When thinking about electric cars, most people conjure up images of 60 sci-fi movies with passengers sitting in a bubble of glass on empty elevated roads. This is very far from the reality of 21st century electric vehicles, which are very similar in look to their petrol drinking cousins and literally bursting at the seams with technology.
Over the past months, I have been given the amazing opportunity to test five of these vehicles, from the quirky two seater Renault Twizy to the awesome BMW i8. However nothing was going to prepare me for the most recent vehicle, designed and built by a Silcon Valley based company headed up by Elon Musk who spends the other half of his day heading up SpaceX, the private space rocket business.
This week we chat about the Tesla Model S P85+ electric vehicle.
If you haven’t already heard about the Tesla, you should! They are producing amazing electric sports cars with even more amazing range. Tesla were amazingly generous in allowing me to borrow a top of the range vehicle for 6 days. It’s simply superb in every way. Over the past 6 days, I have made a few new friends and have been asked numerous questions about the car.
Listen to the stream above where I talk to Mark about my time using the car. A full in depth review will be coming over the next few days.
Thanks to Tesla Motors for lending me the car, particularly Laura who has been extremely patient. To find out more about Tesla, you can view their website here
Thanks also to Paul Eaton, who very kindly gave up an afternoon of his time to stand, crouch and lay in the freezing cold taking some superb photos of the car. You can view his Flickr profile here
It’s been a great year reviewing such a wide range of gadgets from smart watches to high end sports cars. It’s been quite a ride, I’ve really enjoyed the whole experience, so thank you to all involved from BBC Radio Suffolk to the PR agencies and companies that have been so generous allowing me to try out all the wonderful tech!
This morning I spoke to Mark Murphy about my favourite gadgets of the year and the Gadget which won the gadget of the Year.
We have a lot of fun reviewing some smart wear. We reviewed the Samsung Gear 2, Sony Smartwatch 2 and Sony Smartband. My favourite was the Gear 2, purely for James Bond features. However we have been asking to review other watches, but none have been sent out. Let’s hope this improves next year.
Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 – Wearable of the Year 2014
Sony Smartwatch 2
Smart Phones and Tablets
We were never short of phones and tablets which is not surprising given the size of the marketplace. HTC, Samsung, LG, Asus, Nokia and Motorola all supplied us with review units. HTC phones exhibited the best built quality and screen sharpness. LG had the best screen of the two Quad HD displays (the other being the Galaxy Note 4). Motorola was the best value for money with it’s Moto G.
Overall, our favourite handset started and remained the Nokia Lumia 1520. A six inch incredibly vibrant screen, superb battery life and exquisite camera. Although very large, it was by far the nicest of the all the handsets we reviewed
We also reviewed three tables, the Samungs Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, the Nokia Lumia 2520 and the Asus Transformer. The Tab Pro 12.2 was our favourite with massive 12.2 inch screen with better than HD quality, the Nokia 2520 with Windows 8.1RT on board was close behind.
HTC One M8 HTC One Mini 2 Nokia Lumia 1520 – Smart Device of the Year 2014 Sony Xperia Z2 Moto G Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 Nokia Lumia 2520 Tablet Nokia Lumia 630 Asus Zenfone 6 Asus Transformer LG G3 Asus Zenfone 5 Samsung Galaxy S5 Samsung Galaxy Alpha Samsung Galaxy Note 4
We reviewed a number of cameras this year, as expected the GoPro models come ahead of most others for their durability and quality of movies and photos. The Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 was excellent and was a fully functional Android device to boot. The Sony Actioncam was good, but kept fogging up which spoilt most of it’s footage. The Autographer was…. weird.
GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition – Camera of the Year 2014 Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Sony Actioncam Autographer BT Homecam GoPro Hero Selfie Stick
I loved reviewing the electric bikes this year. I started out with the mindset that electric bikes would be a welcome relief from simply reviewing mobile phones for a year, but I ended up extending my ‘E’ vehicle reviews to cars. It was thoroughly interesting and liberating to get out in the Suffolk countryside and off the beaten track to test out these bikes. The Sparta is not really designed for off-road, but was capable and fast used for travelling to work. The Smart Ebike was fabulous and I loved every minute of using it, especially off-road. The Batribike was excellent in every area, I only marked if down for off-road use, but this was a little unfair as it had road tyres.
Sparta Ion/RX+ Smart Ebike – Ebike of the Year 2014 – Joint Winner Batribike Granite Pro – Ebike of the Year 2014 – Joint Winner
This was an amazing experience from the beginning. The Renault Twizy was small and exciting to drive, but really only designed to replace moped type use. The Renault Zoe was an excellent car, out of all, this was the one car which could truly offer and alternative to fossil fuelled cars both in size and price. The BMW i3 was interesting and very fast. Design wise it hardly resembled an standard BMW but it was high spec and beautiful to drive. The BMW i8 was outstanding to look at and drive. It was like sitting in Red 5 at the end of Star Wars Episode IV, and the most exhilarating drive so far (electric car wise). I didn’t get to test the Tesla Model S this year, but in a week or so, I am looking forward to reviewing it.
I also got to experience 3 AMG ‘normally’ aspirated vehicles. I say normal, there was nothing normal about these vehicles. I experienced the G63 (G Wagon), the S63 and the C63 Edition 507. The C63 was simply mind shattering. When a manufacturer electronically limits to the top speed to 171mph, you know something is afoot.
BMW i8 – Car of the Year 2014
I got to test out other gadgets and gizmos, ranging from domestic gadgets to toys and drones. The drones were fun, but in some cases difficult to control. The Ankidrive was fun and the Samsung Smart TV with Soundbar was very cool indeed. However, by far the best gadget we tried out was the iRobot Roomba 880. This is a fantastic vacuum cleaner and has remained in use at least three times a day since July this year. It does a brilliant job of vacuuming up just about any type of debris on any surface. It was fantastic!!
iRobot Roomba 880 – Winner Samsung Smart TV and Soundbar Ankidrive Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Parrot Jumping Sumo
Overall Gadget of the Year 2014
We’ve certainly tried and tested many gadgets this year. Some were disappointments, some were surprising successes. But at the end of the year, you simply have to hand the Gadget of the Year award to a recipient that deserves it for providing above and beyond expectation. With this in mind, we simply have to award the Gadget of the Year Award 2014 to iRobot Roomba 880. It’s a fantastic piece of equipment which has genuinely helped us around the house.
In the last gadget slot before Christmas, I talk with Mark Murphy about the GoPro Hero, GoPro’s entry level action camera.
We discuss the merits of such cameras over using a mobile phone and likely uses.
The GoPro Hero is lower end in performance and functionality compared to the GoPro Hero 4, but coming in at a quarter of the cost, it’s certainly worth looking at, it’s waterproof to 40 meters and has excellent optics as you would expect from GoPro.
Don’t expect bluetooth or Wifi though, but it has amazing functionality and build quality for the price.
If you are looking to buy one for yourself or a loved one, they are currently stocked by Currys and Argos or from Amazon
in the UK for approx £99.99 (click on the company link to be passed to their website).
This morning we very briefly discussed securing your mobile device, so in the event of it getting into the hands of a thief, the information stored on the device is safe and it is sufficiently locked down to make it nearly valueless.
Listen in to the stream above and below you will find some useful tips to help you keep your phone and data safe.
The most important points raised were:-
Switch on the pin-code or similar security feature on your phone
If possible set the phone to encrypt your data to this pin-code
Don’t save passwords in web browsers on your phone
Make sure you log out of websites after purchasing items on your phone.
Enable ‘Find my phone’ or similar functionality, this will enable you to remotely ‘brick’ your phone if you have it stolen.
Don’t wave it around in public places.
Make SURE you have adequate insurance to cover the replacement of the phone and other ‘expenses’.
If you are unlucky enough to have your phone stolen, you should immediately:-
Contact your phone provider, do this before anything else as you won’t have to pay call charges made after you have reported it stolen or lost.
Contact the police and get a crime number, this will make insurance claims easier(!).
Log into your ‘Find my phone’ on a computer and see if you can track where the phone is. If you can’t find it or there is no chance of retrieving it, disable it (brick it) straightaway. This makes it nearly useless on the black market and it will only be used for parts.
Take steps for the first set of points, so this doesn’t happen again!!
This morning’s gadget slot was probably the most fun we’ve had so far!! Today I featured the Anki Drive a physical car racing game which effortlessly merges the real world with arcade racing and adds buckets of artificial intelligence.
You can buy Ankidrive online direct from Amazon by clicking the image below….
Both Mark and myself can vouch how quickly it can be unrolled and set up as I managed while a song was playing. I haven’t even touched on what you can do with this ‘racing game’, but I can tell you I was seriously impressed!! Full written review coming soon, in the meantime listen to the attached audio stream and the short video filmed by the lovely Jaimielee.
Thanks to the wonderful Lauren Armour at Hotwire PR for getting this over to me at such short notice!!!