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.
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.
Out 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.
Inside 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.
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 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.
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.
Sound 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!
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.
Quite 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.
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.
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!
For the past few weeks I have been testing the Edifier M1380 2.1 Speakers with Subwoofer and Satellites. As a music fan, I’ve always been a fan of external speakers both PC’s and MP3 players, so when a set of Edifier M1380 speakers arrived at my office, I was eager to give them a try.
The M1380 speakers come with a high quality 5 inch subwoofer bass unit, two satellite tweeters and a wired controller for both muting and controlling the volume. Bass is adjusted by a control knob on the side of the subwoofer with a 3.5mm audio line-in cable and speaker out connectors for the tweeters.
The subwoofer feels weighty, which gives you confidence that the bass reproduction is going to be good in addition, the build materials feel sturdy. The subwoofer outputs 12W, it’s not up to ‘block party’ standards, but it’s perfectly loud enough to please someone as a second set and is complimented by the the tweeter speakers outputting at 8W each.
The satellite speakers are elevated to a height of 6 inches. This gives the sound the freedom to travel rather than be adsorbed by surrounding furniture and is crisp and pleasant to listen to.
The speakers have been balanced with each other, meaning they work together to produce a rich, pleasant sound and don’t interfere with each other by over-saturating different frequencies.
The speaker volume is controlled via a small table mounted dial and mute switch. I like this kind of set up as it allows to to easily adjust the speaker volume by sitting the controller next to your keyboard if you are using them as PC speakers. It also offers a headphone socket, allowing you to plugin your favourite pair without having to reach around behind the speaks and fumble around.
Edifier are very good at producing attractive audio equipment and the M1380 continues this with a modern, matte black setup which would fit in most surroundings and not look out of place.
The price point for the speaker system is around the £49 mark, this feels like great value for such a quality product. If you are looking for a cost effective set of speakers which would suit students heading off for university, these are a great choice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Edifier produce a wide range of high quality audio equipment, from the tiny Bluetooth MP211 portable speaker with built in microphone to the earth shaking S760D 5.1 surround sound system.
This last couple of weeks I have been testing and enjoying the Edifier C2V 2.1 Speaker System aimed primarily at gamers and utilising their Intelligent Distortion Control.
In the box you find a main control unit with remote, two satellite speakers with 3-inch midrange and ¾ inch tweeter and a lovely 6.5-inch subwoofer which produces amazing bass! The speakers and equipment are enclosed in wooden MFD boxes, so no chance of buzzing from nasty plastic parts here.
The speakers produce a total of 36 watts output, connecting to your PC/Mac or other sound source using either RCA or AUX connectors along with a headphones connector for keeping the neighbours happy.
You can adjust the Volume, Bass and Treble using either the amplifier or remote control giving a wide range of sound options to suit your gaming or music needs.
I really enjoyed playing some of my favourite music through the C2V, I was particularly fond of Orbital Live at Glastonbury, their is nothing like Dr Who rocking out late on a Friday afternoon
I also watched a number of movie trailers, I was particularly taken by Suicide Squad especially using my 4K iMac Retina display!
The C2V speaker system is aimed at gaming and therefore Bluetooth and other related technology is not included which is not great loss when you are sitting speakers either side of your gaming machine.
All in all, the C2V is a great set of speakers and at around £89, it’s very good value for money. After a quick look around online, they are available at most high street stores.
Thanks again to Edifier for the loan of the speakers for review and Katherine at KL Associates for bringing it all together.
Digital Radio is now firmly established in our lives with more and more stations switching to DAB and the hardware finding itself in our homes and more importantly in our vehicles, the choice of stations is now bigger than it’s ever been. The move to DAB has been much slower than the recent transition to Digital TV and the consequent switch off of analogue services, mainly due to the availability, simplicity of installation and pricing of Digital TV boxes, something that is not quite so practical with radio.
To help with this transition in our homes, Pure have been working hard to squeeze multiple technologies into their already well known range of DAB radios. I’ve been testing the Pure Evoke F3 with Bluetooth for the last month and really like the additions.
Out of the box, the Evoke F3 looks very much a traditional modern DAB digital radio, it’s a good size and weight, but it’s so much more than just a DAB radio, Pure have included traditional FM, Bluetooth connectivity, Internet Radio and Podcasts, Spotify Premium streaming, Aux in, Line out and network browsing of your locally stored music.
This is possible by adding WiFi connectivity to allow you to browse in excess of 25,000 radio stations across the world and more than 100,000 podcasts including BBC listen again content and Spotify Premium. It should be noted that if you want to make use of the Spotify function, you will need to subscribe to their £9.99 per month service.
You can stream your own music from your mobile phone using Bluetooth or via line in. If you want to get an even meatier sound from the device, it can be plugged into an amp via the 3.5mm line out socket.
Setting up the radio was really straightforward and connecting to a WiFi network is really straightforward, the radio is controlled from the front panel buttons or a separate remote control. You can also link the radio to Pure’s ‘Connect’ web service which makes organising playlists and stations much easier. The sound quality is very good for the price and the smart design means that it will sit happily in a kitchen, office or bedroom without standing out too much.
The radio has alarm and sleep functions built, so you can wake up to the wonders of your favourite Balearic Dance station or simply an alarm tone if you prefer. The colour display is not mobile phone quality as it was a little washed out, but nothing that ruins the experience and is perfectly adequate for day to day use.
The Pure Evoke F3 is good value at about £129, which is pretty competitive especially given the enormous amount of functionality included, I thought it was a great piece of kit.
Thanks to Nick at BT Shop for providing the radio for review