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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
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
Jun092016

Bring out the Gimbal

It's always great to try out some tech I haven't used before.  So when I was offered the opportunity to try out the AiBird Uoplay Smartphone Gimbal, I couldn't refuse.

I'm a big movie fan, there's nothing I enjoy more than discovering a great movie from the 60s or 70s that I haven't seen before, and the way that the look of movies has changed over the years, can often be attributed to the technology that was available at the time. For example in the 1960s, smaller hand held cameras gave filmmakers a way to get out from the film sets and shoot gritty street scenes in real locations. 

More recently, improvements in digital photography have allowed filmmakers to shoot scenes at night time using ambient light. The improved low light sensitivity of a digital sensor over film stock has made movies like Collateral,  Drive and The Revenant possible.

Steadicams started off being used for a handful of shots in a film, but they quickly become a standard tool in a filmmaker's arsenal. Before the steadicam, to follow an actor walking through a scene, a dolly track would have to be set-up to give the camera a smooth surface to roll down. This restricted the length of the shot, it meant the camera couldn't shoot angles that might show the track, it would be difficult to go across uneven surfaces or up a hill, and going in any direction other than a straight line was problematic. A steadicam operator can do away with the track and follow the protagonists round a corner, through a doorway, and up the stairs. It has changed the whole look of movies. 

Nowadays an amateur video maker can shoot 4K footage with a smartphone, and by using a handheld gimbal can achieve results that a filmmaker in the 1960s could only have dreamed of. 

A gimbal is still very much a product for an enthusiast, rather than the mass-market, but for those people who want the benefits of a steadicam but can't afford $25,000 - it's a revelation. 

Watch the video below to see how I get on with the Uoplay 3 Axis Gyroscopically Stabilised Smartphone Gimbal.

PURCHASING

You can buy the AiBird Uoplay Gimbal from Amazon the US & the UK - links below.
 
ebay links are below - Click your country to find the best price. 
UK  US  DE  CA  AU  NL  BE  FR  CH  ES  IE  IT 
When buying items from China, don’t forget to factor in potential import duty charges.
   
The official website for the AiBird Uoplay Gimbal can be found here.
  
Additional Countries AMAZON Links DE  ES  FR  IT

 

Sunday
Jun052016

Retro HiFi: The DBX Disc

One thing that often comes as a surprise to anyone getting into vinyl for the first time is surface noise. As soon as the stylus touches down on a spinning disc there’s a noticeable background rumble. You could spend thousands in trying to eradicate this, but turn the volume up and you’ll discover that whenever one object scrapes along another, surface noise is inevitable. 
  
The absence of any background noise was one of the things I noticed when I listened to a CD for the first time in 1982. The complete lack of vinyl rumble, or tape hiss between tracks was something that was impossible to miss. A father of a friend who sold BAE aircraft around the world brought a Sony CDP-101 player back from a business trip to Japan. I remember turning the volume way up in order to hear what wasn’t there, just as much as what was.
  
In addition to no surface noise the new CDs had no static cracks and pops, and classical music recordings benefitted from the expanded dynamic range offered by the new format. Other attractions were of course the smaller size, longer playing time, easy track access, and a resilience to dust.
  
It turns out that many of the ‘new’ features available on CDs were already possible with Vinyl, it’s just that most people weren’t aware. Track access, random play and  each side play were all possible with the right turntable. Lesser known is the fact that zero disc noise, CD levels of dynamic range and reduced pops and crackles from dust were all features available on the obscure DBX disc format since the early 1970s.
  
In this video I look at (and listen to) DBX discs for the first time, and I’m shocked with the results. Watch the video below to find out more. 
You can still find old DBX Disc decoders on ebay where you can also find some DBX encoded records. The Discogs marketplace is also a good place to source DBX discs.
  
UPDATE: 
In a (soon to be proved misguided) attempt to placate the angry crowds brandishing pitchforks and flaming torches - HERE IS A DIGITAL RECORDING of the first two minutes of Pramlatta's Hips. 
 
You can hear the needle drop at 2 secs in...the silence after that is the lead in and then the music starts. There has been no manipulation of the recording - it's just phono out from the DBX 224 decoder into the audio in of a Sony HDR-MV1 recording in PCM WAV
  
I still feel that analog audio can only really be experienced in person, not via a digital recording - just like a photo of a oil painting, while all the information is there it's just not the same ...but hey what do I know, I'm just some guy on the internet.
Friday
May272016

Dashcam Battery pack lets you record whilst parked

The Cellink B Dash-cam battery pack is an unusual device that can only really be explained in a video. In the past I have reviewed the DOD SP1 camera provided by HDigital Eye in the UK, so they got in touch again to see if I would demonstrate the new Cellink B dashcam battery pack for them. Watch the video below where I expain how it works and go through the various installation options including hard-wiring it to a fuse box. 

In Korea where they take their dashcams seriously, this is a best selling product. In the UK dashcams are still quite a niche product, which makes this is an accessory for a niche product. As a result, the vast majority of people watching this video won't have a pressing need to buy one. However from the feedback I receive, I know that there are also a lot of people interested in recording video whilst their car is parked...so this could be the thing that they've been waiting for.

Purchasing

If you want to buy one (and are in the UK or Australia) the links are below.

ebay: UK  Australia 

Amazon UK
Monday
May232016

Cheap Gadget: USB LED Dimmer light

I have been asked to feature cheaper gadgets every now and then...so here's the cheapest yet. 

 

You can buy these USB 6 LED dimmer lights from the links below (Click your Country) 

UK  US   CA   AU   DE   NL   BE   FR   ES   CH   IE   IT 

They are also available on Amazon - but usually cost more and often still come from China.

Amazon UK  Amazon US 

The Pebble USB Battery Pack can be found (heavily discounted) on Amazon UK or Amazon US

Friday
May202016

Harman Kardon Aura Airplay Speaker

I bought a refurbished Airplay speaker I'm very happy with. Here's my video about it.

I bought it from the Harman Kardon Outlet Store where they sell refurbished models. It's much like the Apple Refurb store where the items look brand new...but even better as these products come in standard packaging.

For people elsewhere in the world - you could always try your luck on ebay.

 

Tuesday
May172016

A great small Dashcam (with a screen) - Vantrue N1

Small dashcams with an LCD screen are few and far between. The Mini-08 range is one of the most common, but suffers from reliability issues. So much so, that I refuse to review any more due to the high failure rates.

So it's refreshing to see a new mini camera that works well. It isn't overloaded with features like GPS or Lane Departure Warning, it's just a good solid sensible little camera that comes with an 18 month warranty.

Of course only time will tell how reliable the N1 proves to be, but I have a lot more confidence in this camera than I would with yet another Mini 080*. 

 

Using the Discount Code YHBTWINU at checkout will unlock the following prices.

Amazon US: $69.99 http://amzn.to/1UJQoFa

Amazon UK: £59.99 http://amzn.to/1PmHysV

Amazon CA: CAD$99.99 https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01A4YUITY

The Deal times are active from: 13th June 2016 00:01 PDT/BST until 19th June 2016 23:59 PDT/BST - or until stock runs out.

If you want to look at some sample clips - then click here.  Do Not Stream These Video Files - they are for downloading - if streamed they look terrible and you'll only have yourself to blame.

   

 

FIRMWARE 14th May 2016

Here is the firmware (I take no responsibility if you brick your camera with this). 
Only use this if the Time and date Stamp is not appearing on your videos and your existing firmware is OLDER than 14th May 2016. There is no need to install it if your camera is already working perfectly.

The file is here - http://pc.cd/eJ9ctalK
INSTRUCTIONS
1) Copy bin file to memory card
2) Put card in camera
3) Turn camera on ....AND WAIT UNTIL IT AUTOMATICALLY REBOOTS ITSELF
4) Turn camera off
5) Take card out of camera
6) Delete Bin File (empty the Trash on your computer to make sure it's gone)
7) Put card back in camera
8) Check the firmware number in the menu to confirm that it has updated to the 14th May 2016 Firmware.

 

 

 

Wednesday
May112016

Retro Tech: The 3M Cantata 700 Background Music Machine

Another delve into unusual audio technology from the past. In this video I take a look at the 3M Cantata 700, a format that boasts the largest music cartridge ever made.

If you think 8-track tapes were a bit bulky, wait until you see this. 

If you want, you can CLICK HERE to download a 1hr MP3 of Music recorded from one of the Cantata tapes (I forget which one). This is all I am able to capture at the moment as the machine has now taken to chewing up tapes and making horrible rattling noises.

Sunday
May082016

You can power a Dashcam via your OBD port - But perhaps you shouldn't

 

Watch the short video below to see this demonstrated.

Make sure you read the youtube comments as a number of people there explain why powering something from the OBD port is a bad idea...and then a few more people say that it should be fine, there's no problem.

It's really your decision as I just don't know enough about auto electrics to categorically confirm either camp is correct. 

You can obtain OBD to USB power leads from the links below:

Friday
May062016

Gramovox Vertical Record Player Review

The Floating Record Vertical Turntable was a successful Kickstarter campaign.The idea behind it was to make a quality turntable that takes up less shelf space, looks great and sounds good. Did they deliver - watch the video below to find out.

The official website is http://www.gramovox.com

If you are looking for interesting looking exclusive vinyl releases (colours/picture discs etc) then check these guys out Newbury Comics 

Titles of Records Shown
Picture Disc 12” - Back to the Future Soundtrack - Various
Glow in the Dark Green 10” - Ghostbusters - Ray Parker Jr
Red 10” - Rock Tonight - Lord Funk Feat Davjazz
Black 12” - No one can do it better - The D.O.C 
Red 7” - Soul Almighty - Bob Marley
Red/Yellow/Green 12” - Legend - Bob Marley
Clear 12” - After the Rain - Muddy Waters
Gold 12” - Greatest Hit Singles - Isaac Hayes
Picture Disc 12” - Thriller - Michael Jackson
Clear with Coloured Dots - Casanova 70 - Air
Red/Gold - Number Ones - Stax
Yellow 7” - Soul Rebel - Bob Marley
Blue - Willy and the poor boys - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Black/Gold - Transformer - Lou Reed
Red - Organix - The Roots
Clear Green - Changesonebowie - David Bowie
Note - not all links take you to the coloured discs - these are usually limited edition releases.
                                  
Friday
Apr292016

VCD vs UHD and what's the big deal with UHD anyway

First a (ludricrous) 'competition' between the oldest and the newest video formats on which you can buy current releases. It's VCD vs UHD Blu-ray

Secondly if you think the new UHD Blu-ray format and UHD TV's are all about the resolution....think again.

 

VCDs were purchased from YesAsia 

 

 

Friday
Apr222016

Retro-tech. That time when HD came on VHS

Perhaps it's a good thing that D-Theater never made it to the UK, the spelling of the name would have been an insurmountable issue. 

This might be the first retro-tech product I've featured in a video where I can remember seeing one in action back when it was new. Whenever a TV manufacturer wanted to show off their new HDTVs at an AV show, they needed HD Video to show on them. Before Blu-ray or HD-DVD came to market if you peered around the back of a TV at a show in the UK you could usually either spot a PC or occasionally an imported D-Theater machine providing the HD signal.

Getting a working D-Theater machine delivered to the UK has taken a lot more time (and money) than I anticipated when I set out to make this video last year. I'm really glad, and quite relieved, that I can finally present it to you here today. 

 

Useful Links

Captured D-VHS Demo Tape showing New York in 1993:  https://youtu.be/fT4lDU-QLUY
D-Theater tapes can be found on eBay: http://goo.gl/AfCHUy
A full list of D-Theater titles is on LDDB.com:  http://goo.gl/jGHA82
DVHS on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D-VHS
JVC's D-Theater machines: http://goo.gl/uKMBki

UPDATE

The supplimentary video showing NYC in 1993 in HD has really blown-up on the internet in the last couple of days.. and it keeps getting re-posted. A shame that I couldn't monitise it, but after all it is not my video and the soundtrack is copyright. The real star is the unknown cameraman who captured such great shots with the early HD video equipment back in 1993.

For those wondering what HD video camera tech existed in 1993 -  there are a few options, but it's likely that this footage was shot with a HDVS camera- perhaps a Sony SONY HDC-500 attached to a HDV-10 portable recorder which recorded on UniHi 3/4" tape.