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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

 

 
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
Drift Ghost X

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%! 

 
Sunday
Apr272014

Chromecast - Is the convenience worth the effort?

I've mixed feelings about the Chromecast. The hour or so I spent strugging to set it up meant that we didn't get off to the best start...but once it was up and running it might have done just enough to redeem itself.

I'm not convinced it's suitable for stacking high and selling to the masses through a high-street electrical store...it doesn't feel quite ready for prime time yet, but at only £30 you might find it adds just enough functionaility to that aging bedroom TV to make it worth the effort.

Here's the handy Router Compatibility page on the UK Chromecast site.

You can buy these in high street stores like Currys and also direct from Google..but if you prefer Amazon, here's the UK link

Monday
Apr212014

Mini F9 Sport Helmet Camera

After last week's extravagant video featuring the Sony AS100 Action camera, this week I've landed back down in budget camera territory with a thump.

I've nothing of note to add here - this is just a quick video about an unimpressive camera, and I'm sorry to say that despite this camera's mediocre performance, it's still probably the best of a bad bunch when it comes to cheap bullet-style helmet cameras (from the ones I've tested).  

You (could) buy one here UK US

Monday
Apr142014

Moto-Vlogging with the Sony Action Camera

Judging from some comments under my Sony AS100 action camera review, a few people still believe it's not possible to access the microphone socket on the camera when it's mounted to something. This was an issue that Sony resolved last year with the introduction of their Skeleton Case...but it seems like it must be time for a demonstration. 

 

Here is a list of items featured in the video.

The Audio Technica ATR3350 Microphone (also used for the piece to camera at the beginning)

If you haven't been keeping up to date with the available accessories for the Sony Action Camera range, you may be surprised by how many items are now available. You can bring yourself up to speed by looking here on the UK Sony Shop..and there is an even greater range of accessories available in Japan

Sunday
Apr132014

The Epic Sony AS100V Action Camera Review

Assembling this video has taken me a lot of time...and watching it will take you almost as long. I know that many people don’t want to watch a half hour video about an action camera, but this video was put together for the small minority that do. If you are one of those people, find a comfy chair, pour yourself a drink and then press play on the video below. 

One thing that I forgot to mention in the video is that SteadyShot image stabilisation is not available in the 120/240 FPS High Speed modes or the 120 FPS Super Slow mode. Since video shot in these modes will usually be replayed at a very slow speed, its absence is not usually noticeable.

A slight correction - the Pro Files still have the .MP4 extension, but use the XAVC S Codec.

More Info

Sony UK page about the AS100V

Camera Specifications

Full Owners Manual PDF 

You'll find a few buying options below

 

Amazon UK 

Amazon US   (Note - in the US it's available with or without the Live-View Remote)

Sony US Store  

ebay UK

ebay US

Sony UK have stopped selling the camera direct for some reason. (I bought mine from here).

You’ll find some DOWNLOADABLE SAMPLE CLIPS AND PHOTOS HERE.

I will also add some (very) short pro-mode clips as soon as I can shoot some new ones. The only Pro (50 Mbps) clip I have is 55 secs long and 359MB and can’t be trimmed for length with my usual software.

The usual instructions apply for the downloads:

Don't stream them, if you do the quality will be no different to watching them on youtube. To download, change th dropbox large thumbnail page into a list (icon at the top right) then click on a file and choose Download (icon bottom right 'More Actions'). Once they are downloaded you can play them from your hard-drive to see the true untouched video quality. 

UPDATE 15 April 2014 - I've added some ProMode clips on the Downloadable Samples link above - they are all 1080p60 50Mbps clips (with Steadyshot on) in ZIP files. Each clip includes it's associated XML file. Presumably the XML will have the time-code information in it FOR PROFESSIONAL USERS who know what to do with this stuff. I'm not a professional user - so please don't ask me anything about time codes, I haven't a clue - all the information you need is in the Sony User Manual, but if you are a pro then you'll know all about this already and won't need to read a manual. 

Monday
Mar312014

The Mobius Camera finally gets a waterproof case

Here's something that everyone has been waiting for - a waterproof case for the Mobius camera. The Mobius can now be safely employed as a helmet camera on a rainy day, record water-based activities like canoeing, diving and surfing or used on a sandy beach.

Since the Mobius manufacturer don't seem interested in making their own case for the camera, it's taken JooVuu, an enthusiastic UK based Mobius reseller to fill the hole in the market.  Watch the video to see if I find any nasty surprises with the JooVuu case.

Note - this video has been re-uploaded as the first one was misleading due to an ommission, also my box was missing an instruction booklet - normally you should receive one of these.

Monday
Mar312014

HD-96 Helmet Camera

The HD96 is an underwhelming, uninspiring and badly realised device. I've owned mine since November 2013, but up until now I've always found something more interesting to make a video about. I decided it was finally time to 'knock this one on the head'.

The first time I tried to take this camera out on my bike, it peeled off its helmet mount and was left hanging precariously by the microphone wire before I'd even left the garage. Three weekends passed before the weather was suitable for a second attempt.

There is always the (unlikely) possibility that the camera I'm testing here is a knock-off copy of a real and much better HD-96. However I can only comment on the product, I've bought and I can confirm that it's just not very good. 

If you pay close attention to the video, you may be able to sense some frustration. I'm a bit 'under the weather' at the moment.... combine that with a bad product that I no longer really wanted to review, and things were never going to end well.

Monday
Mar242014

WDV5000 WiFi Action Camera Disappoints

Wi-Fi has become one of those features that camera manufacturers feel obliged to include on their devices because the general public now expect it to be there.

I can appreciate the fact that WiFi enables me to wirelessly transfer a photo from my camera onto my iPad giving me the ability to edit a picture and post it up online whilst away from my home. Indeed this is a feature I used to tweet some photos whilst on a cruise ship holiday last year. 

The benefit of having the ability to transfer HD Video wirelessly between devices is far less useful to me. The files are often just too large to transfer over a WiFi connection...and I prefer to wait until I get home so I can edit my footage on my laptop (which has enough storage and performance to cope with the large HD files).

To put it simply, I just don't need WiFi on my action cameras, but I am aware that I don't speak for everyone. WiFi might be an important feature for you, and I understand that a remote viewfinder and camera controls can sometimes come in handy.

WiFi is the big selling point of the WDV5000 camera - but is that enough to make you choose it in preference to the SJ4000, watch the video review below if you want to see my take on the situation.

If you wish to buy a WDV5000 the ebay links are below.

WDV5000 Buying Links (ebay)

 UK  US

WDV5000 Downloadable Sample Clips

 

SJ4000

When it comes to budget cube-like cameras I much prefer the SJ4000 camera and the links for this are below.

   

 My SJ4000 Review

SJ4000 Buying Links

  Amazon US

  Amazon UK

  ebay US 

  ebay UK 

  ebay DE

    Joovuu

 

 

Sunday
Mar162014

SteelSeries Stratus iOS Gamepad Review... but have MFi controllers arrived too late?

When the iPad was released in 2010, it seemed that it would only be short time before wireless gamepads would be released, turning it into a fully fledged portable games console. 

However it took a full two years until the first bluetooth gamepad, the DuoGamer, came out. This expensive and blocky controller only worked with a handful of Gameloft games and was a commercial flop. I bought one and thought it worked well, but needed a better design, more support and some competition.

For the multi-developer support to come, there would need to be a standard for how iOS interacts with controllers. It was only when iOS 7 was released in September 2013 that the relevant hooks for bluetooth controller interaction were added into the operating system.  It’s taken a further six months for the first compatible controllers to come to market.

You may have already seen some iPhone/iPod controllers which attach onto the device like a case, but the SteelSeries Stratus is the first stand alone MFi (Made for IOS) controller that has been released. It's therefore the first one suitable for use with an iPad. Watch the video review below to see how I get on with it.

 

It’s been four years since the first iPad came to market. Between then and now, games developers have been figuring out ways for people to control their games without any physical buttons.  In the early days they attempted to shoe-horn full multi-button twin joypad console experiences onto the iPad. Feedback and experience gained over the years has resulted in games now using a much simpler control scheme tailored towards the limitations of a touch-screen. Automatic shooting, aiming, acceleration and braking are common sights in the latest games. 

The MFi specification controllers like the SteelSeries Stratus will only work with games that have controller support included, these are likely to be the latest games - which ironically are often the ones that benefit least from the use of a physical controller.

Whether games that use a more complicated control system re-emerge now that suitable controllers are available to operate them, only time will tell…but given that developers want to make their games accessible to the widest possible audience, it seems unlikely.

One possible saviour could be the AppleTV. If Apple ever decide to let developers make games for this device (or a future updated version of it) then a physical wireless controller would be needed. An Apple TV iOS game made with a controller in mind could also translate to an iPad with a MFi device, just something to think about.

More info on the Manufacturer's website here: Steelseries Stratus They also maintain a list of compatible games with clickable links to the App Store. 

Monday
Mar102014

Return of the Vac - Gtech Multi Review

In my review of the Gtech AirRam, I mentioned that I was also considering picking up Gtech's new handheld the Multi to complement it. Well after another couple of weeks of easy cordless vacuuming with the AirRam, I realised that there was no going back to using cords and I ordered the Multi. 

I'd like to reiterate that I purchased this with my own money, it's not a review unit and I'm not getting paid by Gtech. 

I can envision people buying this machine to supplement their existing vacuum cleaner...and gradually it takes over the majority of the vacuuming jobs around the house due to its light weight and convenience.

I purchased mine direct from the Manufacturer's website GTECH.CO.UK. Note that while the product is in high demand and short supply it might be worth giving them a call to check on the stock status (my delivery was delayed for a week).

In the US Gtech is called GREY TECHNOLOGY. At the time of writing the Multi is not yet available in the US. 

My review is below. 

Thursday
Mar062014

Reel to Reel Recorders - impractical and beautiful

In my opinion one of the most beautiful pieces of consumer electronics ever designed is the Reel-to-Reel tape recorder. I know of few objects you could buy today for your house that would attract more interest and admiration than an old reel to reel machine.
 
To me, the 'priceless' objects people drag along to Antiques Roadshow are just boring old tat. You'll never catch me buying an antique vase or a painting...but late 1970s HiFi equipment, that's a different story. It's (often) affordable, beautiful, still relatively easy to find, and yet rare enough to be interesting. I don't think a single person, male or female, has visited my house in the last few years without asking about my reel-to-reel as soon as they had noticed it. I doubt I'd get the same reaction if I'd spent £500 on a teapot.
 
I anticipate that people in the US will be shocked when they see the price of the machines in the UK, but the price reflects their scarcity. Until I bought my first recorder, the only place I'd seen a reel-to-reel was on US TV shows and in films, usually as a prop in a villains penthouse apartment. From reading forums I often hear stories from people in the US who picked up a machine at the 'Goodwill' for a few dollars that I couldn't possibly source without spending hundreds of pounds, but that's just the way things are.
 
I bought my Reel to Reel as a piece of functional art, and it took me a lot of research (and a few false-starts) to figure out what machine to get and the features I wanted.  I thought I should share some of the knowledge that I picked up along the way. So below we have a video about my machines, and then below that are some links you may find useful. 
 
 
ebay llnks

Reel to Reel Recorders on ebay UK

German Reel to Reel Recorders on ebay UK

US Link for Reel to Reel Recorders on ebay.com

Pre-recorded Reel to Reel Albums -  In Germany. Good selection, not cheap but recommended.

This ebay search will hunt out the 7 1/2 IPS Albums 

New (expensive) NAB Adaptors on ebay

 Forums are the best places to get advice and learn about reel to reels.

AudioKarma.org

TapeHeads.net

Blanks.

7” Blank Tape Reels 

Tape Reels at Thomann.de

ATR Magnetics - New 10.5 Inch Tape 

Other Stuff

HiFi Engine - Manuals and Photos of vintage equipment

The Tape Project - $500! albums recorded at 15 IPS (Most domestic machines will not play these)

Digital Deck Covers - protect your device

This is a brilliant resource of old HiFi brochures - I could (and did) spend hours here

Reel to Reel Recording Museum - You can buy & download a 7hr! long documentary here.

Monday
Feb242014

Using a Mobius Camera and some accessories to make my ideal Dash-Cam

It has been a while since I reviewed the excellent Mobius Camera so it is time for an update. In the months since I made my review, the popular little camera has received numerous firmware updates and now has additional features including Motion Detection, it is now supported by Mac as well as Online and PC configuration apps and numerous accessories (as well as a waterproof case due any day now).  In this video I demonstrate a few of these accessories.

I'm always looking for the most discrete (hidden) dash-cam available on the market, and by combining my existing Mobius with a few accessories, I think I've managed to get nearer than any manufacturer has, to creating my ideal dash-cam. It's not a perfect set-up, but hopefully it will give dashcam designers something to think about when planning their future models.

Many people get in touch with me looking for a dashcam with a central recording unit attached by a cable to a tiny lens..and whilst there are a few low definition cameras like this on the market I haven't seen any models that I would recommend. If I can put one together myself...I don't see why a manufacturer couldn't make one with two small HD cameras attached by wires to a single recorder. If you are a manufacturer and you have a device like this that you'd like to show to the world, you know where I am. 

All the accessories and the camera can be purchased in the UK at Joovuu

The camera and some accessories can also be purchased on ebay direct from the Manufacturer in China.

UK US (ebay Links)