Gadget Man – Episode 115 – To Binge or Not to Binge? The Rise and Rise of Streaming TV

With the incredible rise in popularity of on-demand streaming services from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, NowTV, Rakatun and more, there is now no better time to watch our favourite movies and TV programmes.

We can now consume our TV using a variety of devices - Image Credit: Netflix
We can now consume our TV using a variety of devices – Image Credit: Netflix

We are not just simply watching TV, we are ‘consuming’ it! This fascination and above all, choice of programming has led millions of people to ‘binge’ on entire TV series over short periods. Evenings can now be spent watching multiple episodes of a series, with seemingly limitless content being served up automatically at the end of each episode, with entirely new content provided at the end of series.

The BBC have not ignored this either, they too are releasing entire series on their platform iPlayer whilst broadcasting the series in the standard week on week format on traditional television.

Now we are all comfortable with the digital switch-over, the set-top boxes can now begin serving up content over the internet without us even realising this is happening, the broadcasters have found their pot of gold.

Stranger Things has been a massive success for Netflix - Image Credit: Netflix
Stranger Things has been a massive success for Netflix – Image Credit: Netflix

Personally, I am a massive Breaking Bad fan, now enjoying it’s spin-off prequel Better Call Saul, both available on Netflix, but switching to Amazon Prime for The Grand Tour and watching movies on Google Play, all available using low-cost devices from Amazon, Roku, Apple and many more!

Apple also have been investing heavily in the streaming marketplace - Image credit: Apple Inc
Apple has also been investing heavily in the streaming marketplace with their Apple TV  – Image credit: Apple Inc

We have now turned a corner, once this technology was the go-to place for our kids, now we have embraced it, there is no going back. Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Google and Sky are now the streaming big hitters with astronomically large budgets, high-quality content and the power to break the traditional status quo enjoyed in the UK by the BBC and ITV.

Now WE decide what we watch.

Listen to my interview with Mark Murphy from BBC Radio Suffolk, where I talk enthusiastically about my personal experience of binge-watching streaming TV.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

If you have enjoyed reading and listening to this episode, please remember to Like, Subscribe and Share!

Gadget Man – Episode 114 – Too Much Smartphone Part II

You might remember a few weeks back, I talked about how smartphones have now officially taken over our lives, squeezing into every social, domestic and work situation.

Today, I spoke to James Hazell on BBC Radio Suffolk about how our very Government is considering investigating how to make the use of a smartphone safer for us all.

China continues to innovate in this area by providing ‘mobile friendly’ footpaths for phone users to protect them from walking into each other or falling into fountains!

A designated 'Cellphone Sidewalk' in Chongqing, China. Photo credit: China Daily/Reuters
A designated ‘Cellphone Sidewalk’ in Chongqing, China.
Photo credit: China Daily/Reuters

While you sit and ponder how we as an advanced civilisation found ourselves in this position? Why not listen into my interview with James.

If you like what you read or listen to, why not ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ this story.

DJI Osmo Mobile 2 – Affordable High End Image Stabilisation on your Smartphone

The Steadicam was launched more than 40 years ago and since then we have become accustomed to seeing smooth video at sporting events and in movies, most famously in the classic horror ‘The Shining’ with Jack Nicholson. This high-end equipment costs many thousands of pounds and thus keeps it well out the reach of hobbyists or home users.

Orwell Bridge Motion Timelapse

Over the past few years, the technology associated with expensive motion picture equipment has found its way into the consumer market, once heavy and cumbersome, the large motors needed to stabilise heavy camera equipment has now been replaced by tiny brushless motors powerful enough to steady our mobile phones.

DJI Osmo Mobile 2
DJI Osmo Mobile 2

As a commercial drone pilot, I have experienced DJI’s camera stabilising technology first hand using their drones which employ identical techniques to keep footage smooth in windy conditions, so I was excited to experience the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Smartphone Stabiliser.

The Osmo Mobile 2 allows for the capture of extremely smooth footage using an Android or iPhone to capture the video itself. The mobile device is slotted into a rubber padded clamp, balanced manually using the adjuster on the Osmo. This initial adjustment means that the device doesn’t have to work as hard to stabilise the device and thus extends the life of the battery and motors when in use.

Orwell Bridge Motion Timelapse

DJI provides an app for both Android and iPhone to directly control the device via Bluetooth LE 4.0 and also includes a USB socket to allow you to charge your phone. DJI state up to a 15 battery life, so you should be able to comfortably use the device and maintain your phone battery life with plenty to spare.

After installing the device, you switch on the Osmo by long-pressing the button on the handle, the Gimbal springs into life, balances your mobile device and suddenly it appears to float in mid-air, silently holding your phone completely steady!

You can use the DJI GO app to take movies, photographs, panoramas and even Live Stream to Facebook, YouTube an more. The Osmo can be set to smoothly following your hand motion, removing judder whilst filming or can be set to maintain the position of the phone.

DJI Osmo Mobile Stabilised Video

For more advanced uses, there is Timelapse, Hyperlapse and Motion Timelapse. All of these modes produce really impressive results, my favourite was Motion Timelapse which allowed me to take speeded up sunsets and even panoramic shots of large structures, by setting the start, middle and end points of the movie, choosing a lapse time and the number of frames, when you click Go, the camera very slowly pans and produces a smooth and stable sweeping timelapse video, it was very impressive. The standard tripod screw mount at the base of the Osmo allows you to attach it to a tripod, so no tired arms when producing your masterpiece.

At 485g, the Osmo Mobile 2 is very light but feels high quality in the hand, you do also have to take into account the weight of the device you are going to use. The Osmo is comfortable stabilising anything from the size of an iPhone SE to an iPhone 7s, but check your phone is compatible before purchasing, especially with an Android device.

DJI Osmo Mobile 2
DJI Osmo Mobile 2

This is the second iteration of the Osmo Mobile and DJI have successfully brought down the cost of the original model without forsaking built quality and features. If you are a budding ‘vlogger’ or like taking footage of family and friends, this may be the gadget for you. There is even a ‘Selfie Mode’ with and object tracking to keep you all in the picture wherever you might be!

At £129, the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 is good value for money, has great battery life and the features are great too. I loved it!

The Gadget Man

www.thegadgetman.org.uk

Watch DJI’s Bigger Picture Reveal LIVE!!

Thanks for joining us for the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro live reveal. Personally, I’m looking forward to trying both of these devices, the Mavic Pro was a game changer, so the improvements announced today and going to give pilots even greater opportunity to produce outstanding footage.

 

 

 

Gadget Man – Episode 113 – What is Keyless Car Crime?

Following reports of an increase in car-related crime, I spoke to Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk about what can be done to reduce the chances of falling foul to Keyless Car Crime.

Keyless Keyfobs are devices that have come to replace the ‘traditional’ car entry methods which required us to actively press a lock/unlock button on our fobs. Instead the car constantly ‘polls’ the keyfob and when you within a short distance of the vehicle, automatically opens its to allow for entry. It also enables the driver to start and stop the car using on dash buttons.

As is usual, technology strives to make our lives easier, but also it seems gives criminals new opportunities to steal our vehicles. Readily available gadgets can be purchases specifically to scan for these ‘handshake’ signals between car and fob and upon interception, thieves can drive the cars with an instantly cloned device.

It is important to note that many cars will allow the car to be driven even if the key is no longer present. Check with your manufacturer if this is the case with your vehicle.

Rather than concentrate on the specific technology to achieving this wireless theft, drivers should concentrate in the short term on how they can ensure their cars are secure.

Leading car security organisation, Thatcham Research have published a list of steps we as drivers should follow to ensure this security. This very list has been adopted by Police forces across the UK.

  1. Contact your dealer and talk about the digital features in your car. Have there been any software updates you can take advantage of?
  2. Check if your keyless entry fob can be turned off. If it can, and your dealer can also confirm this, then do so overnight.
  3. Store your keys away from household entry points. Keeping your keyless entry fob out of sight is not enough – thieves only need to gain proximity to the key before amplifying the signal.
  4. Be vigilant. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighbourhood – and report anything unusual to the Police.
  5. Review your car security. Check for aftermarket security devices such as Thatcham-approved mechanical locks and trackers, which are proven to deter thieves. A list can be found on the Thatcham Research website, here.

You can also download the Suffolk Constabulary ‘Tips for Drivers’ factsheet below. I have also included links to key pouches that block scanners. These can be purchased from Amazon using the links below.

Don’t forget to ‘Like’, ‘Subscribe’ and of course ‘Comment’ and stay tuned for our reviews and comment.

Security Tips for Drivers with Keyless Entry Vehicles - Suffolk Police
Security Tips for Drivers with Keyless Entry Vehicles – Suffolk Police

Gadget Man – Preloved Chica Time Capsule with Elene Marsden on ICR FM

I‘ve been told on numerous occasions that I have an ‘eclectic’ taste in music, so when I was invited by Elene Marsden to be a guest on her ‘Time Capsule’ show on ICR FM, I put on my thinking cap! What music would I like to place in a time capsule as a gift to people of the future? One of the BIGGEST tracks in the four I have selected has never been far away from my playlist. Cafe Del Mar by Energy 52 is an absolutely stonking tune and the ‘Original Three’n One’ mix is particularly amazing.  The ‘Michael Woods Ambient Mix’ of the track was used our my wedding to my wife Vanessa whilst we signed the register, so it has particular importance.

My second track, Two Tribes by Frankie Goes To Hollywood was massively important in my early teens when the threat of global nuclear annihilation seemed to loom over humanity. The track bluntly sums up the feeling of gloom that pervaded at the time. The band played a big part of my life and due to the power of the internet, I’m now friends with members of the band. If you get a chance look up former FGTH lead guitarist Nasher on your streaming services, he producing some amazing material which deserves to be heard!

This brings me on to track three, by the German group Propaganda, a band I became aware of as they shared labels with Frankie in the early 80’s. Duel was a fabulous pop track on at A side which juxtaposed with the much rawer Jewel on the B side. Although perhaps less radio friendly, Jewel went on to be the soundtrack to WRC Rally programs in the 80’s, it’s driving bassline and hammering drums working perfectly. The version of the track I chose was however called ‘Bejewelled’, a intermingle of both A and B sides of the single package on the Cassingle release name ‘Do Well’ (It’s exhausting trying to explain it!). It’s a great track and gives the best of both worlds.

The final track of the four is of course My Way, but rather than crooned by Frank Sinatra, instead it is nothing short of destroyed by the late Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. Many would argue that he murders the song and does it little justice. I would argue that this moment of genius summed up the feelings of the late 70’s where music had ground to a halt with super groups wading through 25 minutes of guitar solos and at the same time,  disco was self combusting on itself and leaving a void to be filled by culture of very angry young people who felt disconnected by society and were going no where. Although by the time of recording, the Pistols were no longer really fighting for the jilted generation and apparently ‘flogging a dead horse’, the track starts gloomy and pitifully sung, but suddenly bursts out of itself and plants Sid Vicious as a cultural legend. My reasons for picking this song, is simply that I have always wanted to do things ‘my way’, but in a rebellious way, so who better to convey that but this song.

Don’t forget to listen in to Elene’s show using the link below (or at the top of the page). Thanks for inviting me on the show Elene!

 

Gadget Man – Episode 112 – Too Much Smartphone!

The Genie is now officially out of the bottle! We use our smartphones too much!

Most of us will already know this though, how could we miss it? You only have to travel on buses, trains and planes to see myriads of people sitting quietly staring at their smart phones, glued to Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter, scrolling through the latest news.

In restaurants alongside the place settin will sit a smartphone, ready at a moments notice to be snatched up and used to photograph a plate of food of a group selfie.

At rock concerts, the crowd is now lit up by mobile phone screens at they live stream or record a band whilst watching on those same screens, perhaps forgetting to watch and enjoy the band live rather than by proxy.

A designated 'Cellphone Sidewalk' in Chongqing, China. Photo credit: China Daily/Reuters
A designated ‘Cellphone Sidewalk’ in Chongqing, China.
Photo credit: China Daily/Reuters

In homes across the world, millions of people are sitting scrolling through their devices, then standing and walking into the kitchen, the phone still in front of their faces, then to bed, when finally after another 10 minutes of messaging, the phone is plugged in to finally rest and recharge, it’s peace only broken in the middle of the night as a hand reaches out to grab it and check Facebook.

Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are one of the most popular smart phones in the UK
Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are one of the most popular smart phones in the UK
Image Credit: Apple

As morning breaks, a sleepy hand reaches out, slowly grabs the device and the day begins again.

This information overload is affecting peoples brains, our bodies are fooled by the blue light from an LCD screen and now we believe it is daylight 24 hours a day. We are conditioned to rely on our devices for everything, for affirmation from our friends, to give that affirmation back in a pre-formatted ‘Sending Hugs 🤗🤗🤗’ .

So, have we forgotten how to communicate? Are we now so reliant on our smartphones, that we no longer feel the need to use it for it’s original purpose? That of speaking to people and conveying our true feelings without relying on pre-programmed ’emotions’ invented by clever people in California.

Samsung Galaxy S9 with Infinity display
Samsung Galaxy S9 with Infinity display providing vast displays in the palm of your hand.
Image Credit: Samsung

Time will tell, but no amount of intervention by software giants will put that Genie back. We as a race have to take that step.

I spoke to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk about the obsession with smart phones this morning. Listen to the stream above, I would love to read your comments on the subject.

Matt Porter
Gadget Man

Gadget Man – Episode 111 – Cashless Society

The cashless society is economic model that removes physical money from our wallets and replaces it with fully digital transactions. So, we no longer carry banknotes and coins, instead we carry our traditional bank cards or mobile devices. These transactions can be made in our home currencies (in my case Pound Sterling), an international currency or even a digital currency such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.  When using our traditional currency, we can completely remove a ‘standard’ bank from the equation and use alternatives from Paypal or Amazon.

Gadget Man 111 - Cashless Society

Apple Pay and Google Pay give us access to our bank accounts to transact contactless payments using our mobile devices and also track our payments using linked cards, thus attempting to give us the best of both worlds. The sting in the tail is the utterly endless opportunities to spend at will which will surely lead to intervention by governments to protect individuals from spending above their means.

Consequently, cashless and contactless systems give us greater power to transact business quickly and painlessly. However, whilst online and large businesses can easily transfer to these systems, there is a great danger of smaller businesses being completely crowded out either by lack of infrastructure or lack of funds.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by Tony Gillham at BBC Guernsey about the cashless society and how businesses in remoter islands in the Bailiwick, such as Alderney, can continue to transact business in a rapidly cashless world.

Listen in by clicking the link above. If you have a comment, please feel free to add your opinions below. Don’t forget to like and subscribe and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Bowers & Wilkins PX – Headphones with show-stopping noise cancelling audio and aptX-HD® Bluetooth™

I spend a lot of time working in a shared office space, so it’s important to be able to shut out unwanted background noise when I want to be able concentrate.  So, when a pair of Bowers & Wilkins PX Headphones landed on my desk for review, I was excited to find a high end pair of phones that would completely remove background noise from my workplace, but also provide with a superior Bluetooth™ Audio experience, enhanced by aptX-HD® technology.

The B&W PX headphones are predominantly Bluetooth™ driven, although you can connect up manually using a 3.5mm jack cable supplied with them. Thus, they must be paired to each device and this proved fairly straightforward using the supplied instructions. In order to make full use of the noise cancelling an personalised experience, it was also necessary to download the B&W PX app which is available for both iOS and Android. In my case, I downloaded the Android app to run with my Sony Xperia XZ Premium. The app itself was developed in conjunction with Coderus who very kindly worked with me on the app for my Tesla road trip last year, so I was looking forward to both testing the headphones and also reviewing their app at the same time.

After downloading the B&W PX app, I set about trying out the different environmental settings available and I have to say I was immediately impressed. I was able to choose my desired audio profile and also the noise cancellation settings. As noise can sometimes prove an issue here in the office, I got stuck in straight away with testing these features.

 

Noise Cancellation

The headphones are activated by simply placing them on your head and immediately after the noice cancellation kicks in.

Initially you are given three customisable options for noise cancellation, allowing you to pick Office, City or Flight, these three option will give you a preprogrammed cancellation profile based on the background noise you are likely to experience in each of these modes. Interestingly, City worked best for my office. The settings automatically pick the most common voice passthrough settings for the headphones, either off (my preferred setting), Natural or Amplified. All three settings worked great and I liked being able to filter out general noise and still be part of a conversation.

Other options include ‘Wear Sensor’, so when placed on the head, the phones automatically switch on and connect to bluetooth with further adjustment using the ‘Sensitivity’ options.

Aside from the Environment filters, the app also shows you the current battery and firmware status. Yes, we live in a world where improvements to the operation of the headphones can be rolled out to owners, something I experienced with the Tesla Model S.

If you are lucky enough to own a modern Qualcomm compatible mobile device, you can also take advantage of the aptX-HD which is another name for High Definition Bluetooth® wireless audio. This will improve the sound quality of the headphones giving you 24bit sound quality over Bluetooth.

Bowers and Wilkins PX
Bowers and Wilkins PX

Comfort

Without doubt, these are the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn, these absolutely reek of quality and fit brilliants over my ears. Even switched off, they still muffle ambient noise brilliantly.

Real World Use

As expected of a set of high end headphones, the sound quality was rich and bright with great bass and treble production. When testing out audio equipment I am particularly fond of playing Metallic Spheres by The Orb, featuring Dave Gilmour, an album which cries out to be played on high end audio equipment.

I wasn’t disappointed. The B&W PX headphones picked up the layered soundscape of the album majestically and I was happy putting them through their paces more than once during my review.

In Summary

Bowers & Wilkins have produced a superb set of high end Bluetooth Headphones. They have excelled on all fronts, from the excellent build quality, superior sound quality to the intuitive app which makes synchronising the phones a doddle. If your budget stretches to around £329 and you want to listen to music as the artist intended, the B&W PX Bluetooth Headphones are a perfect option available in Space Grey or Soft Gold.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

 

Chipolo Card, tracking and finding my wallet and helping others track theirs!

The Chipolo Card is a really nice looking device, designed to help track personal items. It’s unique low profile design lends itself to slotting into your wallet or purse and the speaker is loud enough to be heard however deep it becomes buried in your money and receipts. Even cooler, if you do lose your wallet and team of other Chipolo users can help you find it again!

Chipolo Card showing dimensions
Chipolo Card showing dimensions

The device was born from a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign which raised nearly 2000% of its original target of $15,000! Now, five years later Chipolo sell three different types of Chipolo tracker, the Classic, the Plus and the Card. I was sent all three to test, but this review discusses the Chipolo Card, an ideal size to slip in my wallet.

The Card’s dimensions of 36mm x 68mm x 2.15mm make it perfect to slide into a wallet and tucked deep down in mine to keep it unobtrusive and nice and safe. When tucked in your wallet, it’s not obvious it’s there, so if you are unlucky to have it stolen, you might be lucky for it to be unnoticed by a thief and thus help you find it again.

Out of the box, the Chipolo must be paired with either your iOS or Android device, this is very simple using the dedicated phone app and within an instant my device was working. I was able to name the Chipolo and also assign it a relevant icon to distinguish it from the others. In my case, I named it Wallet and assigned it with a wallet icon. The devices are paired using low power Bluetooth virtually guaranteeing a long battery life of at least a year. You can also assign a ringtone to the device which will help you recognise it in a noisy room.

Once setup, the app constantly regularly communicates with the Chipolo over low-power Bluetooth and saves it’s position to your account. You can also share your Chipolo with other users where the item is precious or might be something available to more than one person.

Now, getting to the nitty gritty of actually losing personal items. Being easily distracted, I am constantly looking for my keys or wallet and with this in mind the Chipolo’s have been amazing! I have a habit of leaving my wallet in my bag and then spending half an hour trying to remember where it is! Problem solved! Now all I need to do it press the RING button on my phones Chipolo Widget and immediately I can hear it ring.

So, armed with by trusty Chipolo and smart phone, no more losing my wallet around the house. There are also some nice little touches too, you can also use the Chipolo to trigger the camera on your smartphone to take selfies. Position the phone, get comfortable with your friends, double click the button on the tracker and hey presto! Instant Selfie.

But, what about REALLY losing something, away from home? Well, I have experienced this too, whilst the Chipolo app happily provides tracking for your own devices, it also monitors for devices that have been lost by other users on the network. So, should you lose your item and searching for it using the app proves fruitless, you can then mark the item as LOST.  Should another Chipolo user happen to pass within range of the tracker, it notifies the owner that it has been found and provides feedback to the person that actually found it! It’s a great use of ‘crowd’ networking or as Chipolo call it “Community Search”. So as the network grows, so does the chances of finding your lost items.

Chipolo - Thank You. You helped somebody find a lost Chipolo! How cool is that?
Chipolo – Thank You. You helped somebody find a lost Chipolo! How cool is that?

The Chipolo Card gives you a device that fits easily into your wallet or purse, being 2.15mm . It has a 200ft range from your smart device, the speaker is 95dB. The battery will last a year and the device is water-resistant.

Priced at around £25, I think they are great value and look out for the new ‘FRUIT’ editions with provide added fun!!

You can purchase YOUR Chipolo by clicking HERE

Chipolo Fruit Edition
Chipolo Fruit Edition

Thanks to the guys at Chipolo for providing me with the Chipolo Card for review!!

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