Category Archives: Christmas Presents

Silicon Power Armor A65 1TB Military Grade Rugged Portable Hard Drive

Following on from our Tesla Road Trip,(https://www.eastwestroadtrip.co.uk), I thought it would be a good opportunity to review one of the great pieces of equipment we were able to take with us on the trip.

SP Armor A65 1TB reviewed by Matt Porter We had planned to travel some 1200 or so miles from Ness Point to Ardnamurchan Point (and back again) in an electric car, part of the adventure was to try and document the trip. We planned to document the trip using a variety of equipment from Smartphones, stabilised cameras to 4K Drones.

We would likely be presented with many gigabytes of footage and it was therefore imperative that we had a durable solution for data backup and somewhere to copy footage and imagery taken during the trip.

Our rugged backup solution was indeed a Silicon Power Armor A65 portable 1TB hard drive with it’s shockproof and waterproof housing that gives it military grade protection, to U.S Military MIL-STD-810G 516.6 Procedure IV and IP67 Standard for dust and water ingress.

SP Armor A65 1TB reviewed by Matt PorterOut of the box, the SP Armor A65, comes with a rubberised casing and IP67 sealed USB 3.0 Socket. IP67 means the device components are sealed from dust and immersion in water up to a meter deep for 30 minutes. The USB 3.0 cable is a full sized male connector at each end, this makes connection to a PC or Laptop very easy as the cable works in either direction. The case also had a slot for either securing the cable to the drive or as a belt clip.

SP Armor A65 1TB reviewed by Matt PorterInside of the heavily protected three layered case lies a Silcon Power 1TB 2.5″ Hard Disk with 1 Terabyte of storage, our brief tests for performance showed  a very decent Blackmagic Disk Speed Test score of 71/70. The drive was used extensively both before, during and after the trip and became our ‘go to’ hard disk for the trip.

Included with the drive is Silcon Power’s HDD Lock Utility which runs on MS Windows. This allows you to encrypt all the data stored on the device to give a greater level of security for users

We tested the device for use when we were using both drones and laptops in the field and the added resilience of the device gave us a greater degree of confidence that our data would remain safe even in the most extreme circumstances. It was also used to backup our laptop during the journey.

If you travel often and need the convenience of a simple to connect device that is both rugged and secure, the SP Armor A65 is most certainly worth the investment and can be purchased from the link to the left.

 

 

Orbitsound ONE P70W – Connected Speaker Review with All-in-one Airsound, Subwoofer, Wi-Fi and more!

It is always particularly interesting to test technology that has been developed by leaders in their particular sector, so I was very excited about visiting Orbitsound in London to have a demonstration of their ONE P70W Speakers.

Orbitsound ONE P70W - All-in-one Airsound with Subwoofer and Wi-Fi and more! review by Matt Porter, The Gadget ManOrbitsound was founded by Ted Fletcher, the inventor of Airsound™ technology. Ted has been working for many years as a  musician, audio engineer, electronics designer and studio designer, to give the listener a more realistic, more immersive sound experience. These years of experience in the industry led to the release in 2017 of the Orbitsound ONE P70, the worlds first multi-orientation speaker, meaning regardless of where you stand, it sound remains the same.

Orbitsound ONE P70W - All-in-one Airsound with Subwoofer and Wi-Fi and more! review by Matt Porter, The Gadget Man
The controls for the Orbitsound ONE P70W are found at the side of the speaker

The P70W is designed in such as way that it can be shelf or wall-mounted. It has a narrow design (700mm wide x 173mm deep x 77mm high), this allows for comfortably mounting below a flat screen television or on a wall as a ‘party’ speaker. It’s built from wood and steel and can be purchased in matte black, bambo or bone white weighing in a 5.1kg.

Orbitsound ONE P70W - All-in-one Airsound with Subwoofer and Wi-Fi and more! review by Matt Porter, The Gadget ManSound is provided by two (front and top) 2″ ‘Orbitsound MK4 drivers’, a Sub-bass low-profile 5.25″ driver and 2X2 Airsound Orbitsound MK4 drivers. By positioning the main speakers both front and top mean that sound production is maintains regardless of how the speaker mounted.

Connectivity is provided by Bluetooth, Optical cable, 3.5mm stereo jack and the Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi feature is the most impressive as it allows streaming of audio from a variety of sources without the loss of quality associated with Bluetooth, effectively allowing for uncompressed playback of music. It also allows for multi-speaker / multi-room playback with perfectly synchronised sound and zero delay. This is achieved by using the Orbitsound Smartphone app (Android and iOS) which supports streaming providers and internet radio stations and allows you to ‘group’ sets of speakers to create one virtual speaker. When I was given a demonstration of this at the Orbitsound offices, 3 separate speakers, both wall and shelf mounted were grouped together using the app. I was then asked to close my eyes to try and decide where I thought the sound was coming from. It was unearthly as it sounded like it was coming out of thin air, very impressive!

Orbitsound ONE P70W - All-in-one Airsound with Subwoofer and Wi-Fi and more! review by Matt Porter, The Gadget Man
The Orbitsound App running on Android. Streaming from Tunein

The app currently supports TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Tidal, Napster, Apple Music (iOS only) and of course your own device stored music. If you are absolutely focused on using other services such as Google Play Music or Amazon, then you can of course stream using Bluetooth. I used the speak in conjunction with my Amazon Dot, as well as my iMac and Xperia XZ Premium, all worked flawlessly.

I was also able to connect the speaker to my Freesat HD box using the supplied optical cable. This worked great, although the Freesat box had a bug with Netflix which meant it would only broadcast Dolby sound. This was a simple configuration on the Freesat box and all was working again.

The speaker comes with very nicely designed remote control and you can also use you own remote control using the speakers ‘learning mode’. I was able to control the speaker using my TV remote within a couple of seconds of setup.

The people at Orbitsound definitely had the environment in mind when they designed the P70W as it is built to power-down  components that aren’t used, but power up instantly when required.

Orbitsound ONE P70W - All-in-one Airsound with Subwoofer and Wi-Fi and more! review by Matt Porter, The Gadget ManQuite a bit of thought has gone into small details on the P70W with the inclusion of reversible LED information display and Orbitsound badge. This might seem small things but they count as you really wouldn’t want to be showing off your new speaker to friends and have the badge upside down. integrated wall mounting and 200mm VESA bosses and bolts are included to allow you to get going straightaway with unnecessary visits to AV stores to buy mounting kits. There is also a protective sleeve for the speaker, to protect it when not in use.

The speaker also comes with a standard power cord, aux cable, quick-start guide and safety and warranty information, all packaged up in a very smart box. The useful inclusion of a carry handle was helpful too, as I carried a demonstration unit to the train station.

The Orbitsound P70W feels like a speaker that can fit many needs, be that as a Sound-bar for your TV, a party speaker for gatherings of people and the facility to extend your listening experience to multiple speakers. The smart design of the speakers means that it they would sit very comfortably in a professional or public environment. The whole family has really enjoy the quality and versatility of the speaker and we’ll be sad to see it go.

At £399, the Orbitsound P70W is great value for buyers looking for a richer smoother sound regardless of their position in the room.

Sakura from Yum Asia review – Perfect Rice Every Time!

It’s always nice to try out gadgets that appeal to both me and my wife Vanessa, and it was particularly exciting to receive a Yum Asia Sakura Rice Cooker to review.

When I was contacted by Yum Asia to ask if I wanted to review the one of their Rice Cookers, I jumped at the opportunity because I knew that Vanessa would be interested in what a rice cooker would bring to the kitchen and how it might improve rice dishes (Not that they aren’t already superb!).

The Sakura is an 8-cup capacity rice cooker which makes enough to feed up to 8 people. It has a very modern look with oriental influences. Cooking white rice alone takes between 30 – 40 minutes, which a faster ‘Quick’ mode of 26 minutes. Brown rice takes longer at 62 minutes.

As well as cooking rice, the Sakura can also be used to steam foods, make soup, cook porridge and also bake cakes, yoghurts and tahdig. These take a variety of cooking times, all handled by the device.

Yum Asia Secura - reviewed by Matt PorterThe control panel on the front of the rice cooker is Korean designed and motouch (touch sensitive), it’s very clear and easy to use. The product manual also gives clear instructions on the use of the cooker. Making different foods is as simple as correctly measuring the ingredients and selecting the right setting on the control-panel. It’s very simple to use and gave great results.

The lid of the cooker is strong and locks closed solidly. There is also a steam vent built in to release pressure during cooking. Everything is removeable for cleaning.

Yum Asia Secura - reviewed by Matt PorterInside the cooker is a removeable ceramic coated bowl with easy lift handles. On the side of the bowl are indicators which detail the rice portions and level of water required for perfect rice. The included measuring cup is used to ensure the correct amount of rice is always used.

Once all your ingredients are added and the correct cooking mode is selected, you simply press ‘Start’ and everything clicks into action.
The rice is cooked using a 7 phase method which are, preheat, absorb water, heating, boiling, braising, absorb water again and keep-warm. Interestingly, the Keep-Warm function can operate for up to 24 hours! So, very busy people can set the rice cooker going before bed and come home from work the next day and have perfect rice. It is just as good as preparing porridge ready for the next morning too.

Yum Asia Secura - reviewed by Matt PorterThe cooking of the rice is done in such a way that heat is dispersed throughout the inside of the device and radiated downwards from the lid, Yum Asia call this ‘3D heating technology’.
Also included with the cooker is a steaming basket, measuring cup, non-stick rice spatula and soup ladle. Everything is packaged in an sturdy box.

Both Vanessa and myself found the use of the rice cooker to be very easy. The instructions were straightforward and using the correct measurements meant that the resulting rice was both delicious and fluffy. Preparation was easy and it is very important to rinse the rice thoroughly beforehand to get the best results.

We have filmed the entire process and will be uploading this soon to demonstrate how simple it really was. Keep an eye on our Youtube Channel.

I have never considered a rice cooker before, but having used it and having found out that there is precious little additional work required to cook the rice using this method, but for superior results, we both think it is a brilliant addition to a kitchen.

Yum Asia Secura - reviewed by Matt PorterThe Sakura from Yum Asia can be purchased directly through their dedicated website.

You can visit their site here or by clicking the image to the left.

DJI Mavic Pro – Review – A drone so stable it appears frozen in time #gadgetroadtrip

I have been flying drones for the last 18 months, specifically DJI drones. It’s no secret that DJI have cornered the drone market from beginner to corporate use. From simply aerial photography to flying cell towers, DJI seem to have it all.

As part of our recent Gadget Man Road Trip from Ness Point to Ardnamurchan, we took along a DJI Mavic Pro and Osmo+, in this review I’m going to be talking about the Mavic Pro.

Click here to buy the Mavic Pro

The first thing you notice immediately upon taking the drone out of it’s box is that it is absolutely tiny! The rotor blades and arms all fold very neatly into themselves, giving it the appearance of a sleeping bat. Nature has almost always proved to be the most efficient designer and it seems that DJI has taken quite many queues when designing the folding mechanism. Having the Mavic fold so gracefully means that it doesn’t take up a great deal of space and setting up is very quick, there’s no need to fixing rotor blades as they come fixed to the craft, so looking for that photographic moment is generally not lost as box to air time is very quick.

The drone is flown using a very neat controller that connects to your mobile device using USB. Aside from using the phone, the controller also displays important information on a LED display which makes read information in bright sunlight very easy. Operation of the drone is achieved via DJI’s own DJI Go4 software or using 3rd parties such as Litchi. It was supremely simple to operate the drone and its incredible stability gives you a very confident edge when flying.

DJI have placed the 4k camera and sensor at the front of the aircraft, doing away with the underslung designs preceding it. By doing this means that even quick acceleration doesn’t cause the rotors to obscure the display which is an all to common problem with most drones. The camera has a clear plastic dome which is easily removed to allow for clearer footage with less glare. The quality of the footage is jaw dropping! We weren’t massively lucky with the weather especially in Scotland, but we were still able to produce some amazing footage all the same, even in grey skies.

The Mavic can take still 12MP photos as well as video and can also be controlled by gestures and there is also a Wi-Fi mode with less features.

Stability wise, the Mavic Pro is awesome. As well as GPS and Glonass stabilisation, the drone also uses down facing stabilisation using additional cameras. By referencing the ground, the drone can hover almost stock-still in the sky, it’s quite unnerving to see. It also packs collision avoidance cameras too which is great when flying near to trees.

Flight times are excellent being more than 25 minutes and the drone is noticeably quieter than other aircraft I have used. Sport mode gives even greater performance and allows you to swoop around the sky with easer.

DJI have included their Geofencing software or NFZ (No fly zone) features on the drone which avoid it being flown in areas that are either illegal or dangerous such as near to airports or stadiums. This is a great inclusion which hopefully will help drones to gain a better reputation in the UK press.

Good drones don’t come cheap and DJI have positioned the Mavic Pro in the higher price bracket, however you are getting an exceedingly good aircraft for the money. I tested the ‘Combo Kit’ which comes with drone, 2 batteries, car charger, 3pin charger, controller, 16GB MicroSD and leather carry case, this comes in at around £1200, however there are deals without the added extras which bring the price under £950.

 

Look out for Black Friday deals which bring the price down even further

Matt Porter

The Gadget Man

 

 

The Gadget Man – Episode 82 – Gadget Review of the Year

Its my last broadcast of the year and I so talk about my top 5 gadgets of the year. Listen to the stream to hear what I thought of the following :-

These are all products I’ve reviewed in the past, so you can click on each of them to take you to it’s relevant feature.

 

The Gadget Man – Episode 81 – Huawei Watch

Huawei Watch reviewed by Matt PorterWhen I started out as ‘The Gadget Man’, I always thought that Watches were the obvious gadget, something you would recognise as a gadget, be it Dick Tracy, Star Trek or Thunderbirds. Being able to communicate with your nearest and dearest by talking to your wrist seemed to be the a really futuristic thing to be doing, so it was my first port of call. Having now tested 8 smart watches and wearables, I was really looking forward to getting my hands on the Huawei Watch.

If you haven’t heard of Huawei, you should have. They are one of the leading communications and technology companies in the world and have been manufacturing Smartphones for some time now, but it is the Huawei Watch that I wanted to see.

Huawei Watch reviewed by Matt PorterThe Huawei Watch is a premium Android Wear device, noticeably weightier than other models and with a much brighter, high res screen that stays on the whole time. Like the Moto 360, the Huawei Watch sports a round screen, but unlike the Motorola device it uses the entire screen and the ‘flat tyre’ is absent. This means that their are no external sensors on the screen, so auto-brightness is not an option, but saying that; I prefer this trade off because using the whole screen makes the watch look all the more realistic.

This is one of the first Android Wear devices to officially support iOS so iPhone users are not simply tied to the Apple Watch. When I say officially, I can confirm that I have paired a Moto 360 with an iPhone as well, but it isn’t officially supported.

Huawei Watch reviewed by Matt PorterAs with all Android Wear devices, it makes use of Google Now with the ‘OK Google’ trigger to do lots of difference tasks. There is no speaker in the watch, just a microphone, so don’t expect to use the watch as a speakerphone (just yet). Personally, I’m surprised that this functionality hasn’t been added to Android Wear, it was present in the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 more than 18 months ago and worked really nicely. I’m certain the trade off against battery use was one of the reasons not to include it, but it’s a shame though.

Aside from the pre-installed apps supported by Wear, other apps are reliant on what is installed on your handset. I’m a keen (electric assisted) cyclist and I’ve personally tried a number of cycling related apps, as soon as these are installed, the watch automatically installs a Wear capable add-on, whether this is a information window or live map, it’s always intriguing to see what the developer has deemed worthy of the watch-face. Some good and some not so.

The Huawei Watch uses sapphire crystal as it’s watch face which is much harder and scratch resistant that other toughened glass and seems less prone to fingerprints. The display is a 1.4 inch AMOLED display which gives excellent blacks, this is because AMOLED screens use self illuminating pixels and don’t require a generic back light, so blacks are not lit at all. This sounds great, but in bright sunlight the display suffers which is a common problem with the technology. The watch has built in Wifi, which allows for updates without the need for a phone in the vicinity, but as will almost all wearables, you really need a phone nearby to get the full potential.

The watch itself is manufactured from cold forged stainless steel and the watch strap is a very high end leader fastener. All in all the watch feels expensive and very high quality. The rear of the watch has a magnetic four pin coupling for charging and in the centre is a heart rate sensor which works with Huawei’s fitness software and Google’s ‘Fit’ system.

Battery life is really pretty good for a watch that is effectively switched on the whole time, but in standby mode a different clock face is used which uses lots of black and therefore lots of pixels are being lit. Very clever decision by Huawei.

Huawei Watch reviewed by Matt PorterI was particularly looking forward to reviewing this watch as it looked like a real contender to the Apple Watch. I love the circular face smartwatches that make you feel that these wrist worn wearables are something more that a boring square display. I was fond of the Moto 360 which is slightly larger and the Huawei device certainly didn’t disappoint.

 

 

The smart watch is still finding it’s feet and I would suggest it will find them by the next generation of wearables. Whether is can be established as a replacement for smartphones is a question we will have answered eventually, but until then the Huawei Watch does a superb job of using the available technology to it’s maximum.

Thanks to Huawei for the loan of the watch, I’m very grateful for your efforts.

 

 

Now kids can get back to BASIC with Fuze

FuzeKitShadBack in the 1980’s the UK was a melting pot of computer development, back then you couldn’t visit a friends’ house without seeing a them huddled behind a television slowly tapping out computer programs from magazines on their newly purchased home computers. While the USA basked in the glory of the Apple II and IBM PC, in the UK we had our feet firmly placed on the ground and our wallets closed tight. In the States people were paying $2,500 for their computers, far too much for us in the UK, being much more cautious with our hard earned money! Instead we made our own computers, the amazingly popular Sinclair ZX Spectrum, BBC Model B, Acorn Electron and Dragon 32. All of these were home grown products which took the country by storm for a few short years, much cheaper than the US counterparts at £140 and much more fun, well until the IBM PC was licensed to the likes of Dell, HP and AST and the prices started to tumble to more affordable prices.

BBC Model B
BBC Model B from the 1980’s

During this era of the ‘Home Computer’, a new industries sprung up with them. After weeks and months of typing program listings from magazines, the kids started to understand what was behind the code, how it worked and in most cases, how to improve it. Small ‘Software Houses’ appeared and began selling their games in the back pages of the computer magazines.

The BBC Model B was adopted by schools and immediately the national curriculum included ‘Computer Studies O’Level’. It was now possible to study computer programming, the UK was becoming a hotbed for coding and technology. Following school, students could continue their studies through college and university, it was exciting times for the UK computer industry.

Then suddenly without notice, the curriculum began to change again. The PC had become established in peoples’ homes and work, it seemed like everyone was running Windows and suddenly everything was easier. Instead of learning the basics of coding and programming, pupils were taught how to use Word Processors and Spreadsheets, how to put together school magazines using pre-made layouts and horrific 3d text effects. We had lost our way, we had forgotten how to encourage creativity and instead software was now just tools to build similar looking newsletters and faxes using ‘Wizards’ and animated paperclips.

The_RPi
Raspberry Pi computer with HDMI, Audio, USB and Network connectors

30 years on and quietly ‘Coding’ is back in the curriculum, the country has woken up to it’s lost opportunities and reintroduced the tools to help our children learn to create again. The Raspberry Pi computer was launched in 2012 and brought affordable computers to everyone. At a little under £20, you could buy a fully functioning credit card sized computer that could connect to your HD TV and could be programmed using any available language. It was a good start, but there was something missing.

T2_Hub_CloseThis is where Fuze comes in, by packaging the Raspberry Pi in a useable case (strangely evocative of the BBC Micro from the 80’s) with integrated keyboard and circuit prototyping board, the Fuze is being launched into schools as the ideal platform for Coding in the curriculum. The circuit board that sits on top of the Fuze allows for electronic design and testing that can be directly controlled from the included Fuze Basic programming language.

FUZE_SE_WEB5
A nod to the past is apparent with the Special Edition Fuze case

Included in the package is also a variety of transistors, LED’s and resistors packaged with a Programmers Reference Guide and Quick Start Projects book. Out of the box, it’s everything a budding programmer needs to get themselves on the path to Coding in the 21st Century. Further purchases can buy you a Robot Arm and other interesting projects and of course the system is based on the Raspberry Pi which has a mountain of components already available and the option to try out modern programming languages such as Perl, C++ and PHP.

Electronics_Logo
The Fuze I/O board makes simple prototyping electronics projects simple and safe

The Fuze is housed in a sheet aluminium case which is both durable and safe for young people to use and Fuze have improved upon the Raspberry Pi IO connecters by integrating the FUZE I/O board which greatly simplifies the Raspberry Pi by separating, and clearly labelling, the most common functions (Voltage, Ground, Digital IO and PWM) but goes further with the addition of four analogue in ports and one Out port (as the Raspberry Pi lacks analogue). It all may sound complicated, but in reality it has been designed to be accessible and easy to learn.

The Fuze starts at £69 and is available from a most computer stockists. For more information, visit www.fuze.co.uk.

 

The Gadgetman Episode 80 – Mini Sun SAD Lamp – plus ‘Ed Sheeran Quits Twitter’

The Gadgetman Episode 80 Mini Sun SAD Lamp plus Ed Sheeran Quit Twitter InstagramIn the words of Deep Purple; “The Nights Are Closing In”, and with it the increase of Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D.  which affects around 3-6% of the UK’s population.

I‘ve been testing a SAD Therapy Lamp from Mini Sun which helps to lessen these symptoms through light therapy. Use of the Therapy Lamp for 60 minutes a day, not only produces the correct levels of serotonin to help fight the effects of SAD, but also comes in a very nice padded carry case similar in size to an iPad.

I sat the device to the side on my desk which gave the impression of sitting by the window on a sunny day. Having suffered from SAD in the past, I found it comforting as the natural light produced by the lamp gave a feeling of the sun shining on my face.

The lamp is available in both white and pink designs and can be purchased via Mini Sun‘s website and is an excellent addition during these dreary winter months.

To find out more, listen to this mornings recording above which also features a discussion about Ed Sheeran quitting social media.
The Gadgetman Episode 80 Mini Sun SAD Lamp plus Ed Sheeran Quit Twitter Instagram

 

The Gadget Man – Episode 79 – Motorola Moto G (3rd generation) from Three

This morning I talk to Mark about the Motorola Moto G (3 gen) handset. At £169 sim free it represents fantastic value for money with excellent build quality and specification. To hear more about the phone, listen in to the audio recorded today on BBC Radio Suffolk.

Thanks to Three for the loan of the device, they always go above and beyond the call!

Smartwatch Guide 2015

It’s certainly been a busy time for smart watches over the last 18 months and we are certainly seemingly spoilt for choice. We’re also not spoilt for price options either, there should be no reason that you shouldn’t be able to find a smartwatch to suit yours or a loved ones  style.

To help find the right watch, our friends at Mighty Skins have produced a handy infographic that details everything including price, compatibility, functionality and battery life.

You can download the info graphic, by clicking the image below or head over to Mighty Skins themselves.

Smartwatches-IG-2015_Mighty-Skins