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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%! 

            

 
Tuesday
Jul142009

Sony TG3 wide angle lens comparison

SIZED UP

My Sony Wide Angle Lens - the VCL-HGE07TB - arrived this week and I spent my lunchtime today in Manchester trying it out.

I've put together a video comparing the normal camera lens against my original Magnetic wide angle lens solution and the official Sony one.

P1060450

The Sony one is 0.7x and the Magnetic one is 0.45x (I think). After a few minutes of testing, the Sony solution was the obvious winner. It is definitely worth the extra cash despite the slight reduction in the width of the image compared to the magnetic lens.

The main difference is that with the Sony the whole image is useable without any vignetting in the corners. The vignetting on the Magnetic Lens is not visible on the camera's LCD when filming - it only shows up when the footage is transferred for editing (the camera films more than it shows on its screen). This means that clips taken through the magnetic lens  normally have to be reframed when editing (which takes extra time and effort)

The lens fits well (despite it being designed for the newer model) and stays firmly attached. The lens does seem to blur the footage slightly, so its probably best to only attach it when its really needed. It will be invaluable for indoor shots in confined spaces. On my next holiday I'll probably clip it on automatically whenever I enter a building I'll be filming in - like a museum or gallery.

In the video I label the footage as Normal, Magnetic Lens or Sony Lens - hopefully that's self explanatory. For earlier posts about the magnetic lens and the Sony TG camera click here.

Sunday
Jul052009

Video Review of the AEE MD80 Mini DV Spy/Action Cam

I've put another video review together, this time of the AEE MD80 Mini DV Spy Cam.

MD80

The video explains all the details - so if you think you want a tiny video camera make sure you have a look at this  first.

I've got to try and  make these clips smaller in future - I know that people have an attention span of a few secs - yet I still go on about nothing for minutes. The ebay seller I used for mine was inesun - a reliable Chinese exporter. You can also pick this up in Maplin in the UK.




UPDATE -  After a few suggestions on the Youtube comments I tried the camera again with a different memory card and I'm happy to report that it doesn't jerk any more. The card I originally used was a Lexar card supplied with the camera - perhaps the memory was a fake, there is a lot about. I feel that I didn't give the camera a fair review, so I have added a new clip taken with the new memory card in it. The card I used in the end was a 2gb Sandisk, it's not SDHC just SD (micro) and I imagine it will be a class 1 or 2.

NON JERKY CLIP....



Sunday
Jun282009

Cheap Motorcycle Sat Nav Holder

soeasyrider v3

Just a quick update. I bought a sat nav case holder for my bike and put a short video together showing how it works. Sat Nav for bikes is ridiculously expensive, they start from £300+ whereas a similar car model is between £60-£100.

The main difference between the two is that the bike one is waterproof and usually come with bluetooth to speak the directions through a  wireless headset worn inside the helmet. I only want to use my Sat Nav on the bike on rare occasions - so I'm happy attaching it to the bike by using a waterproof case and either using a wired headset, or more likely forgetting the headset and just using it for visual cues.

Here's my video.


There are only two (AFAIK) bike sat nav holders in the market - the best selling Givi S850 and the newcomer the So Easy Rider V3. I chose the latter because it looked smaller, was slightly cheaper, available now (S850 is often on back-order) and claimed it would fit any bike or scooter. I can't compare the two personally - but I can confirm that the model I bought does work as promised and is therefore recommended.

Slightly off topic  but I'll be interested to see how TomTom implement their GPS maps on the iPhone. Bear in mind that the iPhone does bluetooth out of the box. If Tomtom could get it to understand spoken instructions (it's impossible to operate that screen with gloves on) coupled with a waterproof case it would kill the existing Bike sat nav market over night - or maybe force it to charge more realistic prices.

Saturday
Jun132009

Kingsford O-Grill 3000 Video Review

I recently bought a new BBQ - the Kingsford O-Grill 3000. It cost me £130 online.

O-Grill3000_GreenO-Grill3000_Red
o-grill_front

Its a portable (or transportable) Gas Barbeque that runs off normal Patio Gas. Rival portable Gas BBQs often run on  expensive and difficult to find specialised canisters. Since I'll only be transporting this BBQ between my garden and the shed - I don't mind the need to use bigger gas cylinders. If you did want to carry this BBQ in a car then a 5KG gas cylinder is pretty easy to lug about too.

5kg Gas A 5kg Gas cylinder

The Grill is available in a range of colours and comes with everything you need to get up and running in minutes (excluding the gas).

When looking into what portable Gas BBQ to buy I found very little in the way of reviews or videos to enable me to visualise the size of the cooking area. I've therefore made a quick video of the O-Grill which should help those people who like to see a product in use before they decide to drop £130 on it. Here it is...

Thursday
Jun112009

World Exclusive - The official Sony TG5 & TG7 wide angle lens fits the old TG1 & TG3

Excellent news just in from Cos a good friend of the site. He has confirmed that Sony's new official clip on wide angle lens (the VCL-HGE07TB) does indeed fit the older TG1 / TG3 models.

VCL-HGE07TB

Cos really took a gamble ordering this for his TG3 as Sony's own website appears to indicate that this lens would only work with the new TG5 or TG7 models.

It was assumed at the time that there was some slight design difference on the camera body that meant that the lens would only attach to the newer model. Cos' comments are reproduced below.

Hey Techmoan-it works!

 

it slides on fine, bit stiff 1st couple of times. Not magnetic, attaches to grooves on top of TG3 and stays on solid, can’t be accidently pulled off etc. Heres a side by side of footage with and without lens on plus me fitting it on camera on youtube:




Of course this now means two things.

1) I'm ordering one of these lenses as well.

2) All my previous posts about my DIY solution have now been superseded.

Thank goodness I can finally forget about non-sticky sticky back rings that permanently obscure the flash and vinyetting.

Many thanks Cos.

I should mention that the official price for the lens is £89.99 - but it looks like you get what you pay for.

Previous post about my original DIY solution here

Old post about the new TG5 / TG7 model release

P.S. This may not actually be a world exclusive (I've found some more pictures on a Japanese blog)- but it's the first time its been reported in English - and with video to boot.

EDIT - I've finally got one of my own - see my video and opinion HERE

Thursday
Jun112009

DIY 79p Macro Lens for the iPhone

If you are stuck with your existing iPhone contract for a while, but lust after the macro lens abilities of the 3GS then read on.

Pick up one of the Pocket Magnifiers (available at random places everywhere - mine cost 79p).

Ironically this picture is blurred because of the problem I'm writing about. Ironically this picture is blurred because of the problem I'm writing about.

Keep it in your wallet until you come across those rare occasions when you need to take a close up photo then hold the magnifier against the iPhone lens and take your picture . The results aren't perfect, but should be good enough to ensure your iPhone has a much better chance of deciphering that barcode or QR code.

Without the magnifier Without the magnifier

With the magnifier (both pictures taken with an iPhone 3g) With the magnifier (both pictures taken with an iPhone 3g)

Without Without

With With

Sunday
Jun072009

The 2009 Piaggio MP3 400 ie - Getting back in a saddle after 15 yrs.

So I finally bought a Motorbike (or should I say scooter).

 

 

 

 




A 2009 Piaggio MP3 400 A 2009 Piaggio MP3 400

 

 

I passed my full motorcycle test in 1994, and that was the last time (until a couple of weeks ago) that I had sat on a Motorcycle. Its hard for me to explain why this was. As far as I can remember I think at the time I passed the test I found the cost of buying and insuring a bike prohibitive (I was 23). Then over time buying a bike became irrelevant to my situation and the idea was all but forgotten about.

 

 

 

I always remembered my motorcycling experiences though. The main things that I recall fondly were the improved visibility compared to a car, seeing over walls and hedges and feeling more in touch with the environment. I remembered hearing people talking and smelling the food cooking in the bakers or chip shops whenever I stopped at  pedestrian crossings. It felt like I'd actually visited places rather than just having driven through them.

 

 

 

The thing that sparked my interest in biking again was when I went on a European Cruise two years ago. I experienced first hand how in mainland Europe the attitude to Motorcycles is completely different to the UK. No where is this more apparent than in Italy. Every type of person there rides a scooter, from businessmen commuting to work,  to old women going shopping. Seeing people in cream coloured designer suits wearing slip-on shoes weaving through the traffic without a second thought made me see what I was missing out on. It was during this trip that I saw my first three wheeled scooter - and I realised that this was the bike I wanted. I started looking for them everywhere to find a parked one to figure out who made them. I eventually found out that there were two types, The Piaggio MP3 and the Gilera Fuoco. I even found Police in Cagliari, Sardinia using Piaggio MP3s.




Police in Cagliari Sardinia on their Piaggio MP3 scooters. Police in Cagliari Sardinia on their Piaggio MP3 scooters.

 

 

From further research when I returned home I found that the Fuoco and the MP3 are made by the same company (Vespa-Piaggio). The Piaggio MP3 is available in the UK in a 125cc, 250cc and 400cc model. The Fuoco is designed to look like a more sporty model and is 500cc only.




Gilera-fuoco The Gilera Fuoco 500cc

 




Spot the difference Spot the difference

I decided to get the MP3 as it has more storage than the Fuoco. Its bulkier design means it's got a boot as well as under-seat storage - and it costs a bit less. I'm not into driving like a nutcase. I've always been interested in motorcycling for the freedom of the road, driving on my own and not in a gang. I like to sit upright, I dislike the racing bike type seating position (and I don't think my bad back would like it either). Scooters have automatic gears, are comfortable and the rider is less exposed but they have traditionally been seen as a bit pathetic, a step below a 'proper' motorcycle - however for some reason the extra wheel at the front exempts the MP3 from this prejudice and it turns as many heads as a supercar.

 

 

 

As far as choosing the right MP3 engine size there was only one choice for me - remember I have a full motorcycle licence and can therefore drive any engine size.  The 125 is a bit underpowered, but suitable for town commuting, the 250 is suitable for A-roads and is probably quite happy going 60 mph, but not much more and maybe not for sustained periods. I settled on the the 400cc. I live near a lot of nice A roads, but if I were ever to commute to work the only option is to travel 35 miles down the M6 motorway and my only Piaggio dealership is 25 miles up the M6 motorway in the other direction.  I had no option other than buy an MP3 capable of Motorway travel and the 400cc  cruises at 70+mph  without a care in the world.

 

 




The rear view - not as radical, but it does have a boot! (Boot=Trunk US) The rear view - not as radical, but it does have a boot! (Boot=Trunk US)

Anyway that's enough for this post - i've already gone on a bit too much. I intend to do a further post in the coming weeks about my experiences of getting back on a saddle after 15 years. I am going to write about safety, the clothes and accessories I had to buy, the things I had to learn again,  and whether a scooter can ever actually be considered cool.

I also made a youtube clip explaining most of the features/controls of the bike for those people who are interested. I'll briefly explain why the quality of this is so bad. I put my Creative Vado video camera in my Motorcycle jacket's inside pocket. But then just before I left the house the outside temperature was so hot that I removed the lining from the jacket and left it at home. When I arrived at  my secluded car park shooting spot I realised that my camera was still in the jacket lining at home. Luckily I had my stills camera in the bike's boot which also takes video, albeit rather poorly - so I was forced to use this.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl38HRGcxK4]


Friday
May292009

Belkin Micro Auto 12v Car USB Charger Review (updated) 

My Belkin Micro Auto Charger turned up today.

P1060301 P1060317

It is a car 12v to USB adaptor that takes up a lot less room than older devices. I bought this to make my car look neater and I'll be able to leave this permanently in place without it drawing any attention.

It certainly is neat - it sits just proud of the lip of the socket - which is ideal as it leaves just enough of its casing exposed so that it can be easily extracted - sitting flush might be even neater but would not be clever.

P1060322 P1060323

There's not much else to say from here because my device was DOA - dead as a dodo - no amount of wiggling would make the LED on the device light up. I've tried it in a couple of sockets without any luck - so I'm back to using my old £2 USB charger and this will be shipped back to the retailer - as soon as I can figure out their return procedures (oh what fun).

So I can't complete my review - I was going to let you know if it charges an iPhone 3G (my current one doesn't) - but you'll have to find this out from elsewhere.

Balls.

UPDATE - Lambda-Tek (where I purchased this) were very quick to refund my card. Now I need to find another supplier - This time I'll use a shop just in case it has to go back too. I now need two - one for the car and one for the scooter (yes it really has a lighter socket under the seat).

UPDATE 15th June - My new replacement Belkin Micro USB chargers arrived (I bought two from Kikatek). I'm glad to say that both of these work out of the box. I've put one in my Mini and one on the scooter. There is not much to add to my comments above - other than the green LED lights up all the time it's being supplied with power - but its not too bright to be distracting. Finally - yes it will charge my iPhone. That's it.

Recommended if you want to tidy up your car or if you find a full size adaptor a tight fit. I believe that in a few years this will be the normal size for these devices , and by then maybe all new cars come with USB charge sockets as standard.

3.5cm

Thursday
May072009

Elgato Turbo 264HD - Update

Today I received my replacement Elgato Turbo 264HD from Germany. In my earlier post I mentioned that my Turbo264HD was overheating and couldn't encode for more than 40 mins at a time without failing-out. I decided to get it replaced and sent it off to Elgato in Germany. Three anxious weeks of waiting later and my replacement device has been delivered back to me.

I am very happy to confirm that the replacement device does not overheat. I've had it encoding 1080p MP4s continuously for over two hours this evening and it's performed impeccably.

Excellent - thanks Elgato.  Now if only they could sort out the iMovie09 export problem, I'd finally be able to finish off editing my holiday footage.
Thursday
May072009

Tracking parcels is fun

Are you a glass half empty or half full person. I'm a half full person... and the glass is half full of wee, and it's tramp's wee, and the glass is chipped. OK that may be going too far but I'm a pessimist. It's hard to get to my age without developing a keen sense of impending doom and failure. If you'd been through my experiences and come out of the other end with a happy go lucky sunny outlook you would have to be delusional and/or insane.

What's all this about? Well three weeks ago I sent my faulty Elgato turbo 264 off to Elgato for repair/replacement. It had to be sent to Germany (from the UK). The device cost me £155 so I asked about insurance. To get full cover the only option was to get a signature on delivery. I wasn't sure that Elgato would do this so I had to go for standard postage, which only covers the first £50.
As soon as I'd left the post office the pessimism fairies took over. They told me it was going to get lost, then I'd have to navigate the hellish post office compensation process. Or perhaps Elgato would get it but say it wasn't faulty and return it to me.  So all these thoughts have been swirling around in my head. After two weeks it became too much to bear. Elgato have a ticket process that shows the pending state of a repair/return enquiry. It had stuck at an awaiting return state for two weeks. I emailed them and sure enough it had gone missing. Excellent. Britain have an established history of flying to Germany and dropping things there that necessitate repairs being carried out (think early 1940s) so why can't my parcel get there?
Anyway, a week later and they finally got the parcel and are sending me a new one (which I'll subsequently re-test and add to my review asap).
So after all the stress and worrying we are now onto the fun bit. I love watching parcel tracking online. It really is one of my favourite things. My first experience was tracking a wristwatch coming  from Hong Kong and ever since then I've been hooked. I've very nearly ordered things just to watch the tracking, it's facinating seeing the convoluted routes parcels take. One of my favourites was seeing some Nixie Tubes coming from the Ukraine. With my iPhone and my Chumby I'm never more than a few clicks away from an parcel status update. Part of the magic is seeing the location of a parcel before I go to bed and then seeing where it has got to when I've woken up. Its facinating thinking of all the people, planes, vans, fork lifts etc that are involved in the processes that are summaried in just one  line of text on a tracking update.

My hopes for the future of parcel tracking are for a realtime gps track - like the flashing blue dot on the iPhone Google map.
 I always find the last 10 miles take the longest. My HK parcels usually take 2-3 days to get to a depot in Salford then another full day to get to my office in Manchester - about 2 miles away.

The picture is the current location on my 264HD.track-001
Sunday
Apr262009

Cheapo iPhone 3G Battery Case Review and Mophie comparison.

I use my iPhone a lot for watching video podcasts and accessing the internet. It therefore has no chance to make it through a whole day without needing a recharge. Normally I recharge it at my desk - but recently I've had to make a couple of all-day trips involving 6 hours of train journeys in one day.

I therefore found that I had a need to purchase an extended battery pack to avoid running out of power mid-morning. I checked out the market leader in this field, the Mophie Juice Pack - but at approx £70 it seemed a bit excessive for something that wouldn't be getting daily use. I therefore went to Ebay to see what cheapo alternative options would be available.

I found this unnamed clone available from E-cell in the UK.

p10601243p1060131

It has a number of unexpected advantages over the Mophie as well as the anticipated disadvantages you get with any cheap plastic clone, so lets do a brief roundup.

Listing the advantages first. The number one benefit of getting this Chinese knockoff is obvious, price - it cost me £15 delivered. Its size also appears to be somewhere between the Mophie Juice pack and the Juice Pack Air even though its battery claims to be bigger than  both - 2200 mAh, against the Juice pack's 1800 mAh and the Air's 1200 mAh.

p10601291p1060125

There are also a couple of design choices that improve upon the Mophie product. This device charges through a standard Apple dock connector (as opposed to the USB Mini socket on the Mophie). It also comes with a stand which is an excellent addition as it's at a perfect angle for watching videos with a iPhone placed on a train or airplane tray table.

p10601331 Dock connector - bottom right of picture (Left side of case)

p1060136

Now to disadvantages - this is a really plasticky case. Its uncomfortable to hold - the edge of the dock connector sticks into my palm, the stand is a ridiculously thin piece of plastic, coloured like metal - it could very easily snap off (mine hasn't yet, but I've been extra careful). The buttons on the case that physically touch the real buttons on the phone are very hit and miss, the power button gets stuck down, so that my phone always me asks if my intention is to power it down rather than just tap it into standby. Its hard to get a finger to the mute toggle on the phone. The worst offender is the power button on the device itself which switches it's battery on. Its a tiny bubble switch which needs to get a sharp press from a finger nail before it registers.

p1060139p1060138

So, in practice, is it worth it? Well yes, it's £15 remember. On my recent trip I used my iPhone all day. When it hit approx 20% full I stuck it in the case and recharged the phone in my pocket when I wasn't using it (during meetings etc). I did this twice and managed to use the phone fully for everything I wanted, without any worry about power.  I watched video podcasts on the train on the way there and TV shows on the way back, all with the phone nicely angled on it's stand. As an estimation, I think the battery would probably recharge an iPhone 3G from flat approx 1.5 times.

p1060130p1060132

There is still room in the market for the perfect iPhone battery case. It needs to have the slider macro lens from the Griffin Clarifi, a camera flash like the Fastmac iv ,  be nice and slim like the Mophie Juice Pack Air, and have a stand and use the standard sync cable like the device I bought. There is one thing that no battery case manufacturer supplies which should be standard - and that's a slipcase pouch to hold the device in. I currently use a Sena Ultraslim case to house my iPhone when it's traveling solo. The only way I'd get a similar type case that fitted over an iPhone in an extended battery would be if the manufacturer made and offered one that fit their own dimensions.

OK, so the device I own is not as slick as a Mophie, but it does roughly the same job for about 25% of the price. I got mine from  e-cell on Ebay make sure you get the one with the stand. They also do an older model without a stand and with no cut-out for the camera. Oh and the box is a misprint it doesn't actually have a shortcut to Satan as mentioned in an earlier post.