Tag: Featured

By April 29, 2017 Read More →

Google Home Review

P1030686Google reinvented the wheel when it came to the Chromecast. A small, inexpensive piece of hardware that changed the way we used our television. Can they do it again with a speaker that hopes to change the way we deal with life? Thanks to out friends over at Maplin who can provide you with a Google Home of your own.

Google have taken a speaker, put their Google Assistant software inside and styled it up to be distinct and attractive in almost every home. From a design point of view, things are impressively well balanced.

Home was originally released in the United States 6 months before the UK launch on the 6th of April and must have sold well enough for Google not to kill it in the early stages, much like the Nexus Q. The reason for the delay is an obvious one, the differing services for geographic locations. Alongside adapted the voice recognition software of the assistant to allow the huge variety of vocal tones in the United Kingdom work.

This £129 system really has to impress if it is to be taken seriously as there is some tough competition from Amazon managed to beat Google to the market with the Echo and Dot hardware. Much fuss has been made of these and the ease of triggering the assistant and even some false orders.

Looking around the device, on the sloped top is a touch sensitive panel with a couple of microphone holes. The centre has a rotational dial with different colourings depending on the function being used.

To be back of the Google Home is a mute button, a small LED and the Google Logo.

Below this is the speaker cover, this is a material finish, and is available in various colours. The fabric adds a little more of a homely feel to the unit.

On the bottom is a rubber ring to prevent the unit sliding and the power connector.

The closed comparison of Google’s design is something like an air-freshener. Some might scoff that the top is plastic and unable to change colour, and they might be right. For £129.99 it feels like there could have been perspex with an LED to create a little ambience. Perhaps, this is a look we might see in the future and the device is refined over time.

The two microphones on the top of the unit appear to be the only microphones on the device. When asked, Google Home cryptically replies there is “at least one.” Whilst the Amazon Echo features 7 microphones Google equipped the home with only two. Google Home has never failed to hear me.

Google home 802.11ac Wi-Fi and some Bluetooth capability, however, the Bluetooth has not yet been activated.

Interacting with Google Home couldn’t be easier, you talk, it listens. Once connected to Wi-Fi, sorry no ethernet here, the experience is entirely audio based. Save for a little touch action on the top for volume control. Popping out simple commands receives an appropriate response and if you are unsure what to do, you simply ask that too.

As Google is connected to, arguably, the largest online resource of search requests you might think there is little it can;t answer. Unfortunately, there is. Questions and requests cannot be too complicated, the Assistant will respond with a standard statement that things are being worked on and she cannot do. When I say she, the Assistant admits she cannot talk like a “bloke” at the moment.

Much has been made of the ability to continue a line of questioning on a particular topic, for example, “Who is the President of the United States of America?” the Answer with a little extra information if give. Following this with “How old is he?” meets with silence. I had been under the impression this flow of questioning was a thing, however, it would seem not, for the time being at any rate.

To wake the device with “Okay Google” or “Hey, Google”. Two phrases worked deep into the bowels of the system, and the user is unable to change, so if your dog is called “Blokey Doodle”, chances are Google Home is going to wake up and you are going to give your Dog a more sensible name. Thankfully the trigger words are harder to accidently use that Alexia from Amazon that seems to be leading to light pericombobulations amongst users, but it can cause other friends and family’s phones to jump into action.

Once Google Home’s personality has been summoned, four coloured dots dance on the top of the unit as it listens to you and formulates a reply. Google Home consults Google’s Knowledge Graph and uses a superb vocabulary to generate a reply. If there is a fairly concrete record online Google is able to answer most factually orientated questions and states it’s source as backup, for example, “according to Wikipedia.” Complex questions can stump the little piece of plastic, however, whilst is tries and you can’t help but feel sorry of Google Home the first couple of times you stump it.

However, understanding your knowledge needs is not Google Home’s only trick. You can connect to Spotify, remember particular numbers or phrases, set alarms and timers, and give you a basic crash course in languages. Home plugs itself into Maps and gets to know what is around you, being able to offer tips on where to find local services.

At this the time of writing, Google Home has seen a couple of firmware revisions, however, nothing major. My experience was based on feature available at launch. The main app to interact with Google Home is the newly redressed Chromecast app, now titled Google Home. This really only serves as an aid for setup, inspiration and troubleshooting. There is very little you can actually do from here.

The settings are where most of the action is. You can configure the News source from a limited range of choices, step a Shopping List as a default when you realise you are out of Milk and some other rather standard settings.

After this, the app serves to help you get the most out of Home. recommending services on Google Play and audio prompts it for the handiest features. There is no definitive list and search the web will find many more interactions not listed here.

Google Home manages to be both things, an assistant and a toy. Only time will tell if it will stick like the Chromecast, or will it fade away into obscurity. With the Google Assistant being ready for action on your phone it will make the draw of Google Home ever more difficult, however, it’s something that at least needs to be tried to see if it actually fits.

Over the last fortnight, I have been considering adding two more units to you home as the Home has become an invaluable asset to my daily routine. From reading me the headlines and weather outlook in the morning to reminding me of appointments to reminding me how to spell pericombobulations for this review. Despite Home sitting beside some computer speakers, I find myself throwing the oddly podcast over it as the sound quality is perfectly acceptable for voice. And I admit that I have played the inbuilt trivia game more than one.

However, will it last? Once you have tired of trying to catch it out and finding Easter Eggs there is life in the platform. I can think of a number of little additions that will prove invaluable to be down the road. Google Home is continually evolving and I love the idea that this will be here beside me. Certainly my phone can do it, however, the trigger has to be turned on and this doesn’t help battery life.

Google Home might occupy a small amount of space, however, it offers some big opportunities. Many thanks to Maplin for providing a unit for this review, check out their listing if we have sold you on Google Home

 

By April 25, 2017 Read More →

Speedlink QUINOX Pro USB Gamepad Review

P1030630For years gamepads for PCs were not a thing, now it seems, they have caught up with and even overtake the complex stylings of the console competition. Some prefer them, so, therefore, there is a market. Microsoft and Playstation are forever bettering their input methods from generation to generation and sometimes in between, however with the PC gamers can open a whole next level of customisation and Speedlink knew this, delivering the Quinox Pro. This is a comfortable gamepad, with reconfiguration to the hilt and a price that doesn’t upset.

Looking around the device the front sees most of the action. A D-pad with independent buttons might be one of the more controversial design elements. The non-replaceable thumb sticks are identical and possess a decent amount of travel. Four large action buttons sit to the right with illumination. A Back and Start button sit in the centre with a large Xbox style guide button. A small OLED screen is positioned in the centre bottom region.

On the back, there are 4 accessible paddles and two slider switches, one for switching vibration on and off, the other switches from Xinput to Directinput, cunningly titled X and D. Crucially, the Quinox supports both Directinput, for mouse input signals and Xinput, mimicking the Xbox configuration.

On the bottom are two controller dials which, when pressed or flicked left and right, navigate a menu on the OLED screen.

These dials are separated into left and right and adhere to the left of right thumbstick for the most part. flicking dial brings up the. The left dial configures and selects the Marco modes, remapping buttons to the bumper buttons and paddles on the top and back. Flicking the right dial and using the D-pad turn the LEDs on and off. Time is required to get the most out of these buttons. Initially, they are quite confusing however, the benefits are obvious once you successfully bind a button to a complicated button combination.

The top sees two analogue triggers and two bumper buttons. In addition, there are two programmable buttons. These require quite a bit of extra travel and should not be relied on for frequent usage.

The Quinox connects by a 2.4m braided microUSB to USB cable that is detachable from the controller. This is a good length to please most folks, of course from some I won’t be long enough however it is replaceable with a longer MicroUSB cable. One warning is, do not pull this out unless you have to, plugging the cable back into the controller is not easy and quite frustrating. The braided cable is good quality, tough yet soft to the touch.

In the hand, the Quinox Pro is a comfortable gamepad. Very similar in feel to the Xbox One controller if a little thinner. The rear paddles might be a little uncomfortable for the larger hands however they might just take some getting used to. Gaming feels quite natural however as an old school gamer I found it a little daunting to have so many buttons, something the youth or seasoned gamer might not experience.

The build quality is perfectly acceptable with strong plastic and durable buttons that feel they last a long time and take quite a pounding.There are no details or design flourishes to speak of and this is quite refreshing where an over saturated market has some great controllers with nonsense etched into the body. Speedlink have things, simple and black but not without and an eye-catching dash of red.

Some folks will use a Gamepad for every game, personally I am not a fan of gamepads in general, however, I do concede they have their merit when pairing with the right game. Project Car has some easy benefit from the analogue sticks, platforming games perform well and the controller wipes the floor with any keyboard and mouse combo. However, it cannot measure up to a first person shoot or strategy game that demand keyboard and mouse.

The Speedlink Quinox Pro USB has everything you would want from a gamepad. There is little to fault and a price tag that makes it worth considering.

For more information, check out the Speedlink site here.

Posted in: Accessories, gaming, Reviews
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By April 21, 2017 Read More →

Google Home Unboxing

Image28It might have been released stateside 6 months ago, Google Home has now been released in the UK with some optimisation for the UK consumer. This is a hands-free smart speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your assistant, triggered by saying, “Ok Google”.

Here we take a look at the basic setup and first operation before a full review.

Thanks to Maplin for sending over a review sample. You can pick one up from here.

By April 17, 2017 Read More →

A Look At Google Home in the UK

Image28It might have been released stateside 6 months ago, Google Home has now bee released in the UK with some optimisation for the UK consumer. This is a hands-free smart speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your assistant, triggered by saying, “Ok Google”.

Here we take a look at the basic setup and first operation before a full review.

Thanks to Maplin for sending over a review sample. You can pick one up from here.

By April 16, 2017 Read More →

Speedlink Ultor Review

P1030602Speedlink have sent over their latest Ultor Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and a keyboard that can be considered as a portable offering. Featuring Red switches the Ultro loses the numerical pad leaving the keyboard much shorter than other on the market and a lower price tag than some of the competitors.

This mechanical keyboard has an impressive metallic red chassis buried under its keys. There are only small portions of the chassis peeking out in various places as Speedlink have cut down on any excess to make a keyboard truly too the point. The Chassis might have a plastic underside however that makes sense as it is rarely visible.

The keys on the Ultor feature Red switches, also known as Kailh switches. Kailh switches may be a copy of Cherry MX (Red) however they have a good reputation in the gaming community and are not a cheap alternative or second best. that are almost indistinguishable from their Cherry MX (Red) counterparts.

Some may take issue with the lack of additional keys, volume control and no USB or audio ports. There is a multitude of gaming keyboards on the market and it’s refreshing to have a mechanical keyboard in its purest form. There will be a market out there.

Underneath, the keyboard features three rubber feet that keep the keyboard in one place when in use and two rear legs can be raised or lower depending on the angle required. These 10mm legs can be locked into position and only feature one locking position. The are not adjustable.

Connecting the keyboard to the computer is a hard wearing braided cable. Oddly this connects off centre on the keyboard, however, I can’t imagine too many people finding fault with this, perhaps it was in the centre before a D’Pad was chopped off. The cable is 1.7m long and that feels generous.

When activated the keys glow blue and leak light stylishly onto the red chassis and things look pretty good. Some might scoff that the keys should glow red to match the keyboard, however, the blue allows for a much clear visual especially when tapping away, late at night, much like I am doing now. The buttons are bright and eye catching and I am personally a fan of the blue on red. A nice mix from Speedlink. The WASD and cursor buttons glow white to differentiate themselves and it’s a nice touch. However, there is no option for the user to colour coordinate and this might both some. The default is good, but customisation is always better.

 

Losing keys does not mean losing functions, additional functionality comes from the Fn button found to the right of the Space Bar. This alters the functionality of all of the F keys along the top of the keyboard alongside the Print Screen and Scrl Lock keys.

F1 through to F4 adjusts the USB polling Rate.

F5 through to F8 are media controls

F9 pulls up your media player and F10 through to F12 are volume controls

The Print Screen key turns the Ultor into Gaming mode, activating the Macro keys. Scrl Lock key adjusts of Brightness in a cycling mode and a Breathing Effect thrown in for fun. There are 11 different brightness levels (10% increments including off.) Under these buttons is a total of Six Macros keys described as M1 to M6 are configurable through the Speedlink software.

In use I found the keys to be responsive and comfortable. The odd time I had to remind myself that this is a mechanical keyboard and it responds to the tiniest pressure and resting a finger on the button can accidentally register a hit.

For typing, the keys don’t feel too crammed together, however, there isn’t much space between each for someone with large fingers like myself. If you think you might have encroached on a neighbouring key then you likely have as the keys are that sensitive. The Return button does have an odd quirk. Tapping the bottom right corner can cause a crunch, it will still register the stroke however it just feels a little unnatural.

The Speedlink software is not lacking in any features however it doesn’t really go above and beyond either. We have three tabs, Main keys, Macros and Advanced. Along the bottom are five profile tabs, when selected each of these profiles will be configurable by the three tabs above.

Under the Main Keys tab, you can remap keys for each profile and remapping is as simple as clicking on the key and reassigning the function in a pop-up menu. This is for key remapping only, not button combinations.

The Macro tab is where you can reassign any of the six Macro keys. The Macro keys allow for simple keyboard commands or more complex commands such as Windows functions and key combination.

The Advanced tab allows you to adjust various other settings on the keyboard such as USB Polling Rate, Windows Key Setting Key, Response Time and Light Intensity. Not entirely sure why these are summarised as Advanced and adjusting something like the brightness here adds an awkward delay in the outcome on the keyboard. You are better off using the Fn key.

If I was to gripe about one thing, it would be the tray icon, it’s the same as other peripherals from Speedlink, if you own a Speedlink mouse you will have to guess or hover over to assess which tray icon you need to open to adjust any settings.

Overall, I like the Speedlink Ultro very much and it has become my main keyboard, at least for the time being. The compact design saves space and the red, metal chassis is a subtle eye-catcher. With the price tag of around £80, the Ultro is great value and a superb example of a gaming keyboard on a budget. This much quality at such a low price is hard to find.

You can pick one up from Amazon here.

Posted in: Accessories, gaming, Reviews
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By April 10, 2017 Read More →

Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless Unboxing

Image20Sennheiser has sent over their good looking Momentum In-Ear Bluetooth headphones for evaluation.

The new MOMENTUM In-Ear Wireless combines sleek design, immaculate sound performance and take-anywhere mobility. This premium neckband headset made of luxurious, high-quality materials, offers exceptional hi-fi wireless sound assured by Bluetooth 4.1 and Qualcomm® apt-X™. With NFC for simple one-touch pairing, an integrated microphone, and a ten-hour battery life, it is the perfect companion to mobile devices.

  • Extreme sound precision and the typical momentum sound
  • Ergonomic and durable, lightweight and sits on the neck; Design for all-day listening
  • Wireless Bluetooth 4.1 – technology
  • NFC connection by pressing a button – ready for immediate pairing with smart devices
  • 10 hours of battery life with faster USB charge in 1.5 hours

You can grab them off Amazon for £169.99 here.

By April 5, 2017 Read More →

Thinkware F770 Dashboard Camera Review UPDATED

thinkware-f770-9Thinkware are pushing the boundaries of what dashcams can do and cost. The F770 is one of their more attractive offerings and a newer the F800 is about to arrive on our shores.

The F770’s mount sticks onto your windscreen directly and I’m sure a number of users will be instantly put off the device. No suction cup has been included, only a piece of 3m tape. The mount is a simple piece of plastic with a few clips that click into the main camera’s body.

Thinkware were kind enough to clear up this issue with the following statement:

It is common sense to avoid obstructing the field of view of the driver, so the recommended location for a dash cam is behind the rear view mirror and as you can see from the below picture the THINKWARE F770 is totally hidden behind the rear view mirror from the driver’s perspective and looks like part of the original equipment. If a suction mount was used this would not be the case.

More importantly the decision was made due to legal considerations. If you use a suction mounted car camera in the UK, if the device (camera and / or cradle and / or suction cup) intrudes more than 4cm into the secondary (pink) wiper clearance zone, or intrudes more than 1cm into the primary (red) wiper clearance zone of the windscreen, you are committing a serious traffic offence (dangerous driving) under the UK Road Traffic Act 1988, and your vehicle is not roadworthy (it would fail an MOT).The company selling a windscreen suction mounted car camera has a legal duty to ensure a) that the camera can actually be attached to a section of the windscreen of the vehicle which does not result in an unlawful intrusion of the primary (red) and / or secondary (pink) wiper clearance zone, b) that the screen does not remain on or visible to the driver and c) that the user is aware of the law. If the company sells a suction mounted car camera without doing this, they have committed a crime.

 

Looking at the device, on the “front” you have the camera lens, this rotates through (around) 87° to allow for coverage depending on the angle of your windscreen.

On one side there is only a little groove for heat dissipation and the reset button.

The other side has a hatch for access to the power socket and the microUSB port. There is also a groove for a penny or tough thumbnail to turn the camera lens.

On top, there are more vents for heats and cooling. Two LEDs, WiFi and GPS. Dedicated buttons for Manual Record start/stop, turning off and on the microphone, WiFi on/off, formatting the SD card and the power button. The device turns on when the car is started so this power button is purely for exceptions to that rule.

Along the back is the slot for the MicroSD card, some more vents and the hole for the cables for the side hatch.

Recording at Full HD 1080p at 30 frames per second. The F770 records at 9.5Mbps bitrate with a mono 48kHz audio track at 728Kbps. Footage is captured to expandable storage and the F770 takes a microSD card and there should be a 16GB card included. A 16GB MicroSD card will store up to 200 minutes of footage. As with most dashboard cameras the recording loops and overwrites the oldest files provided they have not been tagged as an incident. In this case, the footage is moved to a separate folder for safe keeping. The OS on the camera as a few settings to change the storage capacities for kept footage.

To connect your camera to your phone the F770 has Wi-Fi access built in. Using Thinkware’s app a simple ad-hoc connection it made and the two devices shake hands. Connecting to the camera with your phone allows the user to stream the footage live to the phone, personalise the settings, and align the camera so image captures as much as possible.

Other settings include the sensitivity of the G-sensor, configuring the Parking recording, silencing warning for lane departure and speed zones.

The app includes an explorer function to allow the user to stream or copy video footage to their smartphone. This was something of a laborious task and it was a lot quick to remove the SD card, plug it into a computer or phone and copy the files directly

Remarkably this is a handy feature that turns off the device input voltage drops to avoid draining the battery in standby mode.

A special Dual save function is also included whereby built-in memory is used for incident recordings, in the even the removable memory is damaged you will still have the files. A good backup consideration.

Footage shot on the Thinkware Camera is good, a fine example of how paying extra give the user a big step up in quality. Night video is also acceptable with no blobs of light or underexposure. Crucially there are no lost frames either. The 30fps is consistent.  Footage can be seen in the Unboxing video above.

GPS has been built in and location data is added to the footage. This can be viewed using desktop software.

It all sounds great, what the catch? The warnings are a pain, the camera will shout as you if you slip over the speed limit, and one occasion the camera’s speed limit database is incorrect. A bong will sound when changing lanes and whilst this is great for a tired driver who might drift, it can be irritating when on a long motorway drive.

One gripe I have with this and most other cameras is the power cable, at the one end is the connector for the 12v socket however as in some cars there might only be on 12v socket the dashcam will monopolise it. I have a phone charger and Bluetooth hands-free kit that sit in a three port USB converter with my current dashboard camera, however, the Thinkware has upset this happy arrangement.

It’s pricey and gets pricier if you want a rear camera as well. For the money, I would have expected a better mount, rather than have a lump of plastic permanently attached to the windscreen, it’s a relatively small footprint, but makes this difficult when you sell a car or want to switch the camera to a second car.

The Thinkware F770 has a few shortcomings however it’s indiscreet and produces the goods. It’s up there with the best of them and if you are purchasing then you better be sure this is the one for you.

The Thinkware F770 is for sale on Amazon.co.uk for £199

Posted in: Cameras, GPS/Sat Nav, Reviews
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By March 31, 2017 Read More →

A Look At The Mio MiVue 65 LM GPS Dashcam

vlcsnap-00045When it comes to dashboards there is precious little space to add extra that might not have been included in your cars loadout. It would then make sense to add anything that was missing and keep the footprint as small as possible. A dedicated GPS is handy for most, however, the rise of the dashcam is a sensible and useful addition to all driver’s in-car tech. Combining them together is also a great saving when it comes to space. The Mio MiVue is another option that takes both and rams them together with a 6.2” Transmissive LCD with touch panel to enjoy it all on. The screen sits at 800 x 480 pixels however the video recorded manages to both 1080p at 30fps and 1296p at 30fps. Interestingly the system is built around Windows CE 6.0.

  • Car navigation with integrated Extreme HD (1296p) dash cam
  • Superior recording – glass lens, F1.8 aperture and 140° wide angle view
  • Lifetime Map Updates & Lifetime Safety Camera Updates
  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems –  FCWS & LDWS
  • Built-in TMC (traffic information) & Bluetooth®

Check out the Mio MiMvue 65 on their official website.

Stay tuned for the full review in the coming weeks.

By March 23, 2017 Read More →

Adding in replacement units to the devolo Home Control

Image13This is the second follow-up to our previous unboxings of various Home Control devices. devolo have sent some replacement units to those I have having trouble in the second video.

The Keyfob and Wall Switch have been replaced and we can now test the replacements and … get the lamp to switch on… for science.

By March 15, 2017 Read More →

Tech Addicts UK Podcast – 15th Mar 2017 – Whats round the corner from Apple, Samsung and HTC?Podcast

With Gareth Myles, Gavin Fabiani-Laymond and Leila Gregory

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

Direct Download.

iTunes

Stitcher

Tunein


Show Notes

Listener Feedback:

Three have sent me a text to say I have 4G Supervoice. I don’t notice any improvement to the calls. Or am I using it incorrectly?

Michael

News:

  • HTC 11
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
  • New iPad

Play Test:

Gavin

Gareth

Leila

Bargain Basement:

 

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

Email: [email protected]

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

Facebook: Tech Addicts

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

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

 

Posted in: Podcast
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