Reviews

By October 3, 2016 Read More →

BenQ EW2775ZH Eye-care monitor Review

1453360061This Benq EW2775 is a very standard looking full HD monitor, not 4k, a standard 1920 x 1080, a refresh rate of 60hz and a response time of 12ms. However, to separate if from the rest there is Brightness Intelligence Technology. This technology brightens certain areas of the screen to reduce strain on the user’s eyes when the areas are darkened.

In addition, there is Low Blue Light Plus. Some will have come to this review looking for this exclusively as it can be something of a Godsend. Working in the evenings in a darkened room, at the screen, blue-light causes can cause eye strain. There are various solutions out there, however, none are as effective as having the technology built into the hardware.

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Round the back are two HDMI inputs and a D-Sub connector (some might know this as a VGA connector.) There is a 3.5mm line-in audio jack so that you can connect audio to it when using the D-Sub connector, HDMI includes an audio line in the architecture. There are speakers on the back of the unit also, to make worse the weakest part of the screen.

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How does the AMVA panel square up against the more popular TN/IPS approach these days at 1080p/60Hz? IPS is generally recommended for better colour accuracy, etc, but with a 3000:1 contrast the picture looks great. One of the main concerns about VA or AMVA is that there can be a problem of direct viewing issues. On the one hand, this is a screen that you would have facing you so the likelihood of having problems with view angle are limited. In reality, I found it had to really notice any reports of weird colour shifting when changing positions. The picture and colours remained steady.

TUV Rheinland Certification for Flicker-free boasting on the packaging means Technischer Überwachungsverein or Technical Inspection Association is a German organisation who specialises in validating the safety of products.

So how does the Low Blue Light Plus work in reality? This isn’t entirely new technology, or particularly groundbreaking. Samsung has ‘Warm2’, Dell has ‘Paper’ mode and other manufacturer have ‘Warm’ or ‘Reading’ settings built into their settings. However, it’s predictable that Benq has their own variant. Then of course, if your monitor does not have it you could manually reduce the blue colour channel manually. Not the easiest thing to do and who could be bothered fiddling with setting when you want to achieve this. There are software options however in reality nothing beats a button on the front of the screen that does it.

In reality, it does put a lot less strain on the user’s eyes and can be combined with software efforts like f.lux to make your computer perfectly fine to use at night. When using it I realised just how much of a difference it makes. Sitting up late at night typing reviews or editing videos the screen I have always felt the screen cutting my eyes to pieces. The Benq simply eased the discomfort and I hardly noticed.

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The stand does not allow you to turn the screen to a portrait mode, a missed opportunity as this would make a great second screen at the price, and there is no mounting interface to make use of other solutions.p1030126

Another gripe is with the bezel. Certainly, it looks minimal when first out of the box. However, once up and running the screen does not reach all the way to the corner. Instead, there is a 3 mm black gap between the edge of the display and the bezel.img_20160925_123301

This Is a fine monitor in every sense of the word. Looking elegant on a desk, certain design flourishes extend a higher quality and the panel provides a crystal clear and acceptably bright picture. And that’s what counts at the end of the day.

Certainly the limitations of the mount will affect some, however, I wouldn’t imagine the vast majority would dismiss the quality of the panel and competitive price tag on this alone.

The Benq EW2775 opened my eyes to the world of blue light reduction and eye strain. From myths growing up about TVs turning your eyes square to the reality of eye strain disturbing sleep and headaches there this really is a perfect example of something that works better as a built-in feature. Certainly, you can download one of the software solutions and work that way, however, it when shopping for a screen it makes sense to just have it built in and this Benq is a decent screen, with some stand drawbacks, with an acceptable price tag.

By September 28, 2016 Read More →

Griffin Survivor Power Pack Review

fullsizerender3Never in the history of everything have we been more reliant, more dependent on electronic devices. Separation anxiety caused by being without your mobile phone is now a recognised stress condition! So, you left the house this morning, but you forgot to charge your phone – how will you ever know what your Instagram friends had for lunch or what the latest viral cat video is?

You need a mobile power pack!

Thankfully there are roughly a bazillion models available in every imaginable shape, size and capacity. But what happens if you run up mountains for fun, or a much more likely situation; you find yourself miles from home during the inevitable zombie apocalypse? Then you need the Griffin “Survivor” Power Bank. The secrets in the name folks!

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Griffin touts this as the Chuck Norris of battery packs due to its super rugged features. It’s drop proof from a height of 2m (we’ll see about that), as well as being water, dust and zombie blood resistant thanks to being fully encased in a textured rubber exterior and port cover. The corners have a good bit of give in them to cushion impacts, so it’ll be useless as a bludgeon, but at least you’ll always be able to upload those skillful headshot videos for “Zombie kill of the week” contention.

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On closer inspection, I noticed that the rubber isn’t actually bonded to the unit, but more like a form fitting case. Where the opening is for the ports, the rubber can easily be pulled away from the unit, so water could get in and get trapped in there. The port cover does fit snugly, but as pointed out in the unboxing video, the lifting tab does make it easily removable and I imagine it could be easily snagged, although, after a fortnight of bouncing around in the bottom of my bag, this only happened once. Mercifully I was not wading through a swamp or anything at the time and my office has only the usual type of pre-coffee zombies. I did try the drop test 3 times from around the 6-foot mark and the Survivor did indeed survive with only minor scuffing to the rubber housing. Really the only area of potential wear and tear vulnerability I see is the port cover and its little rubber retention piece.

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The 10,050mAh Griffin is obviously larger than its peers because of the additional layers of protection, but it is still easily portable at 265g and the ability to just throw it into a bag and forget about it is a big bonus. Griffin makes several claims on the packaging – 2 hour charge time, 5 phone charges etc. In my (zombie-free) testing, I found that when using standard USB ports on my work PC or an iPhone plug, the charging took a lot longer. You’ll need to up the power supply if you want to get anywhere close to the 2-hour claim. Charging a two-year-old 1,810mAh iPhone 6 with a bog standard apple cable took around 90mins to get it from 15% to full, which was a little underwhelming. This is definitely a workhorse rather than a thoroughbred. I managed to get 4 full charges and it ran out of juice at 60% on the 5th. Depending on the size of your phone, your mileage may vary. It has the, now obligatory, tiny LED light for illuminating the 2 feet directly in front of you. These lights have become standard on battery packs now and are handy for when you are digging through a bag at night trying to find something, but really, little else.

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Compared to its rivals, the performance is distinctly average. The equivalent capacity Anker will charge your device noticeably quicker and cost a heck of a lot less at £15. The Survivor is priced at £56 although it can be found for £47.50 on Amazon (mainland delivery only – sorry Northern Ireland) but it’s somewhat hard to justify such a massive price difference just for the additional ruggedisation. But, and it’s a big but – the Griffin comes with a lifetime warranty! A modern electronic device, one that is designed to take some abuse and it comes with a lifetime warranty!! Unheard of!!! From their site, Griffin state that if you can provide proof of purchase and are the original purchaser, they “will repair or replace the product if due to defective parts or workmanship; it does not perform as specified.” It does not cover “misuse” however. But rubber can perish and batteries will die, so it’s a bold, yet confidence inducing guarantee by Griffin and I suppose this has to be factored into the price. Unless of course, Griffin means the lifetime of the owner and they know something we don’t………which brings us back to zombies…….

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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Posted in: Accessories, Reviews
By September 11, 2016 Read More →

Sennheiser HD650 & Apogee Groove review

sennheiserSennheiser have long been one of my “go to” brands, particularly their CX range of in-ear headphones. They represent a nice balance of sound quality and reasonable pricing. I was excited to try out these “audiophile” level HD650 headphones and more than a little intrigued with the bundled in line amp by Apogee.

Initial impressions were positive, if a little underwhelming. The headphones feel solid and robust, although at this price point I wasn’t expecting quite so much plastic. They feel very functional rather than luxurious, their appearance doesn’t exactly give away their high-end pedigree. I decided to try out the headphones first and figure out the amp later. I’m used to in-ear headphones, so these felt a little odd to me initially. They completely encompass your ears rather than sitting on them and despite a surprisingly firm clamping force, are actually rather comfortable. This is thanks to the velvety soft fabric cover on the foam earpieces. This is much more comfortable than plastic or leather but also likely to get grubby quicker. It would be interesting to see how this soft fabric stands up to wear and tear over time.

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They are fairly light for their size so I didn’t have that feeling that you were wearing saddle bags on your head. I did notice that the open backed design did not offer much noise cancellation. Although muffled, surrounding noise is definitely still audible, so listening to them on the bus or train probably won’t work. There is plenty of adjustment in the size of the headband, even for someone with a melon the size of mine, but I did note that there wasn’t a lot of spring in it. The earpieces themselves pivot a little, but everything is quite rigid.

I plugged them HD650’s into my iPhone since it’s what I listen to music on most often and I was keen to see if the phone (and therefore ipod touch) could deliver enough power to drive these 300Ω beasts. The short answer is yes, very well in fact! Granted you have to crank the volume to levels you wouldn’t dream of with other headphones, but the sound reproduction is jaw dropping. I must pause here to mention one other thing I noticed, or rather my wife did. The open backed design that did little to keep the outside world out also does little to keep the sound in. The music I was enjoying was clearly audible to her, although she apparently wasn’t enjoying the experience quite as much as I was. Again, buses and trains are probably a no-no. Final point to note on the open back design is that it doesn’t heat your ears up to melting point quite so badly, so thumbs way up from me on that particular bugbear.

It’s difficult to convey just how good these headphones sound; they have a nice neutral sound that somehow manages not to sound flat. They excel at the high and mid ranges and acoustic music sounds particularly well reproduced. You are able to pick out incredible detail and the sound separation is outstanding. The bass tones are gloriously unembellished. Unlike many headphones that try to give you concussion by turning the bass line into something akin to a jackhammer, the HD650s have a beautifully round bass, capable of absorbing the deepest rumbles without rattling or buzzing. No matter what track I tried, I could not get them to bottom out and distort. Again the sound reproduction seems incredibly realistic and once you get used to not being assaulted by an over-amplified bass thump, the listening experience is simply wonderful.

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I love the option of being able to replace the cables from the headphones. My biggest gripe with the Sennheiser CX range is that they have very thin and flimsy wires that never seem to last past 6 months use. With the HD650s, you are able to remove the short cable at the earpieces (it’s connected on both sides unlike some other headphones) and replace it with a 3m long cable terminating with a full sized jack. Adding a full to mini jack adapter, I was able to plug these beauties into my record player and sit back and relax. This was an outstanding experience, listening to uncompressed music on a basic, manual record player and high-end headphones. I lost an entire weekend this way.

I’m not much of a gamer, but I did try them on my Xbox and they did not disappoint. The soundscape seems massive and again, the fantastic sound separation really comes out trumps here.

Then it came time to try the amp. I’ve never used one before so I was a little dubious about it. The headphones sound great, do I need an amp? Especially when they cost as much as the headphones themselves!! How do I even use it?  The Apogee Groove amp is a simple, unassuming little device with nothing but volume controls and 3 small LEDs on the exterior. It’s powered via a USB port so it’s designed to listen to music from a computer. This confirms my theory that the best use of these headphones is in a studio type situation where accurate reproduction of the recorded sound is crucial. It’s not how I usually listen to music myself, but I was so far down the rabbit hole with this setup that I just had to know what it would produce. Playing through a Mac is a simple procedure of plugging it in, changing the sound settings and off you go. The PC is a slightly different affair. You must install the appropriate driver – one that you can only get directly from Apogee, and only after you have registered the product. Why this is is anyone’s guess, but it’s quick and painless. Pick your track and off you go.

Disclaimer: you may wish to have a buddy present to help you pick your jaw up off the floor.

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The combination of Groove and HD650 synergises into a listening experience unlike anything I have ever heard. Every aspect is significantly enhanced – the detail, the separation, the clarity, instantly become richer, deeper and wider! I found myself trawling through my music library listening to endless numbers of tracks. Tracks I have heard a thousand times and yet I was able to pick up sounds and layers that I have never heard before. I had my doubts about the necessity of an amp and to be honest, yes, you could no doubt get by quite happily without it. However the sound produced by both devices working in conjunction is just unreal. Closing your eyes, you can almost picture yourself in the recording studio with the band arranged around you. Necessary no, desirable, oh hell yes!

Out of interest, I tried the Groove with my Klipsch R6 in ear headphones and again, this tiny little box transformed what are already excellent sounding headphones. It basically takes the strengths of the any headphones plugged into it and expands on them.

This bundle is exclusive to Sennheiser on their website for a not inconsiderable £490. A bit of research showed that the cost is split roughly 50/50 between the two devices and I did wonder if the increase in sound quality could possibly warrant such a splash out, especially when the combo can only be used when listening to music on a computer. For your average man on the street – probably not. But then this is the audiophile world. If you are happy to spend £250 on headphones (which your average man on the street certainly won’t), forking out an extra £250 for a more perfect sound experience appears a much more reasonable proposition. Certainly for professional use, in a studio environment for example, it’s a no brainer, just buy one.

It’s worth mentioning that if you aren’t concerned about getting the headphones and amp in the one (admittedly rather swish) box, you can save around £40 by sourcing and buying them separately. The HD650s are available through Amazon for around £230.

I don’t know if Apogee developed the Groove specifically for use with the HD650 or it’s just a deal done between the companies, but the two devices complement each other exceptionally and seem to really bring out the best in each other. If you are in the market, I would happily recommend them if you have the pennies. These have now become the bar that all others will be judged against.

You can find further information including the full specs at http://en-uk.sennheiser.com/audiophile-headphones-high-end-hd-650

By September 9, 2016 Read More →

Creative HS800 Fatal1ty Gaming Headset unboxing and review

vlcsnap-00040A very budget orientated gaming headset that has received a price drop in favour of a new model, the Creative Fatality is an ergonomically designed and acoustically tuned headset endorsed by Johnathan ‘Fatal1ty’ Wendel.

Padded headband and earpieces for ambient noise exclusion and comfort during long gaming sessions.
Swivel joint earpiece design adapts to every user.
Detachable and adjustable noise-cancelling microphone.
In-line external volume control with microphone on/off.
Excellent response for voice communications and dynamic in-game audio, with extended bass response for high-impact explosions.
Other Characteristics:
Colour of product: Black
Connectivity technology: Wired
Device interface: 3.5 mm (1/8″)
Ear coupling: Supraaural
Headphone frequency: 20 – 20000 Hz
Headphone sensitivity: 110 dB
Headset type: Binaural
Impedance: 32 Ω
Magnet type: neodymium
Microphone frequency: 100 – 15000 Hz
Microphone input impedance: 10 Ω
Microphone sensitivity: -40 dB
Purpose: PC/Gaming
Weight: 200 g
Windows operating systems supported: Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Home Premium x64, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Professional x64, Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Starter x64, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 7 Ultimate x64, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Business x64, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Basic x64, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Home Premium x64, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows Vista Ultimate x64

Online electronics retailer www.reichelt.co.uk, many products up to 20% cheaper than elsewhere in the UK.

 

By September 2, 2016 Read More →

Lumsing Smart Body Analyser Digital Scale review

P1030110Scales can be something of a fad.  I would imagine this is one of those pieces of equipment that will see a flurry of sales on in January and then gradually tail off by the end of the month.  However whenever you have a look at the price of some sets of scales you realise that it is an expensive mistake to make if you’re not going to be using it.

Enter the Lumsing Smart Body Analyser Digital Scale. This is a Bluetooth body scale that connects to an app on your iOS or Android device to keep a diary of your weigh-ins. In addition to measuring your body weight, it can also tell through a special layer of blue, tempered glass your body water, body fat, BMI, BMR, muscle mass, bone mass, and visceral fat. Once measured the application plots this in a graph and outputs a simple chart to show you how well you are doing.

As a non-fitness expert most of these measurements are Greek to me. However, my wife is finding it increasingly interesting as she is a marathon runner who finds great benefit in knowing the ups and downs of this intricate data. Me? Last week I weighed a little more than the week before and this week I wear a little less than I did last week. And that’s handy to know, it’s handy to keep track of and I’m glad I didn’t spend the ridiculous money that some other companies are asking for in order to be able to make such a statement.

So what justifies the high price tag of other brands? First up, the brand name. You may not have heard of Lumsing,  they appear to be much like many other Asian manufacturers,  pushing their wares through Amazon at rather attractive prices. There’s nothing wrong with that. What you get is a rather well put together unit that I am reliably informed is very accurate, very informative and very nice to look at.

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The tempered glass on top is a bit of the dust magnet, shows up spills, drips and other marks quite noticeably. Yet it is certainly eye-catching for those visiting the bathroom and impresses those who are curious enough to ask about it.

If I was the point out one drawback it would have to be the app. It really isn’t as polished or as well put together as some of the other alternatives on the market. In fact searching for it on the app store ends up being a little confusing if you’ve done some research into the device, as an example, check my unboxing video.

Once set up using the device couldn’t be easier to use. Simply bringing the application on your phone and then stepping onto the scale activates the wireless connection to transfer the measurements across. You receive a notification from the application to ask you if you were sure you want this information to be added to the application. Once agreed it’s added to the chart and is almost instantly viewable.

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The scales used four AA batteries which are provided in the box, I have yet to find out exactly how long these last however given the length of time that this is on for on a daily basis I would like to think they would last quite a long while. The connection is by Low power Bluetooth and there is only one small LED panel that really only stays lit for, at most, 30 seconds.

Recently my wife noticed a problem with the application as moving to a new phone can cause you to have to start your tracking all over again. You can output the data to a TXT file, however, there is no function to import. Additionally, there is no way to integrate this information with Google fit, Samsung Health or one of the Garmin suites.

Ultimately, the Lumsing Smart Body Analyser Digital Scale might lack the refinement found in the much more expensive scales on the market, however, this is a perfect jumping off point for anyone interested in fitness or just tracking the physical well-being. It’s not a lot of money to lay out, the build quality is solid, it looks lovely and does what it says. A fine product.

You can save 20% off the price of the Lumsing Smart Scale by using the product code below.

Product link: http://amzn.to/2aMSHKh

Discount: 20% off

Code: Q7XY6FX6

Expiry date: 15/09 23:59 BST

By August 21, 2016 Read More →

Archos 50 Power Review

archos_50power_specsArchos are forever trying to find a sweet spot between bargain budget and quality products, Often having to take a step back on one particular feature in order to bring the whole price of the unit down to a more acceptable level.  It is difficult to say whether they have a hit more often than a miss however of late Archos products have really taken a step up over a few  years of substandard products. The image may never repair however take it from me they know what they’re doing.

This £139.99 phone is a little bit of a misfire from Archos this time round. There is only one killer feature inside amidst a specification list that really doesn’t excite. For the money, you will find better value however it will be lacking that killer feature that this phone has.

Looking around the phone, to the right of the screen is the sim card tray and a power button. The 50 Power can take both a Mini and Nano Sim, the MicroSD shares the Mini Sim seat so you are limited to two sims, or a Nano sim plus expanded storage.

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To the Left is a volume rocker. The sides of the device are rounded and really comfortable.

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On top is a 3.5mm headphone socket and little else.

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On the bottom, there is a MircoUSB port offset to the left and the microphone.

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The back has a LED flash plus the 13mp camera. There is a second microphone above the camera. The whole device is coated in a non-slip rubber that feels good in the hand.

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That killer feature is a 4000 mAh battery. The last few phones from Argos have featured fairly hefty batteries and this seems to be one staple they are determined to keep in their book. You can easily clear around three days of use out of this device and if it isn’t heavily used that could possibly stretch to four or five. While some manufacturers lean toward faster-charging solutions with standard size batteries, Archos have you covered if you don’t want to have to plug your phone in at all. Whilst it has a huge battery charge time isn’t massively increased as we have seen with other products. The 4000 mAh battery can go from 0 to 100% in two and a half hours of charging. Those with fast charge facilities on their phone may scoff at that, however, it wasn’t long ago that two and a half to three hours was a standard charge for a standard battery. In fact, some may have even been quite pleased to have that sort of charge time. Especially when you consider a 50% will last as long as the average phone on 100%.

 

Otherwise the device it’s fairly unremarkable.  I wish I could just say it’s a very strong device with nothing really wrong however it has a mediocre build quality, something of a bland design. Even Android has little in the way of enhancements save for the typical Archos additions.

 

If I was to criticise one thing about the phone is the screen is fairly disappointing, whilst it’s quite sharp at 294ppi, brightness appears very dull. There are no details on the Archos website regarding the Nit count however I dare say it is very low. You will have to run the screen at full brightness in all conditions. The speaker is largely disappointing also, being tinny and lacking any substantial depth. It really caters only for notification sounds and perhaps the odd YouTube video.

Benchmarks aren’t horrible. The device can hold its own against some of the budget phones out there, albeit at a lower price.

The camera is actually pretty good, certainly, it doesn’t pack the punch of maybe something like a Samsung, however, it does captured colours quite well. There isn’t any apparent noise however light levels can bleed into each other quite easily from intense sources.

There isn’t a host of options available here there other than things like gesture functions and HDR. The HDR didn’t really blow my socks off and probably won’t blow yours off either.
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Video quality is pretty poor however you could certainly make do if absolutely necessary.

The Archos 50 Power isn’t a terrible phone, far from it, it’s probably the blandest, middle of the road phone I’ve ever had to review. I think it’s slightly overpriced and the only justification for this price is the 4000 mAh. If that’s what you’re looking for above all else, this is the phone for you. A great backup or business phone but otherwise I couldn’t recommend it for day-to-day use and there are certainly better options on the market available now.

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
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By August 11, 2016 Read More →

Logitech G610 Orion Red Review

rgbWhen reviewing a gaming keyboard it is incredibly difficult to actually benchmark a keyboard in some way to say whether or not you have a good or bad keyboard from a score that is accrued through various tests. A keyboard very much boils down to whether or not you like it, can communicate with the easily and it’s comfortable for you to be productive or enjoy some leisure time.

The Logitech G610 is an entirely different keyboard to the Logitech G510.  Where the G510 focused on additional features such as media, LCD screens, gaming profiles and programmable buttons the G610 loses all of that in favour of an entirely new hardware approach and a back to basics gaming experience that is determined to win the user over through performance as opposed to extra features.

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The G610 features Cherry MX mechanical switches. These are favoured by gamers and considered to be a standard as they are more consistent in feel and responsiveness, they can take more abuse than rubber dome keyboards. These low-noise switches have a linear keypress for rapid-fire actuation. Cherry MX switches are rated to over 50 million keystrokes and actuate precisely for a reliable gaming experience.

To be honest I find the G610 is a bit of a let down whenever it comes to included features. I love myself some extra buttons to be able to program for additional functionality on the computer and save for some Media buttons in the top right corner the G610 doesn’t provide any of that.  Of course you can program the function buttons on the top row from F1 to F12, however having some dedicated memory buttons is a great feature that most gamers these days will probably have started to rely on even if it is just for storing Memes. There isn’t even a wrist rest included in the box.

That said I would imagine including extra buttons and features would have ramped up the price of this keyboard drastically. Tearing out the membrane innards of the G510 and putting in a whole mechanical key array would ramp up the costs before you know it.

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How is the performance of a gaming keyboard when of all the media buttons have been removed?  It’s hard going, it takes a while to get used to especially if you have been using something other than a mechanical keyboard before. The travel on each key when pressing is a greater distance and can result in a multitude of errors especially when typing for a long period. When gaming the benefits are noticeable almost immediately.  The slightest touch of a button registers which results in near instantaneous reactions. Hardly ideal for typing a document however once mastered there is nothing quite like tapping away at a keyboard that emits a satisfying clack.

 

The look and feel of the keyboard it’s very simple with almost a no frills approach, aside from the backlight. There’s a lot of fun to be had here as the lighting flickers in uniform depending on how you have the keys set to light up. There is a dedicated button for the backlight however rather than being an on/off button, you have to press the button  number of times to dim the backlight and gradually turn the backlight off. A simple feature of holding the button in to turn the backlight off might be nice as if you leave your computer on 24 hours a day that means the backlight on your keyboard is more than likely going to be on with it. When the computer is locked the keyboard takes it upon itself to display some eye candy, lighting up keys and simulating a wave of light from left to right. The backlight is bright at the highest setting, every key is visible.

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The volume roller is large and responsive, it’s easy to find alongside the rest of the media controls that surround it. Hastily jamming your finger down in that area generally meets with the required function you’re looking for. Various other keyboards on the market have a small congregation of keys that are interlinked, this one goes for large and separate and therefore less room for error.

 

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One of the best features are the legs of this keyboard, there are three options. Laid flat on the rubber feet, setting 4 and setting 8. I am guessing the 4 and 8 are millimetre elevation. Also, cable and the connection between the cable and the keyboard is nicely reinforced. This keyboard will travel well and it built to last.

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Sound wise the keyboard is fairly quiet for a mechanical keyboard, it has a satisfying clack as you tap away, however, if like me you record a podcast fortnightly you have to be vigilant when typing or else the sound of the keys will be almost audible in the recording. As a gamer using a microphone and headphone setup

Logitech has a very simple to use interface when it comes to the software for the keyboard.  Everything is laid out very nicely and is very simple to navigate around. Icons are colourful and explanatory and there is a wealth of options available on how to set up the keyboard for various different profiles. It’s easy to switch between profiles to display various keys being highlighted when using a particular game, these profiles can be amended to the user’s preference or setup from scratch.

Would I carry on using the Logitech G610?  Unlikely, I don’t game as often as I used to and spend much more time writing. In all honesty, I’ll be moving back to the Logitech G510 once I finish writing this. The G610 will go to my stepdaughter who is an avid gamer playing World of Warcraft and League of Legends. The keyboard will easily benefit her and be a welcome upgrade to the aging and noisy Corsair she has been using.

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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By July 28, 2016 Read More →

ADATA i-Memory Flash Drive Review

productGallery4496Even the most stalwart iPhone user will concede that one of the major limitations of the device is the lack of expandable memory. This isn’t much of an issue if you splashed out on the 128gb model, but those with the 16gb version will know the pain of having to upload and delete holiday photos to make room for more. Enter the ADATA i-Memory 64gb flash drive, potentially the answer to many prayers.

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With its rounded edges and rather tasteful metallic rose colouring, it looks the part, very apple-esque. Once out of the packaging however, it does feel a little plasticky. It doesn’t have that “just throw it in a pocket/in your bag” feel. Aluminium would have been a nice touch but would increase the cost significantly. But does it work?

Right out of the gate we hit a stumbling block. Being a clumsy oaf, the first thing I do when I get a phone is to put it in a robust case, in this instance, an Otterbox Commuter. As you can see, the lightning connector is rather short and does not work with encased phones. That’s a bit of a pain.

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Once out of the Otterbox (and feeling vulnerable) the ADATA fits nicely into the iphone, and you are prompted to download the free i-Memory app. The app appears extremely simple in design, allowing the user to select Photo, Music, Video, Document and File Manager for both the phone and the ADATA drive.

Unfortunately it becomes quickly apparent that the Achilles heel of this device is the app. It is simple, but not particularly intuitive nor pleasant to use and did have a few glitches and hang-ups when I was using it.

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There are no tutorials, prompts or on screen instructions in the app, so you’re on your own. Transferring photos or videos from your camera roll is fairly straight forward, but no transferable music or document files could be located on my phone. It allows access to an “internal storage” for your phone, but could not find anything in it. It was unclear where this storage actually was. At this point I couldn’t help but wonder if this is an iproduct specific app, or a generic template that has been beaten into an apple shape.

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Still, I used the rather nifty sliding connector feature and plugged the device into my pc. Another snag. Due to the width of the device, it covers two USB ports if they are side by side. This could be problematic for laptop users.

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The pc found the device without issue and up opens like any regular flash drive. Once in familiar territory of dragging dropping, the ADATA performed well and transfer speeds were impressive.

Plugging the ADATA back into my phone, I found that accessing the new data through the app was easy enough and was pleased to see that both music and video files played directly from it without hesitation. Transferring content to the phone is the same somewhat clunky procedure as before. Out of interest, I decided to copy a music file from the ADATA to the internal storage area of my phone. According to the app, the file transferred successfully, however, it would not appear in any searches carried out on the phone. It would appear that anything sent to the internal storage is only accessible through the i-Memory app and does not integrate into any other apps. This is a drawback, especially when it comes to music files.

The ADATA i-Memory Flash Drive is undoubtedly a very handy device and allowing the user to safely copy content from their phone to free up some space is definitely where it shines. I can also see its usefulness as a media drive, somewhere to store videos that you can access on your phone without eating up all its memory. It is not without some design issues, but the biggest let down by far is the app. I can’t help but feel that what could have been an excellent little device has been hamstrung by its software.