Tag: Featured

By December 15, 2015 Read More →

Asus Zenpad 8.0 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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By December 8, 2015 Read More →

Syma X5sc Explorers 2 Unboxing

vlcsnap-error161SYMA X5SC QUADCOPTER HD CAMERA is currently selling over at Red5.com. This modestly priced Quadcopter an updated, upgraded, bigger and better version of the popular Syma X5C Quadcopter with an HD Cam. This improved version still has all the same capabilities as the X5C, but with a few changes to get more out of its feature set. The rotor guards have been increased in size to further protect them from damage and the landing skids have been raised to give you the best possible viewing angle.

The Syma X5SC is a 2.4GHz Quadcopter with a built in HD 720p camera allowing you to film all of your flights, as well as taking some still images along the way.

This quad comes with a 6 axis gyroscope and 4 channel flight making it ideal for newbies who are just starting out on 4 channel flyers, as well as the pros who want to do some sweet tricks.

With a range of approximately 50 metres, boasting incredible stability, and indoor and outdoor usage, the Syma X5SC Quadcopter With HD Camera is worth checking out.

You can pick one up for only £58.95 here.

Check out the full review over at TracyandMatt.co.uk in the next week…

By December 7, 2015 Read More →

Whats new on Netflix 30th Nov – 6th Dec?

TWoNFLets take a look at whats new on Netflix 30th November to the 6th December 2015

By December 7, 2015 Read More →

Whats new on Amazon Prime 30th Nov – 6th Dec?

TWoAP 4x5Lets take a look at whats new on Amazon Prime 30th November to the 6th December 2015

 

By December 1, 2015 Read More →

Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 WiFi VDSL/ADSL Modem Router Unboxing

Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 WiFi VDSL/ADSL Modem RouterNetgear have sent over a Nighthawk AC1900 Modem router for testing and this thing looks the biz. Over a series of articles on Tracy And Matt we will be taking a look at the router and the functions of it as there is far to many to feature in an unboxing video.

Here have a look as the packaging and contents alongside how to put the good looking communication device together.

Posted in: News, Videos/Unboxings
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By November 29, 2015 Read More →

What’s new on Netflix and Amazon Prime for the week the 23rd – 29th November

TWoNFLets take a look and see what’s new on Netflix and Amazon Prime for the week the 23rd 29th November.

 

 

By November 27, 2015 Read More →

Garmin NuviCam LMT-D review

Garmin nüviCam £309.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

By November 23, 2015 Read More →

What’s new on Netflix 9th – 22nd November

TWoNFLet’s take a look and see whats new on Netflix for the fortnight 9th – 22nd November

By November 23, 2015 Read More →

What’s New On Amazon Prime 9th – 22nd November

 TWoAP 4x5Let’s take a look and see whats new on Amazon Prime for the fortnight 9th – 22nd November

 

 

By November 20, 2015 Read More →

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

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

Product Specifications

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cyanogen OS

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
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