Tag: Featured

By August 9, 2017 Read More →

iFrogz Impulse Duo Dual Driver Wireless Bluetooth headphones Review

IMG_0600It’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised by a product. I had the opportunity to play around with the iFrogz Impulse Duo dual driver wireless Bluetooth headphones (not an easy title to get your tongue around). At around £39, these are on the lower end of the pricing spectrum and I am generally wary of companies that start with a small “i” and swap “s” for “z”, so it’s fair to say that expectations were not exactly high.

The headphones were nicely presented in a simple but elegant box and slip cover that does what it needs to do without going overboard. There is no pouch or case included, but you do get 3 sizes of tips. The actual ear pieces are pretty funky looking thanks to the dual 6mm drivers and an unusual mix of materials and textures – they certainly don’t look like regular headphones. Despite the slightly odd shape, they are actually pretty comfortable to wear, although there is a small nub on one side which can sometimes be a little irritating.

 

The earpieces are connected to a small control unit which features a nifty magnetic retention clip, so you can wind the cables around it for neat storage when not in use. The unit houses the battery, Bluetooth system microphone for call handling and offers 3 control buttons. The two volume buttons double as track forward and back controls if you long press them and the centre button activates the play/pause, call answer, power on/off and paring functions depending on how long you hold it for. Simple, but effective. The buttons are quite big, but they do need some deliberate pressure to push them, so accidental activation is not much of an issue. In use, the remote dangles from the earpieces, threatening to pull them out, so you will need to attach it to your clothing. The problem is that the cables are only about 35cm long, so it will need to be clipped to something quite close to your head. The magnetic clip does a decent job at this, although I don’t think it’s quite as good as a traditional clip and there may be a bit of an issue if you don’t have anything to attach it too (so no super tight muscle shirts or boob tubes!).

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The box claims a battery life of up to 10 hours and the unit is charged by a micro USB cable (supplied). This is often difficult to verify as you are rarely listening to them constantly for such a long period of time, but in testing, they certainly did seem to hold a charge for a considerable amount of time. When powered on, there is a blue indicator light which blinks periodically. I quickly learned to hate this light, and if you listen to music in bed at night, you will learn to loathe it too. It more closely resembles an emergency distress beacon than an indicator – that thing is bright! The cables are fairly short too, so it’s always going to be close to your head and is almost impossible to ignore. I was almost reaching for the duct tape but ended up finding a small pouch to put it in just to hide it. Yes, it’s that annoying! Not so much an issue during the day of course.

The sound from the iFrogz is what surprised me the most. For the price point, I expected a flat and tinny sound, but thankfully that is far from the case. Sure, they do not have the dynamic range of some of the competition, but I feel that they do punch above their weight. The first thing you will notice is that they are quite bass heavy. This is great for some musical genres, but with others, the mids and highs can seem overwhelmed by the booming resonant bass tones. One of my regular go to testing tracks is “It Won’t Be Long” by Super Collider as it is exceptional for testing tonal balance, bass response/distortion and seeing how much detail is retained. The iFrogz handled it well and did not distort too noticeably at the really low levels, but you could notice the flattening of the upper frequencies. But for £39, this is more than acceptable.

The other aspect it really liked about the iFrogz was when I fired up Youtube and was immediately impressed that there was no noticeable lag time. The sound was well in sync with the visual, something that is often an Achilles heel of Bluetooth headphones, particularly at the cheaper end of the market.

So, good battery life, comfortable, decent sound and under £40, if you want something cheap and functional, it’s hard to knock these.

Posted in: Headphones, Reviews
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By August 7, 2017 Read More →

Brainwavz B200 Audiophile grade earphones review

IMG_0581I must confess that I was not familiar with the brand when I was given word that their latest headphones were coming to us for review. They operate in the audiophile circles of the headphone world, but their aim is to keep the cost of their products at the more reasonable end of the spectrum. When I was given these in ear headphones, all I knew was that they were audiophile grade and cost £156.

The first thing that struck me when I was handed the box is that it smacked of neither audiophile nor £156. It is a pretty basic box with minimal amounts of styling, made from fairly thin card and a plastic tray inside. It looks remarkably like an early DVD box set or an Amiga game. This is not always a bad thing, however. Regular readers will know that I have mixed feelings about packaging. Sure, I like some swish presentation to give a premium feel as much as the next guy, but at the same time, I do not like the idea that a product has its price bumped by £20 just to get a swanky box that will ultimately be thrown out anyway.

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In the box, you get a rather nice, rigid carry case that feels very well constructed, with dividers to house the spare tips for the ear buds. There are 2 sets of small, medium and large tips included plus a bonus set of “premium” memory foam tips that honestly feel kinda like chewing gum. The headphones themselves are extremely lightweight and there is good reinforcement at the joints, but I couldn’t help but think that the wires were worryingly thin. Making tech super lightweight is great, but sometimes it can leave products feeling a little flimsy, even if that is not the case.

After a few minutes of experimentation, I figured out how to wear the headphones and which one went in which ear – yes, I know how to wear headphones – but the B200’s feature a neat design where the cable loops over your ear thanks to a semi rigid sleeve over the wire so you put them in your ear with the wire pointing up. It takes one or two goes to get the technique down, but it’s not tricky. For me, the premium tips were an absolute winner. They feel weird, but once you squish them and push them into your ears, they are incredibly comfortable and do an excellent job of cancelling out ambient noise. The loop design means that the weight of the cable is not applied directly to the ear bud, so there is not the usual battle of earpiece retention vs gravity. The result it that these headphones stay in place exceptionally well. I was able to enjoy a brisk walk on a windy evening and never once had to push the headphones in to keep the fit nice and snug. Brilliant!

As usual, I let the B200’s burn in for a day or two before really testing the sound quality on them. It’s a very natural sound, nicely balanced, which is my personal preference. There is plenty of bass, but it is not an auditory assault like on some sets. Mids and highs are nicely separated with a good amount of crisp detail which gives a satisfying breadth to the sound and again, nothing seems overly forced. The benefit of a neutral sound is that it lends itself well to a wide variety of musical genres and I found that the B200’s handled any track I threw at them in their stride. Listening to podcasts where the focus is on people speaking, the voices do not sound overly bass heavy and resonant which music focused headphones have a tendency to do. These are really nice headphones.

Brainwavz, dual, balanced, armature, B200, high performance, audiophile, grade, earphones, headphones, uk

Brainwavz offers a 24month warranty on the B200’s(“should any problem arise due to a defect in workmanship”) which shows a reassuring level of faith in their products and quality control. This is not something to be underestimated. I do maintain some concerns about how fine the cable is on these headphones and I did notice that they do tangle up quite easily because of the loops, but at least if there is a weakness there, Brainwavzshould look after you and that is reassuring. Whilst they are reasonably priced for headphones at this level, £156 is still a significant chunk of money so a little reassurance is a very good thing!

If you haven’t heard of Brainwavz, I would certainly you encourage you to check them out. They certainly don’t look as flashy as some of their peers, they may perhaps lack some of the prestige feels, but there is absolutely no escaping the excellent performance or the phenomenal comfort of these headphones.

The Brainwavz B200 are for sale on Amazon here for £149.50.

Posted in: Headphones, Reviews
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By July 21, 2017 Read More →

F-Secure Sense Review – The best online security?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My current broadband provider is with Sky.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

SENSE does not track your internet history as explained here.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Addicts UK Podcast – 12th July 2017 – Prime deals and are Flagships overrated?

With Gareth Myles, Ricky West and Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

RSS Link: http://mobiletechaddicts.libsyn.com/rss

Direct Download.

iTunes

Stitcher

Tunein

Show Notes

Play Test:

Gareth

Gavin

Ricky

Bargain Basement:

Main Show URL: http://www.techaddicts.uk

Email: contact@techaddicts.uk

Twitter: @techaddictsuk ; @garethmyles ; @gavinfabiani  ; @GadgetyNewsCom ; @JayGarrett ; @swanny ; @girlsngadgets ; @wildlime ; @TechTalkUK1

Facebook: Tech Addicts

Web: http://gavinsgadgets.com ; http://GadgetyNews.com ; http://swanny.me/

Google Plus: +Techaddicts; +garethmyles ; +gavinfabiani-laymond; +JayGarrett

 

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By July 11, 2017 Read More →

Essential Tech To Survive A Festival Weekend

2017-07-11 (3)Festival season has now kicked off, and if you’re planning to spend a weekend away in a field at some of the UK’s best events or even abroad, then it’s best to consider some of the best tech around to keep you charged up and entertained. With a variety of must-have gadgets and technology available – Niall Green, CEO of Second Screen – a cutting-edge app developer for the creative industries – offers his essential tech recommendations to survive a festival weekend.

  1. Download the festival’s app
    The best way to plan your weekend is download the festival’s app. You’ll be able to find stage times, last minute lineup additions, secret announcements, exclusive content and much more. At Second Screen, we produce cutting-edge apps for festivals such as Isle of Wight Festival, Love Supreme, Livewire Festival, Boardmasters, Fusion Festival and many more – all of which enhance the overall festival experience and brings fans that much closer to the event.
  2. Invest in a powerbank
    No festival survival pack is complete without a powerbank. Finding power supply in a field is tough enough, let alone waiting hours on end in the long queues at the recharge tents.The answer is grabbing yourself a nifty powerbank- it should be the first thing to tick on your checklist. Invest in a good quality sturdy powerbank that can offer multiple recharges over the weekend. You’ll find it to be an absolute godsend when you’ve lost your friends in the middle of the night and you’re low on battery power.
  3. Pack a Bluetooth speaker
    When the music stops, it’s officially the campsite after party! Make sure you bring along a waterproof Bluetooth speaker so you can be campsite DJ for the weekend. It’s the worst feeling at a festival when you head back to your tent area after the headliners have finished and there’s no music.
  4. Protect your phone with a tough case
    It’s highly likely your phone will end up in the mud at some point. So, protect it. It’s one thing losing your phone during the craziness that goes on, but if you’re able to provide the best defence for you phone, then you should take full advantage of that.There are so many tough phone cases to choose from, so ensure you pick one that offers the best shock absorption, waterproof casing and screen security.
  5. Take a torch
    Avoid tripping over guy ropes in the middle of the night and endlessly stumbling around in the dark looking for a loo. By packing a torch you’ll solve all your problems with one essential gadget and you wont be loosing that valuable phone battery with its torch.

So whether you’re heading to the mud-covered fields of Worthy Farm or living it up in a teepee at Shambala this year, make sure you’re armed with some handy gadgets and tech to survive your festival weekend.

Second Screen, the brainchild of Niall Green, is a creative concept to bridge the gap between fans, artists and events – via apps. Second Screen has created numerous apps for the likes of pop sensation, Anastacia; as well as several prominent UK festivals, including The Isle of Wight Festival, East London Fringe Festival, Liverpool Sound City and Fusion Festival.

To find out more information about Second Screen go to www.secondscreenldn.com

Posted in: Editorial
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By July 11, 2017 Read More →

Vodafone Smart V8 Review

P1030864Picking up great value for money seems to be getting more and more common these days. Vodafone has really put together a very nice combination of high-end features combined with quality materials and a cheap price tag. The Vodafone Smart V8 is pretty amazing value for money and worth checking out.

Vodafone, Smart V8, Android, Google, business, qualcomm, snapdragon, 3gb, 435

Looking around the device on the top we have a small microphone hole plus a 3.5 mm headphone jack. There are also two incisions for the antenna array.

Vodafone, Smart V8, Android, Google, business, qualcomm, snapdragon, 3gb, 435

To the right of the screen is the simple volume rocker, changed from the previous Smart Platinum and Smart Ultra design, this is now has a beautifully milled bevelled edge to the rocker as opposed to the textured approach last year.

Vodafone, Smart V8, Android, Google, business, qualcomm, snapdragon, 3gb, 435

At the bottom are two grills for the mono speaker, the one to the right has a speaker behind it. Plus a microUSB connection, again there are two incisions for the antenna array.

Vodafone, Smart V8, Android, Google, business, qualcomm, snapdragon, 3gb, 435

To the left of the screen is the SIM card tray which also doubles as a microSD card reader. Below this is the power button with similarly bevelled edges. It’s worth noting from last year to this year they have relocated the power button to the left-hand side of the device which may take some getting used to, however, it’s hardly a cause for concern.

Vodafone, Smart V8, Android, Google, business, qualcomm, snapdragon, 3gb, 435

To the rear is a slightly pronounced 16-megapixel autofocus camera with a LED flash to it right. The camera is capable of capturing video at 1080p, 30 frames per second and we’ll get the results later on. Below this is a fingerprint reader. Further on down the shiny brushed Steel rear is the Vodafone emblem. To the top and the bottom are pieces of textured plastic again to help with the antenna array.

Vodafone, Smart V8, Android, Google, business, qualcomm, snapdragon, 3gb, 435

The front of the device has a 5.5 inch LTPS IPS LED LCD capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1080 by 1920 working out at a PPI of 401. Whilst there is no Gorilla Glass on here Asahi Dragontrail has been employed instead.

Inside the device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 backed by 3gb of RAM and an Adreno 505 GPU. This octa-core 1.4 gigahertz processor is hardly the speediest on the block however it certainly does manage to make easy work of most day-to-day tasks. Flipping through various social media applications I never noticed any slow down and gaming proved to be quite successful especially with some high end games like Grand Theft Auto.

A 3000mAh battery sits inside, and coupled with the low powered Snapdragon 435 processor is more battery than you would need for a full day of heavy use. Whilst the smart V8 does not manage two full days on one charge it gets very close.

Vodafone have kept the device almost stock save for a few Vodafone-branded applications to assist with calling, messaging or just general assistance on the go there are a few extra applications that have been thrown in that may assist in day-to-day business, for example the private space application that allows you to lock down various portions of the phone or applications to avoid information being compromised if the phone is lost. Interestingly enough, Google cardboard applications are installed as default which we tend not to see terribly often.  

One thing that really surprised me for £150 is the camera. It really is very good, examining some of the photographs taken in broad daylight shows little degrade or pixelation and the colour representation is quite faithful. Even in low-level light the camera and LED flash function very well and proved to be fast and responsive.

The digital zoom works quite well, there isn’t a huge amount of loss in the image once zoomed in.

Vodafone, Smart V8, Android, Google, business, qualcomm, snapdragon, 3gb, 435

There isn’t a tremendous amount of toys built into the camera save for some filters, a Panoramic function and some HDR settings anti-shake have been included, you can adjust the function of the volume keys during picture taking, set up camera quick launch using the volume keys and adding watermarks.

Video footage is passable, not the hottest quality in town, but far from horrible. The footage is uploaded directly to Youtube from the phone and the only compression to the video is that which Youtube applies. The microphone is incredibly sensitive, picking up some heavy breathing from me, distant grumbles from the dogs and managing to filter out a some of the wind noise.

Here is a selection of images from the camera. Colours are well represented and manage a depth we would expect from a higher end phone.

To the front of the device is an 8 megapixel camera that is perfect for selfies and works rather well in low-level light without the assistance of a flash. I expected this to be fairly rubbish however it works out very well and Vodafone has even taken the time to add a few extra features, for example, being able to add smoothing to the skin in the beauty function.

If there was a missed opportunity I was to complain about it would be the fingerprint sensor as, of this time of the review, I was unable to find any way of adding any extra features to the fingerprint sensor other than unlocking the phone as with other phones on the market we have seen some clever additions added to the fingerprint sensor.

Vodafone, Smart V8, Android, Google, business, qualcomm, snapdragon, 3gb, 435

The phone is originally built by ZTE, who have really upped their game in the last five years to become one of the major competitors on the market. Interweaving this with Vodafone’s business minded network put together a pretty lethal combination in a very competitive world and bringing an excellent option for business users everywhere with an exceptionally competitive price. Coupled with Vodafone’s recently upgraded 4G network this will provide terrific communications for a small and growing business.

With the Vodafone Smart V8, it’s hard to believe their flagship is a budget phone. However, it really shows how budget phones are closing the gap and catching up on the overpriced flagships being produced by companies for four or five times the price. Right now I would consider using the smart V8 as my main driver if I was on the Vodafone network as this phone easily handled everything I have thrown at it, and getting me through the day with plenty of juice to spare.

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
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By July 5, 2017 Read More →

Tech Addicts UK Podcast – July 5th 2017 – OnePlus, Honor 9 and Vodafone Smart V8

Slink Podcast Logo 1400 x 1400With Gareth Myles, Gavin Fabiani-Laymond, Jay Garrett and Ricky West

RSS Link: http://mobiletechaddicts.libsyn.com/rss

Direct Download.

iTunes

Stitcher

Tunein

Show Notes

News:

Play Test:

Gareth

Jay

Gavin

Bargain Basement:

Main Show URL: http://www.techaddicts.uk

Email: contact@techaddicts.uk

Twitter: @techaddictsuk ; @garethmyles ; @gavinfabiani  ; @GadgetyNewsCom ; @JayGarrett ; @swanny ; @girlsngadgets ; @wildlime ; @TechTalkUK1

Facebook: Tech Addicts

Web: http://gavinsgadgets.com ; http://GadgetyNews.com ; http://swanny.me/

Google Plus: +Techaddicts; +garethmyles ; +gavinfabiani-laymond; +JayGarrett

 

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By June 27, 2017 Read More →

Vodafone Smart V8 Unboxing

Vodafone Smart V8Vodafone has very kindly sent over the Vodafone Smart V8 following a small private launch in the London last week. A phone aimed squarely at the business arena the Smart V8 features decent specs to get you through the day but more importantly should also appeal to the broader market. The ZTE built phone features an attractive and premium feel with the metal exterior and smooth metallic sidelines.

Specifications:

Operating System – Android OS v7.1.1 (Nougat)
Processor – Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 MSM8940, Octa-core, Quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53, Quad-core 1.1 GHz Cortex-A53
GPU – Adreno 505
Display – IPS, 5.5 inches, 1080 x 1920 px, Multitouch
RAM – 3 GB
Internal storage – 32 GB
External storage – microSD
Front camera – 8 MP
Rear camera – 16 MP, 4608 x 3456 px, autofocus Dual LED flash
GSM –  850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
Mobile network – 2G / 3G / 4G
WLAN – Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth – v4.2, A2DP
GPS – A-GPS, GLONASS
FM radio
USB – microUSB 2.0
Audio – 3.5 mm jack
Battery – Li-Po 3000 mAh, non-removable

 

Posted in: Phones, Videos/Unboxings
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By June 25, 2017 Read More →

Devolo dLan 1200+ WI-Fi AC Powerline Review

dLAN 1200 WiFi ac Starter KitIf like me, you have an older house, you will no doubt know the pain of mixing Wi-Fi and solid walls. Couple that with limited phone access points on the ground floor only and you are really up a creek. Devolo has a handy dandy solution for you with their dLan 1200+ WI-Fi AC. Using your home’s electrical system, these neat little units will provide a Wi-Fi signal in places your standard router just can’t reach.

The devices themselves aren’t exactly small, but they are nicely featureless white boxes with minimal amounts of buttons and lights – perfect – who wants their living room to look like a set from Star Trek (now Star Wars…that’s a different matter!). I particularly liked the fact that they also have a pass through plug socket in them so you aren’t taking up valuable power outlets. Nice touch. The Ethernet ports are on the top of the unit, and this is both a benefit and a drawback. Given the size of the units, if you have one plugged into a low power outlet and the ports are on the bottom, you may be pushed for space getting the cables plugged in with enough clearance. Having the ports on the top not only gives any amount of clearance, it also allows for easier access. On the downside, there is an aesthetic penalty involved with having the ports much more visible and being on the top, they can now become little dust catchers. A simple removable cap/cover would provide an obvious solution. I used a little white electrical tape and it looks fine.

Setup appears simple thanks to some rather basic Ikea style instructions provided by Devolo. It has lots of big pictures, so even the technically inept like myself should be able to have it up and running quickly and easily. There are two setup options, one for providing a Wi-Fi signal for a standard router, and another to clone the signal from an existing wireless network. In my case, it was the latter. Plug in the main unit and connect it to the router with the provided Ethernet cable, wait for a few seconds for the light to appear. Plug in the additional unit(s) nearby, press the home buttons, hit the WPS button on your router and Badda Bing, you are up and running about a minute later. Once all the lights have turned white, you can unplug the adapters, position them anywhere in your house and they will provide you with gloriously speedy Wi-Fi (rated to speeds of up to 1,200Mbit/s). It is as simple as that.

Or at least it should be. I will hold my hands up and admit that I am most definitely a key person when it comes to these things and maybe it was just me, but when I initially set up the adaptors to clone my Wi-Fi and went in the settings on my phone, I found that the activated adaptors showed up as new separate networks on my list. It was easy to simply log on to each one and enter the password that is printed on the back of each device, but that would mean manually changing from one network to the other depending on where I was in the house. The adaptors are capable of replicating the SSID and password for your existing network so I tried again. The downside with the picture orientated instructions is that whilst simple is good, there is such a thing as too simple. I followed the instructions carefully again and got largely the same result, but this time one adaptor showed up as a separate network and the other was replicating my original. Eureka! What the instructions don’t make very clear is that if you are adding multiple adaptors, you need to activate them individually, one at a time. Trying to do them together does not work. Problem solved. Once you have everything in place, you can basically just leave it all alone and there is no need to ever go near them again. That’s the kind of tech I like!

One little hiccup I noticed was that when setting up the Devolo, it did knock some off my devices off the network. My iPhone, for example, would no longer auto-connect to it, nor would my sky box or Xbox, whereas my computers, iPad etc were all fine. Simply resetting the network connection on the affected devices and logging back in solved the problem though and it has not reoccurred. Now I have a single Wi-Fi network that operates in every corner of my house and out into the garden too. My phone automatically locks on to the strongest signal available completely seamlessly. You can even tinker with the network from your phone or tablet by using the Devolo Cockpit app if you feel so inclined.

Splendid, I can now watch Netflix in the bath and play Contest of Champions in my back garden – life is good.

Of course, all this convenience comes at a price and quite a hefty one at that. The master unit comes in a pack with one adaptor for £159.99, although shopping around, I managed to find it for £139.99. Each additional unit will cost around £109.99, so it’s not exactly cheap, but it does work very well. I actually really like these units. They are quick and easy to set up (even if you have to redo it), unobtrusive and they just work. You can’t ask much more than that.

So if you have dead zones around your house and have a few quid to spare, the Devolo dLan 1200+ WI-Fi AC Powerline kit is just the ticket.

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By June 18, 2017 Read More →

F-Secure Sense Unboxing. The best home security for IoT?

F-Secure Sense UnboxingF-secure have sent over the Sense, new security device designed to sit between your router and connectable devices and give the user peace of mind with a high-level security banner to foil hackers and malware. Smartphones, Tablets, Televisions, Baby monitors all could potentially have a backdoor allowing hackers to steal private information. SENSE it will act as a guardian protecting your home from any potential threats.

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

For more information, check out the article by Peter who attended F-Secure’s Sence launch.

Click here for F-Secure’s Sense website.

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