High Wycombe pub meet, Monday!

Just a reminder about the Phones Show Chat pub meet at The Squirrel, High Wycombe HP12 4RZ, from 8-10pm on Sept 25th 2017. All welcome. Star guest is Ian Maxfield or Imaxrepairs fame, though he WON’T be repairing phones over the pub table, live. Shame! 8-)

Near the M40 junction, so a doddle for anyone driving IMHO. Plenty of parking. Quiet venue etc.

No idea what to expect, I've had as few as one person turn up to as many as a dozen!

Review: DROCON Monster Blue Bugs 3 and DBPOWER EX5000 action camera

The links first, as availability can get somewhat complicated, depending on where you are in the world. Here's the DROCON drone, on Amazon UK and on Amazon USA. and here's the DBPOWER action camera, also on Amazon UK and again on Amazon USA.

[And I also have some discount codes, which should save you 20% or so on each. No guarantees, but try ZE79A4G6 for the drone on Amazon UK, 3UE8L7BJ on Amazon USA. And for the action camera, try NO3S8T8W on Amazon UK and V5RFI43U on Amazon USA.]
These were sent to me for evaluation, I should mention. Total value £150, so not cheap, and there are quite a few caveats below. But I also want to emphasise that this is the very start of the 'drone' marketplace, even so. The really capable drones (auto-tracking, auto-homing) are of the order of five times more expensive. Yet we all have to start somewhere and, having gone through numerous remote control aircraft in the past, I know only too well that a lot of crashing and (sometimes) destr…

Review: ROMOSS UPower 2-in-1 10000mAh charger

It's not often that you see a different 'take' on the traditional USB power bank - and I really wanted ROMOSS's latest gadget to be an ultimate accessory. Yet it falls short, as much conceptually as in practice.

The ROMOSS UPower 2-in-1 is essentially a 10000mAh twin-USB output power bank, but instead of an input socket you charge up the power bank itself by plugging it directly into the mains. Simple, eh? One gadget with no wires of its own that can be charged from the wall?

The UPower 2-in-1 is beautifully packaged and robustly made in glossy ridged plastic - the look and feel is a 'love it or hate it' design, but I never really got the luxury of making my mind up about this because of the two major downsides that I identified.

Firstly, the idea of building in mains input is to reduce bulk, i.e. not having to carry a mains adapter and cable with you. However, while this works for USA residents, since the folding mains pins are flush with the body, anyone from…

Review: AUKEY 10000mAh plus torch - the perfect festival power solution?

Admittedly this post comes too late for most of the 2017 'festival' scene, but it's timely to get yourself prepared for next year. Or perhaps for winter trips out (in the Northern Hemisphere)?

The problem I keep facing is that family members head out into the great outdoors/parks/festivals and, on their way out, often say that they're worried that their phone is going to run out of power.

Which is in an issue for them and also for me as it's me that has to liase with them at midnight, trying to pick them up from goodness knows where with each 30 second call preceded by "My battery's on 1% and it won't last much longer!"

Now, I've a selection of power banks in my cupboards, as a result of various reviews, from the tiny to the enormous. But the former have only enough charge to sort out one phone, while the latter are just too large and heavy to expect a family member to lug them around all day.

Isn't one 'charge' enough? Well yes, b…

Review: AUKEY 1080p webcam

It's fair to say that, while most AUKEY products sent over for review blow my socks off (e.g. the SK-S1 speaker and the Halo charger, not to mention the Solar Light), some of their gear impresses me a lot less.

And I have to say that the 'AUKEY 1080p webcam' falls into this camp. It's not a bad webcam - it just doesn't stand out for anything other than the ability to capture with stereo audio.

Now, 1080p is quite high resolution as webcams go, so I shouldn't be too hard on it. And in decent light the quality is indeed top notch. But the marketing talks specifically about 'Good performance even in more dimly lit rooms' and this isn't really borne out.

For example, here's a grab from the webcam in my study in the evening, light levels aren't particularly low, though the main light is from a 60W bulb, plus my face is lit by my Mac:

Looks OK, doesn't it? And it's fine for everyday Skype chat, but just don't expect absolute top qualit…

Let there be light! Review: AUKEY Solar Light

You've all seen the cheap LED garden lights, usually with a small solar panel on top. £5 each or thereabouts at garden centres and in bargain bins. And they put out a pitiful amount of light and stop working after a month in the rain.

This is something very different. 30cm long, with a full width solar panel, a large internal rechargeable cell, 18 high power LEDs with several brightness modes, proximity sensor, and a remote control to switch it between various modes.
I was a little sceptical, especially as it took a little perusing the instructions to even turn the light on (you'd have thought that it would default to 'on', but perhaps that would damage and drain the batteries in transit?)

However, this has proved wonderful in use. I mounted it (after initial testing) on a wall and it glows gently all night (i.e. when the sensor detects that light levels are low enough) and then the proximity sensor switches it to full brightness for 20 seconds when anyone comes near i…

PureView zoom alive and well on non-Nokia phones. (Zooming losslessly on Android)

Did you know that many Android phones can do the same 'lossless zoom' trick as on the old Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020, i.e. smart cropping in on a high resolution sensor so that even when zoomed there's detail that's largely real and not interpolated, i.e. 'made up'?

Of course, you need a phone with a high resolution sensor in the first place and I'm lucky enough to have the ZTE Axon 7, with a 16:9 20MP sensor. Having taken several photos at default resolution, I looked at my snaps and thought "This is crazy, I don't need 15Megabyte 20MP photos - they're big and clumsy and something smaller would in almost all situations be better - I just don't need that insane detail."
Especially so when I zoomed in (say to 2x), at which point I had 20MP of digitally interpolated, slightly blocky 'detail'. It's all too much.
So I set the camera to take photos at 4MP in 16:9, a nice compromise between file size and resolution/detail. In fact,…