Reviews

By June 11, 2015 Read More →

Olixar X2 Pro Bluetooth Headphones review

olixar-x2-pro-bluetooth-stereo-headphones-p47042-aA little money can get you quite a lot in technology now. Years ago the idea of bluetooth headphones left the user unhappy with laggy audio, bulky form factors, short battery lives and high price tags. Now all that seems to be reversed. Bluetooth headphones are cheap as chips and you don’t need to spend a lot of get good value.

Take the Olixar X2 Pro Bluetooth headphones. £25 from Mobilefun. They look good, promise around 10 hours of usage and impressive sound. All completely accurate.

The headphones are made from predominantly from plastic. You can’t really expect a high quality finish at this price however they are sturdy and will withstand any number of light to medium knocks. They certainly are not ugly either. In fact the spongy head band has an ample cushion and looks quite elegant at a glance. A little aluminum around the screws break the blackness quite nicely and give just the tiniest addition of quality.

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Everything is glossy plastic around the exterior. Some will be a little put off by this as it might have been better suited to have a matte finish. The shiny finish does seem to be used on many cheaper gadgets in an attempt to add a high quality feel.

The fold mechanism is quite strong, you will break it if you are very careless however it will take some heavy use before it fails. The same with the adjustable legs.

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Playback produced commendable results for the 20mW output. There is more than adequate bass, however this does seem to be of a higher focus than the treble. Whilst the sound produced is quite agreeable there is something missing in the mix and it doesn’t feel as full as you might get on higher end phones. They thump but don’t dazzle.

For calls the microphone and receiver were both adequate. Speaking on 3uk’s HD network, calls were crisp and rich. The person on the other end didn’t notice an particular issues with the call quality at their end.

There is mention of noise cancellation technology and it doesn’t quite cut it. Use on the plane was irritating. The volume limiting on my tablet has always been a problem however in ear noise cancelling headphones have helped boost the experience in a the constant hum of the engines. The olixar X2 don’t have this benefit and there were moments I was having to strain to hear lightly dialogue in a movie. The noise cancellation does not work very well in either direction, letting sound in or keeping it from seeping out.

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Comfort is one of the most important aspects of headphones, almost on par with sound quality. For short bursts the X2 are perfectly comfortable. Using the headphones on a three hour flight I found my ears were growing weary of the padding and I switched to my in ear headphones for the journey back.

NFC seemed like a really nice inclusion to bypass the anguish of having to open Bluetooth and connect  on the go however I never managed to get it to work. Perhaps it is my phone, I saw an attempt to connect short followed by a failure notification soon after. Hardly  a deal breaker, but enough to annoy.

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In built controls were a little wonky on my Samsung. A problem I have had with other headphones. Volume Up and Down skipped tracks or exited a movie. Depending on the app in use. There are a great many button combinations to interact with calls, apps and tracks however they will take a while to learn to get the most out of them. I became a little frustrated trying to remember them, I wonder just how many folk out there make the effort.

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I honestly cannot comment negatively on the battery. I have charged it once and maybe used it for about 10 hours over the course of the week. The are still going and I have the audio cable with me in the event the charge depletes. I would say the estimate from Olixar is accurate and in comparison to other, more expensive, headphones I have used of late, I am very happy.

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The Olixar X2 are fine headphones. You could do a lot worse for the money. I would have been a little happier paying an extra £5-£10 for better noise cancelling set however these work, and work well. I would imagine they will continue to work for the next while and whilst I will not be using them for travel, I will find a place for them in the house.

Available from Mobilefun for £24.99.

 

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By May 26, 2015 Read More →

Review Microsoft Lumia 640

640aHave Microsoft created the perfect budget smartphone? With previous releases from Microsoft at the lower end of the budget, the 535 and 435, Microsoft have released a low end smartphone that is making a lot of noise being heavily advertised and pushing big features like Cortana and the Microsoft band.

Out of the box the device is sturdily built and looks like the previous Microsoft releases. The device does have a plastic feel to the back cover however this is detachable. A 5 inch Corning Gorilla Glass, Clearblack IPS LCD display with 294 ppi is a real eye pleaser. Like all phones the screen is a magnet for finger prints however when using the device these are not noticeable.

Powering the 640 you have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1200mhz processor, 8GB memory and 1GB RAM all powered with a 2500mAh battery. The processor is powerful enough to keep your experience of the Lumia flowing. The battery is very impressive and can last a full day of heavy use before a charge is needed. The 8GB on board memory is suffice although this can be extended with the microSD slot.

The windows OS is fun and simple to use. The live tiles on your home screen can be customised to your personal needs. You can pin your favourite apps to your home screen as well as your favourite websites, videos etc. You can choose whether to have your tile small medium or large. There are two tiles which cannot be removed from the home screen, these include shortcuts to your settings and mobile data.

Currently installed on the phone is windows 8.1 denim with the future update of windows 10 guaranteed with this phone.

There are two cameras on the Lumia 640, the front facing camera is a rather disappointing 0.9 megapixel camera. For the selfie lovers you will not be totally disappointed the camera has a wide angle lens which allows adequate selfies. In low lighting the camera is still suffice however there is a lot of noise added to the picture.

 

 

The 535 has a 5 megapixel front facing camera which would have been a nice addition to the 640. The 8 megapixel camera on the rear is fantastic. Shooting full 1080p 30fps videos I was very impressed with the quality and depth of colour.

Although some people are disappointed a carl zeis camera lens is not included on this device I must say the camera does not disappoint. There are two different camera applications on the 640. One can be found preinstalled as Lumia Camera on the main menu, the other can be found on the drop down notification bar at the far left. Both applications let you take pictures however the lumia camera app lets you adjust iso, shutter speed etc.

You can download more lenses from the app store one particular nice feature of the camera is the lumia refocus – Take a snap focus on one element of the picture, want to focus in a different part of the picture you had taken just open the picture and refocus. You can also add in a colour drop for that extra wow factor. The lumia camera also has a feature that can be turned on ‘live pictures’. This records seconds before the picture is taken. A nice feature to have when you see everyone adjust themselves quickly before the final cheese.

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The speaker on the 640 is loud. Although this can be muffled when the ‘hole’ at the back of the phone is covered. However, the speaker is impressive.

Cortana, Microsoft’s assistant may be familiar to some Halo fans is a useful addition to the Lumia experience. Ask her to set reminders, send texts and answer your questions. Cortana like google and siri voice activation’s can be funny. Asking her what noises an animal makes or to tell you a joke you will generates funny responses.

The windows app store has increased in apps since the last time i used a windows phone. However there still feels to be a lack of apps available that you would find on android or iOS. Hopefully in the near future Microsoft will expand their app store again and recognise that people may not shift operating systems if they can not find their favourite app! The phone has a number of apps pre- installed – Skype and Mix radio to name but a few. One app that stands out is Fitbit. This app will track your daily statistics from walking distance and diet to help you achieve your fitness goals.

Fitness is perhaps the new fad to enter the mobile arena. As well as being a selfie obsessed nation we are generally wanting to be more active and healthier. ‘Achieve more with Lumia’ is the slogan taken directly from an advert for the 640 and Microsoft band packaged together. Thus leading consumers to believing that wearable technology would only benefit you and help you achieve that healthier lifestyle. I am not a lover of wearing watches however i would like to be a little fitter than i am now, would the Microsoft band help me meet my goals? The band would allow more accurate information for the fitness apps added to this I can check messages and calls.

Can the Microsoft Lumia’s Cortana seduce android and iOS users to try something new? I had a brief affair with a windows phone in 2013 that ended with a cracked screen and my inevitable return to android. I feel that I was not missing anything by going back to android as the windows market was still too new and needed a lot of creases ironed out before I would return. The 640 provides a fantastic deal to anyone wanting to try something different and new. The 5 inch IPS LCD display is fantastic, watching Netflix and YouTube videos are flawless. Cortana is a fantastic personal assistant and the cameras on the phone are satisfactory, the 640 has made me consider returning to the Lumia world.

Prices available from £120 or from £89 as an upgrade this phone does not break the bank and has with the future update of windows 10 guaranteed. Other phones in this range would include the Moto g 2nd generation and the Honor 4x. Both phones run android and have somewhat better processors than the 640. I believe the era of Lumia is upon us and we will only see bigger and better things from Microsoft in the near future…

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
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By April 22, 2015 Read More →

Unboxing the Inateck Bluetooth 3.0 ultra slim keyboard

vlcsnap-2015-04-20-22h21m31s103Coming in at an exceptionally low price whilst retaining a fine build quality the Inateck Bluetooth keyboard is a low cost solution to increasing comfort when travelling and the need for a more desktop like environment. Also available in black, this revised bluetooth keyboard is much more attractive than the typical affair you would expect at the low price of £23.99. A Curve-shaped and sleek design makes it portable and none bulky. A built-in 200mA lithium battery keep charge  for up to 4 months in standby and 8 hours of continuous use every day. Keyboard sleeps after 10 minutes of inactivity and wakes up when any key is pressed. 

  • Compatible with Android, Windows, Mac OS/ iOS and all Bluetooth-enabled tablets, laptops, and computers, enabling you to mix and match with devices.
  • 0.16inch (4.3mm) thin, easy to transport, work and play anywhere anytime.
  • Built-in 200mA lithium battery, works for up to 4 months in standby without charging with 8 hours of continuous use every day; automatic sleep mode and smart wake up.
  • Using the American broadcom Bluetooth 3.0 chip, transfer up to 24 Mb/s, 8 times more than the Bluetooth 2.0 standard, highspeed connection and signal distance up to 33ft (10m).

 

You can purchase from Amazon here.

Posted in: Reviews, Videos/Unboxings
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By December 8, 2014 Read More →

iMend smartphone repair review

IMG_1542No matter how careful you are, at some point many of us end up dropping their mobile phone. Sometimes you get lucky and end up with just a little scratch but other times the damage can be a little more catastrophic. Generally your choices are to get a new phone or to get the phone repaired. The former can be rather costly and the repair route typically involves sending the phone away for a week or so. 

If you reply upon a mobile phone for your business then being without it for any amount of time may be less than ideal. That’s where the relatively new service from iMend can come in very handy. 

iMend provides a phone repair call out service. Simply put, they come to you and fix your phone and they can often do that same-day.  iMend can deal with a variety of common phone issues from cracked screens to faulty buttons, water damage, battery replacement and more. Currently they can deal with all iPhone models, iPad’s and Samsung Galaxy phones. They are also adding more devices soon.

My colleague, Simon, was unfortunate enough to break his phone a few weeks ago. Having dropped it climbing out of the car the screen shattered to the point that several bits of the glass fell off! Remarkably the phone and the touchscreen still worked, just, but the phone clearly needed to be sorted out. The issue for Simon was that his mobile phone is critical to his business so the idea of sending it away for repair was unthinkable. He was on the verge of buying a new phone when I told him about iMend.

We called iMend and spoke to them about the problem. They said they could get an engineer out to us the same day but we opted to have the repair carried out the following day. We were given a time window of between 10AM and 11AM and sure enough, at a few minutes past 10 there was a knock at the door.

In walked a very nice young man, Vil, with a couple of briefcases full of tools and parts. We gave him a small work area to carry out the repair and he confidently said that the repair would take less than 30 minutes. Part way through the repair, Vil noticed that the power button wasn’t working properly. A fact that Simon was aware of; the button hadn’t been working for a few months. Vil asked at that point if we would like him to swap the button at the same time. This seemed like a good idea so we agreed. 

After about 45 minutes, it took little longer because of changing the power button, Vil  declared that the phone was fully fixed. Sure enough Simon’s iPhone 5 looked brand new and even had a nice screen protector stuck on too. A nice touch!

All in all, the service from iMend was amazing. Punctual arrival on the date and time promised and at a time and location that suited us. The quality of the work was second to none and even comes with a 12 month warranty. 

The cost to replace the screen on the iPhone 5 was £59 which is comparable to many of the send-away services available but the convenience is invaluable. I would absolutely recommend iMend to anyone in need of a smartphone repair.

Please visit the iMend website for a full list of phones covered and their repair price list.

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
By November 25, 2014 Read More →

ExpressVPN keeping you safe and secret

Screenshot 2014-11-19 at 15.03.24There is no shortage of Virtual Private Network solutions out there, they really seem to be all the rage this side of the NSA reaching into the search engines and online storages to harvest our very personal data and to build a profile on each and every one of us. It seems in the future a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, will be requirement for anyone wanting to “close the curtains” and keep themselves to themselves online. Much like Anti-virus and Malware scanners you can pick up something fit for purpose for not a lot of money. ExpressVPN promises to cover your tracks on your mobile device and provide you peace of mind when browsing on your phone.

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Using ExpressVPN couldn’t be simplier. Loading the app takes only a few seconds and you are greeted with a list of networks available to you. This is were you can take advantage of simple services no matter where you are in the world. For example, if you happen to be a UK citizen and wish to access BBC Iplayer whilst on a trip to New York, you can select a Network in London and this will in turn tell BBC Iplayer that you are in fact in the UK and will let you connect.

In the screenshot above I have selected Los Angeles as a recently connected server. This will scramble any trace of where I am for the duation of my connection to the server and make it impossible for a service to track, or spy on your location. 

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By comparison to some other VPN’s out there there is a short delay as the app connects to the required server. Other VPN packages can connect automatically to a random server and in the case of F-secure Freedome connect instantly. ExpressVPN is notably cheaper F-Secure’s offering and whilst not as pretty the savings are worthwhile.

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Once connected, that’s it. A little key icon will appear in the notification panel to let you know you are safe. You are on-line, in that country and various online services, trackers will believe this. It is important to point out that online stores might present prices in the currencies pertaining to the country network you have connected to and to remedy this you will need to switch the VPN off. However, this can also be handy for price matching and even finding cheaper deals for the international travellers.

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A subscription to ExpressVPN is available for $99.95 for a year. This is an incredibly good deal if you take you online privacy seriously. There are a lot of threats out there and alongside the security come some of the bonuses of not having to worry about local internet service providers limiting what you can see and where you can see it. In addition ExpressVPN brags round the clock support and a money back guarantee if not satisfied.

Posted in: Apps & Games, News, Reviews
By October 27, 2014 Read More →

Unboxing Inateck 2 in 1 Micro USB Cable + Apple Lightning Adapter Cable

vlcsnap-2014-10-12-16h42m44s189Inateck have provided us with a 2 in 1 Micro USB Cable + Apple Lightning Adapter Cable 1.2m (4ft.) This is ideal for charging your iPhone 6/ 5/ 5s/ 5c /iPad 4/ iPad air/ iPad mini mini2/ iPad 4th gen, whilst also providing a cable for a MicroUSB based device. The cap on the top can also slip onto any other MicroUSB cable in the event his cable, like so many Apple charge cable, doses.

You can purchase from Amazon, here.

 

  • Material: PVC and PC; Length: 1.2m / 4 feet. The extraordinary flat cable design prevents pesky cable tangle
  • Charge your device with your computer or a USB Car/Wall Charger! Sync your device with your computer to transfer music, videos, files and backup your data
  • High durability with transparent and robust protection heads at both plugs,robust durable for stable and reliable transfers. Both for data transfer and charging
  • Plug and play; freely convert between micro B and adapter with lightning plug
  • Compatible devices: smartphones and tablets with lightening or micro B connection, e.g. iPhone 6/5/5C/5S, iPad Mini/iPad Air, Android phones and tablets etc
By October 23, 2014 Read More →

Unboxing Inateck 4 Port USB3.0 Hub With 1 Port Charging

vlcsnap-2014-10-18-22h12m13s239Gareth unboxes Inateck’s 4 Port USB3.0 Hub With 1 Port Charging, the cheapest USB 3.0 hub on around. This hub is equipped with both a 5V 4A power supply and built-in surge protection, 4 Port USB 3.0 + 1 fast charging port (5V 2A) for SamSung tablets and smart phones etc. 

SuperSpeed USB 3.0 supports transfer rates up to 5 Gbps – The actual transmission speed is limited by the setting of the device connected; Backward compatible with USB 2.0/1.1. Support 4 ports USB interfaces for Desktop/ Notebook/ Ultrabook/ SATA HDD Docking Sation/ Digital Camera; Compatible With Windows XP / Vista / 7/8 /MacOS X 10.8.4/ Linux. High Performance with VIA VL812 Chipset; Slim Size – Easy Carrying and Experience; Safe and reliable; Build in Overvoltage/Overcurrent/Leakage and Short-Circuit protection unit. Plug and play; Supports hot swapping. No install driver needed; LED indicators display the status of DC power supply and USB connections.

You can grab one from Amazon.co.uk here for only £19.99

 

By September 15, 2014 Read More →

Inateck Portable USB 3.0 + OTG Hub Unboxing

vlcsnap-2014-09-14-13h11m54s235Gareth has a look at a handy little peripheral from Inateck. This USB 30 Hub has a little adapter allowing you to not only connect it to your laptop or PC, but also your Android phone or tablet by way of the MicroUSB connector. Featuring super fast USB 3.0 speed and a full sized USB slot this is one peripheral folks on the road are going to need if they have camera’s and USB devices to connect. You can order one from Inateck via Amazon for £16.99.

Other variants include:

USB 3.0 hub + Gigabit Ethernet Adapter – £25.49

USB 3.0 hub with 4 ports, bus-powered – £11.99

Apple styled Aluminum 4 port adapter – £14.99

By September 12, 2014 Read More →

ZIIIRO Watch – Suturn – Chrome review

ziiiro-watch-saturn-chromeAs a watch enthusiast, when Matt asked me to review one for the site, I jumped at the chance!

I have quite a few watches of different styles including both analogue and digital so the piece that I will be reviewing here is interesting as it combines both types of display into one watch in a unique way, kind of, sort of! Read on to find out more.

Starting with the more “normal” elements of the watch, it is constructed from 316L stainless steel and has a mesh strap that is also made from stainless steel. The case width is 45mm which makes this quite a large watch by most standards and the strap is 23mm wide and both combine to make this quite a striking looking watch even without taking the unique selling point of this watch into account. The watch sits well on the wrist and fits under a shirt cuff without difficulty. The watch is rated as water resistant to 30m which means that it is OK for doing the washing up but not for swimming really – this may seem odd but you need 100m for swimming in fresh water and 200m for salt water due to a number of reasons that are far too boring to be discussed on a website as interesting as this one!

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So what is it that makes this watch different? What we have here is a digital watch that represents time using an outer ring of 12 segments all the way around the dial, and inner ring of 60 segments and a center circle. As you might have guessed the outer ring represents the hours, the inner the minutes but what about the center bit? Well that is used to show a.m. and p.m. When it is dark it is p.m. and when light it is a.m. This actually works quite well and the button at 2 o’clock  illuminates an electroluminescent backlight that allows the watch to be viewed in darkened (even pitch black) environments. There are a couple of downsides to the display but they are in no way deal breakers if you like the other aspects of it. The first is that you really need to expose the whole of the face from under a cuff in order to see the time whereas with an analogue watch you can see where the hands are roughly pointing to with only about 2/3rds on show. Not too bad there then? The second point is that it can be difficult to accurately judge minutes if the corresponding hour segment is not filled in. Again, not too terrible?

I’ve been very impressed with this watch and it is a nice change from my regular collection of G-Shock and automatic watches.

So you may be wondering how much this unique and interesting piece of horological technology costs? It retails for £145 at http://twistedtime.com/ which is maybe not quite in the impulse purchase price range for most people but is quite reasonable for a watch that will stand out from the crowd and it is extremely unlikely that you’ll see another on anyone else.

 

Create your own Personalized MagicBand Skins

Posted in: Gadgets, Reviews
By September 3, 2014 Read More →

Sony Xperia Z3 video review

Sony Xperia Z3 frontFollowing Sony’s big announcement today at IFA in Berlin, Phones 4u have got to grips with the new Sony Xperia Z3 flagship smartphone. Will it wow the tech world as much as its predecessor, the Xperia Z2? Find out in the full video review below:

 

 

Sony Xperia Z3 Specification:

  • 20.7 megapixel camera with 4K video capture
  • Fully water and dustproof
  • 3100mAh battery
  • 5.2-inch Full HD display
  • Latest Android operating system

 

The Sony Xperia Z3 really pushes the limits of smartphone technology. It is fully water and dust proof, slimmer and sleeker in design and it has a battery boost thrown into the mix. The latest Sony flagship really does set a precedent for other manufacturers and with Android on board, it has never been easier to get the best out of a device.

Everything looks simply amazing on the Z3’s expansive display, which is perfect for watching movies or internet TV. You have a massive 2.5GHz quad-core processor at your disposal too, so there’s loads of power for work and play.

And when you want to play, you can capture it all in effortless detail. With tons of modes alongside 4K video capture, the Z3’s camera will be your new best friend – snap, share and repeat the fun. However you decide to shoot it, you’ll be proud to show off the results.

Sony is releasing the Z3 in a variety of colours, including; black, copper and chrome. Phones 4u also has the smartphone exclusively available in white in the UK, as seen in the video above.

 

 

 

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