Category Archives: 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!

Electric Car Road Trip – 1200 miles in a Tesla – What tech gear are we taking?

A ‘Gadget Man’ Road Trip would be nothing with a car stacked full of technology, here’s a quick summary of the gear we are rocking for the trip.

The Car

This is of course an ‘Electric Challenge’, so we are driving a Tesla Model S 100D. A 4 wheel drive, twin motor electric car, packing a 100 kWh Lithium-ion battery with a projected range between charges of more that 300 miles. We can also take advantage of Tesla’s very own Supercharger network, meaning our charge times will hopefully be under 30 minutes. Enough time for a coffee and meal on our long journey. The car is packed with driver assistance technology and always on 4G connection for maps and music streaming.

The Drone

We will be taking along a DJI Mavic Pro for aerial shots. The Mavic is an outstanding, foldable 4K drone with a 25 minute flight time. It boasts the most advance stabilisation technology available today, combining GPS, Glonass and Optical stabilisation and obstacle avoidance.

As a backup, we will be taking along a DJI Phantom 3 Standard with 2 batteries.

Cameras

Our filming will be carried out on a DJI Osmo+ 3 axis stabilised camera with 3.5x optical zoom and 4K video recording. This will be backed up by a GoPro Hero camera, Panasonic Lumia G3 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge smart phone.

On board the car, we have a Transcend DrivePro 230s dashcam and hopefully a Samsung Gear 360 (2017).

Editing and Blogging

Our editing will be carried out on a Dell Latitude Rugged with Core i7 and SSD drive, this will be complimented by a Transcend SSD drive and SPS Rugged USB3 1GB Hard drive.

Comms

We are looking forward to confirmation that EE will be providing us with 30gb of data and a in car wifi hotspot, to allow us to Live Stream, and Vlog during the journey.

Tracking

Our trip tracking is being provided by Coderus. Custom built apps on our mobiles will transmit our GPS coordinates to our server in London, this information will be pushed to www.eastwestroadtrip.co.uk and www.thegadgetman.org.uk to allow for our friends, families and supporters to view our progress in real time. This is looking to be a fabulous addition to the trip and will encourage interaction with Paul whilst I concentrate on driving.

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

 

Edifier M1380 2.1 Speakers, a compact alternative.

Edifier M1380 2.1 Speakers are a smart choice for students

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.

Edifier M1380 2.1 Speakers Controller
The speaker controlller and earphone socket is useful for computer users

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.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

Driving a Tesla on a 1,200 mile round trip to prove electric car ‘cynics’ wrong

Ness Point, Lowestoft. Suffolk
Ness Point, Lowestoft. Suffolk – Credit SKYNAMIX

Of the amazing electric and hybrid cars I have been fortunate to review, by far the coolest was the Tesla Model S. Driving the Tesla really feels like you are riding on the coat tails of automotive history and due to it’s active over the air updates, you actually seem it improving and developing before your eyes.

Pointing towards Ardnamurchan
Pointing towards Ardnamurchan and a 1200 mile round trip

Since testing the Model S P85D, the car has continued to evolve from ‘Insane Mode’ all the way to ‘Ludicrous’ and ‘Ludicrous Plus’. Tesla have also introduced the Model X and more recently the Model 3.

The most regularly asked question people ask me about electric cars is ‘What is it’s range?’. Tesla has always lead the pack with their excellent range along with their network of ‘Superchargers’ . Tesla owners can expect in excess of 300 miles per charge, refuelling with electricity in around 30 minutes.

All of this has led me to challenge the cynics when they say “Electric Cars don’t have the range of my petrol car”.

Ardnamurchan, Scotland
Ardnamurchan, Scotland

On October 6th 2017, I embark on my biggest challenge to date as The Gadget Man. So big in fact, that I will be taking my father along for the ride!

Together we will be driving from the most Ness Point in Lowestoft (the most easterly point of mainland UK) to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse in Scotland (the most westerly point of mainland UK) and back again, a total journey of around 1200 miles. All of this will take place over the weekend of the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th October 2017 and will be completed on electric only in a Tesla Model S 100D.

Staying in Ullswater overnight
Staying in Ullswater overnight

Aside from being able to complete the 1200 mile trip under electric power only, we will also being travelling through some of the most amazing scenery our nation has to offer us with overnight stays in ‘Camping Pods’ in the Lake District and Ardnamurchan during our journey and a short trip on the Corran Ferry! We will we ‘re-juicing’ the car using Tesla’s Superchargers and a couple of rapid chargers and DJI are loaning us photographic equipment to help us document the journey.

We also hope to ‘live stream’ the challenge as often as possible and hope to make lots of new friends on the way!

Ullswater in the Lake District
Ullswater in the Lake District

The Gadget Man has never been a ‘paid gig’, so we are hoping that our challenge can be supported by you in order for us to be able to pay for our modest accommodation and food during the 4 day trip, all the funds we raise will be put to good use during our trip.

At the end of the challenge we will donate any remaining funds to the Red Cross.

Tesla Model S 100D
Tesla Model S 100D

If you are a business and would like to sponsor us, we will be very happy to put a link to your business on our dedicated website that we have set up for the challenge. If you know of camping gear manufacturers who who like to donate a couple of sleeping bags and pillows that would be very helpful too.

Thanks for taking the time to read about our challenge and we look forward to keeping you up to date with our planning for our road trip.

For more information, visit us at https://www.eastwestroadtrip.co.uk

 

Trackr launches the Pixel, a smaller, lighter and louder solution for lost items

Trackr has released a brand new personal tracking device to compliment the existing Bravo and Cross Peerless Trackr Pen (reviewed here).

Trackr launches the Pixel, a smaller, lighter and louder solution for lost items
The TrackR Pixel

The Trackr Pixel is smaller than a 10 pence piec, making it the smallest Bluetooth tracking devices available. Building on the functionality of the Cross Pen, the Trackr Pixel has longer range, louder speaker and LED light which makes locating it much easier find under car seats and at the bottom of bags.

The Pixel is available in nine bright colours, with a lower price point that the Bravo. It also comes with free keyring and adhesive. This means you can attach it to your keys, wallet, bags, laptop, remote control or even pet collar!

CEO and Co-Founder of TrackR, Chris Herbert said “Our goal is for people to no longer need to remember where all their items are located. Instead, technology should keep track of where our things are for us and our families, TrackR pixel is a step towards that future with its small and light design, built-in LED light, over one year battery life, and expansive Bluetooth range, making it one of the most versatile and easy-to-use tracking devices out there. Plus, it’s backed by the TrackR Crowd Locate network, which helps our customers find more than two million items worldwide each day.”

Once the device is paired with the free TrackR app, you can make your lost item light up and ring by selected in within the app.

 

As before with TrackR Crowd Locate Network, should you lose an item out of range of your smartphone, the network is activated and enables you to receive anonymous updates of the last-known location of your missing items whenever another TrackR user passes within range of it.

If you own an Amazon Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo, you can also use this to help you find your missing keys or phone. Pressing a button on the TrackR pixel device can also ring a misplaced phone – even if it’s on silent.

TrackR pixel can be bought online for $24.99 at www.thetrackr.com today and is available online now with eight-packs available for $99.99.

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.