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Pick of the Camera Reviews

(Click the pictures for reviews & links) 


Yi 2 - Best Budget 4K 

Gitup Git2 (My Pick)

Xiaomi Yi


DR02 D - Best Budget Dual Cam

Yi Ultra 2.7K
Mobius (also works as a Dashcam)
Polaroid Cube+
Drift Ghost X

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.


RECOMMENDED CARDS (for action cams - see dashcams below)

CLASS 10 UHS-1 CARDS (For HD Cameras)


U3 CARD (For 4K cameras)




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'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%! 


The Muppet Whatnot Workshop Experience

As mentioned in an earlier post, whilst in New York recently I went to FAO Schwarz and got a custom Muppet built to my specifications in their Muppet Whatnot Workshop.


I (like most people I saw) decided to try to recreate myself in Muppet form.

The system is a lot like creating a Mii – albeit with a reduced choice of options. In a way this is a good thing, because it encourages a bit of imagination or artistic licence – but it also means that your end result is a bit of a compromise between your initial vision and the items available.

The process goes like this…..

You tell the person manning the counter that you want to create a Muppet (I told them that I wanted two). They tell you that they cost $130 each (at this point I tried to pretend that this wasn’t a surprise - but it was a bit more than I expected). They also tell you how long it will take (depends on how many they already have to make). The store person then opens a sealed package containing a kit and hands it to you.

Inside the kit are three glossy cards each showing a  different head shape – each one a different colour.


The other cards contain vinyl cling stickers (non adhesive). These are the eyes, noses, hair and outfits.


After choosing your head type you can then start experimenting by sticking different features to the card. If you find it hard to visualize how some of these will look in ‘real life’ it's not a problem as every single variation is displayed on a wall of muppets next to the counter.


When you are happy with your configuration you copy your choices across to an order sheet by ticking the appropriate boxes and present this to the cashier.

They then type all your choices into the till, take your payment and give you your receipt.muppet-order-sheet3

I was then offered the choice of watching my Muppet being made (which happens on a table behind the counter) or take a buzzer and wander the shop until it was complete. I could imagine what gluing a few pieces of foam together looks like, so I chose to wander the shop for 20 mins. Whilst doing this I quickly realised that nothing else in the store interested me, without the Muppets I wouldn’t have spent a penny. Obviously a toy shop isn’t a place meant for a 38yr old chap with no children. However The Muppets and Sesame Street hold a special place in the memories of people my age and as a result,  FAO Schwarz should do very well with their exclusive agreement. The cost and the scarcity of their stores should mean this remains a long running desirable treat rather than a quick over-exposed flash in the pan. Muppets never come in or go out of fashion and there is no technology to go out of date.

When it comes to picking the Muppet up, it is packaged in a clear plastic drawstring bag. The Muppet is supplied with a metal stick to articulate its hand – just like a ‘real’ one, this can be inserted into either of the Muppet wrists in a special eyeloop. photo-1

The clear bag is a very smart idea. I walked back to my Manhattan hotel with this bag slung over a shoulder and the Muppet on display looking backwards out of the bag at the people following me. At each crosswalk I could hear the people behind discussing it – telling each other where to buy one etc. A security guard in a shop asked me how much they were. By carrying this one through town I probably sold another ten.

So now I have a Muppet, Its something I've wanted for more than 30 years and it serves no function other than to make me smile every time I see it.



Nintendo DS Cake

I'm back in the UK - Spotted this in Sainsburys.....


Sony Centre NY

Went to the Sony centre in New York today. A few pics to share. A 70" $20,000 TV, the Vaio P next to the 11" Oled TV. The webbie cameras (felt nasty cheap) and the PRS-700 e-book. Critics are right about that screen glare, it's pretty poor-the PRS505 was on display next to it and looked miles better.


Small update

Been out of the country for a few weeks on a cruise round the Caribbean. I'm now in New York for 3 days and thought it's time for a small update via iPhone.
I've a picture of a Cylon toaster from the NBC Store and a couple of pics of the Nintendo Famicom prototype from the Nintendo store. Oh and the coolest thing ever, in FAO Schwartz you can get a Muppet made up to your specs from a pick list of options - a bit like a mii. Me and the missus tried to make a lookalike muppet each.


A smartly designed four plug mains adaptor

If your situation is anything like mine, the chances are that you don't have enough plugs in your house to power all your equipment. There are two ways to solve this problem,

i)  Get an electrician, plasterer, and decorator around to your house to install a raft of additional mains outlets 

ii) Use mains adaptors.

Rather obviously, my house is therefore full of mains adaptors of various shapes and sizes. Most of these are less than perfect. Some of the common options are...

1) The traditional three outlet plug - Stick out from the wall a long way, sometimes hard to get bulky adaptors to fit, and messy to look at with all the plugs having different orientations.

three plug no switch

2) A recent update on the traditional three outlet plug - with the useful ability to switch individual outlets on/off - same drawbacks as the standard 3 plug adaptor.

Three Plug With Switches

3) A trailing gang plug adaptor - this one is a four plug model, they tend to take up a lot of room and need some floor space.

Trailing 4 Gang

4) My recent purchase. This one was from Morrisons supermarket and cost £4.99.

4 gang wall mount switched

The things I like about this one is that it powers four devices, all are individually switched, it stays pretty snug to the wall and the plugs are all sensibly spaced with the the orientation keeping the cables tidy. 


I know that plug adaptors aren't something that people normally discuss - but I thought I'd make an exception on this occasion because I was so impressed with this simple solution to an old problem.

Unannounced Hitachi HV565E 1080i Camcorder revealed

Looking through the Argos catalogue that just came out today( 17 Jan 09) , I spotted a new HD Camcorder that doesn't appear to have been announced anywhere.


It is the Hitachi HV565E and it looks virtually identical to the Sanyo HD700 - which also appears in the same catalogue. The Hitachi is 1080i @ £117.39 whereas the Sanyo is 720p @ £293.39. If the specs are accurate - this Hitachi looks like an absolute steal.  A 5x Optical Zoom on a pocket camera with 1080i HD  - makes this one look like an attractive option for those who need a pocket HD cam that offers  a bit more creative control than the  Vado or Mino HD alternatives.

The specs are as follows

  • 5 x optical zoom.

  • 4 x digital zoom.

  • CMOS processor.

  • 2.5in LCD screen.

  • Manual focus.

  • High definition recording.

  • Upto 200 minutes recording time dependant on SD card.

  • Recording format H.264

  • Computer format USB 2.

  • SD memory card slot.

  • AV output.

  • Accessories include strap, USB cable, software, manual, AC adaptor and case.

  • Battery level indicator.

  • 5m pixels camera.

  • 1080i high definition.

  • Premier lens.

  • 32Mb built in memory.

  • Rechargeable battery.

  • Webcam function.

  • PictBridge compatibility.

  • Weight 162g.

  • Size (H)12.1, (W)4.08, (D)5.85cm.


UPDATE---- Ok mystery solved. I've done a bit more digging and I've found out it is a Sanyo. In the US it's sold as the Sanyo VPC-HD100 and it seems to be a Walmart exclusive.


It gets some very mixed reviews on the Walmart product feedback page as well as on Steves Digicams . Judging by a number of the comments, quality control does not appear to be Sanyo's  strong point. You can also find some  test clips on Vimeo that should be useful.

I still think that it isnt a bad camera for the money - the clips I've viewed  seem to outperform the Mino/Vado/Zi6 and it is the only one with an optical zoom.  It'll be interesting to see how the Sony Webbie range compares in price and quality when/if they reach the UK.


Pico Apple Connection Kit - It's finally available


Pico Apple Connectivity Kit

So I finally managed to get my hands on the Optoma Pico iPod/iPhone Connectivity kit.

The iPhone 3G is very hard to connect to AV equipment. The old iPods used to output the video through the headphone socket, the newer ones and the iPhone 3G output the video through the dock connector. Until recently third party leads worked with some models, but following a recent firmware update the iPhones will only work with the official Apple leads.

To connect an iPhone to the Pico you therefore needed a whole mess of wires - until now. The Optoma Apple connectivity kit is now finally available to buy (a number of weeks after the projector was released). The kit comprises of a dock socket  to 3.5mm jack socket converter dongle and a 1 metre 3.5mm to 2.5mm plug lead with an inline volume control. Its a very tidy solution - and the considerable difference between the portability of the two options can be seen in the picture below 


The dock dongle also has a weird socket that purports to be a USB charger socket (to pass through to the iPhone). After investigation it appears this is  a Micro USB socket - which is a strange choice. I have plenty of Mini USB leads around the house, but nothing I own uses the Micro USB standard and there is no lead included in the box.

Another strange thing about the dock dongle is that if the iPhone is in any state other than completely shut down then a blue led on the dongle lights up - this of course means that some power is being drained, even when the iPhone is in standby and the projector is shut off.

Dock Donglep1030300

p1030274In line volume

There is not much to review here - it works exactly as it should. Everything plugs together firmly and the inline control adjusts the volume.

The big bombshell about this product is the price - looking at the pieces you'd assume that the whole lot cost £5. Well mine cost me about £30 - and that's pretty ridiculous.

Would you pay £30 for this? Would you pay £30 for this? This device isn't a specific Pico product - it's a third party dock to 3.5mm av socket accessory with a patch lead. Perhaps the cost is to do with the Apple authentication chip - or maybe they have found a way around this protection and are just fleecing early adopters. It might be prudent to wait a while to see if any far eastern accessory makers can come up with an alternative . If you can't wait, and you can afford it then this works perfectly and it is a very compact and tidy solution. Available from various online PC component retailers - e.g.  PC-Stop





Update 23 Jan 09 - I managed to get hold of a suitable charging cable off Ebay. It turns this needs a USB A to 4 pin Mini-B cable - I've never even seen one of these before - pic below.



Edifier iF500 Soundsphere


Costco are really doing well with the scoops at the moment - after their exclusive on the s-JAYS the other week, my visit today revealed  the Edifier iF500 Soundsphere. Costco's buyers should really be applauded for sourcing interesting and original quality products from around the globe. You won't see this in Dixons any time soon.

Unfortunately finances dictate that I left this one in the store, but its a really beautiful speaker dock  that's compatible with all iPod models including the iPhone. Looking at the specs I imagine that it will sound as good as it looks. The price of £127 seems reasonable too when you compare it to some of the competition, especially considering it also has a built in FM radio and a smart remote control. More information on this speaker is available from the manufacturers website here.


Optoma Pico PK101 Review


Optoma Pico Review.

At present there are only two kinds of pocket sized Pico projectors available to buy. This might be a surprise, given that there are quite a number of different pocket projectors on the market - however  the technology inside the box comes from just two sources. There is the LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) optics made by 3M that drive their 3M MPro 110, the Aiptek Pocket Cinema V10, and numerous other rebrands , and then there is the Texas Instruments DLP chipset used in just one projector, the Optoma Pico.
Both project a 4:3 aspect ratio and use low power high brightness LED bulbs that never need replacing. On paper the LCoS looks better as it produces a 640x480 image whereas the DLP is only 480x320 - however numbers aren't everything.....

After scouring the net for weeks looking for reviews, I could only find negative comments about the LCoS devices and positive ones about the Optoma.

There is one other pocket projector technology that promises to trump both of these - and that's lasers. The Microvision Show will use coloured lasers to draw the image on the wall and will therefore need no focusing. Unfortunately this model has been "coming soon" since 2007 and its release is currently suggested for "next year". I want my projector now so bought an Optoma Pico and I think I've made a good choice.


The people at Optoma certainly know how to put together a product. The packaging is very nice and the contents of the box are even better. Optoma supply two batteries, both of which last 90 mins and both come fully charged in the box (which is a nice touch). The other contents of the box are a compact carrying case, a USB cable (to power the projector/charge the batteries) a USB to mains plug, a screw-in tripod mount socket and a 2.5mm to composite phono sockets lead. Note that I wrote 'sockets' rather than 'plugs' - this means that any device with yellow, red/white phono out plugs can plug in to the Pico's lead).p1030190

There is just one omission from the box - the iPod connectivity kit. This will plug between the projector and the dock connector of an iPod/iPhone with a single wire with an inline volume control. 


Unfortunately this isn't yet available in the UK and after contacting Optoma they confirm that it will only become available in 5 weeks, so I had to resort to going to the Apple store and buying the official Apple composite lead/USB charger set for £28. I'm going off topic here - but this lead is a major rip off. Apple have locked-out any cheap third party leads from working with the iPhone 3G, apparently there is an authentication chip inside the official lead that has yet to be successfully duplicated. So if you want to get video out of any iPhone its the £28 lead or nothing. Anyway that's not Optoma's fault, but if their iPod connection kit was available now, I wouldn't have had to buy Apple's cable (perhaps the delay is down to that damn Apple authentication chip).


The Pico is a beautifully simple device that has clearly been very carefully thought out. With it's 480x320 resolution there was no point in having a VGA or component input, composite is sufficient. The Pico only has two controls - power and focus. Using a USB lead for power means that there's no need to carry a large adaptor and most travelers already have a mains to USB adaptor for any country they are likely to visit.


My intention is take this on holiday with my iPhone and use it to watch transcoded TV episodes on the wall of my hotel room/cruise ship cabin. Last time I went on a cruise I took my Macbook along to screen a few Xvids on some evenings  (Experience has taught me that 14 days on a cruise ship without any TV other than CNN is just a bit too long). Taking the Macbook wasn't a good idea. Leaving an £800 notebook  full of personal information unattended in my room was a big worry, not to mention the hassle/weight of transporting it on planes, through customs etc. In contrast I'll be able to lock the Pico in the room's safe.

So how does it perform. The first thing to mention is that the Optoma Pico rather obviously needs to be operated in a dark room. As long as this rule is followed it produces a perfectly watchable picture up to 50 inches. Motion is fluid and blacks are black. If I was being picky, primary colours are perhaps a touch bright at times and there appears to be a reduced range of gray shades. That being said, I grew up watching CRT TV screens that produced significantly smaller and poorer quality images than this - so taken in context this is really pretty amazing stuff. The relatively low resolution really doesn't cause any problems on a image of this size when viewed at a normal distance, in fact I wouldn't know that it was anything less than DVD resolution unless I had read the specs. My full size home theatre DLP  projector produces an excellent 1280x720 96" image so using that as a base, one should be able to view the Pico's 480x320 image at somewhere between 30"-40" without any issues - and this is true.

The only negative to the Optoma is the internal speaker - it sounds like you would imagine for it's size - like a mobile in speakerphone mode.  My solution was to use an alternative speaker, and to that end I bought a heavily discounted battery powered Altec Lansing - Orbit speaker from Amazon. This plugs into the iPhone's 3.5mm headphone socket and luckily the iPhone still routes audio through here even when the AV cable is attached to the dock cable


So to sum up its another very positive review for the Optoma Pico PK-101. It does what it sets out to do very well. 

Its most immediate competitor is the Aiptek Pocket Cinema V10. The Aiptek offers a 640x480 resolution and has an inbuilt memory card reader and the ability to play MP4 files. Unfortunately reviews of this device are not positive. So unless someone figures out how to make a pocket projector that uses the LCoS technology effectively or Microvision finally release their laser-based Show device (and at what cost?) it looks like the Optoma is the best battery powered pocket projector currently available. It's definitely a niche product, but if you think you need a pocket projector, the Optoma is the one to get.

EDIT - Since posting this review I've managed to get hold of the iPhone/iPod connectivity kit  - for more details CLICK HERE

s-JAYS SIREN Armature Earphones Review


I picked up some new earphones at Costco the other day. 

I hadn't heard of s-JAYS but their packaging was very Apple-esque and oozed sophistication and quality. After attempting to research these earphones on the internet the only information I could find was that the Costco price was roughly half the rrp (Costco price £35.23 gbp) so  I decided to take the gamble and picked some up anyway. 

JAYS are a Swedish company however the UK is the first country to get the s-JAYS and Costco might be the first retailer here to sell them. The s-JAYS use some clever technology - according to s-JAYS themselves.. "They use the new JAYS technology Sirens. Sirens uses the same technology as the micro armature but in the same form factor as a normal dynamic driver. The Siren driver gives a much better overall sound then a dynamic driver and still it has a low price"

 Now that doesn't mean much to me - but it sounds like they are trying something new so good luck to them.

I also own the following earphones, Sennheiser CX-500, Sony MDR-EX71 and Shure E2C. 

Shure E2C 

Most expensive, uncomfortable, tickly cable down the back of the neck, probably the best sound quality - but couldn't live with them so got the Sennheisers instead.

Sennheiser CX-500

Good Value, sticky rubbery thin cables that annoyingly get twisted and curled up. Lack of bass. Upgraded to the Sonys.

Sony MDR-EX71

Comfy, light, easy to put in/take out. Strong bass. However felt that there was room for improvement and the rubber earpieces keep falling off, so I bought the s-JAYS.



The most versatile of the lot. The earpieces can be oriented one way so they can be worn over the ear or twisted the other way to wear as  standard (both options are comfortable). The cable can be routed around the back of the neck or normally down the front without any weird sticky out cable kinks. They come with a smart case, a variety of sizes of rubber ear pieces and a foam squeeze fit one. This is the same as the Shure earphones and similarly to Shure the  s-JAYS also come with protective wax barrier filters.

JAYS don't skimp on the extras, also included are a headphone splitter and an airplane adaptor. The headphones are attached to a good quality cable. A sensible length (not too long) extension cable is supplied which could be eschewed in favor of a volume box/remote wire if required. I think the plug may well be too thick for the mk1 iPhone - but adaptors can easily be obtained.

I find that the design of the earphones fit my ears perfectly whatever the orientation. With the appropriate size of rubber earpiece inserted in the ear, the opposite butt of the earpiece wedges comfortably against the inside of the other side of the ear, securing it in place. This of course might not work for everyone but given the lack of uniformity in ear shape  the fact it can be worn in two different ways means the design is very clever indeed.


Sound quality - Definitely the most naturalistic when compared to the Sony or Sennheisers.   In comparison, the Sennheisers are thin and tinny. The Sonys have more bass - but at the expense of clarity, they actually sound rather muffled when compared to the s-JAYS. I didn't even notice the Sonys were muffled until I tried the s-JAYS. The s-JAYS sound more open and expansive,  like listening to speakers rather than headphones. The s-JAYS are louder than the Sony or Sennheiser and this is important as I know that a lot of people find these others too quiet. I can't compare the sound quality with the Shures - I haven't used them for years as I just found them to be uncomfortable and really couldn't cope with the wire having to run down the back of my neck (I'm rather ticklish). The only significant negative for me with the s-JAYS is the difficulty in differentiating the Right from the Left earpiece. See if you can spot the near invisible R&L on the close up shot.

So in summary I'm going to keep using the s-Jays in preference to my other earphones. I'd consider the s-JAYS market position to be akin to that of a bridge camera. A bridge camera is halfway between a compact and an SLR - They generally give better results than the compacts but are a lot easier to use than the SLRs whilst still giving comparable results under the right conditions. This is the same position that the s-JAYS occupy. They are infinitely better than £10 cheapo in the ear phones, but are a lot easier to get on with day to day than the Shures or other canal phones whilst giving a comparable sound quality. I think that the s-JAYS might well be the first 'bridge-earphones'.  


Click HERE for JAYS Audio info page on the s-JAYS

EDIT - 21 Jan 2008. Until a couple of days ago this was the only online review available. You can now find a proper indepth review online - put together by someone who actually knows what they are on about  - you can read it here



Metal Gear Solid 4 Watch

My limited edition Metal Gear Solid watch just turned up at work.

Very nice watch - good quality, not a gimmick.

Mine is number 105/500.