Category Archives: Reviews

Phicool iPhone Storage USB Stick Review

My friend Sven told me about these types of devices that can interchange data with your mobile device and essentially extend storage. He teaches music and has a large sheet music library that does not comfortably fit into his iPad Mini. These things used to be so expensive. I wanted to try one for my own needs and found this Phicool model and thought an additional 128GB would come in handy. I’m glad I tried it.

The device is size of a wide memory stick, about the size of a mini BIC lighter. There’s a small slider in the middle of the device: press and slide up to reveal the Apple Lightning port, or a full-sized USB port at the other end. The latter can flip up to reveal a micro USB port. Slide it in the middle and both ports are protected on the inside of the stick. Exchanging data is very easy, I’ll talk more about it below.

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Lanniu HS910 Neck Speaker Review

I saw Techmoan review several of these neck speakers a while ago. Up until then I had never heard of this type of listening device, but as he explained what they were all about, I was intrigued to try one out. I like the idea of listening to music without having earbuds in my ears, while not annoying those around me too much. Usually such devices easily cost over $100 and more. This LANNIU HS910 seemed to tick all the boxes without breaking the bank at under $50.

The sound quality of the speakers is OK, and the volume is remarkable when worn around your neck. While you can hear things perfectly, a person next to or across the room from you can barely hear what you’re listening to. There’s also the natural experience of speaking while not wearing anything in your ears. These neck speakers are practical when you want to hear the world around you plus music, but still want to participate in conversations. You can still be aware of traffic – unlike with some headphones. What a concept! 

The device is a combination of a bluetooth speaker/microphone unit, but it also has its own internal 8GB of memory for MP3 storage. Hence it is not strictly necessary to use it with a mobile device and can be used standalone. To use it that way, connect it with the included Micro USB cable to a computer (Windows or Mac) and drag over some MP3 files. They start playing automatically and immediately when the unit is turned on. Internal memory mode is the default when the unit is switched on, and when no other files are present, a variety of genuinely ghastly music is played for a few beats. I recommend adding an MP3 file with silence to stop this from happening.

To enable bluetooth mode, the unit needs to be paired first. Thankfully that’s very easy: pick HS910 from the list of devices on your favourite bluetooth host and you’re connected. Oddly enough, it is necessary to switch to bluetooth mode explicitly on the device by holding down the little key with two arrows, otherwise you’ll stay on internal MP3 mode. I wish it was the other way round.

Several controls on the device let you change the volume (long-press on the plus/minus icon to do this), summon Siri, answer/reject calls and switch music playback modes. During phone calls, I can hear the other party fine and they can hear me, but the quality isn’t as good as using wired headphones (it sounds like limited frequencies, or in other words, a telephone from the 1960ies). The software could do with an update or a re-think: when I made a call and ended it, the device immediately started playing my MP3 file although it was still connected to my phone via bluetooth. It’s sometimes difficult to convince the HS910 to stop playing MP3s and play Spotify instead. Perhaps I haven’t worked out how to do it, or perhaps it’s a little unintuitive.

On the whole I like the idea of this device. It sounds good, it’s a new idea of listening to music, it’s lightweight and doesn’t move when I’m wearing it. I am however a little disappointed with how the internal MP3 function gets in the way of the bluetooth control I have from my phone. I wish they had made it a little easier.

Comica CVM-AX3 Audio Field Mixer Review

I’ve been looking for a way to record two separate microphones in the field for interviews. If you’ve ever tired this, you know how much of a challenge this can present. When I found this Comica CVM-AX3 I thought it could be the ideal solution to this problem and gave it a try. I’m glad I did, because it fills the void of the challenge I had before me.

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So I’ve picked up NO MAN’S SKY – and here’s what I think

I’ve heard so many mixed reviews about NO MAN’S SKY that made me wonder what all the fuzz was about. On the surface the game seems to be something I might enjoy, combining exploration on a vast scale, building, crafting and handsome looking graphics. The asking price of $60 promises a AAA title, so when it was on sale the other day, both on Steam and on GOG, I picked it up and had a look at it.

I’m coming into this game cold, not knowing what to expect. I literally had no expectations, other than the hope of having a good time. Sadly that didn’t happen. It can be like that with complex games though, you have to give it an hour or two to get into them, learn the interface, understand what you’re supposed to do. Good games (like any good software) will help you make this a welcoming experience.

NO MAN’S SKY doesn’t do that. It’s not even trying.

Continue reading So I’ve picked up NO MAN’S SKY – and here’s what I think

XIII Classic – available again on GOG.com

I got a newsletter from GOG.com today, and in it was XIII – listed as “new”. Which is weird, because some reviews on the site date back to 2012. It looks like this title was unavailable for many years. I know this because as it happens, I’ve been looking for this very PC version for several years. I’m glad we can legally own it once again! Let me explain a bit more.

I used to love XIII back in the day, both for PC and consoles. I played the Xbox version when it came out, and have consequently bought the PC version (on CD, for only 99 pence back at HMV on Oxford Street, when they had it on sale). The graphical style attracted me, as did the intriguing story line. I had always wished for a sequel, but it never materialised (not counting the ghastly iOS “hidden object” version they made in 2011).

Years went by, I moved continents, and I lost my 99p copy of XIII. But I never forgot this game. One day I picked up the GameCube version to play on my old Wii, and that version just doesn’t compare to the thrill of the PC version, which has its own kind of magic. The comic-like insets of closeups when you shoot an enemy far away, superb (yet sparse) voice acting by David Duchovny and Adam West, the dramatic and adaptive soundtrack, the variety of levels, it truly was ahead of its time.

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Xiberia V20 / Jeecoo Gaming Headset Review

I’ve recently picked up a new Xiberia headset from Jeecoo for $30 on Amazon. It’s a rather large pair of noise cancelling USB stereo headphones with a built-in microphone. I wanted to use these for streaming without disturbing my wife when she’s hard at work on the desk next to me, while avoiding any echoing that would be induced when using a desktop speaker. I’ve been using for the last week and wanted to share my thoughts on it with you here.

The exact model number is the V20, the exact same model that’s available from Walmart for nearly $120. That’s quite steep, and I’m not sure if it’s worth that much. For $30 however, this is quite a bargain. 

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Apple Pencil Review: My Experiences with the 1st Generation

I’ve been using my Apple Pencil 1st Generation with my iPad 6 for the last couple of months on and off, and thought I’d share some thoughts on my experiences. I’ve left this review on Amazon.com and though I’d post it here for posterity. Enjoy!

This is the Apple Pencil 1st generation. It’s title doesn’t do it justice, because it suggests that it’s inferior to the 2nd generation, and that it will soon be replaced. The story is a little different as you may know. This pencil is compatible with the 6th and 7th generation of the iPad, or “The New iPad” as every “new iPad” is now called upon release, until a new “New iPad” comes out. To clarify then, this device (1st generation Apple Pencil) works with the non-Pro and Air iPads that came out between 2018 and 2019. It works with a bunch of other iPads too, like the first and second generation iPad Pro (2015-207) and some Minis (like the 2019 version). Later generations of the iPad Pro require the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, which this device is not. They’re different devices altogether, and Apple did a lousy job explaining this to us mere mortals.

The thing works great, although $90 is very expensive for what it is. I don’t deny that there’s a lot of technology going on, and this seemingly magical approach is a lot of fun if you can draw, or if anyone can decipher your handwriting. I’m one of those “creative” types and my handwriting looks a bit like back in the day when doctors wrote prescriptions out by hand. It’s difficult to read by others, sometimes even by myself. I can’t draw either, but I like to doodle sometimes. Still, even someone like me can use this Pencil for highlighting documents or occasionally putting a signature to a PDF document. I like using it, and it gives the iPad a new dimension it was previously lacking.

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How to use the GoPro Microphone Adapter for HERO 5/6/7 Black

In this episode I’ll explain how to use the GoPro 3.5mm Microphone to USB-C adapter with your GoPro HERO 5, 6 and 7 (Black versions).

It’s a rugged piece of technology I find incredibly helpful when I make videos on my bike. This little gadget has been getting terrible reviews – probably because there’s little to no documentation available on how to use it, or what settings it unlocks. In this video I’ll show you all.

You can buy the adapter here

I’m using it with this ZAFFIRO Microphone

Ruipu Power Bank Model 121 vs Q80 – 24000mAh External USB Battery

In this episode I’m taking a closer look at two RUIPU Power Banks, namely the Model 121 and the Q80. Both have the same 24,000 mAh rating, both have an accurate LED display for the remaining charge, both have an anti-slip design, yet there are subtle changes between these models. Let’s find out the differences.

Read my full review on the Model 121 (black) here:
https://wpguru.co.uk/2018/11/the-ruipu-121-24000-mah-led-power-bank-review/

Read my full review on the Q80 (white) here:
https://wpguru.co.uk/2018/10/beauty-meets-endurance-ruipu-q80-power-bank-review/

Watch my Ruipu Solar Power Bank Review here: