Category Archives: Matt Porter

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/

 

The Gadget Man – Episode 102 – Nokia 3310 (re)launches in the UK

Click to buy the Nokia 3310 from Amazon

With the UK launch of the Nokia 3310, I talk to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk about the nostalgia behind one of the most popular mobile phones of the last 20 years.

The original Nokia 3310 is without doubt an iconic mobile handset and in it’s original form which went on to sell 126,000,000 units.

Following the licensing of the ‘Nokia’ phone brand to HMD, four new phones, including three running Android, namely the Nokia 3, Nokia 4 and Nokia 5 are to be launched.

Nokia 3310
Nokia 3310

Alongside these modern smartphones see’s the  reborn Nokia 3310.

The handset is described as ‘a modern classic reborn’, retaining the durability and insane standby time of the original. Available in four distinctive colours and with a price tag of £49, expect the 3310 to be popular again.

Don’t forget to listen in to the stream to find our more!

The Gadget Man – Episode 101 – WannaCry – WannaCrypt – Eternal Blue – What Happened and What to Do?

Following my previous post which can be found here, I talked this morning to Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk about WannaCry and the effect it has had on the NHS, what needs to be done to stop it happening again and what we can do to protect ourselves.

To read and in depth article on how to protect your computers from such attacks, click here

PLEASE ensure your computers have all their updates installed and make sure you have Anti-Virus software installed.

 

 

Edifier MP280 – A New Generation of Portable Speaker

Lighter evenings are upon us at last! We can start to look forward to getting out in the fresh air again after hibernating over the winter months. As always when I start thinking of spending more time outside I begin looking for gadgets that I can take with me.

I’ve recently been sent the Edifier MP280 Portable Speaker something that is clearly marketed to outdoor enthusiasts.

Edifier MP280 Portable Speaker
Edifier MP280 Portable Speaker

I’ve always found Edifier really high quality and the MP280 checks that box, it feels solid and well made with special silicone material and metal. The speakers are wrapping around the cylindrical design and give 360 degree sound along with professional grade DSP chips to give exceptional sound quality.

Edifier MP280 Portable Speaker
Edifier MP280 Portable Speaker

The MP280 comes with Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, microSD and Aux sockets. There is the added bonus of a USB out port which means you can use the speaker to charge your phone or other USB device when you are out and about. The speaker can be charged using a standard micro USB socket and when fully charged, the lithium ion battery should give 10 hours of constant playback.

Edifier MP280 Portable Speaker
Edifier MP280 Portable Speaker

The on/off button is placed on top of the speaker along with the Bluetooth pairing button. When switched on, the speaker plays a pleasant tune to let you know it’s working and to demonstrate it’s lovely sound quality. On the side is the volume controls and also a button used play and pause music which can also be used to display the current battery charge status which when pressed for 2 seconds displays the battery status using 3 green LED’s.
At the bottom of the speaker is the power / status light and just above this is an NFC contact point. If you have an NFC (near field connection) compatible phone you simply tap your phone on this and it sorts out the connection for you.

Edifier MP280 Portable Speaker
Edifier MP280 Portable Speaker

As a smartphone user, I am constantly faced with battery anxiety, where I might struggle to the end of the day without having to plug my phone into a charger. The MP280 can remove this anxiety by doubling as an emergency recharge station to give your phone a boost and continue to play your music whilst charging it up again.

Edifier MP280 Portable Speaker
Edifier MP280 Portable Speaker

The speaker will operate up to 10 metres away from your phone using Bluetooth 4.0 technology and the really useful and it also doubles as a hands free device with it’s in built microphone!

If you fancy going for a hike with your friends or family, you can attach the speaker to your backpack using the inbuilt carabiner clip. Again this is feels high quality too.

There are no shortage of portable bluetooth speakers on the market at the moment and the MP280 certainly sits at the top end of this with a well made, high quality product ideal for your camping trips in the coming months.

The Edifier MP280 is available for £79.99 at the this link http://gman.ga/gman280

The ASUS Transformer Mini T102H Review – Is it a Laptop or a Tablet?

For the last few weeks, I have been testing the ASUS Transformer Mini, a device which can be a laptop and tablet depending on your mood.

ASUS Transformer Mini T102H
ASUS Transformer Mini T102H

The idea of a tablets with keyboards is not a new one, these were generally add-on keyboards for iPads or Android tablets which worked well, but seemed out of place on a device that was designed to be operated without one. There have also been laptops with detachable keyboards which in turn felt out of place running software which was designed for one.

The key change is the introduction of Windows 10 which can seamlessly transform itself from a keyboard and mouse centric operating system into a touch and swipe based tablet and back again, simply by detaching and reattaching a keyboard,

ASUS Transformer Mini T102
ASUS Transformer Mini T102H

ASUS have been in the ‘transforming’ tablet market for some time and the Transformer Mini T102H brings a very useful addition to the table with a 10.1″ LED backlit HD screen which uses ASUS’s ‘Splendid’ and ‘Wideview’ Technology to give great viewing angles.

ASUS Transformer T102H
ASUS Transformer Mini T102H

Powered by the Intel® Atom™ x5 Processor and 4 GB of RAM. The hard disk is in fact Solid State memory and gives your 64GB of silent running. Everything on board is low power and there didn’t appear to be any internal fans to cool the device.

The graphics are fast and snappy helped by the integrated Intel HD Graphics processor and there’s also an inbuilt 2 megapixel webcam for Skype or other video chat applications.

The great thing about Windows tablets is the number of connectors, the Transformer has a 3.5 mm combo audio jack, USB 3.0 and Micro USB ports, a micro HDMI socket, Fingerprint reader for login, volume controls and micro SD card slot.

ASUS Transformer Mini T102
ASUS Transformer Mini T102

The detachable keyboard was really easy to use and attaches using a powerful magnet and always seemed to line up properly and was responsive to use with the inbuilt trackpad. My Transformer also came with a stylus which is battery powered and looks and feels like a real pen, it was great for drawing and painting using the bundled apps and can also be used to write on-screen sticky note.

 

ASUS Transformer T102H
ASUS Transformer Mini T102H

I really enjoyed using the Transformer and it makes a great device for people who are comfortable with tablets, but also need a real keyboard for their work, possibly an idea for students? At £449 it is reasonably price too.