Category Archives: Wearables

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 


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 100 – Cross Peerless Trackr Pen LIVE VIDEO review

Welcome to the 100th Episode of The Gadget Man, this time I set myself a very big task of LIVE STREAMING a technology review of the brand new Cross Peerless Trackr Pen. I hope you enjoy it below. The review itself starts at about 2 minutes in!

A few weeks back I was invited to London to attend the launch of the new Cross Peerless Trackr, the worlds first trackable pen.

Cross have been making writing instruments since 1846, so it was a pleasant surprise to see an established traditional brand embracing technology without losing what makes the company appealing.

The pen has Bluetooth technology carefully embedded inside it which works alongside what’s called ‘Crowd GPS’. This means that if you are unfortunate enough to misplace you pen or worse have it stolen, a league of other Trackr users immediately start helping your reunite your prized pen.  When a person running the Trackr app comes within up to 30 metres of your pen, they detect it and immediately an anonymous message is sent to you informing your of it’s current position.

Upon receiving the notification, you can then go to that location and using the app on your own phone, you cause the pen to light up and sound an alarm to give you an indication of it’s exact position, after a little bit of searching or discussion with it’s new temporary owner, the pen can be returned to you.

Conversely, the pen itself can be used to locate your phone, so if you are hunting around the house in the morning for your mobile, simply hold down the button on the side of the pen and your phone will start ringing!

The pen itself comes in a very nice presentation box along with instructions for pairing and using the pen, spare batteries, a nice suede case sleeve for the pen and your guarantee from Cross.

Once taken out of the box, the pen feels just weighty enough to feel comfortable and writes smoothly. As a pen on it’s own, it was nice and of course the ‘techie’ addition of the tracking appealed to me too. You should bear in mind that the crowd GPS functionality requires a ‘crowd’, so losing it in the middle of a deserted field isn’t going to help. Saying that, most towns have a large number of Trackr users and Central London was packed with them. You can even see how many people use Trackr by visiting their website.

If you are looking for a high end pen for meetings or a nice birthday or anniversary gift for someone, look no further than the Cross Peerless Trackr 125 Pen, available from all good pen shops for around £212.00.

Thanks to Rachel and Dan at Small Man Media and of course Cross for their kind invitation.


Gadget Man – Episode 89 – Star Trek 50th Anniversary – Fantasy Gadgets that are now Reality

uss_enterprise_ncc-1701-aToday we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek which first aired in 1964! Amazingly the series only ran for 3 series before being cancelled NBC. The show was an instant hit with a core group of fans now called ‘Trekkies’ or ‘Trekkers’. Star Trek went on to be shown on repeats or reruns many times over the years.

Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock. Image courtesy Wikimedia

Star Trek went on to spawn 13 motions pictures starting in 1979 with ‘Star Trek – The Motion Picture’ and 5 subsequent televisions series including The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise. As well as the ‘Animated Series’ and a planned ‘Discovery’ planned for 2017. Along with all of this visual entertainment comes an enormous library of novels, audiobooks and reviews and in depth analysis of all of the above, it’s almost breathtaking!

William Shatner as Captain James T Kirk. Image courtesy Wikipmedia

Star Trek is now surely etched in science fiction folklore possibly (and arguably) only surpassed in popularity by the monolithic and multi billion pound Star Wars franchise

What makes Star Trek so attractive is it’s almost prophetic vision of gadgets of the future. Today in the 21st century we can make use of gadgets and technology first shown a half a century ago.

From sliding doors, universal translators, natural language conversations with computers, tablets computers, personal communicators, virtual reality to food replicators and more!

So, what do we have to look forward to in the next 50 years?

Well, personally I can’t wait next movie instalment and next years TV series, but moreover, I REALLY looking forward to Warp Drive, Matter Transporters and Interstellar Space Travel.

In the words of Mr Spock (and spoken in the language of Mr Worf:-

qaStaHvIS yIn ‘ej chep

(“Live Long and Prosper” in Klingon)

Earlier I spoke to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk about how these devices now form an integral part of our lives, so listen in don’t forget to comment below.

qaStaHvIS yIn ‘ej chep

The Gadget Man – Episode 87 – Drones. Should they be licensed?

I was back on air this morning with Mark Murphy and James Hazell to talk about drones and the immense rise in their popularity.

With popularity comes a degree of public worry and a much larger degree of press coverage. Should drones be licensed? Should people need to take a proficiency test to use them? All of this was covered on BBC Radio Suffolk this morning along with interviews with The Civil Aviation Authority and local pilots.

Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes and can range in price from £10 to literally thousands. Many of the more expensive semi professional drones have ‘Geo Fencing’ which stops the drones from flying in banned areas or ‘No Fly Zones’.

Of course it is possible to build your own drone. Kits are widely available and many people have built their own drones from scratch using light weight computers such as the Raspberry Pi. In this case, no licensing is going to stop the production of these kinds of drones and increasingly advanced techniques such as GPS ‘way point’ route planning means that the pilot does not need to be in radio contact during the flight and therefore distances of 7km possible before battery charging is necessary.

Currently in the UK, I can’t see how any ‘proficiency’ testing can be brought in being, it would be far too costly and reliant of the purchaser of the drone. Tracking the drones is equally difficult without elaborate (and expensive) tracking transmitter/receivers being added to the drone.

Consequently, it lays with the manufacturers of these devices to ensure that their equipment is safe, easy to use, legal and abides by any global no fly zones.

I will be reviewing the Parrot Bebop 2 camera drone very soon, so stay ‘tuned’.


The Gadget Man : Parrot Bebop 2 Drone with “Follow Me Bebop”

I‘ve finished testing the Parrot Bebop 2 camera drone. A fully review is coming up shortly. In the meantime here is a selection of footage I have taken over the last couple of weeks.

The Gadget Man – Episode 85 – FlyONE Dark bluetooth headphones from DEEWEAR

FlyONE Dark HeadphonesThis week I have been testing a set of FlyONE Dark bluetooth headphones from DEEWEAR.

The headphones have an real ergonomic design coupled with extremely high audio quality, they are designed in such as way as you stay fixed in your ear by using built in flaps which fit into your ear and remain there even during exercise. Deewear employed Luigi Lorenzi, Parkourer with Team Jestion to test and develop the headphones to ensure they stay in place even during somersaults!

FlyONE Dark HeadphonesThe earphones are contained in a display case charged ready to go, just couple them to your bluetooth device and you are ready to go, the box also contains a USB charger cable , buds and flaps.

The earphones utilise Bluetooth 4.1 and 6th generation CVC noise reduction which means that constant usage stretches to 5 hours music or talk time (using the integrated microphone) or 180 hours standby time.

The earphones are connected together with a flat cable which is reflective on one side which can be seen when headlights shine on it, a usual safety measure if you are exercising in the dark.

FlyONE Dark Headphones in box
FlyONE Dark Headphones in box

When you switch on the ear phones a voice is heard saying ‘Power On’ and ‘Connection Successful’, holding the centre power button will switch off the earphones again with a voice telling you ‘Power Off’.

The three button control allows you to adjust the volume up and down and pause music, you can skip backwards and forwards between tracks by holding the volume up and down for 2 seconds.

When you are ready to charge the earphones, you remove the cap on the back of the right earphone and plug in the micro USB cable. Charging doesn’t take too long, however you can only check the battery level by pairing with an Apple device, be that iPhone, iPad or iMac.

The sound quality of FlyONE Dark is supreme, although you need to ensure they are fitted correctly before using them to experience the excellent bass reproduction. While I was testing them, I viewed a film trailer on my phone, I found myself rewinding the trailer to experience the cinematic bass, it really was very good indeed.

FlyONE Dark can be purchased from Amazon currently more than 30% off at £39.99 which is a very appealing price for such a high quality item.

If you are looking for a set of Bluetooth earphones, FlyONE Dark comes highly recommended.

To listen to the Mark and I chatting about the FlyONE Dark, click on the link at the top of the page or click below

A massive thank you to DEEWEAR for providing the earphones for test and review.



The Gadget Man – Episode 82 – Gadget Review of the Year

Its my last broadcast of the year and I so talk about my top 5 gadgets of the year. Listen to the stream to hear what I thought of the following :-

These are all products I’ve reviewed in the past, so you can click on each of them to take you to it’s relevant feature.


The Gadget Man – Episode 81 – Huawei Watch

Huawei Watch reviewed by Matt PorterWhen I started out as ‘The Gadget Man’, I always thought that Watches were the obvious gadget, something you would recognise as a gadget, be it Dick Tracy, Star Trek or Thunderbirds. Being able to communicate with your nearest and dearest by talking to your wrist seemed to be the a really futuristic thing to be doing, so it was my first port of call. Having now tested 8 smart watches and wearables, I was really looking forward to getting my hands on the Huawei Watch.

If you haven’t heard of Huawei, you should have. They are one of the leading communications and technology companies in the world and have been manufacturing Smartphones for some time now, but it is the Huawei Watch that I wanted to see.

Huawei Watch reviewed by Matt PorterThe Huawei Watch is a premium Android Wear device, noticeably weightier than other models and with a much brighter, high res screen that stays on the whole time. Like the Moto 360, the Huawei Watch sports a round screen, but unlike the Motorola device it uses the entire screen and the ‘flat tyre’ is absent. This means that their are no external sensors on the screen, so auto-brightness is not an option, but saying that; I prefer this trade off because using the whole screen makes the watch look all the more realistic.

This is one of the first Android Wear devices to officially support iOS so iPhone users are not simply tied to the Apple Watch. When I say officially, I can confirm that I have paired a Moto 360 with an iPhone as well, but it isn’t officially supported.

Huawei Watch reviewed by Matt PorterAs with all Android Wear devices, it makes use of Google Now with the ‘OK Google’ trigger to do lots of difference tasks. There is no speaker in the watch, just a microphone, so don’t expect to use the watch as a speakerphone (just yet). Personally, I’m surprised that this functionality hasn’t been added to Android Wear, it was present in the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 more than 18 months ago and worked really nicely. I’m certain the trade off against battery use was one of the reasons not to include it, but it’s a shame though.

Aside from the pre-installed apps supported by Wear, other apps are reliant on what is installed on your handset. I’m a keen (electric assisted) cyclist and I’ve personally tried a number of cycling related apps, as soon as these are installed, the watch automatically installs a Wear capable add-on, whether this is a information window or live map, it’s always intriguing to see what the developer has deemed worthy of the watch-face. Some good and some not so.

The Huawei Watch uses sapphire crystal as it’s watch face which is much harder and scratch resistant that other toughened glass and seems less prone to fingerprints. The display is a 1.4 inch AMOLED display which gives excellent blacks, this is because AMOLED screens use self illuminating pixels and don’t require a generic back light, so blacks are not lit at all. This sounds great, but in bright sunlight the display suffers which is a common problem with the technology. The watch has built in Wifi, which allows for updates without the need for a phone in the vicinity, but as will almost all wearables, you really need a phone nearby to get the full potential.

The watch itself is manufactured from cold forged stainless steel and the watch strap is a very high end leader fastener. All in all the watch feels expensive and very high quality. The rear of the watch has a magnetic four pin coupling for charging and in the centre is a heart rate sensor which works with Huawei’s fitness software and Google’s ‘Fit’ system.

Battery life is really pretty good for a watch that is effectively switched on the whole time, but in standby mode a different clock face is used which uses lots of black and therefore lots of pixels are being lit. Very clever decision by Huawei.

Huawei Watch reviewed by Matt PorterI was particularly looking forward to reviewing this watch as it looked like a real contender to the Apple Watch. I love the circular face smartwatches that make you feel that these wrist worn wearables are something more that a boring square display. I was fond of the Moto 360 which is slightly larger and the Huawei device certainly didn’t disappoint.



The smart watch is still finding it’s feet and I would suggest it will find them by the next generation of wearables. Whether is can be established as a replacement for smartphones is a question we will have answered eventually, but until then the Huawei Watch does a superb job of using the available technology to it’s maximum.

Thanks to Huawei for the loan of the watch, I’m very grateful for your efforts.



Smartwatch Guide 2015

It’s certainly been a busy time for smart watches over the last 18 months and we are certainly seemingly spoilt for choice. We’re also not spoilt for price options either, there should be no reason that you shouldn’t be able to find a smartwatch to suit yours or a loved ones  style.

To help find the right watch, our friends at Mighty Skins have produced a handy infographic that details everything including price, compatibility, functionality and battery life.

You can download the info graphic, by clicking the image below or head over to Mighty Skins themselves.