Category Archives: The Gadget Man

Watch as a Cheetah and Formula E race car go head to head in the South Africa Savanna!

Watch as a fully-electric Formula E car lined up against a cheetah in the Western Cape, South Africa.

The race was undertaken to highlight the global impact the burning fossil fuels has on the environment and consequently threatens these endangered species.

Both cheetah and Formula E car reach speeds of 60mph in around three seconds. To find out which came out on top, watch the video.

As a Zero-Emissions motorsport, Formula E aims to help provide a solution by being a catalyst for change and help accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles and making a cleaner environment for all of us.

Jean-Eric Vergne, Montreal E-Prix race winner and TECHEETAH driver, said: “Both the TECHEETAH Formula-E Team and I want to be part of raising awareness for the wider impact that climate change has on our planet. We do it mostly by showcasing and developing our electric cars across the world throughout the Formula E season, but we wanted to do more outside of the race track. There are only around 7,000 cheetahs still living in the wild and we have a strong desire to raise awareness for the main threats they face, such as illegal trade of cubs for pets, loss of prey due to habitat loss and fragmentation aggravated by climate change. I’m really proud to have participated in this film and stay tuned for some exciting news to come following the documentary.”

There are now just 7,000 cheetahs remaining in the wild. The species is wide-ranging and sparsely distributed and needs large landscapes to survive, making it particularly vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation – threats that are exacerbated by a changing climate.

The film was overseen by conservation experts and animal welfare organisations, and is released in partnership with Animal Issues Matter, Cheetah Outreach and Endangered Wildlife Trust.

First Products of the Tech Giants – Play our Quiz!

We all have to start somewhere and so did some of the biggest tech companies. Play our quiz and see if you can guess what their first products were? You might be surprised at some of the answers!

Don’t forget to comment with your score and don’t forget to like and share!!

Sony Xperia XZ1 Review – The Super Slow Motion, 3D Capture, HDR Video, Smartphone #gadgetroadtrip

In the lead up to the East West Road Trip in October I was looking for a smartphone to enable me to document the trip both with photographs and video and was particularly keen to live stream the video where possible. 

Initially I was looking to live-stream the trip using a 360° camera, unfortunately this didn’t come off and I was faced with a last-minute race to find an alternative literally 2 days before we were departing! 

Fortunately, I was offered the Sony Xperia XZ1 phone with 30gb of data from EE. This solved by data anxiety problems immediately and having used Sony Xperia devices in the past, I was confident they would step up to the plate with image and video quality. 

Sony are an extremely well-established tech companies, in fact for many years they were ‘the’ tech company of choice and it’s no secret the mobile phone market is dominated by two other big tech brands, so I was interested to see how the XZ1 would differentiate itself in an ultra-competitive industry. 

Out of the box, the Sony XZ1 is a sleek, smooth, black device, with Gorilla Glass 5 front facing glass and deep black aluminium at the back, a departure from the super-sized XZ Premium from earlier in the year which was covered from and rear in glass.  With dimensions of 5.83″ x 2.87″ with a thickness of 7.4mm, this is not the most gigantic handset and its smooth edges make it comfortable to hold, although it is very smooth, so hold on tight! Aside from black, the device is also available in Moonlit Blue, Warm Silver and Venus Pink, so plenty of choice. 

The phone is preloaded with the Google Android™ O (or Oreo) operating system and Sony have been very sensitive by not trashing the ideals of the OS by avoiding in the addition of their own ‘enhancements’ in the most part. 

The phone packs a very bright 5.2″ TRILUMINOS™ display driven by BRAVIA® TV technology given HDR compatible playback X-Reality™ producing 138% of standard display colour spectrum, the companies experience in the display market really comes through. The display is noticeably brighter and colour more natural that other phone displays and playing HDR video from YouTube, Netflix or Amazon Prime is incredible. X-Reality™ intelligently removes noise and from videos produces exquisite results, it really is impressive. Some people would criticise the use of a Full HD screen HDR screen instead of the perceived standard of UHD and above, but I would beg to differ, having tried both UHD and 4K mobile devices, I see no real benefits, even when using VR Goggles. 

The beating heart inside of the device is provided by a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Processor, positioning the phone in the same bracket at the competition. In addition, storage comes as 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of super-fast UFS internal memory with support for an addition of a up to 256GB micro SDXC. It’s pleasing that support for additional memory has been included with the phone, although it’s quite fiddly adding and removing both Sim card and SD cards with the phone, but on the plus side it’s very accessible. It should be noted that around 9.5GB is used up by preinstalled firmware and applications. 

Click here to Buy the Sony Xperia XZ1 via Amazon

The phone is powered by a 2700 mAh battery, featuring Smart Stamina 3.0 and Qnovo Adaptive Charging which prolongs the life of the battery by ensuring it is charged quickly and safely with the addition of  Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0.  I’ve come across battery charge management in the past with electric cars and particularly the Tesla Model S, this too allows for quick charging, but upon reaching around 80% full, charging speed is tapered off to ensure the lifetime of the battery. Sony does a similar job with the Xperia XZ1 by intelligently noting owners charge habits and adjusting the charge rate of the phone if for instance you are sleeping and don’t begin using your phone until 7.15am. It is also possible to use the phone to charge other devices using an Android OTG adapter, but in fairness mobile phone battery is at such a premium that use of it for anything other than for the phone itself is rare. 

With normal use the phone easily provides a days use with something left over at the end and this will be using all of the phones features, even some of the cooler ones which I will talk about later. Charging is provided by a Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 charger and USB Type C socket. 

Sony Xperia XZ1 reviewed by Matt Porter - The Gadget ManMoving on the the front and rear cameras, Sony has yet again infused the phone with their high quality optics and sensors. The rear facing 9MP Motion Eye™ camera with 1/ 2.3” Exmor RS™ with 1.22μm pixel pitch. The lens is a 25 mm wide G Lens F2.0. Sony again use their own BIONZ™ for mobile image-processing engine to give superb results. There’s a ton of features such as Predictive Capture (motion / smile), Autofocus burst, x8 Digital Zoom, HDR Photo, 0.6 sec Quick Launch & Capture, Predictive Hybrid Autofocus, Anti-distortion shutter, Triple image sensing technology, SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stablisation) and 4K recording at 30fps. 

However, the ‘pièce de résistance’ is the inclusion of a 960 fps Super slow motion video capture. This is achieved by the inclusion of addition hardware installed directly into the camera sensor in the form of hyper fast dynamic memory which allows for raw footage to be saved directly into the sensor and then drip feed and standard speed back to the standard hardware. Due to the colossal amount of power required to pulling 960 frames per second, the sensor only actually captures .18 of a second at 720hd, stretching it to around 6 seconds of footage.

 

This is called Motion Eye technology and personally I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops for the future, because it’s really impressive. As expected, you need bags of light to capture at this speed, so it works best outside in daylight, I also noticed light flicker in my office due to the refresh  rate of our lights. Normal lighting does not cause his problem though. 

The front facing camera is a saner 13MP 1/ 3.06”  Exmor RS™ for mobile image sensor with 22mm wide angle lens at F2.0, again Sony includes it’s proprietary SteadyShot™ 5-axis stablization technology. 

Sony Xperia XZ1 reviewed by Matt Porter - The Gadget ManThere is one simply AMAZING feature included with the XZ1 which is the 3D Capture mode. This uses software developed by Sony, utilising both processor and camera to allow you to 3D scan objects, share them and even have them 3D printed. It takes a little practice and Sony actively limit the modes available to give you time to get used to simple scans until you are ready to scan ‘freehand’. My initial results were ok, but I soon became adept in scanning some great objects, from peoples’ faces, heads, food and any other object I could think of. This is a tipping point in this industry, no longer do you need super expensive scanners and solutions, you can now use your Sony Xperia XZ1 (and now XZ Premium) to scan 3d objects. It truly is incredible. 

Sony Xperia XZ1 reviewed by Matt Porter - The Gadget ManSony has chosen to stick with traditional Xperia design, this means that the trend of big screens and no bezels isn’t a feature of this phone, instead the phone packs stereo speakers at top and bottom of the phone which in landscape mode gives supreme stereo sound, making use of the Qualcomm® aptX™ HD audio features, the phone can ‘upscale’ lower quality audio to a near uncompressed sound when streaming across Bluetooth. There are a host of other features such as High-Resolution Audio, DSEE HX™, LDAC, Digital Noise Cancelling, Clear Audio+,  S-Force Front Surround, Stereo Recording and Sony’s Virtual Phones technology. The speaker volume has also been increased by 50% over previous models. 

Gaming wise, the phone is going to be able to handle pretty much everything thrown at it at the moment due to it’s highest end spec, but also included is PS4 integration using Remote Play. this allows you to connect to your own PS4 remotely and play your installed games, you can even pair a PS4 gamepad if that appeals. 

The phone retails at £599 off contract, but at the time of writing there are some pretty appealing deals including some nice add-ons, but in the UK you are still looking above £50 per month for two years and more if you want better data allowance. 

Sony Xperia XZ1 Review by Matt PorterAlthough the XZ1 doesn’t pack the 4K display of the XZ Premium, the screen is quite possibly richer, especially in HDR mode, the sound it great and performance very very quick. In a world where it is perceived we only have two choices, Sony have yet again produced a solid handset capable of sitting amongst the best. 

I did end up streaming a fair amount using the Sony Xperia XZ1 during and after the trip and found it to be a very capable device and coupled with an effectively limitless amount of data, it worked well.

On a side note, EE’s 4G network is very impressive and we were able to live stream both through Glencoe and arriving at Ardnamurchan, they pretty much had us covered.

Matt Porter 

The Gadget Man 

 

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!

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.