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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 (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%! 

            

 
Thursday
Apr012010

Mini Key Ring Spy Camera Review

I've found it impossible to mount my DV80 camera to my motorcycle helmet - so I bought  a keyring spy camera (or two) to replace it - but I've found that the improved ease of mounting comes with a number of  trade offs.

The camera cost me £10 delivered to the UK from a Ebay HK seller.

Video review below....

Friday
Mar262010

No More Retro Games for Me

I think I've finally hit the end of the road with retro games. For many years it's been a bit of an obsession - but I think I've 'done it' now and it's time to move on.  My moment of clarity/realisation came after catching site of myself playing the new 3D Sector-X game on my Vectrex (video below).



2010's A-list games stand head and shoulders above anything from the 1980s and I even find that the majority of my iPhone games are better than any Spectrum or Atari ST game I ever owned (and for a lower price than a budget game of 20 years ago).

I'm seriously contemplating cancelling my order for an Open Pandora because I'm not sure I'll get enough use out of it playing old roms when there are so many new games demanding my attention.

Tuesday
Mar162010

Nixie Clocks and the Nixie Watch

I first became aware of Nixie Tubes in 2002. I've always had an interest in unusual watches and clocks and so when I saw the Karlsson Nixie Clock, a clock that appeared to display it's time using glass valves,  I was intrigued.

The Karlsson Clock

After reading up on Nixie Tubes and discovering the vast network of Nixie Clock designers I decided that I needed one of my own. A number of kits were available at the time - but these involved soldering hundreds of components onto pre-printed circuit boards, something that I didn't feel confident doing. My search for a Nixie clock eventually lead me to a ready made clock, made by a company in the Netherlands.



My IN-14 clock

This was my first clock - it uses IN-14 tubes. It has been on display in my lounge for 6 or 7 years now and has worked flawlessly. The display is perfectly viewable from way across the room and yet doesn't catch the eye or disrupt the my TV or Projector viewing, even in a totally blacked out room. I think this has something to do with it's soft orange glow or the fact the digits are organic shapes rather than angular digits. It keeps good time and has a nice standby schedule feature Mine goes dark 11pm-6am to save the tubes. It was a good first clock, - but I wanted more.

Is it a 2 or a 5 ?

I preferred the look of the Nixie clocks that displayed all the circuit boards and the entire body of the tubes, rather than hiding them away inside a case. Also my tubes utilise a flipped '2' to form the '5' - something that probably saved a few Kopeks when the tubes were originally manufactured in Russia in the 1970s - but which looks a little bit odd.

I decided that my next clock should use the Rolls Royce of Nixie tubes - the IN-18.

The IN-18 tube was one of the largest tubes made and was probably used in installations that needed to be read from a considerable distance - like a railway station departure board. The digits in an IN-18 tube are 40mm tall - the digits in my IN-14 clock are just 18mm. My main obstacle was that IN-18 clocks were just much too expensive. After months of searching - I found a Hong Kong company on Ebay who sold an pre-assembled but unpopulated IN-18 socketed circuit board and case. I then eventually found another seller in Kazakstan selling NOS (new old stock) IN18 tubes - presumably appropriated from an abandoned Russian facility. All together the components for the clock cost a couple of hundred pounds.

My IN-18 Nixie Clock

Oddly enough - when assembled, I found the large digits and the continually changing seconds to be too distracting in the lounge and it was relegated to another room in the house. So bear this in mind if you are buying a Nixie clock - sometimes bigger and more elaborate isn't necessarily better.

Throughout all this Nixie hunting and research, I became aware of David Forbes at Cathode corner's attempts to make a Nixie watch. I couldn't afford one at the time - but kept checking in on his site from time to time.

The initial small batch sold out and David's site went quiet - with no new updates or news, it seemed like the era of the Nixie watch had been and gone. Then in October 2008 I read an BBC Interview with Steve Wozniak - where he said that the one gadget he wished he had invented was the Nixie Watch that he proudly sported on his wrist. I emailed a link to the article to David and to my surprise he was kind enough to respond and thank me for making him aware of the article and said that he felt honoured by Woz's comments .







Woz proudly displaying his Nixie Watch

A few months later, David updated his site to say that he was working on producing an updated version of the watch (possibly buoyed by Woz's comments) - and then about a month ago he relaunched the site and invited orders for the watch. This time around I didn't hesitate and immediately ordered one for myself.

After getting held up in UK customs for about a week - a delay for which I was charged £53 - I eventually got my watch.



The Nixie watch

So as usual, I've put together a video which you can see below - or click through for the HD stream.



The watch isn't cheap - but it's also not overpriced, given the exclusivity and the hard work that has gone into it's development and production. In reality, it probably costs more for David to make one of these watches than it does for Rolex to churn out another one of theirs. It's also good to know that all the money you pay is going directly to the inventor designer and manufacturer of this unique wristwatch.

If you too, want to wear the same timepiece chosen by the Multi-millionaire co-founder of Apple, you can do so - by visiting www.cathodecorner.com

Sunday
Feb282010

Acer Aspire Revo R3610 WiFi Aerial Mod



I've hacked together a cheap and easy fix for the poor quality signal received by my internal WiFi card on my Revo 3610. As usual a video says a thousand words - but the picture above will have prematurely given the whole game away if you know anything about what sockets do and don't belong on a Revo.

Edit - (Update)... I thought I should mention that the reason I am sticking with the internal card rather than just using a USB WiFi dongle is because my internal mini PCie card works on the 5Ghz band and I can't find a 5Ghz dongle.

Sunday
Feb212010

Review of the Givi T455 Scooter Tunnel Bag



I've put together a video to demonstrate the Givi T455 Scooter Tunnel Bag. My reasons for buying this were a bit unusual - the video explains this in more detail, but to give you a bit more of an understanding into my scooter inferiority complex, I'll elaborate a bit on the bike vs scooter issue.

If you ride a scooter and you live in the UK or the US you will have no doubt suffered from an anti-scooter prejudice that exists amongst many people (including 'proper' motorcycle riders). "Do you ride a motorcycle - what kind is it"? "Oh it's just a scooter - I suppose you are allowed to drive that on your car licence, are you saving up for  a real motorbike?".

I have a full bike licence and chose my £5000 scooter over a traditional motorbike for many reasons (too numerous and complex to go into here).  The outfit I wear when riding  my scooter is indistinguishable from the clothes someone wearing a traditional motorbike would wear. This is often seen to be overkill - " but you're just riding a scooter - what's with the get up, in Spain they drive scooters wearing flip flops, shorts and a T-shirt". My scooter is 400cc scooter, it can go 90+ mph, I often ride it down the Motorway  - if I fell off whilst cruising along at 60 mph the results would be the same as someone falling off a Harley (not good) . Therefore I wear a full face helmet, back protector, proper jacket pants and boots. Yet if you were to see someone wearing full leathers all in ones on a racing bike it would be considered normal - on a scooter, well......

Anyway enough ranting about scooters vs motorbikes. I like both, but find a scooter more convenient for my needs. The Givi T455 makes my scooter even more convenient as far as storage goes - but less convenient because it's one more thing to carry around when I get off the bike. It also might not appeal because of the permanent velcro pads that need to be attached to the bike and it's pretty expensive (at around £60).

The reason I made a video is so that people can see what it looks like in situ and how it fits on the bike - two things that I wasn't able to find enough information about about when I bought mine. I just realised that in the video that I might be pronouncing Givi incorrectly - by saying  'give -e' when it's probably more like 'jhivi' as in Givenchy, anyway tomayto tomarto, I don't suppose it really matters.

I know that this is something that only a handful of people are interested in - but that's fine by me - thanks for looking in, and if you don't care about scooters or scooter luggage then that's fine too - it's all good.

Wednesday
Jan272010

Review of the JJC ALC-3 Panasonic LX3 Lens Cap

The JJC ALC-3 Lens Cap

 

Even though it's getting a bit long in the tooth (in digital camera terms) for many people the Panasonic LX3 is still the perfect compact camera.

 

It fills a niche all of it's own - fitting in somewhere between the mass market compacts and the Micro 4/3 semi-pro models. It could be argued that it's wide fast optics are still unmatched at this price point.  That's not to say it isn't without it's negatives - a limited zoom and a manual lens cap are the most common complaints.

 

Lens caps are an accepted norm for SLRs but have become anachronistic for a camera of this size. Many LX3 owners, like myself, have upgraded from a compact camera with a built in automatic lens shield and therefore find the need to frequently remove and replace a lens cap to be an irritating inconvenience.

 

For a while now, many people have worked on creating alternative solutions based around the Ricoh LC-1 lens cap. This cap is designed to be permanently attached to certain Ricoh cameras and the iris of hinged doors automatically open whenever the lens is extended.  The process of modifing the LC-1 lens cap to fit the LX3 was less than simple with various fiddly techniques being used to file the lens down and cut out some plastic. Most of these techniques run the danger of stripping the plastic lens cap threads on the LX3.

I bought an LC-1 lens cap and attempted this mod -  I ended up slashing my finger so badly with a stanley knife that I had to superglue the cut together to stop it bleeding and unsurprisingly the project went on hold.

 

Well imagine my relief when I found a HK retailer on Ebay selling a 'copy' of the LC-1 lens cap design, purpose-built to fit on the LX3 straight out of the box. The lens cap is called the JJC ALC-3 and cost me £11 delivered (search ebay for auto lens cap lx3 to find a retailer.

 

The JJC cap next to my mangled Ricoh cap (notice the new threads inside the top of the JJC)

 

So now that it's arrived, let's see if it works. First thing to do is unscrew the lens screw thread cover from the camera. If you decide to do this yourself, make sure you look after this component, this seemingly insignificant ring is notoriously difficult and expensive to buy. The next step is to screw on the new lens cap and wave farewell to the old one.

 

 

The main (only?) difference between the original Ricoh and the JJC cap is that the latter has the correct size of thread to enable it to  screw onto the LX3 mount. It turns out that this is all that was needed to make the lens work perfectly with the Lx3.  The lens cap screws on effortlessly and fits snuggly and securely. I don't think it looks too ugly and most importantly for me, the camera still fits in it's official and expensive custom leather case.

 

The opening and closing mechanism works well once it's on the camera and the doors don't infringe upon the lens - even at maximum zoom (the LX3 lens gets shorter as it zooms in). [EDIT - unfortunately it does vignette - check comments for more info]. The doors are a bit flimsy, but no more so than the original Ricoh model, but I'll be buying a spare one, just in case.  I should also mention that the cap isn't air tight,  so dust could still sneak in through the cracks between the doors.

 

UPDATE 20th February 2010 - Erik commented that JJC are apparently looking into modifying the Lens cap as a result of customer feedback. The two problems with the current design are Vignetting when zoomed in and weak springs on the flaps - JJC emailed the following reply to Erik.... "We had customer reported similar feedbacks to us before. Therefore, our factory is trying to improve the auto lens cap’s quality … Please wait for our second generation ALC-3 and we will improve those weak points to make you satisfaction!”.

Excellent news - maybe we will eventually get the lens cap that all LX3 owners are waiting for.

UPDATE - 2nd APRIL 2010

Please watch my follow up video on how to quickly and cheaply mod this lens cap so that it doesn't vignette at maximum zoom. Now I'm finally satisfied with my LX3.

 

EDIT 29th April 2010

 

Be sure to check out my report on JJC's version 2 update of their ALC-3 LX3  lens cap.

 

Friday
Jan152010

Magimix Vision Glass Sided Toaster - Hands On



I got to have a good look at the Magimix Vision clear glass sided Toaster today in Kendals (House of Fraser) in Manchester.

Previously I’d only seen renders in a nice video.


In person (?) it’s a nice machine and I was glad to see that the glass sides fold down for easy cleaning of the interior. Obviously I didn’t get to test it – Kendals staff might have objected if I’d pulled a couple of slices of bread out of my pocket. Instead they left me alone long enough for me to take a few pictures with my iPhone shown below.

Now the sticker shock – for those who don’t know Magimix, they are a prestige kitchen equipment manufacturer and already sell a number of Toasters costing £100 plus. Since the Vision is the new top model in their range, the price reflects this and it’s £160. Yes that’s £160 just to make toast, strangely enough I’m still tempted to buy one.

I have a bit of a history with novelty toasters – my current model  is an old youtube hit with over 100,000 views of my video entitled “My Incredibly Cool Toaster”.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exGtj4jjbco]

The Magimix model might not be as interesting to watch as that one, but it would ensure I burnt my toast less frequently.

[gallery orderby="title"]

Saturday
Dec262009

Streaming video around the house without a video sender.

I haven't updated the blog for ages because of two reasons.


  1. In 2009 I used up  all my tech-buying budget on a new Conservatory and Garage.

  2. I seem to spend all my time either at work or sleeping.


So now that it's the Christmas break and I've finally found a bit of spare time, I've put another video together.

This video is an explanation and demonstration of my wildly overcomplicated solution to a common problem, that is - how to get TV from one room to another without sending it down a wire.

I already pay for Sky Multiroom and this means I can have Sky TV in two rooms, the Lounge and the master bedroom. Now that I've bought a third  TV for another room I also wanted the option to watch Sky on this- the only caveat is that there can be no wires between this TV and either of the existing Sky boxes.

Watch the video to see how I went about achieving this seemingly simple task (without using a traditional video sender).

(I've uploaded this in HD - so it will be worth clicking through to Youtube to see it properly)

Monday
Oct122009

Interesting and fun vehicles from Europe

A quick post - here is a gallery of pictures of various forms of transport I took on my European Cruise.

People in France and Italy seem to have a liberated approach to transport that makes the UK look dull in comparison (not difficult).

Their use of scooters is particularly interesting to me. I saw two teenage sons dropping their mother and sister pillion passengers off in town for some shopping, a young mother holding a baby in her arms whilst her husband weaved their scooter through rush hour traffic. Numerous toddlers standing up behind scooter windshields holding onto the handlebars above their head. People carrying all shorts of things in one hand (pizza, laptop etc) whilst using the other hand to accelerate, steer and brake. A common practice is to jam a mobile phone down the side of an open face helmet - a kind of rudimentary hands-free.  It looks like a free for all - but imagine what would happen if all these people were forced to drive cars instead - gridlock. Better to let things work themselves out organically.

Vehicles here aren't cherished prized objects - most of them are battered and dented. People park up against one another and no one seems to mind. A near-miss I saw was greeted with an apologetic wave from the offender and a never-mind shrug from the driver who nearly T-boned them. A lot different from the swearing road-rage scene that would have no doubt ensued in the UK.

As far as the cars go - the supermini is king. I'm particularly fond of the original Fiat 500s - they actually make the Smart car look bloated and are still being used for everyday transport rather than kept as cherished classics. Many of the American tourists had never seen a Smart car before and were amazed at this vehicle which is already a familiar well established car in most of Europe.

If anyone wants to look at the transport options for the future they need to take a long hard look at a city like Rome to realise that if you step back and let the people figure it out themselves, then they might just do that.  The weather does play a big part though.

 

This scooter was in Cannes - The Leopard Skin is actually flock not paint This scooter was in Cannes - The Leopard Skin is actually flock not paint

[gallery]

Saturday
Aug082009

Panasonic SC-HC3DB Bookshelf Hifi & iPod Dock

I haven't posted for a few weeks as my house is undergoing a considerable amount of building work - leaving very little time to sit down and relax. Part of this building work involves the construction of a Conservatory. This is entirely the wife's idea - but it does mean that I now have the opportunity to fill another room with entertainment equipment. I'm not too sure about putting a TV in a room made of glass - so I decided it would be a good opportunity to get a nice new speaker dock for my iPhone.

I would have been happy to continue using my  old JBL On Stage for a while, but it doesn't work with my iPhone 3G - so I went on the hunt for a new stylish and compact speaker with excellent sound. I took my iPhone to Costco and stuck it in a number of different speaker docks to try them out.

The system I came home with wasn't just a speaker, but a fully fledged bookshelf Hi-Fi system - the Panasonic SC-HC3DB. It won me (and the missus) over with its excellent sound quality and its ingenious solution for neatly storing the iPhone away whilst at the same time keeping it's display visible.

Panasonic SC-HC3DB

As usual, I've put together a short video and I suggest you give this one a look if you are thinking of getting a new iPod/iphone speaker or a bookshelf HiFi - It really produces an amazingly detailed and rich sound which belies its modest £175 price tag. I'd have happily paid that just for a speaker this good and I had to check the shelf price twice when I saw that this included a CD and DAB/FM radio as well.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday
Jul152009

A Tomtom on a Scooter - finally my solution is complete.

Like anything I do with regard to technology, the simple idea of adding a Sat Nav to my scooter has got a little bit out of hand.

A couple of weeks ago on this blog I demonstrated the case I bought to attach my existing Car Sat Nav (a Navigo flashed as a TomTom) to my scooter. I noticed at the time that the tiny Navigo looked a little bit lost in the large case, so I started shopping around for a new Widescreen Sat Nav. I also decided that my new device should have the ability to somehow wirelessly transmit it's voice instructions to a receiver in my helmet and as usual I wanted to spend as little money as possible.

In the end I settled on a TomTom 520.

TomTom 520 on a Piaggio MP3

Other than my familiarity with the TomTom OS  the main reason for choosing this model was that it was the cheapest device I could find that could transmit its sound output over FM to a radio receiver. My intention with this was to keep a small FM radio in my jacket pocket and wear in-the-ear headphones inside my helmet.  So I tried this out, and it was working fine - albeit with some interference - until I did a firmware update on the TomTom - at which point it then stopped working.

Apparently TomTom had to remove the 'transmit voice instructions to FM' feature because it's illegal in a number of European countries. By some strange quirk - it is still legal to transmit the voice as long as the TomTom is playing music at the same time!? The work-around then is a simple matter of playing a looped silent MP3 continuously in the background.

However - and perhaps as a concession to disgruntled owners, the new firmware also added the ability to transmit the voice to a 'Bluetooth HiFi Device' - presumably a car stereo. So I set about finding a suitable receiver for this function.

TomTom Menu

I came up with the Sony Ericsson MBR-100 The MBR-100 is a tiny rechargeable A2DP receiver/transmitter. It has one button (on/off/connect) and a 3.5mm phono socket. Paired with a suitable device it can either transmit or receive sound via bluetooth.It works perfectly with the TomTom - it picks up the sound and relays it to the headphones without any interference.

P1060489

So now I have bought a £40 Case, a £130 TomTom and a £30 Bluetooth Receiver. For £200 I have assembled my complete bike Sat Nav solution. I imagine that the only advantage a purpose made Bike Sat Nav would now have would be an easier to read screen. My TomTom 520 display really does wash out badly in normal daylight and this is something to bear in mind when deciding whether to pay the extra £150+ to get a purpose made motorbike sat nav.