Review: Blitzwolf BW-HP1 folding dual-driver headphones

I was searching for something specific in the field of headphones:
plush over-ear, i.e. comfortable padding and isolation from the noise of the world, i.e. no active noise cancelling, which always introduces artefactsfacility to work wirelessly (i.e. Bluetooth) and via wires (i.e. 3.5mm cable, ideally detatchable and replaceable)foldable, to fit any bag and not get in the waysound amazing, with super-crisp top end and deep and rich basscheap!

The last rather usually prohibits the previous requirements, but... I found what I was looking for. Made by Blitzwolf, the BW-HP1 are quite near the bottom of the price spectrum for over-ear headphones yet they sound top notch.

The main product page for these is here on Blitzwolf's site, but you can also grab these on Amazon here, for £32.99.

The catch? Well, there isn't really one unless you're a true audiophile. These work wirelessly over standard Bluetooth A2DP, but they don't support the high end aptX HD or LDAC protocols, both…

Google Pixel 3 case round up!

Another flagship in for review - and a compact one at that! And it means more cases to try out and score!

I've taken a likely cross-section of Pixel 3 cases, thanks to the folks at MobileFun, kind people that they are, and also to the folks at Totallee.

See Mobile Fun's complete range of Pixel 3 cases and covers here.

In no particular order(!):

Ringke Onyx Tough Case, £18
The most protective case in this roundup, arguably, this is also the most 'bad ass', with Spigen-styling (the Spigen 'armor' cases aren't available as I write this), really tough but flexible TPU, and textured detail on the back to add to the premium feel.

There's also a slight raising of the case profile at the top and bottom of the Pixel 3, giving added protection against a face down drop. Plus, note the lanyard holes, a life saver if you're using your phone on holiday and near water and drop hazards (whatever Google says about waterproofing!)

The only downside is that you can'…

No, leaving lights on and gadgets on standby, doesn't NECESSARILY waste power...

It's something that occurs to me every Autumn and winter in the UK. I have to confess.

Now, I'm all for everyone saving energy all the time in all countries throughout the year, but I just wanted to state that there's an exception of sorts.

When the temperature's below about 10℃ outside, it doesn't really matter in the slightest if your kids leave lights on or if all your gadgets are on charge for too long or your TV and video system's on standby all the time. Not in the slightest. So you can stop shouting at your kids and worrying.

It's because lights and mains adapters and so on all, ultimately generate heat - all the energy that they're consuming is - in the end - being emitted into the house in some way, meaning that there's less work for your central heating system to do.

So, let's say that you use up an extra 50p of electricity a day by being super wasteful by ignoring all the usual energy-saving tricks. By my reckoning, you'll spend …

Google DACs - versions 1 and 2!

People will know that I'm a fan of high quality wired headphones and - by extension - 3.5mm jacks in phones and tablets. Which has made the latest generation of phones (e.g. Google Pixel 2 and 3 ranges) a little galling, as they require external DAC (Digital to Analog Converter)s, typically in USB Type C-to-3.5mm 'adapters'.

Note that I'm not talking about £2 (on eBay) Type C to 3.5mm adapters, these are dumb analog things with no active circuitry. Many phones don't output an analog signal anymore and these won't work.

You may remember that I reviewed a XiiVio mini-hub recently, and this is a good example of an all-digital, microprocessor-based gadget, in this case allowing charging and listening via a built-in DAC. But there are simper and cheaper DAC/dongles, including the first party gadgets from Google. The Pixel 2 range came with their first version, the Pixel 3 range came with version two, though both are also available standalone from the Google Store, f…

Introducing VideoDuke 'advanced video downloader' for Mac

One of the things I like to do is 'archive' YouTube (and DailyMotion etc.) videos to local storage on my computers and phones. Usually, this is so that I can enjoy music videos and documentaries (usually on my large-screened smartphone) while on trains, coaches, tubes and planes, without interruption and without needing huge cellular bandwidth.

Actually doing this has been a battle with Downloader plugins to the Firefox browser - they seem to come and go almost monthly - but now there's a better solution, at least if you have a Mac.

VideoDuke is a dedicated browser/downloader for the Mac and it works brilliantly. You use the integrated basic browser to go to the relevant video site and the available download options are shown in the interface, with the most likely, the highest resolution video file, the default.

Note that you can't download the highest resolution videos as YouTube keeps those as streaming only, possibly as an extra anti-piracy feature. Talking of which,…

How to: connect a Google Pixel 2 or 3 (2 XL or 3 XL) to an Apple Mac using Android File Transfer

In theory it should be easy. Right? Just unlock its screen, plug in the Pixel and wait - Android File Transfer leaps into action and you can see your Pixel's folders, ready for all that lovely dragging and dropping.

In practice, you get a 'Could not connect' error on the Mac screen.

"Aha", you think, I need to change the USB mode, so you tap on the Pixel's notifications screen, changing the mode from 'charge only' to 'file transfer'.

Nope. Still nothing.

What's going on? I'll tell you, after much testing. The chances are that you have either Dropbox or Google's 'Backup & Sync' installed on your Mac. And these using communications protocols that get in the way of the bits and bytes that Android File Transfer wants to send.

Really. They shouldn't, but they do. Go blame Google.

Anyway, the fix is quick and easy - use your Mac's mouse or trackpad to go into the top system bar and right click as needed, quitting both…

Review: Tronsmart MEGA 40W speaker

Sent in for review, I'm always happy when I hear decent bass from an audio accessory. It's not that I'm into house music or drum'n'bass, it's just that I like to hear both the bottom and top frequencies in my music.

In this case, there's certainly plenty of bottom end, pumped out by the twin 20W speakers and some bass reflex out the back of the wrapped metal grilles. The middle frequencies are a bit muddled and the top end is mushed in somewhat.

But I'm being a bit picky, since you wouldn't buy this for absolute audio fidelity. You'd buy it for the super-futuristic LED-illuminated touch controls on the top, and for the NFC functions.

The first looks terrific in a dark room (perhaps a party), just slide your finger along the touch bar to adjust volume, plus there's 'Mode' if you want to start loading songs in via microSD or via someone's phone via a (supplied) 3.5mm jack.

The second is a feature that speakers often had a decade a…