This month I have been reviewing the LE03 Speaker from Braun Audio and I was very pleasantly surprised!
I have used quite a few smart speakers over the years, so when I received the Braun LE03 Speaker, I was intrigued to find out more. Out of the box, you can see that the speaker isn’t aimed at the smart assistant market as it is both high end and reassuringly weighty, but it also retains the smart speaker functionality with its minimalist design approach.
The speaker is controlled by either Google Voice (configured from your Android or iPhone), play pause, volume and ‘privacy’ button (which switches off the listening function). It can also be connected by Bluetooth pairing.
The speaker connects to the internet by WiFi, this pairing is set up by the Google Home app, which once set up, seamlessly sits alongside your other Google Devices ready to answer questions, play music or connect to Chromecast compatible TV’s. If you are looking for finer tuning, you can also install the Braun app which gives greater control.
Set up is very straightforward, and once up and running, I was happily playing my favourite tunes and my daughter was equally happy to ask Google plenty of questions. Everything works in a similar fashion to using Google Assistant on your phone or indeed Alexa.
For the audiophiles amongst you, the LE03 contains a custom-designed 3.5” ‘high-excursion fast-transient’ woofer with NdFe motor, a Full-range 1.5“ Balanced Mode Radiator drive unit, a Race track/quadratic 5” x 3” Customised passive radiator all powered by a Monolithic class-D power amplifier. (I did say this was for the audiophiles).
The speaker can also be paired with further LE range speakers to give you a full multiroom experience.
The sound quality was mind-blowing, the bass was there when you needed it and vocals were clear. It really is a very good system and probably warrants the price tag of £349
The Braun LE03 is really worth a look if you are on the hunt for a capable speaker and want to spend a little bit more for the added quality.
** UPDATE ** I will be receiving a review unit this week, which is very exciting. Keep up to date with my review of the Aura by subscribing to notifications by clicking on the padlock symbol and ‘Allowing’ notifications
Ultra High Definition Recorder powered by Android TV with built-in Google Assistant, Chromecast, Google Play Store apps and Kids’ Zone
First Freeview Play Recorder powered by Android TV technology with crystal clear 4K HDR picture quality
Built-in voice control via Google Assistant and access to Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BT Sport and thousands of other apps via the Google Play Store
Freeview Play provides 70+ subscription-free channels and 20,000+ hours of on-demand entertainment
Quick and easy set-up – simply log in with a Google account
Humax AURA App for iOS and Android enables remote planning, recording and viewing on the go
Watch TV on any screen: download and enjoy recordings on mobile devices
Chromecast built-in: stream favourite content from phone, tablet or laptop to a TV screen
Dedicated Kids’ Zone with timed content, safe for the youngest family members
Three digital tuners: record up to four programmes at once while watching a fifth*
1TB and 2TB options for up to 500 and 1,000 hours of recordings
Humax has today announced AURA: the first 4K Freeview Play Recorder powered by Android TV technology. This Ultra High Definition TV recorder provides a multitude of subscription-free and top-up entertainment delivered with crystal clear 4K HDR picture quality.
With integrated Google Assistant and access to thousands of apps via the Google Play Store, AURA syncs with the user’s Google account to deliver a customised home entertainment experience built around the individual or family. For ultimate flexibility, Google Assistant also provides voice control for frequently-used TV commands, and allows users to ask questions, discover information and activate smart home devices.
Humax AURA will be available from November 2020 from Amazon, Humax Direct and electrical retailers with an SRP of £249 for the 1TB model and £279 for the 2TB version.
Powered by the ultra-fast Android TV platform and with Freeview Play built-in, the new Humax box enables rapid access to favourite shows, movies, sports and other programming on live TV. Freeview Play provides the UK’s most popular on-demand apps such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4, all of which are located together for maximum ease and convenience. For even further entertainment options, users can top up their viewing with paid streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BT Sport and Google Play Movies, and explore and choose from a huge variety of apps and games to download from the Google Play Store.
Freeview Play provides 95% of the nation’s most-watched TV, all for free. There are more than 70 live TV channels, alongside nine on-demand players: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play, CBS Catchup Channels UK, Horror Bites, STV Player and BBC Sounds.
With more than 20,000 hours of on-demand content and over 700 box sets to choose from, Freeview Play also helps viewers make the most of its content with its Explore Freeview Play interface hosted at Channel 100. Home to a universal search function and hand-picked content recommendations, it is easy for viewers to find their favourites and discover new shows. As well as the ability to watch, pause, rewind and record live TV, Freeview Play includes an intuitive seven day TV guide with scroll back functionality.
Catering for even the most avid of viewers, AURA incorporates three digital tuners, allowing up to four programmes to be recorded at once while the user watches another live channel*. Two hard drive options (1TB and 2TB) are available, enabling up to 500 or 1,000 hours of recordings to be stored, giving owners almost unlimited capacity to capture their favourite programmes, series and movies.
Thanks to the Humax AURA app, many features of AURA can be accessed on a mobile device, such as streaming recordings around the home or downloading shows to watch later on the move. The app also affords users the freedom to schedule recordings or set reminders when away from home.
Setting up AURA is extremely simple. By logging into their Google account, users have instant access to all their downloaded apps, YouTube settings, music downloads, as well as Google Home connectivity.
Creating a home screen that is completely personalised to the viewer’s preferences, AURA allows app icons to be moved around easily, keeping all frequently-used apps and content in one place. Suggestions for content the user might enjoy based on their Google preferences are also displayed on this page.
With Chromecast built-in as standard on Android TV, AURA enables users to stream photos, videos, music and other media to their TV screen from a laptop, tablet or mobile phone via a home Wi-Fi network.
AURA’s accompanying remote control offers several quick access ‘hotkeys’: a Freeview Play button, Top Picks for content recommendations, a Google Assistant button to activate voice control, TV Guide button plus dedicated keys for Android Home, Amazon Prime Video and the Humax Kids’ Zone.
Google Assistant is integrated into the remote control, allowing users to benefit from Google Home services – simply press the button to activate voice control and ask an unlimited number of questions such as finding out the weather or travel information, choose favourite types of content, change channel or volume – or connect to smart home devices to play music, switch on the lights or heating, and much more.
Developed by Humax, the Kids’ Zone on AURA provides a safe environment for children to watch content curated specially for the youngest members of the family. Episodes can be browsed, searched and selected by duration, allowing parents to pick a show that will fill a suitable slot before dinner or bedtime, for example.
Rob Peacock, director at Humax, commented, “AURA is designed to sit at the heart of a family’s home entertainment experience. The very first Freeview Play Recorder to be built on the Android TV platform, it provides a fully integrated environment that reflects the preferences and favourite content of the individual or family – with lightning-fast access to everything they need in one place, and outstanding picture quality. With such an extensive array of features, users will never miss their favourite show, movie or sporting event, and thanks to a combination of Google technology and the Humax AURA app, they can enjoy the freedom of entertainment on any screen or device, wherever and whenever they wish.”
Available from November 2020, Humax AURA has a suggested retail price of £249 for the 1TB model and £279 for the 2TB model. Retailers include Currys, Argos, Amazon, very.co.uk, Richer Sounds, Euronics (CIH), independent electrical stores and Humax Direct. Prices include VAT.
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With the incredible rise in popularity of on-demand streaming services from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, NowTV, Rakatun and more, there is now no better time to watch our favourite movies and TV programmes.
We are not just simply watching TV, we are ‘consuming’ it! This fascination and above all, choice of programming has led millions of people to ‘binge’ on entire TV series over short periods. Evenings can now be spent watching multiple episodes of a series, with seemingly limitless content being served up automatically at the end of each episode, with entirely new content provided at the end of series.
The BBC have not ignored this either, they too are releasing entire series on their platform iPlayer whilst broadcasting the series in the standard week on week format on traditional television.
Now we are all comfortable with the digital switch-over, the set-top boxes can now begin serving up content over the internet without us even realising this is happening, the broadcasters have found their pot of gold.
Personally, I am a massive Breaking Bad fan, now enjoying it’s spin-off prequel Better Call Saul, both available on Netflix, but switching to Amazon Prime for The Grand Tour and watching movies on Google Play, all available using low-cost devices from Amazon, Roku, Apple and many more!
We have now turned a corner, once this technology was the go-to place for our kids, now we have embraced it, there is no going back. Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Google and Sky are now the streaming big hitters with astronomically large budgets, high-quality content and the power to break the traditional status quo enjoyed in the UK by the BBC and ITV.
Now WE decide what we watch.
Listen to my interview with Mark Murphy from BBC Radio Suffolk, where I talk enthusiastically about my personal experience of binge-watching streaming TV.
The Gadget Man
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I’ve just received an email from YouTube. It informs me and millions of others, that we are being dumped from their advertising program. This apparently is to stop ‘spammers, impersonators and other “bad actors”‘ from making money from their ‘eco-system’.
**UPDATE** 21 Feb 2018
YouTube have emailed again today to confirm the cessation of advertising revenue. The rollout of these changes was documented by Ken Heron on his YouTube channel where advertising was removed from his videos according to his dashboard. Ken meets with YouTube’s new rules and should in fact continue to receive monetisation.
Ken Heron’s YouTube video relating to this change is below
YouTube’s most recent letter confirming removal of monetisation is below. Whilst my Youtube video’s are in no way Studio Quality, they are not Spammy, Impersonating anyone or re-uploading video (unless where permission is giving such as SpaceX).
In reality, they are removing the ability for non-professionals to make any kind of money from their advertising platform (I can tell you it is a very small amount).
Simply put, people such as Casey Neistat, Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) and other extremely successful ‘YouTubers’ will continue to rake in millions in advertising revenue, whilst the less fortunate will lose all forms of income from this platform.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with being paid for high quality content, successful YouTube creators also earn massive amounts of revenue from advertising and affiliate links. Basically they continue to get the best of all worlds, whilst the less fortunate get completely cut off.
In all honesty my videos on YouTube make a pittance through advertising, however I also have a Patreon channel. This is a 3rd party channel which many YouTubers current use to make a sensible living through their hard work. If you feel somewhat inclined to support The Gadget Man site and Youtube channel, you can use Patreon to do this. Not only will this help encourage me to produce more content, it will also help towards buying better equipment to produce content.
YouTube is owned by Google who’s corporate code of conduct is Don’t Be Evil.
“2017 marked a tough year for many of you, with several issues affecting our community and the revenue earned from advertising through the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). Despite those issues more creators than ever are earning a living on YouTube, with the number of channels making over six figures up over 40% year-over-year. In 2018, a major focus for everyone at YouTube is protecting our creator ecosystem and ensuring your revenue is more stable.
As Susan mentioned in December, we’re making changes to address the issues that affected our community in 2017 so we can prevent bad actors from harming the inspiring and original creators around the world who make their living on YouTube. A big part of that effort will be strengthening our requirements for monetization so spammers, impersonators, and other bad actors can’t hurt our ecosystem or take advantage of you, while continuing to reward those who make our platform great.
Back in April of 2017, we set a YPP eligibility requirement of 10,000 lifetime views. While that threshold provided more information to determine whether a channel followed our community guidelines and policies, it’s been clear over the last few months that we need a higher standard.
Starting today we’re changing the eligibility requirement for monetization to 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. We’ve arrived at these new thresholds after thorough analysis and conversations with creators like you. They will allow us to significantly improve our ability to identify creators who contribute positively to the community and help drive more ad revenue to them (and away from bad actors). These higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing which can hurt revenue for everyone.
On February 20th, 2018, we’ll also implement this threshold across existing channels on the platform, to allow for a 30 day grace period. On that date, channels with fewer than 1,000 subs or 4,000 watch hours will no longer be able to earn money on YouTube. When they reach 1,000 subs and 4,000 watch hours they will be automatically re-evaluated under strict criteria to ensure they comply with our policies. New channels will need to apply, and their application will be evaluated when they hit these milestones.
Though these changes will affect a significant number of channels, 99% of those affected were making less than $100 per year in the last year, with 90% earning less than $2.50 in the last month. Any of the channels who no longer meet this threshold will be paid what they’ve already earned based on our AdSense policies. After thoughtful consideration, we believe these are necessary compromises to protect our community.
Of course, size alone is not enough to determine whether a channel is suitable for monetization, so we’ll continue to use signals like community strikes, spam, and other abuse flags to ensure we’re protecting our creator community from bad actors. As we continue to protect our platform from abuse, we want to remind all of you to follow YouTube’s Community Guidelines, Monetization Basics & Policies, Terms of Service, and Google AdSense program policies, as violating any of these may lead to removal from the YouTube Partner Program.
While this change will tackle the potential abuse of a large but disparate group of smaller channels, we also know that the bad action of a single, large channel can also have an impact on the community and how advertisers view YouTube. We’ll be working to schedule conversations with our creators in the months ahead so we can hear your thoughts and ideas and what more we can do to tackle that challenge.
One of YouTube’s core values is to provide anyone the opportunity to earn money from a thriving channel, and while our policies will evolve over time, our commitment to that value remains. Those of you who want more details around this change, or haven’t yet reached this new 4,000 hour/1,000 subscriber threshold can continue to benefit from our Creator Academy, our Help Center, and all the resources on the Creator Site to grow your channels.
Even though 2017 was a challenging year, thanks to creators like you, it was full of the moments that make YouTube such a special place. Creators large and small, established and emerging, transformed their talent and originality into videos that captivated over a billion people around the world. They made us laugh, taught us about our world and warmed our hearts. We’re confident the steps we’re taking today will help protect and grow our inspiring community well into the future.
Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer and Robert Kyncl, Chief Business Officer”
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).
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.
This week I chat about the BT Smart Home Cam 100 as nice wireless video camera capable of broadcasting at high definition (720p). It’s nice a simple to set up and you can view the footage using either Android, iPhone or via the web portal. Full review will be posted here soon, in the meantime listen to what I had to say about it.
Massive thanks to Laura from Kazoo for arranging the loan of the camera.
We also has a brief conversation about attaching camera’s to pets, below is the video I mentioned in the recording… Enjoy!
Here at Gadget Man, we appear to go for the heavy hitters. I don’t think we’ve looked at a device that is below £100 yet, so today we’re going to change the pace with an insanely cool piece of affordable tech. Let’s take a look at the Chromecast. Continue reading Google Chromecast,→