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Pick of the Camera Reviews

(Click the pictures for reviews & links) 

ACTION CAMS

Yi 2 - Best Budget 4K 

Gitup Git2 (My Pick)

Xiaomi Yi

Dazzne P2

SJCAM M10+
 
DASH-CAMS (CAR DVRs)
 
A119
DR02 D - Best Budget Dual Cam
Yi

Yi Ultra 2.7K
   
    MINI CAMERAS
Mobius (also works as a Dashcam)
Polaroid Cube+
    HELMET CAMERA
Sena Prism Tube

My favourite USB battery power Pack

This is the excellent USB power pack I use when I travel.

2 x 2.1amp outputs. 8400mAh capacity.

Two digit Led display shows battery level

 

What SD CARD should I buy?

If you want an SD Card for your camera - these are the ones I use and recommend. 

I'd strongly recommend not to buy any SD cards off ebay - I've heard about too many issues with counterfeit cards - often sold on by unwitting resellers. My inbox regularly gets messages from people who bought a £150 camera then cheaped out and bought a £3 memory card on ebay - Then when it doesn't worth they blame the camera! It doesn't make any sense. Good memory is cheaper than it's ever been - see the links above.

A lot of HD cameras will not work properly with cards larger than 32GB (cards over 32GB are usually SDXC rather than the SDHC standard used by 32GB cards. SDXC cards use the ex-FAT system rather than FAT32 - in short they are a different standard). - so don't just buy the biggest card you can afford - read the specs in the manual to see what it accepts.

UK & US LINKS & PRICES BELOW

RECOMMENDED CARDS (for action cams - see dashcams below)

CLASS 10 UHS-1 CARDS (For HD Cameras)

 

U3 CARD (For 4K cameras)

 

 

SPECIAL DASHCAM CARDS

The SD card in a dashcam is re-written over, more frequently than in other types of cameras. Some manufacturers void their guarantee if an SD card was used in a dashcam. So, no surprise, there are special High Endurance SD cards made just for dashcams...here's some.

 

VERY IMPORTANT. These links take you to the product, however Amazon have three different ways of selling. There's Amazon Direct - This means that you are only dealing with Amazon themselves, then there's other sellers that use Amazon's facilities - these show as Fulfilled By Amazon and finally there's Market Place sellers that advertise on Amazon, but operate independently.  I strongly recommend that you only use the first...the Amazon Direct - Sold By Amazon option. Even if it appears that you are paying a couple of £/$ more it is more than likely you are comparing the price of a real item against the price of a fake.

To give you an idea of the extent of the fake goods problem. In a 2016 survey by Apple - 90% of the 'Apple' chargers sold through Amazon - using the other the two methods..which includes the "Fulfilled by Amazon" option -  were found to be counterfeit....90%! 

 
Thursday
Dec222016

Yi M1 Mirrorless Camera Review

I recently returned from a holiday and had the good fortune to take a new Yi M1 Interchangeable Micro 4/3 Camera along for the trip. Watch the video below to see the full review of the camera... it will take 36 minutes to watch the whole thing.  
      
Purchasing
        

The right-hand image takes you to the official AliExpress store
Here are text links to the same places
All links are affiliated and are also to the official Yi Technology stores. 
    
Other Links
Manufacturer product page:  CLICK 
Full Manual Here: CLICK 
Sample Clips: CLICK 

 

Tuesday
Dec132016

MQS SD - The Last Physical Audio Format?

It turns out that the only thing you need to do to make people crazy is post a video showing a niche micro SD card Music format imported from South Korea. My original mission was to showcase a product that many won't have seen before, but I feel I inadvertently have found a way to turn man against man. I think this video could be weaponised and deployed into enemy countries as a way to destabilise them and ultimately topple governments. 

MQS SD is sold in South Korea & HK for use with the Astell & Kern Hi-Res Personal Audio Players which feature MicroSD card storage slots. 

Astell & Kern use MQS to define HD Audio in a FLAC format with a 24bit encoding. According to their specs the KHz sample rate can vary depending on the source between 48KHz and 192KHz. The Beatles LP seems to be a special case because it’s just 44.1 KHz and I suspect this is because that’s the best source currently available. 

Back in 2014 manufacturers and record companies got together to define a system to code HD audio files. Here’s what they came up with. 

MQ-A - Taken from an Analogue Master Source
MQ-C - Sourced from a 16bit 44.1KHz CD master and upsampled
MQ-D - Sourced directly from a Direct Stream Digital DSD Master
MQ-P - Sourced from a minimum 20bit master with a minimum 48KHz sample rate

I haven’t seen these in use anywhere since, perhaps they were considered too complicated when you then combine them with the filetype AIFF, ALAC, FLAC or WAV. 

So what is MQS? Well as the video shows it’s not exactly nailed down in A&K’s description and I suspect that it’s just a simplification of the existing system. 

If you look at this South Korean music download site http://www.groovers.kr/mqs/chart/dome... you can see they use MQS to identify HD tracks and then use a code like MQS 24/192 to identify the quality. The logo stands out in red on the page and the system is slightly simpler than stating a file is “HD Audio MQ-D FLAC 24/192”

Whether the average human ear is capable of hearing the difference between all these things - I haven't a clue and I don't have a horse in that race...I'm just interesting in collecting formats. 

SNAKEOIL - It's a flippant joke at the vague definition of the benefits of MQS over normal FLAC HiRes audio files...is there really any difference? It appears MQS is just 24 bit FLAC. 
I AM NOT SAYING HI-RES AUDIO IS SNAKEOIL ...just that I can see no discernible technical differences between 24 bit FLAC and MQS. Perhaps there is one...and if so A&K need to do a better job of defining exactly what the specific benefits of MQS difference are.  

Here is a link to all the MQS SD Card Albums. 
http://mall.groovers.kr/front/product...

I bought my Beatles MQS SD Album on ebay - here's a link that should find any for sale https://goo.gl/MMOKDM
Don't overpay though! 

Incidentally there's also another file format called MQA - here's some info on that http://www.soundandvision.com/content... This seems to have no connection to the MQ-A categorisation I mentioned above (which describes the origin of a recording - like AAD or DDD you used to see on CD's) This MQA (without the dash) actually seems to be a separate format that is backwardly compatible with some other formats...it's all very confusing.  

To make things easy, feel free to copy and paste one of the following stock responses.

This won't sell

I won't buy this

This will get lost

I can download music to put on my own MicroSD card

Physical media is dead

This isn't a physical format

This is nothing new

What happens if you delete the files off the card (?!?)

HiRes audio is nonsense

Thursday
Dec082016

Lost Tech: Sharp RP-117

In the mid 1980s you could buy a turntable that played both sides of a record automatically and  would jump to an individual track just like a CD player.

Thirty years later and modern turntables have reverted to containing about as much tech as the basic models from the 1950s. You'll also have to pay through the nose for the privilege of owning a modern stripped down bare bones machines. Something went wrong somewhere. Watch the video below to see retro tech from 30 years ago that has somehow now ended up being futuristic. 

 

Saturday
Dec032016

'Seiko' Executive Talking Egg

Whilst searching for a watch a while ago using the term 'Vintage Seiko' - I stumbled across the Seiko Executive Talking Egg. Unable to determine any more information about the product I picked it up to see exactly what it did and how it worked. You can find out in the video below. 

In the video I mentioned that this product doesn't have the usual Seiko quality that I'd expect. It seems it was branded by Seiko US but manufactured by another company. The base has the word Sekisui printed on it, which likely refers to the Japanese company Sekisui Plastics, a manufacturer that has been around since 1959 and could have produced the outer casing. 

A number of people have suggested it might not be an official Seiko device, but there's no evidence to back up this supposition whereas the box and instructions (copy below) refer to Seiko. It's all academic, it's a rare 35+ year old device you can't buy any more and whether it was made by Seiko or Techmoan Electronics Corp doesn't make a jot of difference to the fact that it is still an unusual product that was very much of its time. 

Seiko Egg Instructions

Monday
Nov282016

Laserdiscs aren't back - but their sleeves are

No one wants physical copies any more, people don't like packaging cluttering up their house...we've all gone streaming now, you don't really own anything, it's in a cloud somewhere....controlled by someone else. At least that's what people like to tell me. 

Well call me old fashioned (because I am), but I like packaging, I like holding the things I've bought and when I do pass on, I want someone to be extremely inconvenienced by all the detritus I've accumulated during my existence.

One of the things they'll have to figure out what to do with, is an ancient silver disc called a blu-ray...but it's not just a normal blu-ray film in a flimsy plastic box with broken catches and a thing that no longer grips the centre of the disc properly because a couple of the teeth got snapped off in the post....no it's in a big cardboard square the size of a vinyl LP. Watch the video below to find out more. 

I really hope this laserdisc style packaging idea becomes a trend, and while I'm 99.98% sure it wont, I applaud Disney for having the guts to give it a try. Purchasing links below.

Guardians of the Galaxy http://amzn.to/2gOT89J
Star Wars the Force Awakens http://amzn.to/2gzKmIu
Finding Dory http://amzn.to/2gbcvZs
Aladdin http://amzn.to/2fsYib9
Beauty & The Beast http://amzn.to/2gzN5RU
Cinderella (Live action) http://amzn.to/2gP6faE

UPDATE: A few people have advised me that there are a number of Spanish releases of blu-ray titles in Laserdisc sized sleeves - click here to take a look

 

Wednesday
Nov232016

Music to watch Oscilloscopes by

Sometimes my videos form a bridge between the mainstream and the obscure. People often suggest video topics to me, and then that video in turn introduces a whole new audience to the subject. I suspect oscilloscope music will be one of those things. 
   
During the years I spent searching for a HiFi component with a scope output, I watched a number of blurry handheld videos of various devices on youtube. One one occasion I saw a Marantz receiver displaying a revolving cube on the scope display. At the time I presumed that someone had altered the circuitry, but I now know that they were playing an oscilloscope demo.
   
Oscilloscope demos have been around for a while, but until recently I wasn’t aware of them, and I spend at lot of my time looking at tech. Of course using oscilloscopes unconventionally is nothing new, the 'first video game' Tennis for Two used one as the display in 1958.
   
I suppose things like this are inevitable whenever you combine intelligent people with time on their hands and a room full of scientific equipment. Nowadays you can even play Quake on an oscilloscope
  
Displaying images on an oscilloscope is as ‘simple’ as playing sounds into it. The left and right audio channels create shapes plotted on x/y co-ordinates. 
   
I don’t truly comprehend exactly how it works, it just looks like magic and when you add in the additional complication of having those sounds form tunes, all I can do is sit back and admire the show. 
   
Watch the video below to see this in action. If you want to skip the introduction and repair section and just watch the scope, jump to the 5 minute mark. 
      
    
Useful Links
Jerobeam Fenderson’s Youtube Page
If you have any technical queries - the FAQs here should answer them
Oscilloscope Emulator for Windows, Mac & Linux
Reddit Oscilloscope Music Page 
Here’s a link to another Oscilloscope audio Demo called Youscope
Wednesday
Nov162016

HP-01 In 1977 HP invented The Best Watch Ever*

I’m a middle aged man. At least I am if I live to be in my 90s. I do middle aged man things, like go on cruises for my holidays. In truth, it's the only way I can get abroad since I’m no longer able to use air travel (health, not terrorism related). There’s a weird aura that permeates cruise ships, it’s a presumption that the passengers are wealthy. There’s always a high end jewellers shop on board selling watches that cost thousands of pounds, the ships dock in towns where every other shop sells luxury jewellery and watches to accommodate these deep pocketed visitors.  I’ve never understood why things are this way, it all seems like theatre to boost the ego rather than an accurate reflection of reality, as the average cruise ship passenger is anything but wealthy. When you work out the cost per day including meals, a cruise is often as cheap if not cheaper than going to a mid range hotel in Mallorca. 
   
Anyway I digress, the reason I mention this is that years of looking in the windows of expensive jewellers (often just to kill time) has programmed into me a desire to own a quality watch. I’ve been obsessed by timepieces all my life, however when I do kick the bucket, there’s no Rolex to bequeath in a will, but there’s plenty of Casios for someone to put in the bin. 
   
I recently decided that I owe it to myself to own one quality timepiece in my life. However I soon realised that none of the watches I could afford appealed to me. If I’m spending serious money then it has to be something that I would really cherish. 
    
So after looking at watches that cost thousands of pounds but didn’t excite me, I ended up buying a watch that cost a few hundred pounds, but one that means a lot more to me than just the money. The Hewlett Packard HP-01 is a unique and fascinating piece of history. Watch the video below to learn more about this amazing timepiece.
 
Below are some links you may find useful.
 
PURCHASING 
HP-01 watches regularly come up on ebay here
 
LED Museum (The ultimate HP-01 resource) 
 
HP's own Journal PDF Magazine Dedicated to the HP-01 
 
Hodinkee (these are the chaps who suggested it was the first smartwatch - if you disagree, please argue it out with them..I'm merely passing on the info) 
 
Old Argos Catalogues can be found here
 
If you like to look at beautiful pictures of LED watches - you'll like this
 
If you like to talk about digital watches, be sure to visit the Digital Watch Forum 
   
Please don't write in to inform me the Triangle is a Delta - this video has been made and cannot now be changed. When you hear the word triangle if you want to translate that to Delta, or belly-button, or whatever word you prefer in your head then that's entirely your call. 
   
*it is as far as I’m concerned. As someone who likes 1970s LED watches, calculator watches, and values technical achievement.... this for me is the BEST WATCH EVER. If you prefer watches that have a waving Mickey Mouse on them...you will probably have your own choice of 'Best Watch Ever'.
Tuesday
Nov082016

LaMetric Time - WiFi App Enabled Smart Clock

The number of internet connected household devices keeps increasing and many of these these devices communicate through notifications sent to a smartphone. For example a security camera will send an alert if the motion sensor has been triggered. 
  
There are many people who walk around head-down constantly looking at their phone like a Star Trek away-team crewman scanning a planet for anomalies. I'm not one one those, my phone might be on the table, in a pocket or most likely - on charge, so if a connected device sends a ‘notification’ to my phone, I have to make an effort to get the phone to read it.
   
The sci-fi visions of the future I remember enjoying as a child always involved information being presented to a person wherever they were. A mirror in a bathroom would remind the protagonist to pick up cat food after work, the television wall in the lounge would show when there was a caller at the front door. In none of these scenarios would the person just hear a beep and then have to go and pick up a small device, then press a button on it in order to see what that initial beep indicated, only to discover it was just another email.
  
The LaMetric Time is more like the future I wanted, glanceable information visible across a room. The video below explains a bit more about what this device can and can’t do and there are links below the video that you might find useful. 
 
LINKS
The LaMetric time can be purchased from Amazon UK or Amazon US  as well as directly from the manufacturer (where it ships from Hong Kong). I must stress how important it is to look through the apps currently available to see if any suit your needs. I also have no idea how much ongoing support this will have, and like all internet connect devices that's really a vitally important component.
 
    (The Amazon UK link is in the paragraph above) 
  

 

Tuesday
Nov082016

Behind the scenes - how to make a 5 second channel ident

I made a behind the scenes video for the Patreon contributors as a thank-you for their continued support. I'm also posting it here, however it's not going public on youtube as I don't feel everyone could cope with the fly-on-the-wall nature of the production. 

Wednesday
Nov022016

Dashcam Review: Viofo A119 - Simple Capable Capacitor Camera

The A119 does everything that many people need a dashcam to do. It records high quality video at resolutions including 1440p30 and 1080p60. It has great low light performance, uses a capacitor rather than a battery (more suited for hot countries) GPS is optional and the camera can be neatly mounted at the top of a windscreen.
Watch the video below to see the review.
    
If you like the look of this camera you may want to consider ordering one from the links below
    
Amazon 
  
 
    
ebay 
  
UK   US   DE   CA   AU   NL 
   
Manual, Specifications & Firmware available here 
  
My guide to Dashcam Basics
   
You can download sample clips here - Do not try to stream them, there is no point as the streamed re-encoded videos look awful....these are just for downloading and playing locally on a computer. 
  

Note - links are affiliated. The long term reliability of any items reviewed cannot be assessed. This dashcam has been in use for three months with no problems.

Tuesday
Oct252016

I love a good bad idea - and the Sony Ruvi was one of the best

Sometimes you don't realise how far you have come until you look back over your shoulder. While 1998 doesn't feel like ancient history to me, in home video camera terms it was a completely different era. 

Watch the video below to find out about what has to be one of the worst ideas that Sony brought to market, eighteen years ago. 

I've collected the pictures of the inside of the video cart into a zip file. It seemed a shame to just delete them. You can click the image below to download the photos.

Click this to download a zip file