely need to take it with you when leaving your car in a city centre for fear that it may be spotted and removed. It wipes the floor with smartphone and inbuilt car navigation. There is also the factor it does not impact on your phone’s battery life or data allowance and can be used across Europe without fear of extra charges and will actually serve as a bit of a talking piece for passengers in the car.

 

The Garmin Nuvicam will make you realise just how half baked the other options are and it is with a heavy heart I have to hand this back to Garmin.

 

By November 20, 2015 Read More →

Are you ready to join the revolution? The Wileyfox Swift Review

WFA phone that gives you complete control is now a reality with thanks to London based company Wileyfox.  This new company has launched with two devices the swift and the storm, today I will be reviewing the swift their cheaper phone but by no means does cheap mean basic. Don’t forget to check out the hands on video with Gareth to see the swift in action.

Product Specifications

  • Dimensions  141.15mm x 71mm x 9.37mm
  • Display 5 Inch
  • Resolution1280 x 720 at 294ppi
  • Weight 135g
  • Processor 64-bit Quad-core 1.2GHz
  • Battery Removable 2500mAh battery
  • Camera 13MP primary camera
    5MP front camera
  • Features 4G LTE
    HD video recording

Wileyfox use Cyanogen OS 12.1 based on android lollipop 5.1.1. The swift comes packed with a 13mp primary camera, 5mp front facing camera, a Quad core Snapdragon 410 8916, 16GB ROM, 2GB RAM, Expandable memory up to 32GB, Dual SIM functionality,4G LTE, 5″ HD Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 IPS Display.  This all comes packaged with a very reasonable price of £129. So will this be enough for the average phone user to take a chance on the Wileyfox?

 

A hidden game when checking out the phones software. More annoying than fun.

 

The phone looks and feels like a high end device at a budget price.  The rear cover with the Wileyfox embossed logo really makes the phone stand out. The phone has a plastic casing but has a nice non slip feel.

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At top of the phone you have the 3.5mm headphone jack, microphone.

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On the right hand side of the phone you have the volume rocker and power button.

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At the bottom of the phone you have the usb charge point and two grills where lies the phones impressive speakers.

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On the left hand side there is nothing but smooth plastic. Pop off the cover and you have the removable 2500mh battery, two slots for your sim cards and the micro sd card slot.

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On the rear of the swift you have the 13 megapixel camera with led flash and below this the indented Wileyfox logo.

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On the front of the phone you have the ear speaker at the top, with the LED notification light to the right of this.  To the left you have the 5 megapixel front facing camera. There is no capacitive buttons at the bottom of the swift they are on screen.

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Smart phones are increasing in size, the phone I currently use is 5.5inches making the Wiley fox’s decision to use the popular 5 inch size a downsizing of screen for me. However this was not a problem as the 5 inch screen is the perfect size screen for any user.  Its bright vivid 720p display makes using the phone, watching video playback, capturing images with the camera a dream.  Wileyfox also offer screen replacement cover for £9.99 per year, which is a fantastic option to have.

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Cyanogen OS

The swift uses Cyanogen 12.1 with android 5.1.1 it looks and feels like android so don’t be alarmed that this is too 1much of a change when choosing this phone.  It is close to almost naked android.  In fact the Cyanogen OS allows consumers the chance to delete any or all the apps that are preloaded on the device and download only the apps that you need.  This feature is great as some apps run tirelessly in the background of my current phone and if I could uninstall them I would free up some valuable space.  From the main menu screen you can access the app drawer which is laid out in an alphabetical list format. The bottom of the screen there is an a-z list which you can fast track the letter you are looking for.

 

You have the option to have android or cyanogen themes on the phone.

 

The operating system runs smoothly with a 64-bit CPU at 1.2GHzsnapdragon processor although when running the performance test it scored quite low.  When playing high spec games like Batman the dark knight rises on the swift there was a noticeable lag at times however gameplay was still enjoyable.  Less graphic enduring games such as Minecraft and Jurassic World builder app played seamless.

Thankfully Wileyfox did not opt for the pitiful option of 4 gb or 8 gb on board storage.  The swift comes with 16 gb on board storage. This is all powered by the 2500mh battery which does last 24 hours with general use. The battery for me lasted about 8 hours before I had it drained although I had used the swift to its full capacity.  On my daily commute to work I could watch a 30min programme, listen to music when walking to work, general use during the working day, another 30 min programme on my way home as well as the occasional phone call.

The camera quality is average. The 13 megapixel camera performs well however the quality reduces in low light conditions.  Below are a few examples of the 13mp camera and a short video for you to make up your own mind. 

 

The video quality is fine, however when the digital zoom option is used the quality reduces dramatically. 

The panorama option was my favorite option when using the camera.

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PP7

 

There are plenty of options and filters to use within the camera app, so perhaps with extra time and tweaking the settings you can utilise the camera to its full potential.

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The speakers are loud, with twin speakers located at the bottom of the phone. Built in to the swift there is an equalizer option which is always handy to have.

Should you join the Wileyfox revolution? In my opinion yes! If you are looking for a smart phone as a gift for Christmas or looking for a phone that can perform on a budget you cant go wrong with the swift.  Take a chance on Wileyfox as I expect them to make a huge splash in the mobile phone arena. The swift packs a lot of hardware for its £129 price and with the additional 3 year phone replacement at £9.99 and screen protection at a further £9.99 per year this should make a killer selling point.

I do not want to renew my membership to the cracked screen club but for the protection at this price it makes the to join the Wileyfox revolution an easy choice.  There are other smartphones available around this price with similar specs but if you want something a little different and a break from the norm they sign up with Wileyfox who in their own words provide unrivalled customisation, privacy and security and freedom.

“Unrivalled customisation: give your phone a look and personality that’s as unique as yours.

Unrivalled privacy and security: choose precisely the data you wish to share; protect apps with additional PINs; prevent spam with Truecaller Integrated Dialler.

Unrivalled freedom: curate your own suite of apps – delete any or all of the apps we preload to get you started and download the ones you need. Enriching your life, extending your battery life; keeping you connected everywhere, to everyone, for longer. “ https://www.wileyfox.com/

 

 

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By November 16, 2015 Read More →

Sony Smartwatch 3 Review

P1020431Sony is no stranger to the smart watch, they have produced a few generations of their signature Sony SmartWatch over the last couple of years. I personally owned the original Sony Smartwatch when it first came out 4 years ago. Whilst it might not be a conventional SmartWatch as we know it is perhaps better described as more of an iPod Shuffle with a screen on a wrist strap. This really was one of the first smartwatch devices and was a pretty big  trendsetter.

The second Sony Smartwatch made a lot of big changes and sorted out many of the problems of the original, notably becoming a pure Smartwatch, no clips, just a small screen with a processor on a strap. Of the smartwatches available at the time, the Sony smartwatch 2 was probably the most impressive, that is until the Samsung Galaxy Gear appeared shortly after.

My current smartwatch is the LG G Watch, a simple approach to Android Wear and a cheaper option for anyone wanting to test the water. Moving to the SmartWatch 3 from the LG G watch isn’t as exciting as as one might think. Android Wear is the same from device to device with very little in the way of modification. What we really have to look at is mainly just the physical differences between the two devices and how they operate from your wrist. The Sony SmartWatch and the LG G Watch are practically identical when it comes to many are the physical aspects of these devices.

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The big bonus of the Sony SmartWatch 3 over the LG G watch is comfort, I really noticed a big difference with the Smart Watch on my wrist. I seem to remember adjusting the LG G watch quite frequently as it became somewhat uncomfortable over the course of the day, I was always reminded that I had it on. The SmartWatch 3 has a much more snug fit around your wrist and is ultimately more comfortable. That’s not to say it’s like a second skin, it just has a better fit when it comes to the watch face.

Another major difference is the button on the side, the LG G Watch uses a couple of taps to the watch screen to wake it up whereas the SmartWatch relies on an old fashioned button, some may prefer this however.

The screen itself occupies a strange portion of the front facing panel. It isn’t quite centralised on the y axis leaving a bar at the bottom that looks almost like an Android phone where capacitive controls  may have once resided. The screen feels smaller than the LG G watch and appear to be roughly the same size to the eye. The resolution of the screen works, if not as pretty as some of the other competitors from Motorola, Huawei and Samsung.

There is a price difference between the LG G Watch and the Sony SmartWatch 3 and this price difference certainly feels like it made it’s way into the stock straps provided. LG of gone for a very basic approach to keep the price down whereas the Sony SmartWatch 3 has an infinitely superior strap  with a good solid clip to keep it from falling off the wrist. Additionally, being interchangeable with other ones that Sony sell the watch can be equipped for various different life challenges whether it be a marathon, a day in the office or a holiday.

The biggest annoyance of the Sony SmartWatch 3 is the charging port, a single micro USB connector is pushed into the back of the device. This can be a little annoying especially late at night when you just want to get the thing on charge and get into bed. The typical micro USB “is this the right way round?” syndrome happens whilst you attempt to keep a small rubber flap out of the way. On a number of occasions I have picked up the watch in the morning to find that it is dead, I had not put the charger in fully and the battery does not last more than the day. The little LG G Watch sits beside it in it’s cosy cradle enjoying a flow of constant power.

The Sony SmartWatch 3 is a decent entry into the Android wear catalogue at a cheaper price than some of the high-end watches making it one to consider or perhaps a backup. There will be the odd moment it infuriates you however these are hopefully going to be few and far between. I have a feeling that  if Sony provide a Smartwatch 4  it really will be  a contender.

You can purchase the Sony Smartwatch 3 from Mobilefun for £179.00

By October 20, 2015 Read More →

Blackvue Dashcam Unboxing and Review

vlcsnap-error491The Blackvue is, simply put, a high end dashboard camera. Recording the daily routine with every feature you could imagine. In the following video we take a look at the key features of the camera, the additional hardware, the quality of the footage and the desktop software.

The Blackvue gives users the ability to record their journeys in full 1080p at 30 frame per second. A built in G-Sensor reacts to movement as you drive and adds additional peace of mind to the recording practice. Adding WiFi support allows for the unit to connect to a phone and utilise the Blackvue app to modify settings and preview footage on the go. Built in GPS ensures increased accuracy when travelling and integrates the position into the desktop suite to help locate any incidents that may have occurred with the added help of the G-sensor.

The camera is a wide angle 133 degree lens with an optional rear camera. A 16GB class 10 Micro SD card has been included however there is support for cards up to 64GB

You can purchase the single camera option from Mobilefun for £180:

Or the dual for £274

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