Showing posts from 2017

Review: Dowellin 4-axis Aerocraft (Mini RC Drone - Yunshangauto)

Something of a cumbersome title then, but electronics often have multiple names these days - usually an OEM title (and that's on the manual) and a branded title and vendor name (that's on the Amazon listing)!

In this case, it's on Amazon UK at £19.99 and is.... just about the most fun I've ever had with this pocket money amount. Really.

I got intrigued by drones when seeing the super smooth video footage online. And then I realised that the drones which shoot 1000ft high 4K footage are the best part of a thousand pounds. And need space. And serious skill to fly. Next, I was sent the Drocon Blue Bugs 3 to review - and it was very impressive for £100 or so, but I underestimated the skill required to manage it and - on a gusty day when I perhaps shouldn't have been flying - lost control of it over a forested area and that was that.

Lesson learned. I was also painfully aware of how large and relatively fragile the BB3 was - the slightest crash and the props got scarred…

Tech-fail and clueless DECmove!

Inspired by The Register's On Call series (e.g. here), here's a classic #fail from my tech past.

I was the system manager of a MicroVAX set-up back in the early 1990s, about a dozen users. The MicroVAX was a waist high mini-mainframe, about a metre square by 40cm wide, from memory. Not huge, but larger than the biggest desktop systems of even today. Here's roughly what it looked like:

The management had arranged to move the company (Simmonds Precision) to a larger office (from Swallowfield to Wokingham, if you're interested) and, because we had a service contract with DEC for the MicroVAX, the company wanted to pay 'DECmove' lots of money to make sure all our DEC equipment made it the 10 miles safely.

So, on the way, guys in overalls arrived and proceeded to start with the peripherals. Mice? Keyboards? Monitors? Even cables? All wrapped in bubble-wrap. I was very impressed. Wow, these guys know what they're doing!

As they got closer to the MicroVAX itself I…

Galaxy Note 8 cases: four of the best

So, the Galaxy Note 8 is here, the most powerful and flexible phone on the planet - it can do everything - see my full review here. But with glass front and back, it definitely needs some protection in daily life. So I got in a selection of case designs from the friendly folk at MobileFun...
Olixar Ultra-Thin (£8)
By far the least substantial case here, the idea is to put the absolute minimum amount of material around the Note 8, so as not to increase its dimensions, but significantly improving your grip in the hand.

And 'grip' is the operative word, rather than protection. This Olixar design won't help the phone much if dropped onto concrete, it's just too insubstantial, but in theory the clammy plastic should mean that you won't drop your Note 8 in the first place.

A little expensive at £8, but this does fit snugly and the Note 8 feels a lot better for it.

Spigen Ultra Hybrid (£25)
Very expensive for what this is - a moulded TPU design, it's also my pick of the…

Review: a couple of my favourite Apple iPhone 7 Plus/8 Plus cases

Reviewing the Apple iPhone 8 Plus for a week or so hasn't been without its trepidations. Not least that the phone is both very expensive and very droppable. Cases and iPhones seem to go together like strawberries and cream!

Happily, I found two terrific solutions. Both claim to be for the iPhone 7 Plus, but they fit the 8 Plus perfectly too.

Olixar Brown Leather-style Wallet (£8 - on offer!) If you're going to have a case for your iPhone, why not go all out and make it fully protective and fully functional? This 'leather style' case feels far better than it has any right to at £8 and is amazing value.

The iPhone sits in a tight fitting neoprene lined sheath and then the faux-leather wraps around as shown above and below. There's the inevitable in crease in cased thickness:

...but the big gains are protection from the front (i.e. to the screen) and when watching media. This latter is very interesting, given the iPhone 8 Plus's enhanced speaker set-up - they'r…

High Wycombe pub meet, Monday!

Just a reminder about the Phones Show Chat pub meet at The Squirrel, High Wycombe HP12 4RZ, from 8-10pm on Sept 25th 2017. All welcome. Star guest is Ian Maxfield or Imaxrepairs fame, though he WON’T be repairing phones over the pub table, live. Shame! 8-)

Near the M40 junction, so a doddle for anyone driving IMHO. Plenty of parking. Quiet venue etc.

No idea what to expect, I've had as few as one person turn up to as many as a dozen!

Review: DROCON Monster Blue Bugs 3 and DBPOWER EX5000 action camera

The links first, as availability can get somewhat complicated, depending on where you are in the world. Here's the DROCON drone, on Amazon UK and on Amazon USA. and here's the DBPOWER action camera, also on Amazon UK and again on Amazon USA.

[And I also have some discount codes, which should save you 20% or so on each. No guarantees, but try ZE79A4G6 for the drone on Amazon UK, 3UE8L7BJ on Amazon USA. And for the action camera, try NO3S8T8W on Amazon UK and V5RFI43U on Amazon USA.]
These were sent to me for evaluation, I should mention. Total value £150, so not cheap, and there are quite a few caveats below. But I also want to emphasise that this is the very start of the 'drone' marketplace, even so. The really capable drones (auto-tracking, auto-homing) are of the order of five times more expensive. Yet we all have to start somewhere and, having gone through numerous remote control aircraft in the past, I know only too well that a lot of crashing and (sometimes) destr…

Review: ROMOSS UPower 2-in-1 10000mAh charger

It's not often that you see a different 'take' on the traditional USB power bank - and I really wanted ROMOSS's latest gadget to be an ultimate accessory. Yet it falls short, as much conceptually as in practice.

The ROMOSS UPower 2-in-1 is essentially a 10000mAh twin-USB output power bank, but instead of an input socket you charge up the power bank itself by plugging it directly into the mains. Simple, eh? One gadget with no wires of its own that can be charged from the wall?

The UPower 2-in-1 is beautifully packaged and robustly made in glossy ridged plastic - the look and feel is a 'love it or hate it' design, but I never really got the luxury of making my mind up about this because of the two major downsides that I identified.

Firstly, the idea of building in mains input is to reduce bulk, i.e. not having to carry a mains adapter and cable with you. However, while this works for USA residents, since the folding mains pins are flush with the body, anyone from…

Review: AUKEY 10000mAh plus torch - the perfect festival power solution?

Admittedly this post comes too late for most of the 2017 'festival' scene, but it's timely to get yourself prepared for next year. Or perhaps for winter trips out (in the Northern Hemisphere)?

The problem I keep facing is that family members head out into the great outdoors/parks/festivals and, on their way out, often say that they're worried that their phone is going to run out of power.

Which is in an issue for them and also for me as it's me that has to liase with them at midnight, trying to pick them up from goodness knows where with each 30 second call preceded by "My battery's on 1% and it won't last much longer!"

Now, I've a selection of power banks in my cupboards, as a result of various reviews, from the tiny to the enormous. But the former have only enough charge to sort out one phone, while the latter are just too large and heavy to expect a family member to lug them around all day.

Isn't one 'charge' enough? Well yes, b…

Review: AUKEY 1080p webcam

It's fair to say that, while most AUKEY products sent over for review blow my socks off (e.g. the SK-S1 speaker and the Halo charger, not to mention the Solar Light), some of their gear impresses me a lot less.

And I have to say that the 'AUKEY 1080p webcam' falls into this camp. It's not a bad webcam - it just doesn't stand out for anything other than the ability to capture with stereo audio.

Now, 1080p is quite high resolution as webcams go, so I shouldn't be too hard on it. And in decent light the quality is indeed top notch. But the marketing talks specifically about 'Good performance even in more dimly lit rooms' and this isn't really borne out.

For example, here's a grab from the webcam in my study in the evening, light levels aren't particularly low, though the main light is from a 60W bulb, plus my face is lit by my Mac:

Looks OK, doesn't it? And it's fine for everyday Skype chat, but just don't expect absolute top qualit…