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Articles by Category

    

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 (My recommendation)
Yi Dashcam (also in black)
   
    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%! 

            

 
Monday
May292017

Mio M560 Helmet Camera Review

A common request I receive is to suggest a 'dashcam for a bike' - and that's exactly what this is...although it's not one I'd recommend.

Downloadable Sample Clip

A downloadable sample clip is available from here. Do not stream this video - it needs to be downloaded to a computer to be seen in it's original (non-re-encoded) quality. The streamed version will look worse than youtube.

Purchasing

The Mio brand seems to be UK-centric. You can find this camera here on ebay...or on Amazon as shown below.

 

Sunday
May212017

1986 in your pocket

Here’s a quick video about a forgotten gadget from the eighties. It’s a personal stereo with a built-in television. The idea of being able to carry this in a pocket was pretty cool back in 1986…but as you can see in the video, it did come with a few compromises. 

Monday
May152017

The Gakken WorldEye

This unusual device intrigued me so much, I just had to buy one and try it out for myself.  Watch the video below to learn more about what it does, then read the paragraphs below for a bit of behind the scenes info.

While I was putting this video together it began to occur to me that it probably wouldn’t be of interest to most of my subscribers.  I therefore kept the video brief, uploaded it youtube and moved onto making the next one. However when I released the video early on Patreon, the response was a lot more positive than I expected. A few people wanted to know more about some of the features I’d skirted over and Anders from eox.no offered to try to create some new videos for it. 

After he sent me over his new videos and they worked perfectly I returned to my video review, took it down and re-edited it to include an extra five minutes of demonstrations. In an unusual turn of events, the act of reviewing something has actually increased it’s ‘usefulness’.   So now if you do import a Worldeye you’ll have something else to play on it other than the original Japanese clips. 

Purchasing

You’ll be importing from Japan - so turn on international search in abay and you may also end up paying duties.

ebay UK  US  CA  DE  AU  NL  AT

Amazon UK  US 

Prices vary wildly...so choose a seller carefully as they are all offering the same device. 

New Videos For the Worldeye

The newly created videos for the Worldeye can be downloaded from here. These were all created by Anders Enger Jensen - who is also the talented musician behind the Retro cassette seen in a couple of recent videos. His website can be found here. 

I'd ask that you kindly only download the videos if you own a Worldeye as they don't display properly on a traditional screen. 

Monday
May082017

A True Tech Classic - The Sony TC-D5 Field Recorder

There’s a reason why broadcasters buy professional products when consumer versions are often available for a tiny fraction of the price. It comes down to that old adage ‘No one ever regretted buying quality’. A camera with an intermittent fault or a fuzzy sound recording could be the thing that ruins months of planning. Like a faulty indicator light on a space rocket, the cheapest part has the capability to shut down the most expensive operation. 

Cassette recorders like the Sony TC-D5 were made for professional use, but when the pros moved on to digital recording these old analog machines often got packed away and forgotten about. Some are reappearing now thanks to estate sales and making their way on to ebay. People who spent the equivalent of £1000 on a tape recorder will have usually taken good care of it and many of these machines can be found in good condition. Whilst they aren’t cheap - they never were, but they now sell for a fraction of the original price.

The TC-D5 is an anomaly (in a good way), it’s put together like a piece of technology constructed in the late 70s, but it carried on being made into the 21st century. 

I doubt that any company could manufacture a device to this standard now, and even if they could, no one could afford to buy it. So if you want the best, this is one of those times where you have to look to the past. The video below explains more. 

PURCHASING:

Sony TC-D5
UK  US  DE  CA  AU  NL 
    
Alternatively these links will look for my second recommendation - the Marantz PMD430 (US) or CP430 (UK)
UK  US  DE  CA  AU  NL
  
I've also put together a list below of some alternative models that might be worth looking into...I'm sure there's plenty of others too.
JVC-KD2
JVC KD-1635 
JVC KD-1636
Marantz/Superscope CD 330
Nakamichi 550
Teac PC-10
Technics RS-686 DS
Philips D-6920
Sony TC-D5
Uher CR-240
    
That Tascam Deck I mentioned at the end is currently on pre-order. Here it is on Amazon US
   
The cassette used in the video can be purchased from here

 

Monday
May012017

On Wax/Off Wax - Building an Edison Wax Cylinder Recorder Kit

In this video I’m assembling an educational kit from Japan. The end result should be a functional model of an Edison Cylinder Phonograph.
Places to find Gakken Kits...
1) Amazon  UK  US
2) ebay  (click a country, ensure ‘International Search’ is turned on
UK  US   DE   CA   AU   NL 
  
Here is the Gakken Japan website 
Monday
Apr242017

RetroTech: The Atari Video Music

The Atari Video Music is an artefact from an era when companies could afford to be more experimental. Nowadays something this bizarre would definitely have been killed by a focus group before it entered production. On this occasion, history shows the focus group would have been making the right decision. However there’s no denying that stifling the crazier ideas to instead focus on producing iterations of existing product lines has lead to a much blander consumer electronics landscape in recent years. 

In this video you can take ‘a trip’ back to the carefree days of 1977 and see the product that a bunch of gifted electronics hippies from Atari thought might be the next big thing.

 

LINKS
Anders Enger Jensen's music can be found here
Ben Heck's Atari Video Music Teardown is here
The RF to Composite box I used can be found on ebay  They sell NTSC or PAL versions (click your country). UK  US  CA DE  AU  NL
Old RadioShack Catalogues can be viewed here.  
The Atari Inc Book can be found on Amazon UK  US 
Tuesday
Apr182017

Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Camera Review

It’s been a while since I reviewed a camera, so it will be interesting to see how the youtube subscribers respond to this video. The channel has become known for retrotech videos recently, so many of the recent subscribers, might be a bit confused by a camera review. I suspect the viewing figures will be a pale shadow of some of the other videos, but there’s only one way to find out. 

 

Here are some Amazon Links (watch the video first to see the issues):

Amazon UK - http://amzn.to/2ojTC7X

Amazon US - http://amzn.to/2oppiaU

 

Tuesday
Apr112017

When you couldn't compress the music...you shrunk the cassette

My favourite kind of video is one where I can show something that most people won’t have seen before. Here I’m demonstrating an unusual cassette system that was only available in Japan. Despite only costing a handful of Yen when it was on the market, its now become a highly collectable oddity that can sell for ten times that original price. 

If you want to learn more, watch the video below. 

Wednesday
Apr052017

Repairing Sony’s Tape-to-Tape Walkman

Have you ever seen James May’s TV show - The Reassembler?
   
If you haven’t the concept is simple, he reassembles a previously disassembled device like a food mixer or record player whilst chatting about it. While is doing this, a couple of camera people do their best to capture the best angle to show the process. When it’s all over there will be a fully assembled device that works perfectly. It’s a very relaxing and pleasant TV show that in some ways feels like a youtube video with a bigger budget.
   
This video, like many that I've made over the years, is simultaneously similar and considerably different to that idea. I start with off with a broken device, one that I’m unsure can be made to work. I take it apart, attempt to fix it and finally reassemble it. All the time I’m multi-tasking as the camera, lighting and sound guy.
   
When Mr May has finished reassembling his object, he can go home. When I finish I have hours of footage that I then attempt to reassemble into a cohesive video to which I can finally add a voice-over narration.
   
These repair videos may not look as good as a BBC show, but hey, at least I tried. and unlike The Reassembler there's no guarantee that my efforts will result in a success.
   
If that sounds like the kind of thing you’d like to see, then you can, if you click the video below.
   
   
If you have a Walkman that needs a new belt - here’s your link to the only place to get them from.

 

Monday
Apr032017

The joke's on me

A year or more ago I bought a modified Fisher Price PXL-2000 camera. This is a one-off video camera from 1987 that records onto standard chrome compact cassettes.  As it is something that never came out in the UK, I was interested in testing one for myself as well as making a video about it. However before I got around to it other videos and articles appeared online about the camera, so I felt there was no need to rehash what had already been said and left it on a shelf. 

In the months that followed I kept receiving emails and comments asking me if I'd ever heard of this device and suggesting if I could ever get hold of one that it would be an interesting thing to review. Seeing that the first of April was coming up in a couple of weeks, I hatched a plan to finally use the PXL-2000 - and you can see the results below.

There's a bit of subtext here - in April 2016 I made a video explaining that from my experience the most noticeable difference between viewing UHD Blu-rays and standard Blu-rays on a 65" TV is more likely to be the colour depth and HDR rather than the resolution increase. I explained that this was something that could only be experienced in person - not through youtube and certainly not through a non-HDR camera pointed at a screen and shown in a non-HDR video stream on a non HDR computer screen. Just to be sure this message got through, I repeated it a couple of times in the video as well as displaying as text to warn people not to try and assess the performance from a youtube video.

Unfortunately despite my best efforts most of the comments posted were along the lines of "the HDR version looks darker and a bit orange to me". All I really wanted to get across in the video was that a lot of the internet articles at the time were only focussing on the increased resolution when the reality was that this didn't make much difference at a typical viewing distance unless your screen size was getting on for 80" - however the changes brought via HDR encoded discs would be apparent on a HDR capable screen of any size.

This disheartening experience gave me an idea. If this many people believed they could assess HDR performance whilst watching a non HDR video, how far would they take this idea... and that's why I decided to use a 90p resolution B&W 15fps mono camera to demonstrate a 2160p HDR Atmos surround video. 

There is no trickery here - the UHD Blu-ray and the standard Blu-ray are really being shown one after the other...and the camera recording them is the PXL-2000, and the microphone being used is the built in one on the camera (except during the voice-over sections). The outro graphics were recorded through the camera from a video displayed on my TV. The reason that you can't hear the usual whining sound of the PXL-2000's motor is that the camera was in standby and the video was being captured over composite out cables from my modified camera. For greater effect I should probably have recorded to tape and then captured that to get the full effect - but this was much easier and allowed longer recording times. 

A bit of trivia - the UK tradition of April Fools Day states that it should finish at noon. If it carries on after this time then the perpetrator themselves becomes the fool.  Before I went to bed the night before I scheduled the video to go live at 8am. As soon as I got up I had to go out for the morning and returned just after noon at which point I set the video to unlisted...to ensure that I was following the tradition. I then came to the realisation that I'd done a heck of a lot of work for just four hours of 'fun'...so this is one tradition that I have no plans to repeat in the future. 

Friday
Mar312017

Shaking up the Hollywood blockbuster

For a good few years now I’ve been trying to source a Buttkicker wireless kit. I’m happy to say that I finally managed to get hold of a pre-owned one through ebay so I’ve made a video my experience.  

 

-------PURCHASING--------
   
The Buttkicker store can be found at https://www.buttkickergear.com but as mentioned in the video, stock levels are depleted. There are alternatives but they may be a bit more complicated to set up....
  
Transducers on Amazon
  
Below are links to some specialist bass shaker stores.
EU/UK
US