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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
Feb072013

The Smallest Car DVR - So close, but misses by a mile.

The form-factor of this car DVR is almost exactly what I want, compact, neat simple and inconspicuous.

The camera attaches with one wire, doesn't beep (ever), eschews using distractingly bright LEDs, and doesn't have the typical overly-large suction cup mount. It also doesn't have features that I find unnecessary like an LCD display, GPS or LED Night Vision. It just performs one simple role, recording driver's eye view footage all your journeys.

But if it's so good, then why did I remove it from my windscreen the moment my testing was complete. You'll find the answer in the full video review below.

The auction that I bought mine from has closed and the typical selling prices are now quite a bit higher than I paid. I should mention that at the time of typing many retailers of this camera have temporarily taken down their auctions during Chinese New Year. There should be more sellers appearing after the holidays have concluded.

If after watching the video you do still want to buy one, you could CLICK THIS LINK - which will perform an appropriate search on eBay - but when you get there you'll need to change your buying/search location preferences to worldwide to bring up the Chinese retailers.

I do like this camera's external design so I may revisit this model again but next time I'll try to source an improved model that really does record in h.264. I have my eye on this one (on eBay) - which looks like it might be the real deal.

 

Sunday
Jan202013

A review of the Senseo Sarista 8030/60 Coffee Machine

I think I may have a coffee machine obsession. I like a cup of coffee as much as the next person, but I like getting a new coffee machine much more.

I think the attraction may relate to pressing a button which in turn operates a complex piece of machinery, and ultimately dispenses a cup of coffee. It's a bit like having a Star Trek Food Replicator in your kitchen.....although it won't respond to "Tea, Earl Grey, Hot."

Americans call comically overly-complicated devices Rube Goldberg Machines. Here in the UK they are known as Heath Robinson Contraptions. As a child I was alway making crazy contraptions. It seems that some hobbies never leave you, they just get more expensive.

Anyway, what of the Senseo Sarista. Well I love it and I hope it keeps working for many years to come, and I'd go as far as saying that if it were to break, I'd order a replacement immediately. One reason that I wanted to import one was so I could have the first English Language user demonstration on Youtube. I figure that if it does ever get released in the UK then I'll have a head start.

If you, like me, can't wait for an official UK release, you could always do what I did and import your own through eBay - here is a link to some auctions.

The only problem with importing the machine is that the Coffee Bean-funnels are not yet available here in the UK and importing them is expensive. I get 10 mugs of coffee out of each funnel, and I've already emptied two of my seven. So I have to figure out a solution quick or I won't be able to afford to keep running the machine.

I'm not naive though, I reasoned when I bought this machine that someone, somewhere would figure out a way of circumventing the Bean-Funnel's refill lock-out mechanism. As you can imagine, many individuals (coffee hackers?) quickly set about doing this very thing and already seem to have completely succeeded.

After collating ideas from various foreign-language bean-funnel hack demonstration videos and adding in a few tweaks of my own I can now demonstrate how I modified my empty bean-funnels to enable them to be refilled with my sensibly-priced coffee beans. Video Below.

Monday
Jan142013

HD Car DVR Rear-view Mirror Camera

Integrating a dashcam into a rear-view mirror is a very sensible idea but it also comes with some unexpected issues, and these unfortunately mean that this particular camera is not suitable for me.

This isn't a bad camera though and may actually be exactly what some people are looking for. It's simple to use, forgoes the complications of G-Sensors and GPS but incorporates the essential car DVR features such as looping video and auto-start/stop (providing your 12V socket powers down when the engine does).

Perhaps the best feature about this camera though is it's price. When I bought mine I paid just £36 including delivery. Unfortunately if you are in the UK, then you'll find that this isn't suitable for your car (watch the video to see the reasons why). For readers in other countries (who greatly outnumber my UK viewers) the current price at the time of writing is $60 USD, $57 AUD, or €45

You can CLICK HERE if you want to buy one (this is where I bought mine). Note that this camera seems to be named the X888B.

P.S. If you really want to download some files taken with this camera I've uploaded some here, two have been converted into MP4s (so I could edit them) and one is untouched - but if I were you I wouldn't bother because the youtube video is a very accurate representation of the video quality produced by this camera. 

Saturday
Jan122013

Now I'll never miss another Amazon delivery 

This is a 'Techmoan Mini' -  a video that will only appear on here and not in the youtube channel, because it's off-topic, irrelevant and hastily put together.

Thursday
Jan102013

The ACase Superleggera Pro iPad Mini Case

This is likely going to be the last Tablet or Phone Case review I'll do. I committed to this one last year, but I'll stick to reviewing more interesting or complicated products from now on. One good reason to leave case reviews behind is that I never enjoy the usual anti-Apple nonsense that always goes on in the YouTube comments whenever I upload a review that features an Apple device. I don't understand how people can get so worked up over a technology company.

I don't restrict my purchasing decisions by avoiding all products from a company. My house is full of technology from all different manufacturers and they are all capable of making both good and bad products. My Microsoft Xbox sits next to a Sony PS3 an Apple Mac Mini and a Sky Satellite box (make by Amstrad) all plugged into a Samsung TV. Everything seems to get along fine in my house...so I really don't understand how it can cause so much angst for so many people.

Ho, hum.....anyway here's probably the last ever Techmoan Case Review.

Wednesday
Jan092013

Changes for 2013 - More types of videos and hopefully more of them.

There are a couple of changes that I'm making and I want to explain to you what they are and why I'm doing them.

Irrelevant, shoddy, off-topic videos.

Whenever I upload a new video to YouTube all 16,000+ of the subscribers to my channel get an update.  This has resulted in me being rather concerned that if I ever want to upload a niche interest video I risk annoying a large proportion of this audience who are expecting more of my usual output.

A good example of this was the video I shot of the talented Finger Painter chap I saw whilst on holiday. This was something that I wanted to share - but it really didn't fit into the technology pigeonhole.

I have come up with a solution. From time to time I will upload less-polished, off-topic, niche-interest videos but list them as 'private'. This means that they won't generate a youtube subscriber update message. The only place you will be able to view these is by watching them here - on Techmoan.com. They won't show up in the YouTube channel. I'll call these Techmoan Minis (probably). These videos are intended to be quick and simple  I may only do a few videos like this each year, but I just wanted to give myself the freedom to do this without winding people up. Remember that you can always subscribe to site updates using the RSS feed at the top right.

Videos - when is a Review not a Review? - When it's a Product Demonstration.

Now that my YouTube channel is starting to generate a bit of attention I'm getting a few manufacturers offering to send me products to review. I have an issue with this -  I can't be truly impartial about a product that I've been given free. If I find fault with these free products I may have a tendency to sugarcoat the review, and even if I'm not, some people will assume that I am. You'll see the problem I'm having when I upload my next review of an iPad mini case sent to me from A-Case. For me it's design doesn't fit any need I have so I'd never have bought one myself, but some people may like it. So does that make it a bad product? I don't really feel qualified to say.

Now it's not always financially viable for me to buy everything I review…but people do like to see new videos, and I also like to try out new gadgets.  Getting free products is therefore very helpful as it means I can make more videos  Rather than turn down the review samples, I've decided to take a different approach and split my product videos into two distinct types.

Whenever I buy a product with my own money these will be Reviews, however when I make a video about something that I got for free - these will be Product Demonstrations. Both types of video will be clearly identified at the beginning and in the title. 

A Product Demonstration video will be, as it suggests, a demonstration all the features of the product. I'll show what you get, how it works and how well it performs. In the case of a camera, there would be the usual sample footage you would expect, however I won't endorse the product or pick holes in it's performance, you'll have to make your own mind up based on the evidence presented as to whether it's suitable for you. These videos will hopefully be a little bit easier for me to make and therefore I can get them out a bit more quickly.

When a product comes straight from the manufacture - it's unlikely that I'll go into detail about the price and reseller information. Omitting this makes it easier for a manufacturer to embed the video in their website (as one company has already requested). I will still put useful additional information in the comments on youtube and here on Techmoan.com.

A Review video will be the typical Techmoan video you've come to expect. Since I've paid for the product I can happily explain where it came from, how much it costs, and whether I think it's actually worth buying. I'm just a customer, with an opinion and a video camera. It's pretty unlikely that any manufacturer would want to embed these videos because I've yet to find a product that didn't have some room for improvement.

Some manufactures like Liquid Image who manufacture the Ego Camera actually got in touch to thank me for my fair review and then set about improving their IOS application based on my feedback (the new improved app is in the Apple App Store now).  Philips are another company who also got in touch after seeing my review of their In.Sight IP Cam. They have updated their IOS app and everything now works properly. (This is the kind of topic that I'll likely make a Techmoan Mini video about).

Now please don't panic. All these changes mean are that I can now make a wider variety of videos as I'm no longer restricted to just keeping within my existing formula. I have two Product Demo videos lined up (if the products are actually sent to me), but I've also got many more Review Videos lined up.  The ratio of Review to Demo videos will always remain heavily biased towards reviews of products I've bought. 

I also intend to get the site tidied up a bit and finally get an index to all the reviews sorted.....soon. In the meantime, the easiest way to find all my videos organised into categories is to just go to view the playlists on my YouTube Channel. All the more popular categories of my reviews are there. You can go straight to the videos by clicking on these links..... Car Cameras, Mini/Spy Cameras & Action Cameras.

While I'm writing I'll answer the most common request I get, and that's to list my top 5 or my favourite camera in a particular category.  I do not have a recommendation in any of these categories - and especially not when it comes to Car Cameras. There isn't a Car DVR on the market today that I've tested that I'd recommend you buy. I also don't know of a good action camera under £50. If I ever find either of these things,  I'll be sure to let everyone know. I'm not saying they don't exist.....it's just I haven't tested them yet.

So that's it for now. Thanks for reading.  

Tuesday
Jan012013

GoPro HD Hero3 White vs Sony HDR-AS10

This the longest and most expensive review I've made so far. With a budget of over £300 and a running length of just over 40 minutes you might (justifiably) assume that I've been able to cover all the features of these two cameras in great depth, but unfortunately that's not the case. Notable by their absence from this video is any examination of the stills capabilities of either camera, 720p60 tests or a demonstration of the playback functions over HDMI. 

With so many things missing I think I will need to make a follow-up video about these cameras but I'll save the 720p60 tests until I can get some more suitable weather for going out on the bike……so don't hold your breath.

The heavily discounted Sony that I bought seems to be the result of a product being canned just before it came to market and therefore ending up in the hands of ebay close-out sellers. The Sony HDR-AS10 is the HDR-AS15 minus the WiFi, a feature that I don't really need or miss. With an action camera the whole idea is that the lens is wide enough to capture everything without the need for accurate framing. The WiFi function merely gives you the viewfinder that you never wanted together with an ability to share files wirelessly. The Sony has a 170º Lens, meaning that virtually everything in front of the camera is in shot, so no need for a viewfinder.

The biggest problem with the Sony surrounds the mounts, not only the lack of choice but also the shape and design of the supplied case. The fact that it completely blocks off the microphone, can't be tilted up or down, can't be mounted to the side of things, but is also too long and tall to be mounted on the top of a helmet means that the Sony ultimately fails as an action cam. I will be experimenting with finding some way to attach the camera to my bike helmet whilst also recording sound through the mic-in socket…. but I'm really more interested in using this as a general purpose mini camera. For example when I was shooting another review over Christmas it turned out to be the most suitable camera I owned for filming inside the cramped interior of the car when I needed to demonstrate how a Car DVR mounted to the windscreen. I'm also looking forward to getting the Camcorder type mount if/when it is released. This apparently adds both an LCD screen and a much needed tripod hole to the camera. I should mention again the low light recording capabilities which are really amazing and the best I've ever experienced in any camera.

I think that the GoPro 3 White whilst being a cheaper entry point into the GoPro product line might have skimped a bit too much on the image sensor. The problem seems to be that GoPro needed a product at a price-point to deter people from buying the Chinese GoPro clones. Whilst most people would prefer to buy a real GoPro so that they could use the multitude of mounts available it was previously way more expensive than some other action cameras. Whilst the White edition is certainly a more attractive prospect at £200, but it seems that GoPro needed to create a reason for people to want to pay the extra for the Silver edition and therefore lumped the White Edition with a smeary slow sensor, prone to CMOS wobble and dark images. I can't actually believe that the sensor in the Silver Edition costs anything more than a few pence extra over the one in the White so the £80 price difference between the two must just be there to add some kind of desirability and prestige for the more expensive model. The Lens and functional capabilities of the White are a match for the Silver model…it's just the sensor in the white that feels old and tired. The Black model suddenly doesn't seem such bad value for money, especially now that it comes with the WiFi remote and some additional mounts. Perhaps one for a future test….

I must however point out that I will continue to concentrate on reviewing the cheap Chinese cameras. One of the reasons for getting these two expensive models was so that I could benchmark the cheaper cameras against them. In future tests I'll now know how close a £50 camera from China comes to matching the quality of one of these £200 models. 

I have uploaded some raw samples from each camera to my DumpTruck folder.

I am also now aware that the green light I mention being inside the Sony Battery Compartment is a reflection from a hologram. 

SAMPLE FILES CAN BE ACCESSED BY CLICKING HERE

Oh, and by the way - Happy New Year. Thanks for watching during 2012 and I hope I'll have some more things worth sharing with you throughout 2013. 

UPDATE - Sony sell a replacement door set for the waterproof case, and one door is designed to allow sound to get in. Looks like another thing for me to test out.

Follow up video on the Sony AS15, new firmware and mounts HERE

Sunday
Dec232012

Christmas Surprise - GoPro Hero3 White Review (Coming soon).

Yes - I know I said that I'd never review the GoPro because there was no point, everyone already knows that it's the best action camera. Well in a U-turn worthy of a politician, my next video will be an action camera comparison featuring the GoPro Hero3 (White) in a head-to-head battle against the Sony AS10. I'll explain the reasons behind my change of mind in the review. 

Unfortunately I've realised today though that I'm not going to be able get this video finished this side of Christmas. The bad weather in the UK over the last couple of weeks has delayed shooting and currently my rough-cut of this review is still over an hour long and is missing a few sections. 

I'll therefore be spending all the time I can find over the holiday period to get this review completed as soon as I can. It probably wont come as too much of a surprise to regular readers/viewers to find that my favourite camera of the two is probably not the one that most people will end up choosing.

In the meantime - all I can do is wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a gadget filled new year.

Mat ™Techmoan.com

Thursday
Dec132012

Rechargeable Hand Warmers (Winter 2012 update)

Just a quick video about rechargeable hand wamers. You may decide that you prefer the more readily available lighter-fuel powered Zippo Hand Warmers. After all having something in your pocket that's on fire is always going to be cool.....and hot.

Battery powered devices do have some things in their favour though. For exampe, they can easily be switched off and recharged from an office PC ready for the journey home, and you wont get far trying to charge your phone with lighter fuel (at least not until fuel cell chargers become readily available anyway).

I should have mentioned that these hand warmers take a good few hours to charge up (a full morning or afternoon) and they take about 5 minutes to reach their maximum temperature. I've been very glad of these in recent weeks...it's just a pity I can't find a similar piece of technology that could unblock my head before I recorded this video voiceover. 

 

You can buy the Blue one here and the red one here. There are also other colours available if you have a search around on ebay.

Saturday
Dec082012

A Cheap Mini HD Car Dash-Cam with GPS

My Car DVR reviews are usually quite popular, but with so many models available and a limited amount of time and money to allocate to them, I have to choose which ones I'm going to review very carefully. To catch my eye a dash-cam must offer something that sets it apart from the crowd.

The stand-out features of this particular camera are that it is both affordable and small,  but is it a bargain or is it just cheap and nasty? Decide for youself after watching the video below.

 

The auction I used is no longer live - CLICK THIS LINK for possible sellers.

MORE INFO - 

The camera is 74mm long and 28 mm in diameter. It weighs 1.48oz / 42g (without cables).

Someone wanted me to explain how to format a card without using the onscreen menus. Well the easiest way is to put a card into is that is formatted as NTFS. When the camera is switched on a Menu comes on screen that says "Card not Formatted - Format Yes/NO" - To choose Yes press the down arrow once then press the centre button. It takes about a minute or two to format the card. After that you can power it down. It should now work as normal - however you really need a video cable to be able to alter any of the other menu settings. The card format is identified by my PC as FAT.

The other small camera mentioned earlier in the video can be found on ebay by

Thanks to John in the comments who discovered that they do make a model with a 12V plug on it - I've now ordered the

UPDATE - 25 Dec 2012

Download Sample Day & Night Clips Here (If you really want)

The original AVI files were all too long. Unfortunately my video trimming program (MPEG Streamclip) refused to handle the original .avi files so I've had to convert then to .mp4. This has had no effect on the quality though. 

Sunday
Dec022012

Henge Docks Clique - Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and Trackpad holder

I've got three video review projects on the go at the moment and all of them seem to be getting increasingly more complicated each day. So to give myself a break, I've decided to create a quick and easy video instead. 

This is a video about a simple product that does it's job perfectly. The Clique from Henge Docks. It's an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and Magic Trackpad holder. In my opinion it's an essential purchase for anyone who is planning on using a Mac Mini as a HTPC. It's the closest thing possible to an Apple made all-in-one HTPC keyboard and trackpad. 

Now back to editing those other more difficult videos…perhaps there is a video reviewers equivalent of writers block?