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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%! 

            

 
Sunday
Apr292012

The £50 Roku LT

£50 is an interesting price-point for an electronic device. There are a lot of things I will take a punt on at £50 that I would never consider if they cost £75 or more. In my opinion the Roku LT is definitely worth £50.

It's obvious that streaming media is going to play a massive part in the future of home entertainment. It's still early days, but home cable and fibre are already capable of offering a significant proportion of houses with the necessary broadband speeds that can support HD streaming video.

We're still at the nascent stage of Internet video networks, and it reminds me of the early days of satellite TV. I got my first satellite dish in the late 1980s and back then it was a wild-west of wildly variable quality programming provided by channels that were often available for viewing outside their intended audience areas. It took a few years, but inevitably the big companies took over, locked the content down and ramped up the costs.

Internet TV is still in it's wild-west period, there is a lot of junk out there with a few diamonds hidden amongst it. You might end up watching adverts for products you can't even buy in your country and the video quality varies wildly.

For people that don't share my memories of the early days of satellite TV, there is another analogy that might better explain how I feel about the Roku..... I'd imagine that most people will, as a child, have listened to a radio under the bed sheets late at night, sometimes tuning it to foreign stations, It really felt like you were listening to something secret or special. That was a memory that came flooding back today when I was watching KeyTV, a channel that as far as I can tell is intended to promote Key West's restaurants and activities to vacationers. The Roku is in a way like a Shortwave radio for Internet video.

Now if you wanted to keep it simple you could always just use the Roku for its BBC iplayer function, its good enough to buy it just for that one channel/app but then you'd be missing out on a whole world of video.

If you want a box that works well today and gives you a window into the future of home entertainment you should pick up a Roku. I can think of many worse things to spend £50 on, and I've got a loft full of stuff to prove it.

Here's the review

By the way, the USB to Type M Barrel 5V DC power cable that I mentioned in the video is still in the post, but I'll let you know if my plan to power the Roku using the TV USB socket it a success when it arrives. An update will appear here.

Update 4 May 2012..... Well my USB Cable to Type M Barrel 5V DC power lead turned up in the post and.....disappointingly it doesn't fit into the socket on the back of the Roku. The outer barrel is the right size, it's just the centre pin on the Roku is too thick to fit in the hole in the middle, so that experiment is over. As a number of people have pointed out, it's very likely that the Roku would have needed to draw more power than the USB would supply anyway, but it would have been nice to actually verify this....ho hum.

Sunday
Apr222012

'1080p' Mini LCD Camera

This camera was very nearly great....but ended up merely being just OK.

When I bought my camera from an ebayer I paid £46, however I note that Dealextreme are now selling it for £35, so at that price it might still be worth a look, depending on your requirements.

 

I've included the link to Dealextreme below, they call it the F188, others call it the SC260B, and I'm sure you'll see it going by other names too.

Available from.....

DealExtreme

If anyone wants a seller link adding to this post, please email me....but I won't include eBay auctions due to the speed with which they expire.

By the way, if you want to buy an 808#16 Camera, you can only get them through ebay. Here is a link to Eletoponline365 who make and sell these cameras through their ebay store.

Sunday
Apr082012

Two SmartCams for your car

At last here is my review of the Smartcam car cameras. 

If you are in the UK and you want a cheap dashcam then either of these cameras are definitely worth your consideration. The prices include post and packaging...but more importantly don't include the unwelcome and often unexpected extras, like Import Duty, VAT and 'handling fees' that you can sometimes incur when buying items direct from China.   

Link to Smart Electronics Ebay Store here.

Video Review below.

NOTE---- Youtube has had a seriously detrimental effect on the video quality from the HD cam - I've therefore uploaded clips for you to download and play on your machine. Here's the Smartcam - and here's the Smartcam 2

Saturday
Mar312012

A Cheap (& nasty) Car camera.

Judging by the comments I get there are lot of people who are reluctant to import products from Chinese ebay retailers. I understand a certain level of apprehension, but on the whole I've had very few problems, and often if you are willing to import you will get the best deal. Unfortunately my complacency is the reason that I ended up getting caught out this time. I was looking for the cheapest option - had a number of auctions open in different windows and ended up choosing poorly.

I've put the video together anyway to as a reminder to be cautious and avoid rogue devices that masquerade as better ones.

There will be a new video along as soon as possible (hopefully in about 10 days) where I'll be reviewing two alternatives to this camera with a very similar form-factor. These cameras are being sold in the UK at prices that are equivalent to the HK ebayers, but with the added reassurance that there will be no unexpected import duty or taxes to pay. They are also much, much better.

Tuesday
Mar272012

A Spy Camera Alarm Clock

The stand-out features of this alarm clock spy camera are its 12 hour recording capability and motion activation. One unusual feature that I didn't highlight in the video is that it's the only continuously-illuminated LED alarm clock that I've come across that runs from battery rather than mains power. I don't know how long the batteries are able to power the clock for, because while the camera power dies after approx 12 hours, the clock keeps running, and it still is, a number of days after I finished my testing. 

Many thanks to Gadgetbuy.com.au for supplying this clock/camera. In addition to this clock, they also sell a wide range of spy devices and gadgets from their Australian online store.

 

Wednesday
Mar212012

Two short and largely irrelevant videos. 

I've uploaded a couple of quick videos in the last few days.

The first is a suggestion for a cheap case that fits the new iPad.
Since I made the video it's been discovered that the reason that auto-wake cases that were designed for the iPad 2 don't wake the new iPad is because the polarity of the magnets inside the new iPad have been reversed. This change to the design was done as smart covers could put the iPad 2 back to sleep if they were folded back underneath the iPad. 

The second video is a look at the accessory kit for the RD32II camera (it also fits some other Redleaf RD camera models). The RD32II is a great camera, but the one thing it needed was some way to attach it to helmets...well this kit is the solution to that problem. It took me quite some time to figure out how the belt attachment worked...so hopefully if you do buy this kit, this video will save you some time.

Sunday
Mar182012

£40 Car Cameras Review 1 of 2

One of the more common email questions I get asked is "What is the best cheap car camera that I've tested?". Well I've only really reviewed two purpose-built car cameras, one was a couple of years ago and really wasn't very good and the other, the V1000GS costs over £100.

In case you are wondering what separates car cameras out from action cameras, well they come supplied with a car mount and more importantly, they auto-start and stop when they receive power from a car 12v power adaptor.  

So given the level of interest, it looks like its about time that I took another look at cheap car cameras to see what is currently available. My aim was to get the most amount of features for a price of no more than£40.  I bought two different HD cameras that fit the bill and the first of what will eventually become two reviews is shown below.

The second camera, has already arrived from Hong Kong, but there are quite a few other things that I need to look at first before I put that review together. As a result, it will most likely be a few weeks before I'll upload the second (and last) of these cheap car camera reviews.

Here's the first video...

Example ebay seller links

This Camera

The Next Camera 

Wednesday
Mar072012

Budget Wireless HDMI Transmission - does it work?

The last time I investigated wireless HDMI transmitter solutions a couple of years ago they only transmitted over line-of-sight and cost well over £500. Fortunately things have progressed and there are now a number of more affordable options available.

Whilst looking (unsuccessfully) for the Raspberry Pi last week on CPC Farnell's site I saw that they had a special offer on a generic no-name transmitter-receiver set for £120 so I picked one up. (This has subsequently returned back to its normal price of £156).

I really wasn't confident that it would work, given the lackluster performance of the first generation devices. You'll need to watch the video to see if my pessimism was warranted or unfounded.

UPDATE - 25/08/12 - You can now buy a self-powered HDMI splitter that works well with this device. Blog entry here.

Thursday
Mar012012

My next camcorder - The Sony HDR-GW55VE

HDR-GW55VE in SilverMy favourite camcorder from all the models that I've owned up till now is the Sony HDR-TG3 (aka the TG1 in the US & Japan) it came out in 2008 and I bought one pretty much the first day it was available. It's a 1080i50 premium quality pocket camcorder.2009's HDR-TG7

The next year, Sony brought out the HDR-TG7 (TG5 in the US and Japan). The upgrades were a Capacitive touch screen rather than the Resistive model of the TG3 and a new on-screen interface, GPS Photo and Video tagging and a slightly redesigned case. Strangely the camera downgraded its 5.1 sound to stereo during the upgrade. I stuck with my TG3, and thought I'd wait for the next year's model instead, hoping for a 1080p upgrade. However 2010 came and went as did 2011, both without an update. The TG7 was subsequently discontinued and I really thought that I had seen the last in the line of these upmarket Sony pocket camcorders. Perhaps, I guessed, that Sony assumed that as now people were recording video with their SLRs, compact cameras, smartphones or their bloggie range, there was no need for a camera like this.

Finally, last month I finally decided I couldn't wait any longer and bought a Sony HX100V superzoom. I needed a camcorder/camera that utilised 2011 rather than 2008 technology. A much wider angle lens, significantly better low light capability, GPS, AVCHD 50p, plus features like sweep panorama and a tilting screen all meant that this camera was the best replacement I could find. After using it for a while I began to wish that Sony had tried to find some way of incorporating this technology into their pocket-friendly TG style case. HDR-GW55VE in Black

Well to my surprise, the 1st March 2012 brought a long overdue and unexpected update. The catchily named HDR-GW55VE. Sony are touting the 5m water resistance as the headline feature of this camera, but to me the big features are all from my wishlist. 1080p 50 AVCHD video at 28Mbps, a wider angle 29.8-298mm lens and 20.4MP stills. Take that last spec with a pinch of salt it's only a 5MP sensor - albeit still a big step up from the old 2MP sensor. Most importantly to me though is the fact that its all still in that gorgeous pocketable case, with the vertical orientation that I insist on in all my camcorders (I explain why this is important at the start of this old video).

So thank you Sony for making my next camcorder, I was beginning to think that you'd forgotten about me.

Update 26 April 2012 It's going to be called the HDR-GW77V in Japan.

Tuesday
Feb142012

The 1080p Jumbo Camera

People have been expecting me to have a look at this camera, so who am I to argue....here is my review. If you want this camera, it's available on Ebay  Price at the time of writing is approximately £38 ($59). 

Moving away from the Jumbo 828 for a minute....I've got to reiterate how much the HD808 #16 camera has improved since my review. I managed to kill off my original #16 camera during testing, so I ordered a new one from  on Ebay and when it arrived I installed the latest released firmware. Everything that I mentioned as being less-than-perfect during my original review of the #16 has been improved/addressed and fixed. If you were to ask me what the best micro HD camera is today I'd have no hesitation in still recommending the 808#16. I really hope that the manufacturers of the #16 manage to find a way to put it into a proper action camera case soon. 

Monday
Feb062012

The Rii Mini Keyboard vs The Lenovo N5902

In this video I decide which of these two HTPC keyboard remotes I like the best. Purely based on the specs, the Rii Mini should have the advantage because of its bluetooth capabilities, however, as is often the case, it's a little bit more complicated than that.