Category Archives: Matt Porter

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

 

 

We’ve donated to British Red Cross

Red Cross Donation
Red Cross Donation

A little over a month has passed since we arrived back from the Scotland and as promised, we have donated the remains of our Gadget Road Trip fund to British Red Cross.

This afternoon, I transferred the remaining balance of £42.32 from our Monzo Card to the British Red Cross charity and thus rendered the account empty.

I was personally extremely upset by the Grenfell Tower disaster earlier this year, which I know also affected Paul. The British Red Cross were on the ground there immediately after it happened and provided much need assistance to the poor families that had lost their loved ones, their homes and everything they owned in a matter of minutes. It is because of this, that I wanted to donate to this charity. Since Grenfell, other disasters have continued to affect the people of our planet and the British Red Cross have continued to provide much needed support for these people who have lost absolutely everything they own and still lack the basics of clean water, electricity and food. If you would like to continue to help them, you can also donate via this link

Thank you so much again to the following people and organisations for their kind donations of funds or services!

XSItems Ltd
ACPlus
Favorite Fried Chicken
Free Reign Internet
Coderus
Gavin Dadd
Patrick Lohan
Jackie Robinson
Ian Brown
Olive Porter
Sandra Grilli
Callum McGilvery.

We wouldn’t have been able to feed ourselves during the trip and have something soft to sleep on. Thank you again.

Thanks also to Hillcroft Park in Ullswater for allowing us to stay at their lodgings for two nights (They will be featuring in the upcoming sitcom ‘Home from Home’ with Johnny Vegas, so keep an eye out!) and Far View Bed & Breakfast in Kilchoan (I won’t forget little Gracie exclaiming “My wellington boots fell over!!” as I took her and her dad on a little test drive).

 

 

Dell 27 Monitor S2718D – Stunning HDR Video with Tiny Bezels

A few weeks ago during a review of the Dell Latitude 7480 Notebook, I was also able to test and review the Dell S2718D 27” Inch QHD HDR Monitor and I was pleasantly surprised.

I tend to use a lot of graphics intensive software for editing aerial and tech review video and images. It’s very important that the equipment I use when producing this content displays colours correctly and due to the extended hours I spend in front of a computer screen, it’s important that I use high quality equipment to reduce eye strain and headaches.

Right from the start, it was plainly obvious that this screen was going to tick these boxes and more.

The monitor itself is ultra-thin in both depth and outer bezel, which uses Dell’s InfinityEdge technology, boasting a QHD 2560 x 1440 HDR screen with 1000:1 contrast and LED backlight technology. The LED backlights are what makes these screens so thin because rather than have a large dedicated backlight, instead each pixel is lit separately by very tiny LEDs, this makes for very bright and very very thin screens with excellent 178 degree viewing angles. The screen also uses IPS (or In-Plane Switching Technology) which is the same as found in most mobile phone and tablet screen.

Aside from the tiny bezels and super thin design, the killer feature of the screen is support for HDR or High Dynamic Range colour, which produces some of the finest results I have seen on a screen of this size. The results can be seen on HDR supported content of which there is now lots available on Amazon Video, Netflix and on dedicated YouTube channels. Seeing is really believing on when watch HDR video and it gives a more lifelike deeper colour production which can look fabulous.

Connectivity is provided in spades with Power connector, HDMI, USB Type C, Security-lock slot ,USB downstream and Audio line-out. This is more that enough for a desktop PC or as an additional screen for a laptop (which I used it for). The quality is superb and allows for flexibility and adjustment of the screen to be made easily.
The screen looks great and would happily sit alongside a PC or indeed an Apple device. Due to the very narrow InfinityEdge bezel, doubling up on monitors sitting next to each other would work very well indeed, with very little in the way of distracting black bars separating the two.

If you are looking to watch HDR movies or HDR games on your PC, this Dell monitor is a no brainer at a very reasonable £499 from your local electronics outlet or click the to the left to be redirected to Amazon.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

Sony Xperia XZ1 – 3D Scanning Tests

I‘ve been trying out the Sony Xperia XZ1. Today I had a go at it’s 3d scanning feature. It’s pretty slick and actually works. You really need good lighting and plenty of space.

I’ll use this page to embed scans, as I make them.

 

1257 Miles in an Electric Car – Part 1 – A Plan is Hatched.

Holzhausen’s drawings of the Model S
Holzhausen’s original drawings of the Model S

10th July 2017

I was sitting in my office in Martlesham on the 10th July 2017 chatting to a colleague about Tesla cars. The conversation had started after he noticed the framed artists sketch hanging on my wall.

I have driven a number of Tesla Model S cars in the past from the excitable P85+ to the ‘Insane’ P85D. They are very exciting cars to drive, not just because they are fully electric and pack extremely powerful single gear motors, but because you feel your are riding on the coattails of automotive history, participating in an irreversible shift change in motorvehicle technology. It’s very exciting!

The conversation moved on the the Model X and Model 3, Tesla’s entries in to the SUV and ‘affordable’ markets. The Model X has recently appeared in the UK, the Model 3 is two years away from being available. We continued to chat for the rest of lunch, but the seed was planted.

That evening I wrote an email to Tesla’s press office requesting the loan of a Model X for review. Nothing specific, simply available dates.

The next day I received a reply from Tesla, it’s explained that things were very busy with the Model X, but the 5th and 6th of October was available for a test drive, did that suit? I puzzled for a while, in the past I had been loaned vehicles for a little longer, to give me time to get to know the vehicle, two days seemed a bit short to get a proper review in place. So, I followed up with an email, requesting a little longer.

I quickly received a reply from Tesla asking what my plans were? OK, good question, time to put on my thinking cap.

15 July 2017

My initial idea was driving from Lands End to John O’Groats, but after a little bit of Googling, I discovered that this had already been done in a  Tesla and well documented on YouTube, there was nothing original to achieve in travelling down this this ‘road’.

But wait a minute! Was there? I live about 40 minutes from Ness Point, the most easterly point in the UK. Nestled in Lowestoft, Ness Point at first glance seemed a little unloved. Some thought and effort has been made to build a stone circle, with plaques showing distances to well known points in the UK. It’s quite nice, but the surroundings aren’t that impressive, but it seemed like the obvious starting point for a challenge and wasn’t too far from home.

Now to find the most westerly point of the UK.

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse sits on the most westerly mainland point of the UK accessible by a short ferry ride at Corran and a two hour drive along single track roads across an extinct volcano. There even appeared to be a ‘rapid’ charge point a few miles away at Kichoan Pier, which would set a challenge outside of Tesla’s ‘Supercharger’ network.

The plan was hatched, but it was just the beginning.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

The Gadget Man – Episode 105 – On the Sofa with Sarah Lilley at BBC Radio Suffolk

As I continue to ride the wave of euphoria of completing the 1200 mile east to west  Gadget Road Trip with my lifelong friend Andy. Today I joined BBC Radio Suffolk’s Sarah Lilley on the Sofa in Ipswich and explained how the challenge came about and how it felt to drive 1200 miles in an Electric Car and why I love Gadgets!

I also talked about how I met Vanessa, how I listen to music and an ill fated trip to Tunisia in 1996.

Listen in to the stream, bookmark the site, we have a LOAD of reviews coming up over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

The Gadget Man – Episode 104 – Defeating Vehicle Security

Following a report by the RAC that vehicle thefts in the United Kingdom have risen by 30% in the last three years, I spoke to Mark Murphy on his BBC Radio Suffolk Breakfast show about how thieves are trying to defeat the security measures that car manufacturers are putting in place.

You can listen into the stream, but clicking the ‘play’ button above.

If you are interested in the technology that is regularly being used to defeat vehicle security, Andy Greenburg has written a very interesting article on Wired which can be found here.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

 

GoPro Hero5 Session – The Compact 4k Camera with Voice Control

GoPro have been at the top end of the action camera market for a long time and have consistently produced really high quality products, the Hero 5 range brings a whole range of functionality not seen before in a GoPro, so I was eager to find out more.

There are two camera’s in the Hero 5 range, the Hero 5 Black and Hero 5 Session, I have been reviewing the Session.

Hero 5 Session Whats in the Box
Hero 5 Session Whats in the Box

The Session is a small camera! Measuring 38 x 38 x 36 mm (1.5 x 1.5 x 1.4 inch). On the front is the camera lens and the back is a small button, on the side is a covered MicroSD and USB-C port and finally on top is the shutter button which is also used for controlling the camera. There is also a very small mono led screen which lets you know the status and mode of the camera.

The camera comes equipped with on-board wifi and it is using this and a free app that you can control and preview the camera.

Hero5 Session Switched on

There is also a brand new ‘Voice Control’ mode too, which allows you to command the camera. There are 12 commands it understands ranging from ‘GoPro Start Recording’, ‘GoPro Take a Photo’ to ‘GoPro Switch Off’. It actually works really well, however I only tried it in a room environment, so I’m not sure how it works out in the field, waves or ski slope though.

There are a heap of video modes you can shoot including 720p,960p,1080p,1440p,2,7k and up to 4k, these also offer up a variety of frame rates from 30fps at 4k to 120fps at 720p, there is the ability to remove the dreaded fish eye effect with ‘Linear’ in some modes and there is image stabilisation available up to 1080p, so those bumpy rides of ski videos will have less judder for viewers.

The image quality is simply amazing! I have always doubted the quality of the videos provided by manufacturers, but the Hero 5 Session really does delivery with zero post processing. I was honestly astounded by the 4k footage and I’m looking forward to getting out on my bike to get some off road footage over the next few days.

The camera can also take 10mp photos either in standard, timelapse or burst mode with the ability to take 30 10mp photos in 1 second! All of these settings are changeable with dozens of options available.

For people looking to use the GoPro as a dash cam, there is also ‘Loop’ mode on the video, although you might be better off looking for a dedicated device for this.

The Hero 5 range are also compatible with the GoPro Karma drone for those looking to take their footage high into the air.

All in all, I’m impressed with the GoPro Hero 5 Session, at £299 it’s by no means the cheapest camera around and you might be looking at the Hero 4 Session for half the price. However, with the drop if price you lose all of the killer features of the Hero 5 including 4K.

Cross Sports Book Awards 2017 – Superb evening and impressive winners

You might remember my live review of the Cross Peerless Trackr Pen Review from a few weeks ago. This followed the Cross Pen Hunt in London.

Cross Sports Book Awards 2017
Cross Sports Book Awards 2017

Well, a week or so later, I received an email from Cross, inviting me along to the Cross Sports Book Awards at Lords Cricket Ground in London. The awards are now in their 15th year and the list of nominees this year was impressive to say the least, featuring Joey Barton, Ian Wright, Damon Hill, Chris Boardman and many more.

Neil and Matt at the Cross Sports Book Awards
Neil and Matt at the Cross Sports Book Awards

The evening began with a champagne reception followed by a prime spot in the ‘Green Room’ where we could watch the post award interviews. All of which was filmed for Sky Sports.

Of course, being the Gadget Man, I had to take along some tech for the evening, so I was equipped with my trusty Olympus ZX-10, GoPro Hero 5 Session, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (for it’s amazing camera), Nvidia Shield K1 and HTC One M9 (for data). There was precious time to take photos or movies, but I did manage some and not surprisingly they are spread across countless memory cards and cloud storage. I will update this post as I compile more media.

The recording of the awards is now available on YouTube and can be found below.

Profound thanks to Cross for the invitation, it was a brilliant night.

 

The Cosmic Watch – A Mesmerising & Beautiful App for Viewing the Cosmos

The human race has always been fascinated by the stars in the sky. From guiding themselves across the seas, planning the harvests or daydreaming about visiting far away planets, we spend a great deal of our time thinking about the stars and planets.

It is fascinating to  think that we have only really begun to understand the Universe in the last 50 years and continue to be humbled by our place its vastness and the influence it still continues to holds on us.

So, when I was contacted by the makers of Cosmic Watch, I was intrigued on how an app was going to give me a much deeper understanding of our solar system and the movement of the planets and celestial bodies.

A screenshot The Cosmic Watch of one of the many different modes available.
A screenshot The Cosmic Watch of one of the many different modes available.

To start with, Cosmic Watch is a really good looking mobile application, with an incredibly slick, but simple to operate user experience. This is an app that can be any one of many things, from world clock, searching for planetary positions to finding Astrology Star Sign and it’s relation to those constellations at your time of birth.

Any astrophysicist worth his salt will tell you that the study of our Universe is not simply the study of ‘space’, it is also the study of ‘time’, this is conveniently called ‘Space-Time’. It’s called this because everything in our Universe is moving and thus “In physics, spacetime is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single interwoven continuum.”.

In order to understand and track the stars and planets we need to understand Space-Time in order to be able to find the positions of the planets and stars at any given point in the past and the future.

A screenshot The Cosmic Watch of one of the many different modes available.
A screenshot The Cosmic Watch of one of the many different modes available.

Cosmic Clock can provide this information using a 3d user experience which places our planet Earth in the centre of everything, not as a step backwards in our understand, but in fact to help us understand our place in the Universe. It does this both effortlessly and beautifully.

Cosmic Clock has three main modes:

  1. World Clock – For time keeping around the globe
  2. Astronomy – For viewing the constellations and planets
  3. Astrology – The study of the position of the stars and their perceived influence on us and our daily lives.

 

To navigate any of these modes you use buttons on the left hand side of the screen, with additional buttons placed at the base of the screen to control how the information is displayed.

Swiping the screen causes everything to rotate in 3d around the Earth, you can also pinch to zoom in order to see a particular place in detail.

In clock mode, you can actually use your phone or tablet as a desktop clock, just make sure you connect it to a charger first. You also need to switch off ‘sleep’ mode to keep the screen on. This is a fascinating view as it shows the Earth in real time including the approaching sunrise or sunset.

Astronomy mode display the stars and planets with added labels. You can speed up, freeze or reverse time to find out the exact position of celestial bodies as specific times.

Astrology mode shows the plants and stars using their traditional symbols and signs of the zodiac. It’s very detailed if this kind of thing interests you.

Throughout all of these modes, there are a myriad of different settings available to allow you to display the cosmos in pretty much any conceivable fashion and it’s certainly extremely interesting to use.

The app makes use of the internal sensors or your phone and tablet including the compass. This helps you align the display of the app with the actual night sky and makes the experience fascinating as rather than guessing the position of a planet, you can accurately predict when it will be in the sky.

If the stars and planets interest you, Cosmic Watch will provide you with a fascinating insight into the Solar System and wider Universe and it an absolute MUST PURCHASE and at £4.99 it is worth every penny.

You can purchase Cosmic Watch for iOS here or Android here

Or visit them directly here at http://cosmic-watch.com/