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Showing posts from 2016

Mini-review: Tronsmart Dual Quick Charge 3.0 36W wall charger

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The idea was originally to review this for AAWP (see link, right), but having examined and tried this neat little Tronsmart gadget, it seems too Quick Charge 3.0-centric for the world of Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile, where 'fast charging' refers to the USB Type C 'Power Delivery' system, i.e. 5V at high current (up to 4A in some cases, but more usually 3A max).

It's true that this Tronsmart Dual Quick Charge 3.0 36W wall charger also outputs up to 2.4A at 5V, so that it's technically compatible with Microsoft Lumias, Google Pixels, Apple iPads, and so on, the majority of the world which doesn't use Quick Charge 2.0 or 3.0. But it's not optimised as such, so the USP here wouldn't be appreciated by users of any of these devices - plus their original 3A chargers would give a faster charge.

However, many of us have multiple device these days, certainly around a family, so a mix of 2015/2016 phones with both 'Power Delivery' and Quick Char…

Renovating an old, classic Macbook!

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At first sight, what I'm doing makes no sense, the 'late 2009' Macbook is now seven years old and should be nigh on unusable, even with the efficiencies of Mac OS.

Yet Apple's design decisions in the Macbook arena as we moved into 2015 and then into 2016 don't really appeal to me at all. I like the Magsafe connector, I like having a charging indicator, I like having an optical drive, I like having a full ethernet port, I like having USB-A ports, I like having a proper keyboard, I even like having a glowing Apple logo on the back.

Money being no object, I guess a 2014-era Macbook Pro would give me all of the above with faster performance, but we're still looking at £1000 or so, which got me thinking...

How could I breathe new life into my much beloved, but ageing, Macbook?

Here's what I did:
Had the peeling rubber bottom replaced by Apple (free of charge, it was a design defect)Had the battery replaced by Apple (£80 or so, a year ago)Upgraded the RAM to the m…

7 reasons why the two year old Nexus 6 is superior to the brand new Google Pixel XL

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Yes, the title is slightly misleading, in that the new XL has higher spec internals and upgraded software and hardware features, of course. But the point I wanted to make here is that it isn't all one way - and it hasn't been for two years, with last year's Nexus 6P also disappointing.



Here's the check list then. Follow along with me!

Screen size. Look at the montage above, you'd think that the one on the left was the newest because the bezels were smaller and the screen larger. But no, the left phone is from two years ago! The Nexus 6 screen is stunning, at the same QHD AMOLED and at a full 6", unlike the 5.5" in the new Pixel XL (review coming soon).Durability. The Nexus 6 is built by Motorola and is as tough as old bricks. You can't bend it, you'd have to smash the screen to really damage it in some way. In contrast the 6P was horribly fragile. In fairness, I haven't handled the Pixel XL yet, hopefully it's as tough as the '6'.Wat…

Scam? Forbury Retail Park parking and Suicidal Retailers

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It's a fair cop. As I parked in the Forbury Retail Park and strolled outside to take some photos in the nearby gardens, I had to walk past a sign that said, in very small writing (underneath larger writing promising 'Maximum Stay 3 Hours'), "Walking off-site will result in a charge of £100".

I then returned to the park to McDonalds and bought my lunch. Strolling back to my car I saw the dreaded Penalty Charge Notice on the windscreen.

I've now paid this after researching the whole topic for a week, it's simply more hassle than I can take to go through the various rounds of appeals and court cases etc. I suspect most other people do the same.

I guess it's private land (the retailers lease the shop space) and the landowner can put whatever strict rules they want for the privilege of parking there. But it seems crazy and totally lacking in common sense.

The idea of stopping people parking there all day while they work in Reading is fair enough - that'…

Review: Lumsing Bluetooth Car Kit with FM transmitter

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Bluetooth car kits are all very well, but a lot of them involve either some DIY to your car's dashboard or the right sockets (even just 3.5mm aux in) on your car stereo.

Which is why I was interested in grabbing this Lumsing gadget which claims to effectively turn any car into a Bluetooth-capable media monster instantly and cheaply, thanks to the 'magic' of FM transmission.

Now, FM transmitters are in themselves not new, they've been around for years, but you normally have to plug these into your smartphone with a 3.5mm jack - the secret sauce here (other than being sleek, small and stylish) is that the audio connection to your smartphone for music, podcasts and call handling, is all done wirelessly, via Bluetooth.

The usual caveats apply in terms of finding a frequency that works well for you - in the UK, I usually swear by 88.4MHz, but a lot will depend on where you live. The power output from this Lumsing unit seems pretty good though and I rarely got hit by interfe…

Review: Hansmare Leather Skin for Apple iPhone 6/6S

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Another in my occasional series of iPhone 6/6S case reviews - I'm all for leather when used tastefully and you can't fault the finish here, which is heavily textured leather laid on a plastic substrate - there are no rough edges (despite the relatively low price) and there's a definite premium feel:


It's a typical in-situ design, of course, with the aim here to both look good and also aid protection and grip. It achieves the latter to some degree with the texture, though the 'genuine leather' was coated with something that made it slightly more slippery that it should have been.


Moreover, the Hansmare case makes a song and dance in its promotional material about the edges being raised up enough to protect the iPhone in the event of a fall face down - but I'm sorry, this isn't what's found in real life - the sides barely made it flush with the glass surface and there's really very little protection:


Sorry Hansmare, back to the drawing board - hig…

Don't need that fourth pole? Clarito are the headphones you want...

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This is an interesting sideline from one of my favourite manufacturers of smartphone headsets. ROCKJAW have produced the stunning Arcana v2 and Alfa Genus headsets in the past, with a forth pole on the 3.5mm jack, for microphone and media control of course. Audio quality from each of these is exemplary and there's really no need to spend more than a few tens of pounds for other in-ear headsets - the Arcana v2 have been my go-to reference headset across all smartphones now for almost a couple of years.

Now, the Arcana v2 have been discontinued, but the Hydra v2 are very similar and only a few pounds more.

Now, what's this? Clarito is a cheaper budget version of the old Hydra/Arcana v2 design, but with standard 3-pole jack, i.e. there's no microphone and thus are aimed at wider headphone use. (Yes, you can use them with a smartphone, but you'll have no pause control or way of picking up a call.)



There doesn't seem to be a compromise in audio quality though - the Clar…

Review: the Motomo Ino Slimline for the Apple iPhone 6/6s

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I know, I know, it's in rose gold. But in this case, my daughter was doing the road testing - a fortnight of real world rough and tumble, in and out of pockets and bags. And the Ino design proved hard wearing and quite superb. Yes, there are a thousand similar clip-on cases from your local high street shop at a few pounds less, but this Motomo-branded case is premium from start to finish.

The Ino case comes in deluxe packaging, with the case wrapped around a dummy iPhone cutout mounted on shaped foam. Now that's attention to detail!


The Ino Slimline design is plastic, but its beautifully finished in mock 'brushed metal', here in rose-gold that would match the iPhone it's designed to protect (though our iPhone was the original gold - not that the two clash!) and with a grippy inner lining designed to help hold the iPhone in place:


Not that the iPhone 6 or 6s would slide out, because it's held too well by the edges and corners, but in the event of a fall, the mor…

Turns out it's quite easy to forget to blog...

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Well, there we go. With me writing for an increasing number of sites, including Android Beat, iPhoneHacks and All About Windows Phone, and then doing the Phones Show and PSC on top, I kind of forgot to blog. For about 9 months. Ahem.

Or maybe there just hasn't been as much to 'rant' or 'rave' about in recent times?

No.... that can't be it, the world's going quietly potty and quite bizarre. Donald Trump is running for president in the USA and the whole of the UK has to vote on an issue that only 1% of people really understand.


Anyway, let's try and kick start this blog again. I have some accessory bits and pieces that can go up shortly, aimed at keeping my family happy, tech-wise....(!)